Pinac Heirloom Capampangan Cuisine (2nd Level, U.P. Town Center, Katipunan Ave., Diliman, Quezon City)

PhotoGrid_1400334952010Date visited: November 2013

What we ordered:

Ensaladang Pako with Fried Itik Floss (fiddle fern with salted egg, green mangoes, cucumber and tomatoes served with Pinac vinaigrette and topped with deep fried quail floss) (~PhP130), Manibalang na Manga at Hito Ensalada (salad of green mangoes with cucumber, eggplant, red onions and tomatoes, served with fermented shrimp paste and catfish) (~PhP130), Sinigang na Ulo ng Salmon sa Miso (salmon’s head miso sour soup) (~PhP220) and Smoked Tadyang with Yellow Mango Chutney (fall-off-the-bone smoked beef ribs with yellow mango and native corn salsa) (~PhP650)

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          We were looking for a place to eat in the (then relatively new) U.P. Town Center and we chose to eat at a Filipino-themed restaurant. Good thing we did. Everything was yummy. This must be because the dishes of restaurant hail from Pampanga, where, people have the reputation of being excellent cooks. The Sinigang was definitely yummy and sour to our liking. We believe that the best fish meat is in the vicinity of their heads and the fish parts that were in the soup were definitely good, flaky and flavourful. The ribs were a bit on the tough side but they had much flavour and the chutney was the perfect accompaniment to the dish. The salad had a little too much flavor going on but overall, it was interesting. The fiddle fern was good. The combination of flavors was excellent: sour, sweet, salty, savory and fresh (because of the cucumber).

 

Service = 5/5

–          Even though they were literally full of diners and we were seated near the edge of the restaurant, we still received excellent service and we never felt that we were being neglected.

 

Ambience = 5/5

–          The place had a modern feel with a very clean brown-beige-white motif. There were a lot of interesting pictures on the walls which could easily be conversation starters for those on dates. The place was brightly lit and felt like a very good place to eat and chat with family and friends.

 

Value for money = 4.5/5

–          The service we received and quality of the food were superior in its class. However, their serving sizes could use a little improvement. Having said this, this restaurant can still easily become our favourite in U.P. Town Center.

Sorry, we weren’t able to find any page or website for this restaurant.

Kogi Bulgogi (G/F Greenhills Promenade, Greenhills, San Juan)

PhotoGrid_1399651154538Date visited: November 2013

What we ate:

Bulgogi (Grilled marinated beef) (~PhP340), Bulgogi Ssambap (Grilled marinated beef rice wrap) (~PhP290) and Fried Rice (~PhP90)

 

Taste = 4/5

–          We were looking for a new restaurant to try in the Greenhills Promenade area and we happened to see this Korean restaurant. They served six complimentary appetizers that included kimchi, bean sprouts, sweet anchovies, fried meat balls, sweet potatoes and stir-fried veggies. They were all good and really helped diners who were very hungry. Their Bulgogi was good, the beef was tender and the sweetness was just right. However, there was nothing really distinct about this dish to make it stand out from the other restaurants. Even though we were really in the mood for beef that day, we couldn’t really finish the beef dishes because of taste fatigue which we haven’t really experienced in a long while. The Ssambap had three sauces that you could mix with the lettuce rice beef wrap which were: a sesame-based sauce, sweet bean paste and a chilli sauce. It created different taste combinations that made the meal more interesting but again, we experienced taste fatigue. The Fried rice had a good blending of flavors but the serving size was a little smaller than what we expected. It was also on the soggy side, which we didn’t particularly like. The serving sizes were also smaller than what we expected for the beef dishes.

 

Service = 2.5/5

–          The servers were not very attentive and there was an atmosphere of chaos and confusion among the servers. It also didn’t help that the cooking time was longer than average.

 

Ambience = 3.5/5

–          The dining area was tidy but the spacing between the tables were narrow and it was a bit difficult to move around. Even though only a few people were talking, it got too noisy for comfort.

 

Value for money = 3/5

–          While the dishes tasted fine and the quality was ok, the prices they charged were too much considering what other restaurants of the same cuisine and class were charging. It also didn’t help that the service we received was below average.

Click here for their Facebook page.

Outback Steakhouse (35 E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave, Acropolis, Libis, Quezon City)

PhotoGrid_1398964954557[1]Date visited: November 2013

What we ordered:

Crispy Calamari (~PhP350) and Outback Special (~PhP1000) with complimentary bread

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          This Aussie-style restaurant has been on our dining plans for a long time already and at the time, we were in the area and hungry. The Crispy Calamari (deep-fried batter-coated squid) was served really quickly. It was still piping hot when we took a bite and it was delicious. The better part of the dish was the salsa. It had tomato chunks, onions, a little chilli and Lyn’s favourite, cilantro. It was one of the best salsa we’ve tasted and it was so good we asked for another bowlful. Lyn didn’t like the tentacles but it was ok for me. The steak looked almost too good to be true. It jiggled a little when we poked it with a fork and it was as tender as it looked. It had the right amount of chewiness almost like a chunk of chewy fondant. The taste was good but for me, it was a bit low on saltiness. I would have preferred a unique sauce for the steak since the A1 steak sauce they had overpowered the taste of their good steak.

 

Service = 4/5

–          They provided ample service and the servers were attentive enough though they weren’t the smiling types, we think.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The dining area was divided into sections, there was a non-smoking area, a smoking area and a bar, which made it really pleasant for non-smokers and families. The place had neat-looking wooden furnishings, knickknacks all over and Aussie-inspired decor. The floor spacing was also nice and made manoeuvring easy despite the number of tables.

 

Value for money = 4/5

–          The dishes were on the expensive side but the good taste of the food and the quality of the meat made everything worth the price. They could try to improve on the serving size and service to make the whole experience better.

Click here for their website.

Banana Leaf (G/F Greenhills Promenade, Greenhills, San Juan)

PhotoGrid_1385302119835

Date visited: October 2013

What we ordered:

Crispy Spring Roll Thai Style (~PhP140), Hainanese Chicken (~PhP300) and Thai Style Fried Rice with Shrimp Paste (~PhP200)

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          We have eaten at different branches of this restaurant and the taste seems to be consistent among them, which is a bit hard to accomplish since different cooks tend to approach dishes differently.  We ordered our favourites. The Hainanese Chicken tasted so delicate and really went well with the accompanying dark soy sauce, ginger and chilli sauce. It tasted as if the chicken was boiled for a long period and made the meat really succulent. They probably have a “master stock” because the chicken was very flavourful. The ginger gave the chicken that refreshing taste and the dark soy sauce gave the dish sweetness and saltiness while the chilli gave it that special spicy kick. The frIed rice was a version of Bagoong (shrimp paste) rice. It was on the sweeter side and was less salty with a kick of chilli. It was a very good compliment to the delicate taste of the Hainanese Chicken. Lyn likes Thai style spring rolls with bean thread noodles (Asian vermicelli), shrimp meat, cilantro and fresh veggies inside and this restaurant has a fried version of it, which was good. The accompanying sweet, sour and spicy sauce was really a very good compliment to the crunchy noodle-filled spring rolls. Their special pandan iced tea was really something else. If you know the taste and smell of pandan leaves then just imagine it served as a very cold and refreshing sweet drink. The taste is almost like an aromatic cold honey drink. The serving sizes of the dishes were good for 3 persons so we really were just barely able to finish the rice and chicken. We took home more than half of the spring rolls as take out/take away.

 

Service = 4/5

–          The service was good though there were times that the servers were not too attentive. But overall, it was better than most restaurants.

 

Ambience = 4/5

–          The restaurant serves good Thai, Malaysian, Indian, Indonesian, Singaporean and Vietnamese dishes and while they serve that many cuisines, the interiors of the restaurant looked and felt plain. There was clearly a green motif to the restaurant with different shades of it and the chairs had a “rattan” style. Also, the dishes were served in plates but the diners would eat on banana leaves, which is actually something very Filipino.

 

Value for money = 4.5/5

–          The quality, taste and serving sizes of the dishes here are really above average compared to the other restaurants in its class. Their successful presence in all of the three major Philippine islands is proof of this and we hope they continue to improve.

Click here for their website.

Tori Box Cafe (403 F. Calderon St., Little Baguio, San Juan)

PhotoGrid_1385301700495Date visited: October 2013

What we ordered:

Kani Salad, Beef Yakiniku Pita and Tori Katsu

 

Taste = 3.5/5

–          Since the restaurant’s name had “Tori” in it, we decided to try their Tori katsu (deep-fried breaded or battered chicken). It was somewhat of a scary experience since the meat looked a little undercooked. But on closer inspection and a few tastes, it was cooked. The taste was good but not really exceptional. We were looking for something special since katsu is what they say their specialty is. But it was just ok, including the sauce and side salad. The Beef Yakiniku Pita likewise tasted good but not out of the ordinary. The taste was like beef with sweet soy sauce inside pita bread. The Kani salad was ok. Fortunately, the taste was that of Japanese mayo and the lettuce was crisp.

 

Service = 3.5/5

–          There were only two tables filled and one of the tables was only ordering take out/take away when we got there. Unfortunately, we had to exert much effort in just calling the servers’ attention.

 

Ambience = 5/5

–          Although the dining area was small, the place had a good vibe to it. It was bright and clean and had interesting pictures and things on the walls and some were even hanging from the ceiling. It had a feeling of being a fun place to have a snack with someone.

 

Value for money = 3/5

–          The dishes were expensive considering the taste, quality and serving size. On the brighter side, the place had a good feel to it. Hopefully they can improve on the quality of their dishes so the good dining experience would be complete.

Click here for their Facebook page.

Chef Laudico Guevarra’s (387 P Guevarra St. cor Argone St., Bgy Addition Hills, San Juan)

*The bad news is that we couldn’t embed the Google map here for some unknown technical reason.

The good news is that the next post will already have pictures! 🙂

Date visited: October 2013

What we ate:

A lot

 

Taste = 4/5

–          Chef Laudico has been made famous because of his involvement in a reality TV show. That’s probably why booking a reservation at a convenient time was very difficult. What we were able to sample from the buffet spread was Dinuguan (meat stew in pig’s blood), Lechon (roasted pig), Pancit (stir-fried egg noodles), Seafood Paella, Hilabos na Hipon (shrips sautéed in butter and garlic), Fish Dory in Mango Sauce, Angus Beef Tapa (tapa means cured/marinated meat), Shanghai (spring rolls), US Angus Beef, Seafood a la Pobre (a la Pobre means cooked in thick brown sauce with garlic), Roasted Vegetables, Ginataang Mais (corn in coconut milk), Maja Blanca (coconut pudding), Suman Balls (steamed glutinous rice) with Latik (sweetened coconut sauce) Sauce. The “misses” were Hilabos na Hipon (shrimp overcooked), Seafood Paella (seafood not fresh) and Seafood a la Pobre (too fishy).  The highlights include the Angus Beef Tapa. It was so tender and was salty, sweet and deliciously fatty. The Angus Beef was likewise great, you could really tell that the quality of the beef was superior. I love roasted veggies and they cooked it very well. The Lechon had a very crispy skin and the meat was so tender – one of the better lechon I’ve tasted in a buffet setting. The “OK” dishes were the Pancit, Fish Dory, Shanghai and the desserts. But the interesting part was that they had what initially appeared as a chocolate fountain. When we got closer to it, it was actually a Latik fountain, which I thought was a very nice little twist.

 

Service = 4/5

–          The people at the reception area weren’t really the nicest ones and there was an aura of chaos among the servers. Nevertheless, they were able to give fast service and were attentive enough.

 

Ambience = 5/5

–          The restaurant looked very homey and was most likely because the interior of the restaurant was not radically changed from the house where it had been converted from. It was really like eating at a family reuinion.

 

Value for money = 4/5

–          There were hits and misses in the food and this restaurant has still not solved the problem encountered by all buffets – some of the food were cold and stale. The price of their buffet is also above average considering the relatively limited choices compared to others.

Click here for their Facebook page.

Tiago (85 Sct Fuentebella St, Sacred Heart Quezon City)

Date visited: October 2013

What we ordered:

Pinausukang Chicken and Pork

 

Taste = 3.5/5

–          The menu describes the dish as Smoked Chicken in Mindanao Adobo Sauce, Quail’s Egg and Pork Trotters.  While the chicken tasted great and was very juicy and the pork meat was as delicate as it can get, the menu led us to believe that it was adobo but it wasn’t. The vital ingredient in any adobo is vinegar. It is the one ingredient that has to be there. Or if it was there, the diners should be able to taste it. The relatively low rating we gave for the taste isn’t really to say that it wasn’t delicious but more on not meeting expectations set by the description of the dish.

 

Service = 3.5/5

–          They were on their first month of opening so it was expected that they did not accept credit cards yet. However, the poor service we got was something we did not expect. It was really hard to get the server’s attention and it seemed that “discipline” and “impressions” are not words they value – one of the uniformed servers was comfortably seated in a large couch with both his hands stretched across the back rest and it seemed like he can’t be bothered.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          This is probably where they invested a lot. The place looked great. There was an area where a part of the ceiling was made of glass and it added a nice ambience to it. Some of the walls, even the restroom walls, had a blackboard type of material and the designs were made with chalk, which matched the interiors and the black-and-white menu. The plates had nice designs, the lighting fixtures were great and the overall design had a good flow to it. However, I noticed that the restroom sign had some Braille writing on it and when I touched them, they weren’t embossed or raised. Too bad.

 

Value for money = 3.5/5

–          The price of the dish was a bit expensive even if the serving was for sharing. It also didn’t help that we got poor service. They have the potential to being one of the good Filipino restaurants in the area but they have a long way to go to get there.

Click here for their Facebook page.