Friday, February 25, 2011

Smell Something Fishy?

Once in a while, most of us want to forget about the four letter word. DIET.
So we tend to over splurge ourselves by dining out in an eat-all-you can restaurant. I recently discovered a restaurant that is similar to my favorite eat-all-you can place at a more affordable rate(Php325++/pax). Isn’t it cool? It’s called Something Fishy. Mind you its not an all-fish place, they serve Japanese, Filipino and a little Continental choices of food. They also have a wonderful dessert selection. Let me take you to a little photo-essay on my Sunday Lunch.

The nice colorful welcome door
to food haven!

Ooopsss, not my plate:p
The one on stick is called the Steamed Mahi-mahi
There are fresh oysters and oysters baked with cheese.

Most of the appetizers are here.
The pasta corner.
Kare kare and pinakbet.
Crispy fried chicken. Laing. Kuhol sa Gata.
Bopis. Kalderetang Baka. Lechon Paksiw
Lechon kawali and lechon baboy.

Halo halo corner! I like!
This I like more!
Mocha. Strawberry. Vanilla. Chocolate.
Toppings for your ice cream.
You can also request for the dessert master to make you some crepe
Music while eating.

We want to maximize our money spent on buffets right? Just be sure not to overstuff yourself. Try to eat fruits in between meals to clean your palate. Happy eat-all-you can!

Somethin' FishyEastwood City Walk 1
Eastwood City Cyberpark, E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave., Bagumbayan, Libis
Quezon City, Metro Manila
(02) 421-2121

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I want my spaghetti and meatballs hot and fast.

Not too long ago, my uncle Butch and aunt Carole from South Pasadena came over for their annual homecoming visit to the Philippines. In a break from tradition, they took their children (my cousins) along for the ride as well. When Mabie and I had the opportunity to take them out to dinner in Greenbelt, we were pretty undecided as to where specifically we should be dining in. My cousin Czasha spotted the nearby Italianni's and we thought maybe that was a good option. It had also been a while since I had eaten at Italianni's myself.

How wrong we were.

The dinner started out in the usual manner, with a lady taking our orders at 8pm, as other patrons came in and sat down after our party of six did. Noticeable was her lack of a notepad. Instead, she was reciting our orders off the top of her head, as if to impress us. In the back of our minds Mabie and I smelled a potential point of failure, but kept our silence out of respect. When she went back, we had plenty of time to entertain our guests.

As the night went by and the hands of the clock passed the 9:20pm mark however, we began to notice that we had too much time on our hands to entertain our obviously hungry guests, still with no prospect of dinner arriving on our table.

We must have followed up our orders at least three times. Failure point number two: Noticeable too was how the waiters and waitresses kept their heads down, as if to ignore us. I have to wonder: How is it possible to ignore a seated party of six, when the other outside tables don't number more than three patrons each?

Even worse, remember the other patrons that got their tables after we did? Despite having ordered later than our party, they got their food first!

When our food finally came to our tables, disappointingly it no longer had much of its appetizing heat. Something had obviously gone wrong within the magical process of getting our orders, processing them and getting them to us. Now, I love Italian, and Italianni's food isn't bad, nor is it especially mind-blowing, but the lousy customer experience we had basically tarnished the whole evening more than any particular fault the food may have had.

Fried Calamari

Shrimp and Mushroom Linguine

Spinach and Artichoke Formaggio
Uncle Butch was being generous; he thought maybe it was a bad night for them and we just got the short end of the stick this time. This occurrence is not without its consequences, though. My other cousin JB will bring home memories about Italianni's being a byword for bad service when he goes back to South Pasadena. He was wondering why the service crew acted like they were on holiday - or being more generous, if it was the first night on the job for all of them.

Bistro Group of Restaurants, I offer you a tiny slice of my brain.
  1. Let's not try to reinvent the wheel here, just for the sake of impressing our clientele. Human short-term memory is infamous for failure - this is why it's customary for waiters to carry notepads. It's expected, it's efficient, and it just works. Why would you fool around with a formula that works?
  2. Be attentive to your clientele. Sometimes all this entails is checking the entire area if you have any clientele to serve, and checking up on the status of their orders (here's a hint: computers are not enough). Make them your priority - it is your obligation as service crew to do so.
  3. To finish this post off, I offer you a quote I picked up from my days as a marketing management student, taking up service marketing: "If a customer gets good service, he/she is usually quiet, or will tell one person. If a customer gets bad service, he/she will tell ten people."
Food for thought. We may have kept quiet and not escalated this matter to a manager, but we will protest by taking our pesos and dining elsewhere.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bliss, thy name is "mint pavlova"

We at Shoot From The Gut are probably not alone when it comes to seeking out little-known places for trying out new eats. Sometimes it's surprising how close these places are to our offices or neighborhoods; they're just waiting for their chance to be shown the spotlight for a moment.

One such place exists at the building where I work. It's a little bistro-cafe called Selah.

Located in Robinsons Cybergate Tower 2 in Mandaluyong, Selah serves brewed coffee, lunch and dinner, but the real draw of the place is its desserts. When we were still working together, my old boss and friend PJ and I used to go here as an occasional treat for a job well done or for picking dampened spirits up. So yes Selah has been around for quite a while.
Now doesn't that look inviting?

People may fiercely debate about what shop or bakery makes the best chocolate cake in the land. For Mabie and I, however, one of our personal favorites has to be Selah's PhP155 Mint Pavlova.

For comparison: BFast's fruit pavlova.
It's a unique choice for "favorite chocolate cake," because technically, it isn't one. For the uninitiated, a pavlova is a meringue-based dessert, named after famed ballerina Anna Pavlova. If you've eaten at Chef Laudico's BFast in Ayala Triangle Gardens, you'll find their pavlova is crumbly and brittle; essentially it's a saccharine-sweet meringue topped with fruit. Selah's concoction however is mild, pliant and soft, the stacked thin layers of meringue wrapped from crown to bottom with rich, semi-sweet chocolate.  

Much like a cake, then.
The belly of the beast

The "mint" in the name permeates through the thick chocolate icing. If you've eaten a York Peppermint Pattie or Andes dark chocolate mint thin before, the Mint Pavlova has a similar kind of smooth choco-minty taste, but with the volume of the dessert itself cranked up to 11.

It's a slightly expensive treat, but one worth rewarding yourself with when you've had success at work. The really neat thing about it is - availability allowing - it's just downstairs waiting for you! :D

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A crunchy, peppery, gooey brekkie

When there's no brekkie at home, I treat myself to breakfast at the Starbucks Coffee branch at my workplace once in a while.

The premium coffee shop chain may have made a name for itself by selling blended-coffee beverages (that some people think are too sweet), but it also happens to possess a great-tasting breakfast menu, especially for sandwich fans. I had the Italian Sausage and Mozzarella with Mushroom Aioli sandwich, one of their larger sandwiches.
The Italian sausage means finely ground peppercorns embedded in the meat, so the filling is mildly peppery, helped along by the smoothness and gooeyness of the cheese. I had the sandwich warmed, so the bread is nicely toasty and crumbly, adding a nice counterpoint to the texture. Curiously, there's not much evidence of the mushrooms.

On balance, this is a nicely lavish treat to look forward to at the end of a busy week's work. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Of Pad Thai, Sate and Thai Drinks

JM and I rarely go to SM Mall of Asia, maybe because it is too crowded for us. Though, last Saturday we made an exception because we wanted to watch the 2011 Pyromusical Fireworks display. After braving the traffic along Buendia and the unexpected re-routing of traffic near the World Trade Center, we finally reached our destination. After invading some of the racks in the boutiques with my sister tagging along we decided to have a mid-afternoon dinner. Since we are near the activity area, we saw Jatujak. We have seen this restaurant quiet a number of times but it was always that time that we have eaten already. So it was the best time to try it.

Jatujak (pronounced as Chatuchak) is the name of the largest weekend market in Bangkok, Thailand. I’m not a big fan of Thai food but it’s worth a try sometimes. The interior of the restaurant is far from the looks of a weekend market since it looks more modern and I liked it. It is small and cozy. Once you set foot inside, you’ll be welcomed by the smell of tanglad leaves (lemon grass).

For appetizer, we had the Vegetable Spring Rolls (P125 for 5pcs). I like the crispiness of the spring rolls. The sweet chili sauce was not even spicy at all and was more on the sweet side which I liked.

They even have different spices!

 We also had Pad Thai Chicken (P175), it looks small inside the plate but we managed to split it for 3 persons. It was my first time to try pad thai and I’m glad that I was not disappointed at all. I like how the nuts add crispiness to the noodles with every bite. Actually the chicken bits are just an added bonus for me because I’ll like the pad thai even without it.

Since we already had veggies and chicken, we decided to get some Pork Sate (P180 for 6 pcs). Sate (or Satay) actually originated in Indonesia and was even considered as their national dish. It was later made popular to other neighboring South East Asian countries. In simpler terms, it is popular in our country as Pork Barbeque (Surprised?).

Since it was burning hot outside, we decided to try the Thai Iced Coffee (Php75) and the Thai Iced Tea (Php85).

From the menu, the Thai Iced Tea looks really yummy. It looks more of a samalamig (Iced sweet drink). Thai Iced Tea is usually made by mixing Thai tea leaves, water, sugar and evaporated milk. Though, after taking my first sip the horror creeps in – it tasted like a leaf! Yep I know it is supposed to taste like that since it is made from TEA leaves and I should not be surprised but since I’m not fond of the taste of leaves I had to give it up. Could you blame me if I thought that the added milk looks yum?

So I had to exchange my Thai Iced Tea with the Thai Iced Coffee of JM. From what I’ve researched Thai coffee is made by mixing strong black coffee with sugar, heavy cream and cardamom. The coffee tasted better but I’m still not satisfied – maybe because it has a leaf in it and I can really taste it.

That was our little Thai food experience. Maybe we could visit Bangkok in the near future to taste some authentic cuisine. How about you, do you like any Thai food?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Going classic

My team at the office organized free lunch last January at C2 Classic Cuisine, in Shangri-La Plaza Mall's The Ledge at the sixth floor. The place offers pretty good Filipino food. Below are some of the entrees we had...unfortunately I can't remember what some of these dishes are called.

The first main course is a fried tilapia-based dish with crispy vegetables and a side order of atchara, or the Pinoy version of pickled vegetable relish. Fish lovers will love how finely the fillet was cooked, and the atchara is a great companion.

This next dish I never was able to try. This seems like an all-vegetable dish, topped with sprouts.

At last, something I remember: ribs kaldereta. Very yummy indeed, and very similar to what my grandmother cooks.

Next up is crispy kare-kare. Call me ignorant but before this trip to C2 I had never had crispy kare-kare ever. As it turns out it's a good combination, although I still prefer the non-crispy kind with bagoong omitted.

C2 serves some pretty good, thick tsokolate-eh

Funny name? It's named that way due to the Spanish colonial period. The "eh" comes from not any BatangueƱo influence, but from the word esposo meaning "thick" or "viscous." In contrast, tsokolate-ah is named from the word aguado which literally means "watered-down."

I should visit again...if only to get the names of these dishes right. Another sip of that delicious tsokolate-eh won't hurt either ;)
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