Friday, October 30, 2015

First bite at Silantro

We were in UP Town Center earlier to drop by Silantro during its soft opening week. The restaurant boasts of its Filipino-Mexican food and we're excited to give its fare a try.

Generally, the food was what we would call toned-down Mexican food; the sharpness, the pungency, the vibrant flavors, all of them were muted, probably to suit the Filipino palate. These tastes were replaced with the usual savory meat flavor, lots of cheese, and, we thought, lots of MSG.

First on our plate was Silantro's Quesadillas (Php 160): shredded chicken with sliced mushrooms, smothered with lots of cheese, all nestling inside a soft tortilla. The filling was delicious. It has the punctuated umami taste that many Filipinos like. The tortilla was fresh. The fries were well seasoned and flavorful, thanks to the basil confetti. They were a little soggy though.

Next, Silantro's Burrito (Php 180): a tortilla wrap filled with lengua and beef, tomatoes, rice, and french fries. The flavor of this dish was flat. Sure, all the cubes of meat were tender and seasoned, but the rice and the fries tempered all that savory flavor. We desperately needed the guacamole, the hot sauce, and garlic sauce to add some kick, but their flavors were also too subtle to be enjoyed.

Last on our table was a plate of Lucha Tacos (Php 95 for a Medio, meaning two meat items for the filling). We went for a soft taco filled with tomatoes, lettuce, hint of cilantro, lengua, and pork. This one had a bit more flavor than the burrito, but for a taco, this one was boring to the palate.

As for the place, well, the restaurant looked cool and hip.

The service had a lot of room for improvement: the waiters looked smug, they were not knowledgeable about the food they just served, and our own waiter wasn't able to tell the bar to make the mojito we ordered. Tsk tsk tsk...

Silantro Fil-Mex Cantina is on the 3rd floor of UP Town Center.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

First sip of City Blends coffee

Convenience store chain 7-Eleven presents an affordable line of caffeinated concoctions: City Blends. There are four variants: Brewed Coffee, French Vanilla, Mochaccino, and Hershey's Dark Chocolate.

City Blends coffee boasts of 100% Arabica beans as its base. And one can truly sense this: the Brewed Coffee's taste is deep, round, and punctuated. And it's not acidic. Quite delicious, actually.

Now for the other variants: the Mochaccino and the French Vanilla taste the same. No hint of mocha for the first, no hint of vanilla for the second. It's all milk and sugar. As for the Hershey's Dark Chocolate, well the only thing dark chocolate about this is the color; its flavor bears no bittersweet taste of real dark chocolate. It's too sweet actually.

A small cup of City Blends coffee costs Php 20 for any variant. A medium one costs Php 29.

Try it and judge for yourself.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Quick bite: Fried Pork Dumplings

Something new to munch on at Chowking: Fried Pork Dumplings.

The filling is delicious. Its taste is similar to that of a gyoza. The wrapper though is a bit too thick and floury; it feels like eating a taco shell.

An order costs Php 45.

Try it and judge for yourself.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Quick sip: Frappula Frappuccino

A Halloween drink from Starbucks.

It's Vanilla Cream Frappuccino with Strawberry syrup and a shot of mocha.

It tastes OK, not bad. Drinking it is like having a slice of Black Forest cake. Nothing is too sweet. The strawberry syrup doesn't taste too artificial. This concoction though would be better if the mocha were deeper and more bitter.

Try it and judge for yourself.

Monday, October 19, 2015

First bite: The KFC Hot & Cheesy Chicken

It's the latest fried chicken variant from KFC.

Hot and Crispy fried chicken, smothered with a creamy and HOT cheesy sauce, served with chicken rice and mashed potatoes with corn.

It's delicious! The cheese flavor of the sauce is not too salty and is reminiscent of the cheese taste of Pringles. The heat it brings is just enough to excite and whet the appetite. The butter flavor of the rice and the creamy mashed potatoes help temper the kick, if one can't take it.

An order of the Hot & Cheesy Chicken meal costs Php 120 (with a drink).

Try it and judge for yourself.

First Lick at Tiramissyou

It's the new Cornetto variant from Selecta.

Coffee and cream ice creams, nestling inside a crunchy cone and topped with chocolate shavings.

It's not too sweet. The coffee flavor is amply pronounced. The texture of the ice creams are smooth, a good complement to the cone.

For Php 20, the Tiramissyou is not bad at all.

Try it and judge for yourself.

First bite at K&L Café

Place: Cozy, cute, and comfortable. The dining areas are well lighted. The wood furnishings are sturdy and homey.

Food: Delicious! The ingredients are fresh and of high quality. The serving size is ample and satisfying.

First on our table is the Session Salad with Strawberry Wine Vinaigrette (Php 175): salad greens, cucumber, Sagada orange, Feta cheese, croutons, and peanut brittle, all drizzled with strawberry wine vinaigrette. The veggies and fruit are fresh and vibrant. The cheese is DELICIOUS, creamy and not too salty. The peanut brittle is the component that brings home the flavor of the salad. The vinaigrette is a tad too sharp, but the cheese and peanut brittle temper its taste.

Next, some pasta, Mommy's Pasta (Php 197): spaghetti noodles coated with a tomato-based sauce that has capers, olives, basil, and feta cheese. Considering the ingredients, we expect this dish to be overpowering, but it is not. The taste is balanced, nothing to salty, nothing to sour. It's delicious, actually. And that cheese! The noodles are just a tad soggy though.

On to the main course...

First on our table is the Chicken and Mushroom (Php 185): pan-fried chicken fingers and sliced mushrooms smothered with a creamy white sauce, served with mountain red rice. The chicken pieces are well fried and well seasoned. That white sauce is so delicious, we can't get enough of it! Creamy, flavorful (buttery with the right level of salty), GOOD! The rice is packed and bland enough to highlight the flavors of the viand. We love it too!

Next is the Garlic Beef Glaze (Php 199): tender beef strips, served with mountain red rice and some veggies. The beef's flavor lives up to the name of the dish. Its garlic and sweet tastes are just right to whet the appetite, nothing too strong or saccharine. 

Next, Daddy's Bourbon American Ribs (Php 295): a big slab of ribs, coated with a sweet-tangy sauce, served with some vegetables and mountain red rice. The ribs are TENDER and flavorful. The sauce/marinade has the right mix of sweetness and sharpness; its taste is punctuated. DELICIOUS!

Then, Lola Nena's Adobong Puti (Php 209): the classic Filipino dish, served with mountain red rice, egg, and tomatoes. This adobo is white because it has no soy sauce. This dish is for those who want their adobo extra sour and sharp. The chicken pieces are a little dry. The salted egg is smooth and not pungent.

Next is the Ilocos Bagnet with Tomato Salsa (Php 265): giant pieces of fried pork belly, with mountain red rice and tomato salsa. The pork belly is fried perfectly, crunchy skin and juicy meat. It tastes like ordinary fried liempo though. We figure that bagnet's flavor is stronger, garlicky, with a hint of sour.

Then, we have some breakfast food, the Longganisa Up North (Php 199): Baguio and Vigan longganisa, with mountain red rice and fried egg. The sausages are delicious; they're meaty, and spiced nicely. And with that vinegar, yummy!

Aside from the meals with rice, we also have some pizza, the Bacon, Tomato, and Arugula (Php 339) pizza to be exact. Flavors are straight and simple. We like the bacon because it is not too salty. The component we love is the dough! We enjoyed nibbling it! It has the right texture, not too crisp, but not chewy.

After a hearty meal, we go for dessert and hot chocolate. For our sweet fix, we decide to have some cupcakes (by Blushing Cupcakes, the company behind the restaurant). The cupcakes range from Php 59 - 89, depending on the flavor. We like the Smores, especially its buttery cookie base. We also like the Black Velvet because of the DELICIOUS, semi-sweet chocolate flavor of the cupcake itself.

We also have the Sagada Coffee cupcake. The coffee tastes is a little too subtle for our taste. Also subtle is the banana flavor of the Banana cupcake. Its chocolate cream top though is YUMMY!

To finish the meal, we have a cup of the Hot Baguio Tablea Choco (Php 109), a new addition to the menu. It's sweet, with a hint of earthy. It is served with marshmallows for an even more luxurious hot choco drink.

Price: Considering the serving size, food quality, and taste, the food here is affordable.

Service: Excellent. The servers are warm, friendly, and attentive. A big shout-out to our servers Mae and Faith!

K&L Café is along Katipunan Ave., Brgy. White Plains, Quezon City, near St. Ignatius Village.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

First bite at The Halal Guys

We were in Mega Fashion Hall earlier to line up for the grand opening of The Halal Guys. And yes, we stayed in line for 2 hours just to be able to try their much anticipated fare.

The first dish we tried was the Gyro & Chicken Combo Over Rice (Php 269, Small): seasoned rice with tomatoes, lettuce, shredded roast chicken, gyro (beef cooked on a vertical rotisserie), The Halal Guys' famous white sauce, and some pita slices. We put a little spicy sauce on it.

Its taste was ordinary, nothing great about it. The famed white sauce was a little bland, and so was the rice. The chicken was dry, and its flavor was similar to that of day-old Kenny Rogers Classic roast chicken. The gyro tasted like an ordinary, dry burger patty. The only exciting thing on our plate was the spicy sauce that was REALLY hot.

Next, the Falafel Sandwich (Php 175, Small): giant balls of falafel, with lettuce, tomato, and white sauce, all nestling inside a giant piece of pita bread. The falafel was dry and its flavor wasn't punctuated; it wasn't well seasoned. The pita bread was of average quality. Beni's Falafel in Makati was still the best we've tasted.

Lastly, we ordered some French Fries (Php 80). Now these fat fries were tasty. They even had hints of cheese flavor. But considering the serving size, we found these fried treats overpriced.

All in all, we found the food of The Halal Guys ordinary taste wise, making the prices unjustified. And based on our first try, we wouldn't mind not coming back. We'd rather eat at Turk's, mura pa.

The Halal Guys is at the Mega Food Hall, 5th floor of the Mega Fashion Hall.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

First bite at Kuya J

Place: Cramped. A little claustrophobic actually. The decor is OK, but the dining chairs are worn-out. Also, the music, the kitchen, and the staff are too loud, making the place not conducive for a relaxing dining experience.

Food: Generally delicious. What we have on our table are the restaurant's bestselling and/or signature dishes.

First are the Grilled Scallops (Php 230): grilled scallops with a buttery-garlicky topping. The scallops are a little tough, but they're fresh. The tasty combination of the butter and garlic is so good, one can't help but order one more plate of this dish.

Next is the Kuya J's Crispy Pata (Php 499, Regular size). The pork leg is fried perfectly; the skin is crispy and the meat is tender and juicy. This dish has hints of lechon macau flavor. It is served whole, then the waiter cuts the leg using a pair of scissors just to show you how tender the meat is. It is served with soy sauce-vinegar dip that lacks some kick and a small serving of pickled carrots that has a delicious sweet-sour taste.

Then, we have the Pochero Bulalo Tagalog (Php 339). Beef shank and vegetables with a tomato-based sauce. The beef shank is tender and packed with flavor. The vegetables are fresh. The fried camote and banana pieces are sweet and not overcooked. The sauce though is just a tad too sweet; it needs more meat flavor to balance things out.

For dessert, we have the Tablea Coffee Flan (Php 85): flan made with Batangas tablea, served with cream. We like the deep, bittersweet flavor of the flan. Its integrity though is too solid for a flan.

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

Service: Waiting time is acceptable. The waiters though need to be classier and more attentive.

Kuya J is on the Upper Ground floor of SM City Marikina.

By the way, according to our server, the J stands for Jeremiah. Not Jericho Rosales. Hehe.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Quick bite at Antonio J

We were at C&B Mall in Marikina Heights one morning and were looking for a good place to have lunch. We spotted Antonio J and decided to eat there.

The place had good air conditioning, was well lighted, and although the space was quite small, the dining area was comfortable. The wooden furnishing and the vintage pictures added to the homey appeal of the place.

We tried two of their bestsellers: the Baby Back Ribs and Bagnet Sweetened Kare-Kare.

The Baby Back Ribs (Php 275): tender and moist baby back ribs flavored with a tangy and spicy sauce, served with turmeric rice and vegetables (side salad, carrot and jicama sticks). The meat was juicy. The sauce had the right sharpness and saltiness. It had no hint of sweetness (which Filipinos might not like). The rice complemented the taste of the sauce. The side salad was served with a dollop of Caesar salad dressing that had the authentic egg flavor and anchovy saltiness.

The Bagnet Sweetened Kare-Kare (Php 175): fried bagnet, vegetables (eggplant, puso ng saging, string beans), both smothered with a meat-and-peanut based sauce. The bagnet was seasoned and fried perfectly. The skin was crispy. The meat though was too fatty. The vegetables were fresh and retained their natural tastes. The sauce was sweeter than that of the usual kare-kare because of the extra sweet peanut butter. This extra sweetness mixed well with the saltiness of the pork.

For dessert, we had the Wicked Oreos (Php 95): deep-fried Oreo cookies coated with batter, served with vanilla ice cream and strawberry sauce. The batter tasted like doughnut. The ice cream was smooth and not too sweet. The strawberry sauce ruined the treat a little because of its artificial flavor.

Waiting time for the food was acceptable. And our servers were attentive and knowledgeable about the food and the history of the restaurant.

Based on our experience, we would definitely come back to Antonio J to have some more delicious food.

Antonio J is at the C&B Mall Annex, Liwasang Kalayaan St., Marikina Heights, Marikina City.

Monday, October 5, 2015

First bite: Magnum White Almond

Another Magnum variant y'all!

Smooth vanilla ice cream coated with Belgian white chocolate and loads of almonds!

The vanilla ice cream is delicious and creamy; its sweetness is just right and fits the taste of the classy white chocolate. The numerous bumps of almonds are a delight to bite into.

A White Almond Magnum costs Php 55.

Try it and judge for yourself.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Quick slice: Choco-Liquor Cake

It's by Filipina actress Maricar Reyes.

Moist chocolate cake covered with a rich and velvety chocolate sauce. Sounds sinful, right? Well, it tastes equally sinful. The chocolate flavors are deep and rounded. No sugary, milk chocolate tastes here; everything is sophisticated and delicious.

For more info on the Choco-Liquor Cake, text 0917-8648282.