Tuesday, April 28, 2015

First bite at I Am Kim

We were in Estancia Mall one morning and decided to drop by I Am Kim, a restaurant that offers "build-your-own" bibimbap. They have lots of ready-made bibimbap on their menu, but we wanted to have fun and chose to make our own.

First, we had to choose the kind of rice (Japanese, Organic Brown, Organic Red, and Black Rice). Then, we had to pick 2 kinds of sauce to flavor our dish (Gocuchang, Bulgogi, Umami Butter, Chimichuri, Roasted Garlic Paste, Spring Onion Sauce, Teriyaki Sauce, Chili Jam, Superior Soy Sauce). After that, we had to choose 2 kinds of meat (BBQ Short Ribs Kitayama Wagyu, BBQ Squid Lemongrass, BBQ Squid, Fried Tofu, Raw Beef Tartare, BBQ Chicken, BBQ Tofu, Raw Tuna, Korean Sausages, BBQ Chicken Spicy, BBQ Pork Belly, BBQ Prawns , BBQ Prawns Spicy , Raw Salmon, Beef Bulgogi, Meat of the Day). Then, we picked the kind of egg we wanted on top of our rice (Sunny Side Up, Poached, Raw). Finally, we needed to choose 3 veggies (spinach, carrots, green peas, mushrooms, zucchini, fried onions, bean sprouts, bok choy, vegetable of the day).

We chose the Medium size for our customized bibimbap (Php 370). As an additional order, we bought a plate of Korean Fried Dumplings (Php 170).

Our bibimbap was delicious! It had a nice mixture of sweet, savory, woodsy, and earthy flavors. We loved that Umami Butter! And having brown rice was a good choice. It added some depth to our dish. Our only complaint was the squid for it became a little tough, being on a hot stone for longer than a few minutes.

Our bibimbap became even more delicious when we put dollops of Bulgogi sauce and Goguchang paste. We especially liked the paste because it was flavorful, not just all heat. By the way, the rice meal came with a small serving of kimchi and creamy, cheesy marble potatoes, and both were yummy.

The Korean Fried Dumplings were double-fried dumplings that are filled with minced meat and mushroom. They were served with shiso leaves (an herb related to mint) and one was supposed to eat with these leaves wrapped around the fried stuff.

The dumplings were a little salty, and the shiso tempered this saltiness with its coriander-like taste.

All in all, we found the food here amply delicious, although a bit overpriced. As for the place, well, it could be made classier, and the stools more comfortable.

As for service, waiting time for our food was acceptable, and our waiter Manuel was attentive and friendly.

Based on our first experience, there's a big chance that we'll come back and eat some more.

I Am Kim is in Estancia Mall, Pasig City.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Quick bite: Korean Bibimbap and Texas Barbecue Rice Bowls

They're the latest rice meals from KFC.

The first one, the Korean Bibimbap: Fun Shots, drizzled with teriyaki sauce, and served on top of kimchi rice along with shredded cabbage and carrots and half of a soft-boiled egg. It tastes O-K. The chicken with teriyaki sauce is an old familiar flavor. The kimchi rice tastes like paella with kimchi with some chili. So it's not REALLY kimchi rice, but red-colored rice with kimchi. So one can first sense some tomato flavor, and then a kimchi aftertaste.

The other, the Texas Barbecue, has Fun Shots drizzled with barbecue sauce, served on top of some red rice with corn. The barbecue sauce tastes ordinary, like store bought. The rice is weird because its flavor is VERY similar to kiddie spaghetti. As for the corn, well, each kernel just looks sad.

Based on our experience, it seems like not a lot of thought went into these new KFC Rice Bowls. 

An order costs Php 99 (without a drink).

Try them and judge for yourself.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Quick sip: Nestea Cranberry Cosmopolitan

It's Nestea's red tea blend.

Is it good? Well, it tastes like Kool-Aid. Sure, it has a noticeable cranberry taste, but one can mostly sense sugar. Our tip: drink it with LOTS of ice, to temper the strong saccharine flavor.

Try it and judge for yourself.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

First lick: Mango Graham Cake and Ube Pastillas Ice Cream Sticks

They're new cold treats from Selecta.

The Mango Graham Cake is dappled with mango and graham cracker bits and their flavors can be sensed. The base ice cream however is just too sweet that it overpowers the two main components of the ice cream variant.

The other, the Ube Pastillas, suffers the same thing. There's good ube flavor somewhere, but the sugary sweetness is just too pronounced. And weird enough, the stick we have does not have an iota of pastillas. What happened there Selecta?!

An ice cream stick costs Php 10.

Try them and judge for yourself. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

First sip: Summer Berry Panna Cotta and Dark Mocha Panna Cotta Frappuccinos

New concoctions from Starbucks.

The Summer Berry Panna Cotta Frappuccino is really the Strawberry Cream Frappuccino with panna cotta (cooked cream) underneath. The other one is the Dark Mocha Frappuccino with the same cooked cream at the bottom.

Are they good? Well, the panna cotta makes the two blends more interesting to drink by adding some texture. It's like drinking Frappuccino with taho. The Summer Berry variant has a cough syrup feel to it, no thanks to the artificial strawberry flavor. The Dark Mocha Panna Cotta Frappuccino is better only because Starbucks makes good dark mocha, and the panna cotta somehow complements this flavor well.

A Tall order costs Php 180.

Try these drinks and judge for yourself.

First bite at Razon's by Glenn

Place: Bright and clean. It's just a little cramped and noisy because of the chatty staff. The dining chairs are amply comfortable and the tables are spacious and sturdy enough.

Food: Generally delicious, flavorful.

First on our table is the Glenn's Palabok (Php 85). The dish is tasty. It has a good mix of meat (from the chicharon) and fish (tinapa) flavors. Nothing is overpowering, just a right balance of flavors. Also, the noodles are not soggy and the dish doesn't have too much sauce. We just find it weird that iceberg lettuce is used to top the dish. But hey, it adds some texture and crunch.

Next is the Kare-Kare Rice Meal (Php 155). It has a cup of rice, a big bowl of kare-kare, and three pieces of lumpiang shanghai. The kare-kare is good enough. The sauce has a good thick consistency. The peanut butter taste is distinct. The vegetables are fresh and the beef chunks are tender, just a little bland.

The lumpiang shanghai pieces are not evenly fried. They are delicious though. They also have a distinct yet subtle Chinese chorizo taste.

Then, the place's pièce de résistance, the Halo-Halo (Php 85): caramelized banana, macapuno shreds, leche flan, milk, and crushed ice. Delicious! It is not too sweet and we can taste the individual flavors of the different components rather than just sugar or syrup.

Lastly, the Bibing-Mon (PHp 20), or the bibingka and mamon hybrid. It is soft, moist, and has a pronounced buttery flavor. Yummy!

Price: Considering taste, serving size, and quality, food here is reasonably priced.

Service: The waitresses are efficient and attentive. They're just a bit noisy.

Razon's by Glenn is at the Riverbanks Center, Marikina City.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Quick bite: X.O Black

We like the deep and bitter taste of black coffee. That is why we were excited to try X.O. Coffee Candy's Black variant. We expect that this X.O. flavor will finally give us that good, rounded black coffee taste.

Initially, X.O Black gives satisfying coffee flavor. Unfortunately, this taste doesn't last very long. As it melts, the [supposed] coffee candy becomes a block of sugar with a subtle nutty flavor. Instead of being true to its name, X.O. Black is sweet instant coffee candy with a black coffee flavor that lasts for a few seconds.

Try this one and judge for yourself.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

First bite at Motorino Pizza Manila

We were at Greenbelt 3 one morning and decided to drop by Motorino Pizza Manila to have lunch. Luckily, the place had a set lunch menu. For Php 395 (+ 10% service charge), we had a 13-inch Mushroom & Sausage pizza (other choices were Margherita and Soppressata Piccante), 2 drinks (we chose Cappuccino and Crimson Berry Iced Tea), and 2 kinds of dessert (Tiramisu and gelato).

The Mushroom & Sausage pizza supposedly consists of mozzarella, pecorino, sausage, cremini mushrooms, Kalamata olives, thyme, and extra-virgin olive oil. We asked that the olives be removed because we don't like olives. The pizza that came to our table however seemed to lack two more ingredients: the pecorino and thyme. As a result, it was bland and forgettable. The flavor of the sausage was too subtle, and the woodsy taste of the mushrooms wasn't enough to whet our palate. We instantly regretted having asked to have the olives removed for those could have added some strong flavor.

What we liked was the dough. It was baked well, giving us the right amount of crunch and chewiness. And the burnt spots added some depth to the whole dish.

Now, for our drinks. The Crimson Berry Tea was a tad too sweet, and its flavor was artificial. It reminded us of Kool-Aid actually. The Cappuccino was good; its taste was punctuated.

Finally, dessert. The Tiramisu was delicious! It wasn't too sweet. It had a nice dash of coffee bitterness. And though we doubted whether real mascarpone was used, we enjoyed every bite of the tiramisu. Then, we had some gelato. Among the flavors to choose from, we opted for Salted Caramel. It was also delicious, good marriage of saltiness and deep caramel flavor.

Price: Considering the fare we got, we can say that the lunch set is priced reasonably. But individually, we think the dishes here are a little overpriced.

Place: Upon entering, we were greeted with the rustic smell of firewood, an interesting contrast to the metallic roof, marble tables, and steel chairs. We didn't like the lighting; we found the place too dark.

Service: Waiting time was acceptable. The waiters were really accommodating and friendly.

Motorino Pizza Manila is on the 3rd floor of Greenbelt 3.