Sunday, February 28, 2016

First bite at Alab

Place: Amply spacious. The furnishings are quite hard to be homey. The music is a little too loud. And the air inside needs to be cooler.

Food: Generally, the food is delicious, but not impressive or unforgettable enough to make one come back.

First on our table is the Pancit Molo (Php 120): pork and shrimp dumplings swimming in chicken broth. The soup is delicious and hearty. Its garlicky flavor is pronounced but not overpowering. The dumplings are packed with a clean, well-seasoned meaty taste.

Next, the Okay Sarap (Php 120): shrimp and sweet potato strips, combined and fried with a light batter. They're served with a vinegar dip. The tastes are authentic. The sweetness of the sweet potato complements the flavor of the fresh and juicy shrimps. No need for the dip, actually. Delicious!

Next is the Pancit Canton na may Lechon Kawali (Php 290). This dish features stir-fried egg noodles, vegetables, seafood, and meat, topped with deep fried pork belly slices. The flavor is punctuated, nothing too salty or reeking with MSG. The noodles though are too soggy. But those lechon kawali pieces! Crispy, juicy, GOOD!

Then, the Lechon na Crispy Pata (Php 590). On the menu, it says "roasted pork leg." What's on our table is something fried. In other words, it's not lechon but the ordinary, normal crispy pata. The deception notwithstanding, we cannot deny the juiciness of the meat and the crispiness of the skin. The lemongrass and leeks add vibrancy to the dish. The dipping sauce is a little too sour though.

Next, the Pianggang (Php 290). It's a Tausug dish that [supposedly] features grilled chicken in coconut milk that is flavored with Tausug paste (aromatics and burnt coconut). We're expecting to taste layers of flavor, just based on the description. We can only sense chicken curry, but good chicken curry. Still, chicken curry, and none of the burnt grill taste nor the nutty coconut. Just curry. The chicken is tender though.

For our rice, we have the Alab's Fried Rice (Php 180). It's fried rice with turmeric, chopped seafood, and peanuts. It is tasty and has subtle gingery undertones. Quite good, actually.

For drinks, we have the Alab Iced Tea (Php 70). It's iced tea with pandan flavor. That pandan taste gives a good flavor twist to the regular iced tea. Para kang umiinom ng sago't gulaman juice.

Finally, dessert. We have the New York Cubao Cheesecake (Php 140). It's bibingka with a twist. The bottom layer is a crust that is crumbly and buttery. The bibingka itself is light and teeming with salted egg slices. It needs more margarine or butter flavor though. The shredded fresh coconut meat adds some nuttiness.

Price: Considering food quality, taste, and serving size, food here is a little overpriced.

Service: It needs improvement. The family next to ours is complaining because they're been waiting for than 20 minutes for their food. The waiters are a little disorganized and confused, though warm and friendly.

Alab is on the 3rd floor of UP Town Center.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

First bite of the Banana Chocolate Chip Cookie

A new treat from Starbucks.

It's like banana cake shaped like a cookie. 

Each morsel is filled with good and authentic banana flavor. The oats provide nice roughage and texture. And those chocolate chips? Delicious!

Try it and judge for yourself.

First sip of the Cucumber Lemonade

A new concoction from Tokyo Tokyo.

It's lemonade with thin slices of cucumber.

The initial sip brings an authentic, refreshing, sweet-sour flavor of lemon. And this taste is made even more refreshing and cooler by the cucumber strands.

But after the delicious first layer of flavor comes the sugary taste that is sticky to the mouth. And this saccharine component makes the drink disappointing.

Try it and judge for yourself.

First bite of the Grilled Salmon Teriyaki Bento and the Seafood Ramen

Seafood dishes from Tokyo Tokyo!

First, the Grilled Salmon Teriyaki Bento (Php 139): rice, buttered vegetables, and a slice of grilled salmon that is covered with terikyaki sauce.

The salmon is moist and tender. It just tastes a little too fishy though; a sign of not being fresh or of low quality? The sauce is delicious, good combination of sweet and liquor flavors.

As usual, the vegetables are buttery good, and the rice, well cooked.

Second, the Seafood Ramen: noodles, cabbages, spring onions, a piece of tempura, slivers of kani, and a leaf of nori, all swimming in a pork broth. The soup has a subtle yet satisfying meat flavor. The noodles are just a tad soggy. The seafood components are OK enough.

Try them and judge for yourselves.

First bite of Fish 2 Go Inihaw na Bangus

A delicious treat from Fish 2 Go!

Grilled Dagupan bangus stuffed with chopped tomatoes and shallots.

The fish is FRESH and sweet! And it's made even sweeter by the shallots. The dipping sauce adds the right amount of saltiness to complement the flavor of the fish.

One piece costs Php 290.

Try it and judge for yourself.

Quick sip of the Roasted Caramel Macchiato and Chocolate Hazelnut Macchiato

Relatively new drinks from Starbucks.

The first is the good old macchiato with Roasted Caramel syrup.

It's too sweet! Actually, it's so sweet, that the sugary (and sticky) component stays at the back of the mouth. And we could barely sense the coffee...

It has good foam though...Hehe.

The other drink, the Chocolate Hazelnut Macchiato, is macchiato with hazelnut syrup and chocolate sauce. The hazelnut component is pronounced, while the chocolate is subtle. But like the other drink, it is a tad too sweet.

Try it and judge for yourself.

By the way, the other drink on the picture is the Frappuccino version. It is even sweeter than the regular macchiato variant. Yikes!

Friday, February 26, 2016

First bite at Rock & Seoul

We were at SM The Block one morning and decided to drop by Rock & Seoul, a new Korean restaurant that offers "Make Your Own Bap;" customers are given the chance to choose the ingredients for their bibimbap if they don't like any of the fixed bibimbap variants of the restaurant.

For lunch, first on our table was the Classic Original Bibimbap (Php 210). It had minced beef, vegetables (carrots, bean sprouts, spinach, zucchini), and a sunny-side-up egg as topping. To flavor this dish, the restaurant used the staple gochujang (hot pepper paste) and some kimchi butter.

This dish was surprisingly bland. In fact, it was so bland, we had to get more gochujang for an additional Php 15! Doing this gave us the opportunity to taste the sauce itself. It had heat, but almost no flavor, none of the sharp, slightly acidic taste that gochujang should have. Also, the sauce was a tad too watery.

The beef tasted funny, not so fresh. But the vegetable were nice and delicious.

For our second dish, we chose to Make Our Own Bap (Php 290). For our "1 meat," we got the Korean Fried Chicken. For the "4 vegetables," we got carrots, Sautéed Button Mushrooms, Garlic Spinach, and corn kernels. Finally, for our "1 Sauce" we chose the restaurant's own mix, the House Bap Sauce.

Just like our first dish, this came with a sunny-side-up egg and kimchi butter. But, just like the first dish, our concoction was bland, disappointingly bland. And there was nothing "Korean" about our chicken. It was just lightly salted, and it had a funny, not-that-fresh undertone.

As for the vegetables, they were fresh and delicious. But we didn't sense anything garlicky about the spinach, and the mushrooms didn't taste sautéed.

Another thing we noticed: the serving size didn't fit the prices we paid. Ang konti!

All in all, our first experience was not rocking, disappointing. We figured that we don't mind not coming back, that if we want delicious bibimbap, we'll go to Oriental Seoul. Mura pa.

Rock & Seoul is on the upper ground floor of SM The Block.

Monday, February 22, 2016

First bite of Pappy's Barbecue and Sisig

We were in Eastwood Mall one Sunday afternoon, strolling around the Weekend Gourmet Market. One table caught our eye, for it was filled with delicious-looking pork dishes: barbecue and sisig! The table was the table of Pappy's Barbecue House. After a few more minutes of staring at the dishes (and some great sales talking from the attendant), we bought some sticks of pork barbecue and a pack of sisig.

The Pork Barbecue (Php 35 per stick) had big chunks of meat and fat. Each morsel was juicy and moist. Its taste is a mixture of peppery, sweet, and smoky flavors. Not bad, actually. The thing was though, this taste was not unfamiliar; we could think of restaurants that sell barbecue dishes with the same taste.

The Sisig was made with chopped pork ears and pork fat, seasoned with sliced finger chili. It had a hint of barbecue taste and a subtle livery undertone. It was just a little too fatty though.

Pappy's Barbecue House offers more products, like different kinds of steaks. For more information on these, contact them.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Quick bite of Jack 'n Jill Classic Potato Chips

There's a new Potato Chips variant from Jack 'n Jill: the Classic Potato Chips.

Thinly sliced potato chips seasoned with salt.

This one tastes like Lay's Potato Chips, only slight less sweet. Not too salty and not too oily. Not bad, actually.

Try it and judge for yourself.

Quick bite of the Swift Premium Corned Beef

There's a new corned beef variant in town!

It's the Swift Premium Corned Beef.

The fibrous meat is juicy and flavorful. Its taste is not as sweet as that of Purefoods Corned Beef. It's also slightly more peppery and not too salty. The beef flavor is authentic.

Quite good, actually.

Try it and judge for yourself.

Quick lick of the Mango Tango Cornetto

It's the latest Cornetto variant from Selecta.

It's mango ice cream topped with Graham cracker bits. The tip of the cone is filled with white chocolate.

The mango ice cream is creamy. The mango taste though is too subtle. The Graham bits are a little stale. The white chocolate is delicious.

Try it and judge for yourself.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Quick bite of Missy Bon Bon Pastel

Bread rolls filled with custard.

The rolls are soft, fresh, and buttery. The custard filling has good consistency, not runny, not pasty. Its sweetness is just right, not too sugary. Just good milky, egg flavor. Really good!

Visit Cagayan de Oro and have a box of Missy Bon Bon Pastel!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Quick bite of the Choco Chip Cream Cheese Stix

A new treat from Auntie Anne's.

Almond-crusted pretzel sticks filled with chocolate and cream cheese.

The filling is creamy and rich, but a little too sweet. The pretzel itself however is perfect, soft, well seasoned, and fresh.

An order costs Php 85.

Try them and judge for yourself.

First bite of the BibimBowl

Something new by BonChon Chicken!

Korean rice dishes that come in two variants: Chicken BibimBowl and Beef BibimBowl.

The Chicken BibimBowl has rice, carrots, egg, nori, and breaded fried chicken fingers, all smothered with the restaurant's own gojuchang (hot pepper paste). The ingredients are of high quality. The sauce has a good touch of sweetness and an ample pinch of saltiness. The heat level is just right. Quite delicious, actually. 

The Beef BibimBowl: rice topped sliced beef, kimchi, carrots, egg, and nori, then flavored with gojuchang. The beef is sweet and tender. All the other ingredients are fresh. The sauce's flavor is balanced and punctuated. The heat is just enough to whet the appetite. Yummy!

An order costs Php 99.

Try one and judge for yourself.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Quick bite of the Truffle King Ramen

Pork, red cabbage, lettuce, mashed truffle, and truffle slices, all swimming in a thick broth.

We're excited to order this "limited edition" ramen because we LOVE the taste of truffles. But this dish is surprisingly bland. We don't know if all the truffle elements cancelled each other out. Or maybe the chef forgot to put truffle oil on the broth. Basta, matabang. We can't sense the luxurious and punctuated flavor of truffle. 

Considering the Php 750 price tag, we can't help but feel cheated.

First sip: Kopiko Black 3inONE

It's the latest caffeinated concoction from Kopiko.

It's [supposedly] a strong and rich coffee mix. "Astig na kape," as the brand describes it.

So is it really astig? No. There is no deep, strong, bitter flavor. There's only sweetness that lingers. No wonder one will stay awake longer, because of the eventual sugar high. All sweetness, no boldness. Not very astig.

Try it and judge for yourself.