The Fireplace (Hyatt Regency Hotel & Casino Manila, 1588 Pedro Gil cor. M.H. Del Pilar, Manila)

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Date visited: November 2013

What we ate:

Wagyu Tasting Plate with complimentary Potato Gratin (~PhP3,200 promo), Creme Brulee (~PhP500), Chocolate soup (~PhP500) and Guava Iced Tea (~PhP300)

 

Taste = 5/5

–          Our experience in this place was so good that we had to visit it twice in two months. The tasting plate consisted of three 10-oz steaks namely, Australian Wagyu Beef Tajima, American Wagyu Snake River Farms and Kitayama Philippine Wagyu Beef striploin 6+. All of the steaks tasted good but they had some differences. The American Wagyu had the best taste of them all. It was the most tender of them all as well. The beef taste was smooth and it was really “butter knife beef”. The Philippine Wagyu tasted good as well and it was tender. The beef tasted like our regular beef flavour here but the difference was in the tenderness of the meat and truly reflected the “6+”.  The Australian Wagyu had a smooth burger-beefy flavour and was almost as tender as the American Wagyu. The Potato Gratin was very creamy, filling and was really baked very well. We were scraping the bottom of the casserole because it was really good. The Creme Brulee had a very crispy crust almost glass-like and the custardy interior was good but it was a little too sweet even for us. The Chocolate Soup was so good. The soup part was extremely hot but the ice cream on top was so cold. The contrasting temperatures and the bittery taste of the hot chocolate soup versus the sweet cold vanilla ice cream made it very good. They also had complimentary walnut bread with Beurre D’ Isigny butter and the butter was just so good. However, one of the reasons that we came back to this restaurant was the Guava Iced Tea. It was the best iced tea that we’ve ever tasted. The taste of the guava was just perfectly blended with the iced tea and the pineapple slice was a welcome bonus.

 

Service = 4.5/5

–          Since the restaurant is in a hotel, we received excellent service although they could have been friendlier.

 

Ambience = 5/5

–          The area had a sophisticated atmosphere but was not too intimidating. There was a large Beech oven on display that displayed how they were grilling their meats which showed their confidence in what they were doing.

 

Value for money = 4.5/5

–          The prices were very expensive but the quality of the steaks, good service, nice ambience and of course, the Guava Iced Tea made the high cost worth it.

Click here for their website.

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Tim Ho Wan (HK and PH)

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Tim Ho Wan (G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Hong Kong, China (Sham Shui Po))

Date visited: November 2013

What we ate:

Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (~HK$20), Steamed Rice with Chicken Feet and Spareribs (~$HK20), Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumpling (~HK$25), Glutinous Rice Dumpling (~HK$25), Tonic Medlar and Petal Cake (~HK$10) (~PhP600 total)

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Tim Ho Wan (G/F, SM Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall)

Date visited: May 2014

What we ate:

Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (~PhP150), Steamed Egg Cake (~PhP90), Pork Dumpling with Shrimp (~PhP150), Glutinous Rice with Lotus Leaf (~PhP200), Mango Pomelo Sago (~PhP 80), Spinach Dumpling with Shrimp (~PhP120), Vermicelli Roll with Pig’s Liver (~PhP150)

 

Taste = 5/5 (HK & PH)

–          This post will be a little different from the others since we will be comparing the HK and PH branches of Tim Ho Wan, the world’s “cheapest” Michelin-starred restaurant. With every branching out of a restaurant, there is always the possibility of a change in the taste of the food because you can only import so much and eventually, local ingredients would have to be used, hence, a possible change in the taste. Thankfully, the Baked Buns (what they are known for) were just as delicious in the PH as they were in HK. The PH verison was just a little sweeter than the HK version but both have that salty, sweet, savory, umami, rich flavour from the bun to the pork filling. The bun has a slight crunch when you bite into it but the rest of the fluffy pastry crumbles in your mouth giving you a salty-sweet combination. The pork filling is just so yummy to describe but the taste is savory-sweet Chinese-style BBQ flavour and the pork is very delicate. This is the only dish that we agree should not be taken home/taken out. Instead, it should be eaten on the spot and is absolutely the best dimsum we’ve ever had.

 

The Vermicelli roll with Pig’s Liver needs special mention. We were expecting it to be really livery (and off-putting) but it was surprisingly not that livery because of the coriander and the steaming process, which made it very delectable.

 

The Glutinous rice dish tasted exactly the same for both the PH and HK versions. It was very filling too and had a lot of Chinese flavours in it.

 

The Spinach dumplings were very good. They put the perfect amount of spinach and shrimp in them that the result was amazingly good. The shrimps were soft and had that little sweetness that complimented the leafy and almost bitter taste of the spinach. Add in soy sauce and you have yourself the best seafood and veggie dumplings.

 

The Mango Pomelo Sago was yummy was well, the combination sounded odd to us but the result was good. The soup was mango-based and it had pomelo, mango and small sago (pearl/bubble) bits which turned out to be great together.

 

The rest of the dimsum were good though they weren’t really much different from those coming from the other Chinese restaurants in its class. One of the differences that we noticed was that the condiments were not readily available in the HK branch whereas in the PH branch, soysauce was on every table.

 

Service = 3/5 (HK) 4.5/5 (PH)

–          This was where we saw the major difference between the HK and PH branches. In the HK branch, the servers were more senior and were quite unfriendly but we think it’s because people are just expected to eat then leave there. Be warned: the wait on the queue in HK took us almost 2 hours. In the PH branch, the servers were younger and had that hospitable demeanour but they still moved as quickly as their HK counterparts. However, there is also a queue and from the looks of things, it’s just getting longer as the months pass. The good news is that the line moves much faster in the PH branch than in the HK branch.

 

Ambience = 3/5 (HK) 4.5/5 (PH)

–          This was also where the difference between the branches was evident. The PH branch is mall-based so the furnishings, air-conditioning and floor spacing were way better than the HK branch. Both have cramped dining areas but the atmosphere in the HK branch felt very confined.

 

Value for money = 5/5 (HK & PH)

–          The prices in HK are lower than the PH branch by 20-50+% depending on the dish. But considering the taste, quality, ambience and service of both branches, their prices are really a bargain.

 

We could only find their Singapore website (click here).

Buffalo’s Wings N’ Things (213 Banawe St, Quezon City, Metro Manila)

PhotoGrid_1402128067685Date visited: November 2013

What we ate:

Champion Buffalo Wings in Garlic Parmesan and The Rookie sauces (~PhP280/pound) and Nachos N’ Salsa (~PhP100)

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          When we were travelling for the nth time along Banawe St., we wanted to try a restaurant on the far side of the street. We saw that there was a wings place in the area so we tried their chicken wings. The wings were juicy and the coating of the flavour on the wings was even. The taste of the wings was good and the Rookie sauce had the right amount of spiciness for us. The Garlic Parmesan flavour was also a delight to eat. The amount of flavour was just right – not too little that you can just barely detect it but not too much that it would make you not want to eat any more. The nachos were crisp and very crunchy though we would have wanted it to be warm when served. The salsa was the usual one but it was still good and tasted fresh and not from the can.

 

Service = 5/5

–          They had attentive servers and they gave good service to their customers. It didn’t take much effort in getting their attention to get service and they moved fast enough.

 

Ambience = 4/5

–          There was an indoor and an outdoor dining area and both felt comfortable. This particular branch was relatively new when we ate there, everything was neat and clean. The atmosphere was friendly as well.

 

Value for money = 5/5

–          The serving sizes, quality of the food and the service were really above average. Good thing their prices were very reasonable and we hope they continue to do well.

Click here for their Facebook page.

I-Bagnet Resto & Bar (12 Sct. Borromeo Cor. Mother Ignacia, Quezon City)

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Date visited: November 2013

What we ordered:

Open Wanton Tacos (~PhP240) and Bagnet (deep fried pork belly) Value Meal (~PhP170)

 

Taste = 4/5

–          Lyn wasn’t really hungry during this night but I was. We wanted to eat at Napa but when we got to the area, we found out that it had already closed for good. I-Bagnet was the next-door restaurant so we decided to eat there. The Bagnet value meal was composed of the bagnet, rice and fried egg. The bagnet itself was good. The skin was very crunchy and the meat had the right tenderness for a bagnet. It was a good “value meal”. The only downside was that their vinegar was not the kind of vinegar from Ilocos that we preferred (which best compliments any bagnet). The surprise of the night came from the delicious Wanton Tacos. It had tomatoes, sweet ground beef, onions and lots of grated cheese on top of a crunchy wanton taco. It was so simple yet so delicious. We’ve had tacos from other places but for some reason, theirs was just yummy and fun to eat (messy). A dash of hot sauce only made them so much better.

 

Service = 4/5

–          The servers were friendly and made eating there so much better. They provided good service and looked like they enjoyed what they were doing.

 

Ambience = 4/5

–          There was an enclosed area that was good for family or group diners and there was an open area that was more conducive for friends who want to hang out and drink while eating good food. Somehow, it was comfortable on both the indoor and open dining areas.

 

Value for money = 4/5

–          The serving sizes and quality of their dishes were good and the prices were reasonable. Their dining area was welcoming and their service was good as well. We hope they continue or even improve so they gain more regulars.

Click here for their Facebook page.

House of Minis (Lower Ground Level, Shopsville, Greenhills, San Juan)

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Date visited: November 2013

What we ate:

Mixed Green Salad, Swiss Steak with Cheese Sauce and Beef Barbecue

 

Taste = 3.5/5

–          This particular branch has been established in the Greenhills area for as far as we can remember but not a lot of people really know about this. It’s other branch has been visited more as far as we know. They serve Pinoy-style steaks (in our opinion) and they’re pretty good at it. The Swiss Steak was pretty ok. It had the taste of an irony steak but there’s really no visible blood or pink center at all. It was also a little bit on the tough side. The Cheese sauce and the tomato sauce were good compliments to the flavour of the beef and the sizzling plate was a good idea. The Beef barbecue was okay as well. The beef was also on the tough side while the flavour was more on the sweeter side than spicy or tangy. The salad was okay as well, nothing to really make it stand out from the usual salads.

 

Service = 4/5

–          The servers were well-dressed, well-mannered and ready for action! Although there was a lady that appeared to be the supervisor who for some strange reason was a bit irritating.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The restaurant’s decor attempts to present a fine dining atmosphere with a western country theme with their wooden furnishings, leather adornments, and animal ornamentation. But to us, it feels very Filipino and was a welcome contrast to the busy mall just outside their doors.

 

Value for money = 3.5/5

–          In every main dish in House of Minis, you will be served complimentary bread, soup, small salad and dessert, usually ice cream. All of these were welcome bonuses and tasted good. This restaurant caters to the Pinoy carnivores but I think their prices are a bit higher than what we expected.

Click here for their website.

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.