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.

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.

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

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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.

Ajisen Ramen (Level 2 North East Square 47 Connecticut St. Greenhills, San Juan)

Date visited: September 2013

What we ordered:

Shitake Ebi, Ajisen Ramen and Seafood Ramen

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          The Shitake Ebi (stuffed shitake mushrooms) was really good. The shitake flavour was not overwhelming and it was cooked tempura style including the dipping sauce.  The Ajisen Ramen tasted very good. The broth’s meaty taste was just right and it really went well with the barbecued pork, which in itself was very soft, delicate and the fat was almost jelly-like. Yum! The Seafood Ramen equally tasted very good. It had fresh shrimps, crab sticks and scallops but the scallops were a little rubbery. Even if broths were essentially the same for both ramens, the ingredients blended so well they gave each ramen distinct tastes. The noodles in both dishes looked like spaghetti and they were “al dente” throughout our stay.

 

Service = 4.5/5

–          The waiters knew how to serve their customers well enough. The place was almost full but they still were able to quickly accommodate our requests.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The dining area was small but it didn’t feel cramped inside although the place was almost full. The seats were comfortable and everything was neat and tidy.

 

Value for money = 4.5/5

–          The prices were a little too high but considering the good quality and taste of their food, they could justify their charges.

Click here for their website.

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.