Sunday, August 30, 2015

First bite at Mama Lou's Italian Kitchen

Place: We like the rustic feel of the place, with its brick walls and wooden furnishings. Something has to be done though about the flies and the disorderly kitchen area.

Food: Generally delicious!

While waiting for the food we ordered, we are munching on the complimentary bread that comes with pesto and marinara dips. The bread is not stale and is served warm. The marinara dip is delicious. The pesto one tastes like grass.

First on our table is the Spaghetti Seafood Olio (Php 315): aglio olio pasta (olive oil and garlic based sauce) with mussels, squid, and clams. For our noodles, we ask the waiter to change the spaghetti to linguine. This dish is delicious! The aglio olio itself is cooked well; there's no hint of garlic bitterness, just roasted sweetness. And just like the pasta, the seafood is fresh and not overcooked! This one is a must-eat!

Next is the Risotto Tartufo Funghi (Php 325). It's risotto with truffle cream, wild mushrooms, and parmesan cheese slices. It's creamy, woodsy, and perfectly seasoned. It can be a last meal. Our tip is to mix some chili oil for added flavor and kick.

Next, the Mama Lou's Special pizza (Php 350 for a 12-inch crust): thin-crust pizza with a slightly sharp tomato-based sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, mangoes, and drizzles of a balsamic dressing. This is another good one! The fresh crust has the right texture and crispiness. The flavors are simple and clean. All the tastes are represented, making each bite satisfying.

Next on our table is the Mozzarella Burger Steak (Php 295). This dish features a big burger patty with a mozzarella center, smothered with mushroom gravy, and served with side vegetable and a scoop of mashed potatoes. The patty is meaty and packed, but it is a tad too salty. Good thing the cheese helps temper this saltiness. Also, the gravy is not salty and is actually prepared well; this gravy also helps lessen the saltiness of the burger. The mashed potatoes' taste is authentic, unlike those mashed potato mixes that come in boxes.

For dessert, we have a slice of Mama Lou's Cheesecake (Php 180). It's your basic cheesecake that can have a blueberry or mango topping. We choose the blueberry one. The crust tastes good, although its integrity needs a little improvement (it crumbles too easily). The cheesecake itself is a little too sugary. We like the blueberry because it has the right balance of being tart and sweet. Plus, we can nibble on some real blueberry bits.

Lastly, for our drink, we have a tall glass of the Iced Blended Mocha (Php 150). This one is a letdown. No coffee and chocolate flavors. It's just all milk and sugar.

Price: Considering serving size, taste, and the ingredients used, we find the food here reasonably priced.

Service: Good! Our servers are attentive and friendly! Waiting time for food is reasonable.

Mama Lou's Italian Kitchen is on the 1st floor of UP Town Center.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Quick crunch: Pomsticks

Crispy potato snack from Lorenz, y'all!

Fried potato sticks with a sour cream flavor.

They're not too oily and are really crispy. Also, the sour cream taste seems authentic and it's not overpowered by too much salt. Delicious!

A pack costs less than Php 50.

Try Pomsticks and judge for yourself.

Monday, August 24, 2015

First bite: Premium Donburi

Tokyo Tokyo presents its latest rice offering: the Premium Donburi.

There are two variants: the Beef Pepper Donburi and the Tempura Donburi.

The Beef Pepper Donburi features tender beef slices and corn kernels on top of medium-quality rice, smothered with a sweet pepper sauce. This one is delicious! It really lives up to the name: the beef is well seasoned and juicy, and the sauce has a punctuated and pronounced pepper flavor. We can even bite bits of cracked pepper!

The Tempura Donburi has two pieces of ebi tempura, two pieces of fried onion rings, and two pieces of potato tempura. They too nestle on top of medium-quality rice and are smothered with a barbecue-tasting sauce. This dish is good enough. The ebi and vegetable tempura are fried perfectly, crunchy on the outside, juicy and fresh on the inside. The sauce though is a little salty. And considering there's a lot of it poured on the dish, this salty sauce kind of ruins the entire thing.

A Regular order of a Premium Donburi costs Php 145.

Try it and judge for yourself.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Quick bite: Asado Roll by Tibiao Bakery

Soft and tasty pandesal with a marinated pork filling.

The bread has the right blandness to serve as the canvass for the balanced, sweet-salty taste of the shredded pork meat that is so tender, it melts in the mouth. Delicious!

For more bread by Tibiao Bakery, click here.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

First bite at Maisen

We were in Greenbelt 5 one Saturday and decided to drop by Maisen, known as one of Japan's famous katsu chains, to try their fare.

Place: The style is nice, classy. We like the logo very much. But the place is too small, cramped.

Food: We ordered the Kurobuta Tenderloin Set (Php 630) so we could try the restaurant's Special Sauce. The set comes with a bowl of miso soup, a bowl of rice, a small plate of pickled cucumber and pechay, shredded cabbage, and a fruit bowl (pineapple and watermelon). 

The miso soup is OK, although it is less warm than expected. The rice is of high quality. The cabbage is crisp and fresh. The shredded vegetable can be flavored with either a creamy Sesame dressing (the sesame flavor is there but not pronounced enough and it has an acidic background) or a Sesame oil kind (the sesame flavor of this dressing is a tad too subtle). The pickled cucumber is good, while the pickled greens give a surprising kick. The pineapple is juicy and DELICIOUS! The watermelon is sweet and not too watery.

Now for the main feature: the Kurobuta (Berkshire pork known for its juiciness and tenderness and dubbed as the wagyu of pork) pieces are coated with light panko and are fried perfectly, golden and not oily. And because the pork is tenderloin, it is soft and has almost no fat. the pork katsu. Its light breading adds just the right amount of crunch. The Special Sauce is Maisen's Karakuchi (Spicy) sauce mixed with grated apples. It has a distinct, weird, cola taste, like Pepsi is mixed into it. It's also a little too sharp. Good thing the grated apple tempers this sharpness. 

Aside from the Special Sauce that comes with the set, there are two other sauces found on the dining table that are free: the Amakuchi (Sweet), which is sweet and whose flavor is closer to that of the traditional tonkatsu sauce, and the aforementioned Karakuchi, which, according to our server, has Worcestershire sauce and that weird Pepsi undertone. We find the latter a tad too sharp to be enjoyed.

In addition to the sauces, there's also a bottle of Spice Salt on the table. It's Himalayan salt with herbs. We find its flavors too strong that we choose not to add some to our food, considering the dishes are not bland anyway.

Another set we ordered was the Katsumabushi Set (Php 390). It has Tenderloin Katsu chops (not Kurobuta), nestling on top of white rice that has nori strips. It comes with dashi (broth), Onsen Tamago (egg cooked slowly in low temperature), some wasabi, sesame seeds, green onions, a small plate of pickled vegetables, and a fruit bowl (pineapple and watermelon).

The Kastumabushi can be eaten straight (just the katsu and rice) or one can put some of the rice and the pork in the small bowl provided, then add some dashi and egg to have a kind of do-it-yourself katsudon. The mixture becomes more flavorful when one seasons it with the wasabi, sesame seeds, and green onions.

There is no big or significant difference between the ordinary Tenderloin and the Kurobuta Tenderloin; the latter is just more tender by half a notch. Taste wise, not much difference.

For drinks, we had some house tea. We tried both the cold and hot versions. The green tea flavor is pronounced on the hot one. We find the cold tea more delicious, with its subtle yet still earthy taste.

Price: Considering serving size and the ordinary taste, we find the food overpriced.

Service: The servers need more training. They had trouble communicating effectively. Also, waiting time went beyond the acceptable 15 minutes.

Based on our first try, well, we wouldn't mind not coming back to this place.

Maisen is at Greenbelt 5, Makati City.

For more information about their food, click here.

Quick bite: Brownie Crunch (with Roasted Cacao Nibs, Chia and Flax Seeds)

We were in the Weekend Market of Robinsons Magnolia and chanced upon Snack Box and its crunchy brownies. Their attendant asked us to try some free samples. We liked one particular and bought a box of it.

The variant that we liked is the Brownie Crunch with Roasted Cacao Nibs, Chia seeds, and Flax seed. Snack Box says that their brownie treats are 100% natural, and we believe them because the taste of the brownie is clean, not overly saccharine, no hints of any chemical taste.

The chocolate flavor is deep and slightly bitter, well tempered with just the right amount of sweetness. And although the brownies are crunchy, they're not hard to bite into. They're quite fun to munch on. And yummy! Plus, one can feel good about the chia and flax seeds for they add more fiber action in the tummy.

A box costs Php 150.

For more info on Snack Box Brownie Crunch, click here.

P.S. We were able to try the Triple Chocolate Brownie Crunch during our mall trip. That one's good too!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

First bite at The Breadery

We were in UP Town Center one afternoon and got enticed by the aroma coming from the ovens of The Breadery. So we decided to drop by the boulangerie and tried some of its fare.

Place: We like the homey and modern look of the bakery, good blend of wood and steel.

Food: Hit-or-miss. Some are good, some not. Generally, forgettable.  

The Breadery has canisters of samples and morsels of its baked goodies so that customers can try the food before buying. We took advantage of this set-up and were able to taste quite a number of stuff.

First, the Cheese Roll (Php 65): puffed pastry with cheese flavor. The pastry itself is light and flakyal though a little pale. It is a tad too sweet; the sweetness overpowers the already subtle cheese taste.

Next, the Chicken Pie (Php 110): flaky bread filled with a smooth chicken filling. This one is delicious! The filling, with chicken and mushroom bits, is packed with a satisfying, although toned down, meaty flavor. 

Then, the Triple Chocolate Croissant (Php 110): airy croissant smothered with chocolate powder. The powder is bittersweet and has a good, deep chocolate taste. The bread itself though is bland.

Next, the Button Mushroom Focaccia (Php 90): button mushroom bits and cheddar cheese over focaccia. The bread itself is chewy, making us think if it's still raw. Hehe. The toppings are OK; there's just a hint of rancid flavor. Weird...

Finally, the last one we sampled, the Chocolate Chip Cookie (Php 60). The cookie needs to be saltier to temper the sweetness of the chocolate chips. We like the integrity though, chewy but not so crumbly.   

After sampling some baked goods, we decided to have some late lunch. The Breadery also offers coffee and is famous for its cold brew (allowed to sit for a month!). So, we bought a cup of Marble Cold Brew (Php 170) and a piece of Triple Mushroom Focaccia for belated lunching.

The Marble Cold Brew cold-brew coffee mixed with milk and white chocolate. It is delicious! The sweetness is just right, and one can sense the various components of the drink. The coffee in particular has a rounded taste, is not acidic, and good. No wonder this Marble concoction is a bestseller.

The Triple Mushroom Focaccia has three kinds of mushrooms (oyster, shitake, and button) drizzled with Japanese mayonnaise. Delicious! We like the creamy and woodsy flavors. Yum!

Price: Considering size and taste, we found the food here overpriced.

Service: Staff members were nice and friendly to us. Service was prompt.

The Breadery is inside the UP Town Center.

First bite of Sally's Homemade Kakanin

We were at the Weekend Market of Robinsons Magnolia one morning and chanced upon the spot of Sally's Homemade Kakanin. The glass case of Filipino rice cakes was so enticing that we weren't able to stop ourselves from buying three of their products.

First, the Cassava Cake (Php 30): sticky cake with a cheesy top layer. It's O-K, not bad but not great. The cake itself has a hint of vanilla extract that is quite unusual for a cassava cake. The top layer lacks the needed saltiness to temper the sweetness of the cake.

Next, the Buko-Pandan Pichi-Pichi (Php 30): a sticky treat made from grated cassava that [allegedly] has buko-pandan flavor. Why allegedly? Well, all we can taste is, again, that vanilla extract. Weird!

Lastly, the Maja Blanca (Php 30): coconut pudding with hints of corn. This one is good; the taste is clean and balanced. It's good with coffee.

Try Sally's Homemade Kakanin and judge for yourself.

For more information, click here.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Quick bite: Organic Oyster Mushroom Chicharon by JALees Farms

We were at the weekend market inside Robinsons Magnolia earlier this afternoon and spotted some good-looking crunchy things. They were mushroom chicharon by JALees Farms. The attendant of their corner happily invited us to sample their nibbles.

The Organic Oyster Mushroom Chicharon, we learned, is baked, not fried, making the snack healthier than other crunchy treats out there. It has three variants: Plain, Garlic, and Spicy. Plain means lightly salted mushroom chicharon. It goes well with vinegar. Garlic has the right amount of garlic flavor to be tasty but not pungent. Lastly, the Spicy has a belated kick that is exciting to the palate. It's our favorite, actually.

We imagined that this mushroom chicharon would make a delicious topping for palabok, lugaw, and batchoy.

A pack costs Php 150.

Try it and judge for yourself.

For more info about this crunchy organic treat, click here!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Quick sip: Jamba with Pomegranate

Jamba Juice is promoting a new fruit for its drinks: pomegranate.

Pomegranate is a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and folate.

Jamba Juice mixes pomegranate with three other fruits for its new concoctions: Berry Pomegranate Power (with banana and blueberries), Pomegranate Pick Me Up (with strawberries and blueberries), and Pomegranate Blast (with banana and strawberries).

Whatever mix you choose, expect a slightly sharp, tart fruity flavor. Even the banana component can't temper this taste. But the drinks are good and vibrant.

Try a pomegranate Jamba and judge for yourself.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Quick bite: The New Shake Shake Fries

McDonalds brings back the Shake Shake Fries! This time, the three flavors are BBQ, Cheesy Butter, and Pizza.

The BBQ is a not a new flavor. To know its taste, click here.

The Cheesy Butter variant is delicious. The cheese powder really has hints of creamy butter flavor. And it's not too salty. Yum!

Lastly, the Pizza flavor has hints of tangy pizza sauce and pepperoni. It's reminiscent of Shakey's pizza. Not bad!

An order costs Php 65.

Try the new Shake Shake Fries and judge for yourself.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Quick bite: Maretti Bruschette

They're crispy, oven-baked bread pieces that are flavored like pizza.

Delicious! The flavors are authentic. And they're not hard to bite.

Pair with soup or pasta. Or use them as croutons for a salad.

Try Maretti Bruschette and judge for yourself.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Quick bite: JCOccino doughnut

It's the latest doughnut variant by JCo.

It [allegedly] combines the taste of cappuccino and chocolate through a smooth and glossy frosting, coupled with some chopped almonds, over a cream-filled doughnut.

We cannot taste any cappuccino and we cannot sense any chocolate. What we can sense is a weird burnt cream flavor. Not good!

A piece costs Php 42.

[Don't] Try it and judge for yourself.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Quick sip: Honeycomb Crunch Mocha Frappuccino and Orange Honeycomb Crunch Cream Frappuccino

Starbucks presents two new Frappuccino concoctions: the Honeycomb Crunch Mocha Frappuccino and the Orange Honeycomb Crunch Cream Frappuccino.

The first one is the old Mocha Frappuccino with honeycomb syrup and honeycomb bits. We can hardly sense the honeycomb syrup, but the honeycomb bits are delicious and go well with the flavor of the drink.

The Orange Honeycomb Crunch Cream Frappuccino is flavored with an orange-extract syrup, coupled with honeycomb syrup and honeycomb bits. The orange flavor is amply authentic and vibrant. But, as with the Honeycomb Crunch Mocha Frappuccino, the honeycomb flavor is too subtle to be enjoyed.

A Tall order of any of these treats costs Php 170.

Try them and judge for yourself. 

P.S. To celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the Starbucks Card, Starbucks will have a Buy 1 Take 1 treat. Click here for details.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Quick bite: Cheesy Eggdesal

Presenting a new breakfast sandwich from McDonalds.

Scrambled egg with a slice of melted cheese, nestling inside a soft pan de sal.

The egg-cheese combo is delicious. As for the bread, well, it could be fresher. And we prefer that the pan de sal is less sweet.

An order costs Php 39.

Try it and judge for yourself.