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.

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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.

 

KKK (Ground Floor, Entertainment Mall, SM MOA)

 

Date visited: October 2013

What we ate:

Garlic Pusit, Sisig Pampanga and Choco Overload

 

Taste = 3.5/5

–          Unfortunately, the Pusit (squid) tasted fishy. It sort of ruined Lyn’s appetite a little bit. It came close to being repulsive so we were only able to eat a spoonful each. Fortunately, the Sisig was great! Bits of pork cheeks and onions with a salty-umami sauce that had a touch of kalamansi juice on a sizzling plate went really great with warm rice. This made up a little bit for the poor squid dish. The Choco Overload was chocolate ice cream on top of a brownie with whipped cream and butterscotch syrup. Well, it tasted exactly like the description and there was nothing special about the taste. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either.

 

Service = 4/5

–          It was almost closing time but the service was still good. However, there were times when calling the attention of the servers became difficult.

 

Ambience = 4/5

–          The restaurant had an indoor dining area with lots of Filipino-inspired decor: brown bamboo wall decoration, images of Filipinos in formal attire, wooden furnishings, etc. The al fresco dining area was ordinary but the seats were comfortable.

 

Value for money = 3/5

–          Because of the discrepancy in the qualities of their dishes and relatively high prices, we couldn’t really give a high mark for value for this restaurant. They should improve the taste and quality of all their dishes since there are too many restaurants in the area with much better quality dishes in the same price range.

Click here for their website.

Adarna Food and Culture (119 Kalayaan Ave. Diliman, Quezon City)

PhotoGrid_1376061543935Date Visited: July 2013

What we ate:

Sigarillas Salad with Bagnet Bits, Spicy Intramuros Gambas, Tokwa Rebosado, Kaldereta Antigo, Adobong Batangas ala Adarna, Grilled Chicken Breast with Kesong Puti Boursin, Bacon and Mango Salsa, Feliz Chocolate Cake, Kesong Puti and Langka Fry, Bunuelos and Banana Peanut Roll

Taste = 4.5/5

–          If good Filipino food is what you’re looking for, Adarna should be one of your top choices. The salad was very refreshing and I’ve never tasted Sigarilyas (winged beans) this good before. The Gambas (prawns) were very nicely cooked – not too oily and very tender. The Tokwa (tofu) was surprisingly delicious and was not pungent at all. The salsa it came with was to Lyn’s liking because it had a generous amount of cilantro. The Kaldereta (beef stewed in tomatoes) tasted very savoury but the meat was a little tough. The Adobo was my favourite. The amount of sauce was not that much but it was very delicious. It was salty, sweet, oily and a little bitter but very addicting. The Grilled Chicken was tough. Too bad because the salsa it came with was good. The chocolate cake tasted average while the Kesong Puti (carabao milk cheese) and Langka (jackfruit) Fry tasted sweet and a little creamy. The Banana peanut roll tasted very sweet, almost too sweet. The Bunuelos was very nice to eat. As if the fried dough balls that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside weren’t enough, they came with a delicious bitter-sweet chocolate dip! Yummy!

Service = 5/5

–          The service we received was great. The waiters were very accommodating and were very helpful with our particular requests.

Ambience = 5/5

–          The whole place looked and felt Filipino: the chairs, tables, ornaments, plates, wall fixtures, and dining area felt Pinoy even if some of the items were not made locally. After dinner, they had mini tours and gave some history about the antiques that were displayed in the dining area.

Value for money = 4/5

–          We believe the prices of their food were reasonable but I think they have to improve on the tenderness of the meat to give it that extra yumminess. The short history tour was a nice touch even if just to assist in digesting the meals.

Click here for their Facebook page.

Elias (UG/F Robinsons Magnolia)

PhotoGrid_1372860738997Date visited: June 2013

What we ordered:

Sisig Linares (Pork Sisig), Carlota (Squid Fillet sautéed in Garlic Oyster Sauce with Chilis), Dona Victorina (Sautéed Prawns in Crab Fat) and Espana (Ginataang Manok at Gulay with Tanglad)

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          With names like Espana, Carlota, Linares and Dona Victorina, we expected the food to be extra special. We weren’t disappointed with the taste of most of the dishes. The sisig was very good. It was very meaty with lots of onion and a salty-sweet sauce. The taste of the squid dish was not that good since it tasted bland and the meat was on the tough side. The prawns were delightful. The crab fat sauce was creamy and went very well with the prawn. The chicken dish was what surprised me the most. I am not really a fan of coconut milk-based dishes but this dish tasted very good. The coconut milk was not overpowering and served as a very good base for the lemon grass and chicken. This is probably the dish that will make me come back to this restaurant. I hope they don’t change the recipe.

 

Service = 4/5

–          The place was almost full but we still received decent service although it took some amount of effort just to call their attention sometimes.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The atmosphere felt very Filipino. The ornaments and decorations made the customers know they were eating premium Filipino food. The problem with the restaurant was that the spaces between tables were very small.

 

Value for money = 3.5/5

–          The prices were very expensive. I understand that the quality and taste of the dishes were above average but the serving sizes were not. In addition, the space between tables needs to be increased. Improvement of the service wouldn’t hurt also.

Click here for their website.

The Grillery Restaurant & Bar (Greenhills Town Center Granada St. Brgy Valencia, Quezon City)

PhotoGrid_1371872846308Date visited: June 2013

What we ordered:

Sisig and Balinese Fish

Taste = 4.5/5

–          Both Lyn and I were already hungry and didn’t have enough blood sugar left to try and think too much on where we would eat when we were on our way home along Ortigas/Granada. JT’s was full so we went inside Greenhills Town Center. We picked this restaurant randomly but it turned out to be a good choice. The Sisig was surprisingly delicious even though it was too spicy for me. It had pork cartilage, sweet onions, green chillies and the taste of liver with a salty and umami sauce. Lyn said the fish was also good. It tasted fresh with a semi-crunchy crust and the sauce was on the sweet side which complimented the fish very well.

Service = 4/5

–          We got good service but we had to exert too much effort in calling their attention.

Ambience = 4/5

–          The dining area was dim probably because it was primarily a place where people just hung out and drank. The place felt cluttered even though it wasn’t. Weird, but that’s how I felt.

Value for money = 4/5

–          The prices were ok considering how their food tasted as well as the serving size. Our experience would have probably been better had we received better service.

Click here for their Facebook page.

Lola Cafe + Bar (99 Sct Lozano St., South Triangle, Quezon City)

PhotoGrid_1370538052901Date visited: June 2013

What we ordered:

Kare-kare and Adobo Balsamic Chicken

Taste = 4.5/5

–          The Adobo was simply delightful – large pieces of chicken with a very dark balsamic sauce. The balsamic vinegar gave the dish a more European flavour but it was still on the sweeter side. The chicken meat was well-cooked and the portions were large. The Kare-kare was nicely-cooked also although it was the bagoong that brought life to the kare-kare (the peanut sauce was a little bland).  The meat in the Kare-kare tasted fresh including the tripe, fortunately.

Service = 3.5/5

–          The restaurant was not even at half capacity but we still had to exert effort to even just call the waiters’ attention.

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The place felt welcoming and the dining areas were clean. It had a clean contemporary look and the place had a vibrant atmosphere.

Value for money = 4/5

–          Because of the large serving sizes, the prices of the items we ordered were very reasonable. Both Lyn and I couldn’t finish half of our orders. If only they could improve the service to all the diners, they would probably have more returning customers.