Mandarin Sky Seafood & Shabu Shabu Restaurant (478 Banawe St cor Simoun St Sienna, Quezon City)

Date visited: September 2013

What we ordered:

Suahe, Stuffed Vegetable Roll and Buchi

 

Taste = 4/5

–          The Suahe (shrimps) was nicely cooked although I thought they were a bit too firm. Fortunately, the sizes of the shrimp were larger than usual. Both Lyn and I thought that the dipping sauce tasted more like tempura dipping sauce which we didn’t particularly like for suahe. We prefer a sour-salty and a little spicy dipping sauce. The Vegetable Roll tasted great. It was like good siomai (pork and shrimp dumplings) wrapped in freshly blanched petchay. The accompanying sweet sauce was a little bland for us but when we dipped it in soy sauce with calamansi, the taste became much better. The meatiness was enhanced a lot and the vegetable wrap tasted better. The Buchi (spherical rice cake with a sweet bean paste in the core and sesame seed coating) was excellent probably one of the best that we have tasted. There was a thin crispy layer, then a second rice cake soft layer and finally, a warm sweet pasty core.

 

Service = 2.5/5

–          The servers were very courteous, smiled a lot and moved fast. The major problem was that it took an hour for our first dish to arrive (Suahe), 30 min more for the other dish (Vegetable Roll) and 15min more for the Buchi. In fairness to them, they warned us that the dishes we ordered took long to cook. However, they told us that we would only wait 20 min for the dishes but it took them more than an hour and a half to complete the orders and they were in instalments.

 

Ambience = 3/5

–          You could see from outside that this restaurant has a lot of patrons. Parking was hard and the waiting time was more than 15 min. The place was nice but the dining area was very crowded and everybody was just noisy. We’ve eaten at Chinese restaurants with even more diners but for some reason, it was just too noisy in the restaurant.

 

Value for money = 3/5

–          The quality and taste of the food were above average. The waiters were welcoming and were quick on their feet. What made us terribly disappointed were the poor cooking times and the atmosphere of disorder in the dining area.

I couldn’t find a website or Facebook page for this restaurant, Sorry.

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Relish (74 Sct. Limbaga St., Tomas Morato, Quzeon City)

(The map points to the neighboring restaurant, Cerchio)

Date visited: September 2013

What we ordered:

Slow Roasted Beef Belly, Relish Bistro Steak and Pannacotta

 

Taste = 5/5

–          We’ve heard a lot of things about this place and several friends have already recommended this restaurant so I had very high expectations. Fortunately they were all met. The Beef Belly was something else. The meat was so tender and the fat was so flavourful. The texture of the meat was like chewy marshmallow. The sauce really brought out the meat flavour from the belly meat and fat. There were no complicated flavours in this dish, just really good beef flavour. The Steak dish was equally great. The dish consisted of expertly-seasoned succulent tenderloin pieces which were bathing in their own juices. Both dishes had very rich beef flavours but the tenderloin had the more intricate set of flavours while the Beef Belly dish highlighted the roasted beef flavour. We were constantly getting from each others’ plates while eating. While their Pannacotta was not the best that we’ve tasted, it was still good. The consistency was softer that what we preferred but the cashews and citrusy-sweet syrup complemented the taste of their milky Pannacotta very well.

 

Service = 5/5

–          When we entered the restaurant, there was a European-looking guy roaming around seemingly very affectionately observing everything that was happening in the restaurant. He was even greeting guests. With management like this, we thought we would get good service. As soon as we sat, around 3 servers took turns getting our orders, serving our food and refilling our drinks. We didn’t even have to call their attention, they just kept coming back to our table. Now that’s great service.

 

Ambience = 5/5

–          The restaurant looked very bright and fresh. There was a holding area prior to entering the restaurant and it had very comfortable couches. Everything about the dining area, from the charming decor to the “Hello Happiness” messages, sent good vibes and made us smile.

 

Value for money = 5/5

–          They really charge fair prices taking into account the excellent quality and taste of their food, great service and outstanding dining environment. I really hope they continue to do very well.

Click here for the Facebook page.

A Taste of LA (171 Roces Ave Laging Handa, Quezon City)

Date visited: September 2013

What we ordered:

Pritchon Pugon and Barbecued Tuna Belly

Taste = 4/5

–          Pritchon is a combination of the words Prito (fried) and Lechon (suckling pig) while Pugon means wood-fire baked. What is usually done to Pritchon is they deep fry a whole suckling pig, cut it into bite-sized pieces then wrap in pita wedges. What I think they did here is they baked pork parts then served in into pita wedges. Why they even bothered to put the word Prtichon there is a mystery to me. Anyway, the pork meat was tender and succulent while the square bits of crispy pork skin were salty and very good. It had some veggies in it and the sauce tasted like Peking duck sauce. Everything complimented everything. The downside was the very small serving size. The Tuna Belly was ok and the sauce was thick and was salty and sweet. I detected a faint fishy aftertaste with the tuna which somewhat ruined it for me. Lyn said it was ok for her. The serving size was much better for this dish.

Service = 2/5

–          There were two to three servers in our area that were responsible for six tables. Only 4 tables were occupied at the time we arrived so we assumed we would get great service. Well, I was close to screaming at the two servers just to get their attention for our initial orders. Too bad for me, I was too hungry and too weak to transfer to a different restaurant. To add more insult to injury, the food was served at different times and took too long to cook. One time we wanted water, we made contact with one of the servers and he nodded and smiled but we got our water after 14min. It really made me feel bad when I saw that there was a service charge on our bill. I would’ve wanted to rate them lower but I’m reserving lower scores for explicitly rude service.

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The restaurant has about 4 areas: a bar/lounge, a smoking area and two non-smoking dining areas. We were seated in the smaller non-smoking dining area and the mood was intimate. The lights were dim, the room was quiet and customers could cuddle in some of the seats.

Value for money = 2.5/5

–          This restaurant has been a landmark in the Tomas Morato area for as long as I can remember. I don’t know if we just caught them on their bad day but they have to improve on two things ASAP: serving size and service. But I’m not really keen on checking if they have improved in the future.

I couldn’t find a website or Facebook page for this restaurant, Sorry.

Calderon (403-i F Calderon St., Little Baguio, San Juan)

Date visited: September 2013

What we ordered:

Salpicao and Callos Madrilena

Taste = 4/5

–          The Salpicao was great. The meat was very tender and the sauce tasted very rich. It was salty and peppery with fresh and roasted garlic. I would have liked it with more garlic but Lyn said it was just right. Good thing we ordered garlic rice. It was a good match with the salpicao for me. The chickpeas and capers were good compliments to the Callos but it tasted too tripe-y for us. We like tripe with a clean taste but their tripe tasted borderline funny to us.

Service = 5/5

–          The servers were very courteous and they accommodated our requests. Although the food came at different times, the service was good.

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The restaurant was small and but they maximized their dining areas on the upper and ground floors. They also had minimal clutter which helped free some space for manoeuvring.

Value for money = 3.5/5

–          I knew that tapas were usually given in small servings. However, the prices were above what I had expected considering that the quality and taste of their food were only just about above average.

Click here for their Facebook page.