Monday, April 25, 2011

I scream, you scream, we all scream for...

Let's face it: It is HOT this summer. Baking hot. Sometimes, given the choice, we would rather just stay at home and laze out in bed for another hour or three instead of heading out and enjoying all that solar radiation. Besides, even if you do enjoy prolonged doses of solar radiation, you'll probably want to find something to cool down with after a while...which is why we're featuring a gustatory treat most relevant this season. I mean, just look at the title. :)

Haagen-Dazs meets Starbucks meets Blue Bunny

After our jaunt to Pancake House, my mom and I proceeded to S&R for a bit of shopping. Amid the folding tables and frame walkers we bought, we also brought home a few pints of ice cream from S&R's admittedly varied lineup.
For this visit, I decided to try a new flavor and an old favorite. I've heard raves about Starbucks Coffee's eponymous line of ice cream, so I grabbed a pint of Caramel Macchiato to see if it tastes anywhere near that infamous sweet blended coffee drink. I also got a tub of Blue Bunny's Double Strawberry premium ice cream. To the best of my knowledge, both of these are only available at S&R. My mom got a pint of Haagen-Dazs' Strawberry ice cream as well.

When they mean Starbucks ice cream...
...they mean it
Caramel Macchiato ice cream. Doesn't look like much, but wait till you taste it

Pleasantly surprising was how Starbucks' ice cream mimicked the nuances of flavor of its namesake blended coffee drink. I thought it was a bad imitation at first, but upon subsequent spoonfuls of the stuff it definitely felt really familiar, as I was a big Caramel Macchiato fan in years past. The coffee flavor of the ice cream melds well with the caramel drizzle taste-wise that despite appearing like separate entities it's very hard to distinguish them apart on your tongue. Deelish. Whatever trickery they've done here, it works quite well.

"It's so fluffy I'm gonna dieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"

On we go to the tussle of the strawberry scoops. Blue Bunny and Haagen-Dazs are both premium but they go about it in slightly different ways. Haagen-Dazs is all about the density and richness of the ice cream, evident from just the darker color of the stuff and how heavy it sits on your spoon. Blue Bunny's ice cream on the other hand is much lighter and fluffier - easier to roll into a scoop and jam into a cone. "Double strawberry" refers to the embedded pieces of strawberry (which Haagen-Dazs also has), and the strawberry sauce lacing the tub (which Haagen-Dazs doesn't).

Between these two, my palate prefers Blue Bunny, although Haagen-Dazs isn't very far behind. The latter is more easily purchased, however...

Lots of Blue Bunny ice cream tubs on sale only at S&R. They have sugar-free and frozen yogurt tubs too
Yummy :)
Finally, Mabie and I got to sample another of Merry Moo's creations from our last visit to Mercato Centrale. They name it "Aztec Chocolate" and we were curious to see how different it was from your usual chocolate ice cream.

Appropriately enough, the Aztecs invented chocolate

The interesting thing was, when we asked for "Aztec Chocolate," Arvy the friendly scoop man gave us a little explanation of what this flavor was and what we should be expecting out of it. It's a combination of chili and chocolate, basically. You may remember that Empire's macaroons also promised a similar-tasting product from a previous visit.

Arvy doing his thing

Now, for those uninitiated with matters of the pepper, milk and dairy products are a common and effective remedy for washing away the burning, stinging bite of capsaicin - the stuff that makes chili peppers so spicy. Ergo, it initially doesn't make any sense having ice cream that brings on the heat; it should be implausible right?

The proverbial calm before the storm...

When Mabie and I dug into the PhP70 scoop, we were surprised. Sure, the initial taste is of pretty good,  chocolate ice cream that's slightly on the rich side, but gulping it down releases a flame of heat that can only come from a chili pepper. That said, if you can stomach the spice, the whole experience is delectably smooth and the sensation is akin to drinking shots of a given hard drink. You'll definitely feel it burn evenly down your throat. Mabie had to give up halfway due to the strength of the chili flavor, so I experimented with taking frequent scoops if there would be any difference or "relief" - no such luck. Let's just say this ice cream flavor is a treat for chili lovers; capsaicin-intolerant folk need not apply.

All four of the ice cream flavors we tested here are variations on old trusty favorites which you might want to check out before scoping out more exotic combinations. :)

So hot, it melts on its own :p

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Transcending the decades

My mom was pretty bored on Maundy Thursday, so she asked if I wanted to accompany her, driving around the Makati and Taguig areas to see what exactly was left open. Having nothing better to do, we got into my car and hit the road.

Much to our chagrin, Greenbelt and Glorietta were virtual ghost towns. Skipping Makati, we crossed EDSA and went to Bonifacio Global City. Pootling around, we noticed Bonifacio High Street was open. We parked, disembarked and spelunked for a closer look. It turned out much of High Street, Serendra and Market! Market! was also closed down, but there were a lot of people gathered round due to the massive, artistic Stations of the Cross exhibits littering the center garden of High Street. What remained open were some restaurants, hoping to capitalize on the visitors.

After walking around, my mom thought of having an afternoon snack at Pancake House. She had told me it used to be their hangout in the 1970s and 1980s, especially when the Magallanes locale of Makati was a much busier place than it is today. In those halcyon days when she worked there, there was a bowling alley, a cinema and a branch each of Magoo's Pizza, Dayrit's, the steak house Mingoy's and Pancake House.

A panorama shot of Pancake House Bonifacio High Street's interior.
The branch in Bonifacio High Street sure doesn't look like a typical Pancake House branch. They took more liberties with the decor, mixing a collection of movie posters with post-modern architecture in the franchise's trademark orange motif.

Bacon Waffles. The bacon is embedded :)
Mom had their Bacon Waffles (PhP160), while I had a three-piece order of Peach Pancakes (PhP175). Both of us had a cup of brewed coffee (PhP70; PhP78 with one refill) to go along with it.

That's some bad-ass coffee!
It has to be said, Pancake House's coffee is some of the strongest you'll ever find in a restaurant. Emptying one sachet of brown sugar into the glass, it still tastes wickedly black. It's a full-bodied brew that Starbucks mixed-drink aficionados might find overpowering. We actually ordered a refill, but as this was already 4pm in the afternoon and the brew was much more potent than expected, we requested the refill be canceled.

I didn't get to try the Bacon Waffles, so I'll talk about the Peach Pancakes, which were pretty interesting. You get a stack of three moderately thick pancakes, along with six peach slices and a small dollop of whipped cream on top. A small beaker accompanies the dish with what looks like peach-flavored syrup.

Peach Pancakes, quite obviously :) Check out the syrup beaker.
The pancakes themselves are fluffy and cake-like, and not very dense. Indeed, if your fork has a large piece of pancake skewered on it, chances are it will tear off and plop back onto your plate after some resistance. I grew up in a household that prefers dense pancakes, but I can appreciate Pancake House's recipe as it's not overly thin or floppy. The peach syrup is surprisingly not very sweet, imparting a just-right kind of taste to go along with the pancakes and peach slices.

Overall it's a good, filling, carbo-loaded breakfast or snack. And that potent coffee is just something else. I usually don't frequent Pancake House but I now might have reasons to go back more often.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

At Army Navy. Enjoy your meal. That's an order!

If there's a place where JM and I have eaten x number of times in the past year, it would be Army Navy. Since we discovered this burger + burrito place we just can't say no. 

So you can just imagine our excitement when they opened a branch near us! We can even go there in our pajamas! Its been a week since they opened and every night is full house night

As a breakfast gift to JM for keeping up with me yesterday, we had brunch at Army Navy Better Living. We got in around 10am and I thought that we were the only customers but after 10mins, more customers came in. 

Panoramic shot of the BL branch

JM ordered the chicken soft tacos while I had my staple chicken quesadilla, we also ordered some freedom fries and chocolate milkshake.   

Freedom fries, just like any other fries, is best consumed while hot. I like how crispy it is but very soft inside, I also like dipping it in mayonnaise. 

Freedom fries, Php60

Burritos and burgers are the most popular food choices in Army Navy but for me quesadilla is the best thing in their menu. The mouthwatering melted cheese wrapped in a soft tortilla makes every bite heaven for me, the chicken or steak filling is just a bonus.  

Chicken Quesadilla, Php135

JM originally wanted hard-shell tacos but since Army Navy does not carry it he ordered soft tacos and he certainly enjoyed it. He said that the meat was good, the serving is large enough for a light lunch or a big snack and it goes particularly well with the salsa.

Chicken Soft Tacos, Php125

I've been craving for milkshake in weeks, nothing special with their chocolate milkshake but this is way better than what Mcdonalds have. Its blended to perfection just the way I like it. 

Milkshake, Php99

If you want to treat someone you can never go wrong with Army Navy :).

Army Navy

Phone: (+632) 4073181 
Telefax: (+632) 4032891 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Kenny Rogers says Hi to Hainanese

When we went to Power Plant Mall last night to watch a movie, we decided to get dinner beforehand. We are big fans of Kenny Rogers Roasters, or Kenny's as we affectionately call it. I like how they blend healthy options and tasty meals under one roof. Mabie had told me that they now offer Hainanese chicken, so we thought we'd try it out for ourselves.

Kenny's serves one-quarter orders of the chicken paired with rice for PhP200. The rice itself is attractively garnished with cucumber slices, a parsley sprig and dried garlic flakes, and a small bowl of soup is served along with it. Accompanying the chicken are the ubiquitous three sauces: rich soy sauce, minced ginger sauce, and a very mild chili paste. Kudos to the Power Plant Mall branch for having our order served very quickly.

We've sampled Toast Box's Hainanese chicken as our very first experience of this Singaporean staple, and we were absolutely floored by the tastes and textures woven into this very humble food. That's our benchmark, then. 

How does Kenny's version fare? Unfortunately, it was slightly disappointing. 

Taste-wise, Hainanese chicken isn't far removed from our very own tinolang manok, so it's not that hard to pick apart and appreciate. That said, we think Kenny's stuck too closely to its signature roasting techniques preparing this, quick serving time aside. The chicken itself seems a bit overcooked and dry, without the characteristic savory moistness of either dish. It's as if the meat got squeezed out of its juices and served on the plate, with the liquid served separately as a soup. It might make for a "healthier" version of the dish but it's not quite as satisfying on the palate. 

Another thing: because the chicken is less flavorful and savory by itself, the rich soy sauce that would probably have been okay paired with more traditional Hainanese chicken suddenly overpowers Kenny's version. The best of the three sauces was the minced ginger. The chili paste was simply too mild to make an impression.

Kenny Rogers Roasters Hainanese chicken rice @ PhP200 per quarter-chicken order.
Chicken rice is not complete without its rice, and here Kenny's also comes out wanting. Maybe it's a nod to a more Filipino version of this dish that they used what looks almost like a dry sinangag (fried rice) and garlic flakes. It's not a bad combination to go with the chicken, but it just doesn't shout authentic Hainanese chicken rice, just like the rest of this dish.

Kenny's Hainanese chicken rice is simply okay, but it needs a little improvement here and there and we do hope we've been of help. We'll probably stick to ordering what we think they do best: good roast chicken, their signature classic corn muffins, a surprisingly good, heavy cheeseburger, and a nice platter of roasted salmon. Can't go wrong with any of those!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tidbits and treats at Best Food Forward

So what did we eat at Best Food Forward? As it turns out we had quite a lot to chew on.

Moroccan's promotional catering flyer-cum-menu. This is just the first page!
There was a Moroccan food stall present (yes it's simply named "Moroccan"), and curious about Mediterranean food, I ordered a plate of chicken on couscous. Eating couscous is like eating finely chopped cheese, but with a faint curry flavor getting released instead. The dish has steamed chicken on a bed of the yellow grain, along with some slightly bitter vegetables - I'm not sure but they look like squash and eggplant. Overall the combination makes for a peculiar earthy taste. It certainly tastes pretty exotic, but I liked it, although it's slightly pricey at PhP150.

Check out their other offerings below in photos.

Chicken and vegetables on steamed couscous. This was my lunch!
Batboot: Moroccan-style pita
B'stilla: a sort of Moroccan meat pie or "empanada"

Carrot sharmoula and aubergine (eggplant) zalook dip/salad.
These are made with extra virgin cold-press olive oil and paprika.

Moroccan's Chicken B'stila

Moroccan is based in Galeria de Magallanes - rather close to home. If you want something to surprise your palate, give their unique cuisine a try. They have a booth at Mercato Centrale from time to time as well.
Unit C-101 Galeria de Magallanes
Lapu-lapu Street, Magallanes Village, Makati City
(contact information courtesy of


The hilariously named Eat My GF serves up its eponymous garlic fries (the GF in the name). A serving gets you a cardboard tray full of hot fries, with large slices of mushrooms, a slathering of their in-house gravy, and lots of crispy garlic. Two short plastic forks are provided for you to stab the fries with.

This would not look out of place on Krazy Garlik's menu. The gravy makes the whole thing work. They're best eaten on their own, without condiments. Some mustard is okay, but ketchup just kills the taste they were going for, neutralizing the distinct garlicky kick.

Oh, they serve tacos too
Even the names on the menus are hilarious!
According to their Facebook page, Eat My GF will be at the Rockwell Tent on April 8-10, and will soon open in malls. You might want to watch out for the arrival of these fries with a garlicky sense of humor.

Eat My GF - Garlic Fries 

Caution: The stack of roast beef on this tarpaulin sign is as big and as thick as it appears

Enzo's Shawarma sold like pancakes out there. It's hard to miss the thick slabs of skewered, thoroughly seasoned Turkish roast beef whose shavings form the innards of the shawarma. All of these are laid into a thick bed of pita bread - almost too thick, perhaps. Despite the breadth of the pita, the very flavorful beef wins out. Yogurt sauce fans may be disappointed though as there's not much of it...but I guess you could always order more.

One yawning tunnel of meaty goodness

Enzo's Shawarma has had three years of success in the University Belt area. Check 'em out!

Enzo's Shawarma


Remember Tea.ology? This time, I made sure to try the Mojitea. I ordered it at 50% sweetness and with nata de coco.

To be honest...Mojitea isn't a very good name for the drink. The beer-colored non-alcoholic drink they served bore no semblance to the hazy semi-transparent cocktail it's supposed to be modeled after. Worse, the taste left a lot to be desired. It's very minty, but there's none of the punch or sparkle of the real thing - sensations brought to the palate perhaps by the alcoholic elements. Taste-wise, I couldn't tell if it was trying to be tea, mint, or some sort of beer, because it was trying to be all three things at once without much success.

Maybe adding some club soda would help?  

Mojitea with nata de coco, 50% sweetness

I'm pretty sure Tea.ology has great drinks, but the Mojitea just isn't one of them. The Dark Chocolate Tea I had prior was much better despite the chocolate soy milk impression.

Just in case you missed their contact details, here they are again below.


On to dessert. We had "yogu pops" at Picole, which is as simple as it sounds - it's yogurt frozen into a popsicle. We sampled the blueberry cheesecake yogu-pop at PhP40.

Check out all them yogu-pop flavors!
As Franz Ferdinand would sing, "Take me out!"
Ripe for a lickin'
I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this but I do have to say it's a great dessert. It really does taste like a blueberry cheesecake split in half, flavor-wise. The initial taste is genuinely blueberry; it even comes with tiny tidbits of the fruit studded into the yogurt base. As you swallow your bite, it lends a distinct cheesecake-like finish on the back of your tongue. Simple, but very impressive, and it's an example of "doing what it says on the tin," as the Brits would say.

Like Enzo's Shawarma, Picole has some presence already - this time in the malls. Check out their website for all their locations.

Picole Healthy Ice Pops

Monday, April 4, 2011

When Lenten specials are too good for just Lent

Living in a predominantly Catholic country, we Filipinos know all too well how our food choices change whenever the forty days of Lent are around. Due to the practice of abstinence from the consumption of meat, we try to make do with alternatives - and most of the time the restaurant chains play along. Many of these offerings, frequently fish-based, are quite noticeably far removed from the usual menu and are a poor fit to any existing items.

Sometimes however, there are Lenten offerings that deserve to be introduced as menu items all on their own.

Mabie and I went to Pizza Hut Bistro at Glorietta 4 one weekend to redeem some complimentary pizzas (thanks to BPI's credit card promo). We noticed that they offered some pretty interesting items for Lent, so we decided to try them out along with our pizza. We ordered the Crispy Oyster Mushrooms for PhP139 and the Strawberry Passion Salad for PhP165.

I'll go describe the Crispy Oyster Mushrooms first. It's a simple enough dish - oyster mushrooms are deep-fried and served on a platter with three different sauces: mayo mustard, chunky tomato sauce and barbecue sauce. 

The surprise here is that it all just works. The mayo mustard may not be to everyone's taste, but the other sauces should go down well with almost anyone's palate. Pizza Hut Bistro is also quite generous with its oyster mushrooms too; if you have this as a side dish, it's good for two or three people.

Next up is the Strawberry Passion Salad. It has lettuce and mixed greens, along with the eponymous fresh strawberries, but it also has onions, tomatoes, sliced almonds and a strawberry vinaigrette.

I liked it. As with the fried mushrooms, there's something well-judged in how these ingredients just come together. The strawberry vinaigrette binds the whole salad and lends it quite a pungent, sweet-sour taste, helped along by the onions and mushy strawberries hidden in the greens. The fresh strawberries and almonds change up the texture and give body to the staple lettuce and greens.

Both of these items deserve a place in the usual menu and are too good to remain as simple "Lenten specials" in our humble opinion. Maybe the salad might be seasonal, due to the supply of strawberries, but both it and the crispy oyster mushrooms are solid year-round offerings.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Best Food Forward!

JM's officemate gave us passes to the Best Food Forward summer food fair (Thanks Ness!). Being a big fan of different dishes, we just couldn't pass this one. So earlier, we had lunch there and got to try a lot of food! 

Aside from a lot of free tastes, they also had a cooking demo inside the NBC Tent.

You already know by now how I am deeply in love with macarons. When I saw this stall selling colorful macarons, I just had to try it! I was able to try the chocolate macaron and it was heaven. The chocolate filling literally burst in your mouth. 

Stay tuned to see what else we had:)
French Macarons by Christa
Box of 12 Php450
Box of 6 Php230
Baby Macs Php150
Lollie-Macs Php25
Macaron Towers start at P1500
Contact at: 09178905747
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