Saturday, March 23, 2013

Wrong Ramen is Wrong

Today is a gloomy, rainy day.  Breaking past the incredible week of sun and heat, the sky finally relents and drops rain on us and what better weather for Ramen?

I heard of this place called "Wrong Ramen" at Forbestown at the Fort, next to Bugsys'.  Being spanking new it was popular, this was actually my second attempt to get a table there and this time, luck prevailed.  Today there was no long line of people (mostly kids before) trying to get it as the rain created a divide from those who want to just try vs those who really want Ramen.

Wrong Ramen I learned promotes itself by calling itself "wrong" and being so good its "right".  I'm not a fun of reverse marketing because unless you are fantastic you are only adding to the challenge you face.

The interiors are rather cramped with a few tables on the ground and second floor.  Second floor seating is a Japanese style long table with dividers for privacy but nonetheless you will probably rub elbows with your neighbor so its way too cozy to bring a date.  The decor consists on different brand images like a Coke can and a Starbucks paper cup overflowing with Ramen complete with their corporate messaging of Ramen Wrong or Ramen Right, whatever.

We ordered the Japanese Oyster, P290.  I didn't know what it was, I was expecting an oyster plate but instead it was two breaded oyster pieces skewered on the classiest barbecue sticks I have ever seen but that is P150 for one oyster?  I bit into it expecting to see the sky part and a rainbow burst through but nothing happened. It is something I would never order again.

Next was the Inoki Mushroom Fries (P160) which I had been looking forward to.  Battered and fried mushrooms sound like something out of my Tagaytay favorit, Mushroomburger.  The thing is, the oil was not drained at all, each bite left your mouth wet with their deep frying oil - in fairness to them it wasn't rancid.  I used three napkins soaked through and through to remove some of the oil.

Last was our Friday Lenten sacrifice concession, the Sea Men Ramen (P345, yeah, disgusting name, not clever at all and grossly overplayed).  It was ordinary to me.  The broth typical of seafood soup embellished with two squid rings, some shrimp and clams.

Wrong Ramen is another player in the weird Ramen Wars today with a ramen joint popping in every week it seems.  Ukkokei is still my favorite but with parking being so difficult I had only been there once.

"Better to make Wrong Ramen then Right Ramen Wrong" is Wrong Ramen's battle cry - check out their Facebook page, I understand they have to resort to gimmickry to get the how many could they be ramen afficionados.  Although I wasn't very happy, I heard their other Ramen bowls are worth trying.

See lots of pics in Jin Loves to Eat, Ian and Sarie Cruz blogs.

Click for directory information for Japanese Restaurants in Metro Manila.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

L’Eau Vive, When you dine, you help.

Every so often you do find someplace new that is also old.  Tucked away in Paz M. Guazon, formerly know as Otis Street in L’Eau Vive (why do we rename streets so often anyway?  Buendia is still Buendia, Pasong Tamo is still Pasong Tamo :D.  Its been months since I ate in L’Eau Vive, way before I started this blog but today I felt compelled to write about it.  Luckily my girl had these pictures.

L’Eau Vive (Living Water) has been around, I have heard of it but never thought of going until one time I was in the area for business and saw it across Robinsons Otis.  It intrigued me as it seemed very out of place to have a French Restaurant in a very industrial and still developing area in Manila.  As luck would have it, I would return to the area soon and so we decided to pop in for dinner.

L’Eau Vive should be an inspiration to us all.  It is a French restaurant operated by French missionaries of the Immaculate of “DONUMDEI-CARMELITES”  branch of the Carmelite order so you see all nationalities of present and former French colonies serving and cooking there while wearing their national costume.  L’Eau Vive is their means of generating income to fund all of their charitable works here in the Philippines, far away from their homelands.   Its very touching to see people so unselfish and so willing to go through hardship for others.

The menu at L’Eau Vive is not fancy at all.  What you see is food that would be served at a French home, according to my girl who spent time in France as I wouldn't have the slightest idea of what normal food is anywhere but here.  We ordered the Chicken Liver Pate or Mousse de foie de volaille with normal "tasty" loaf bread, French onion soup as I wanted to have something with "French" in the title.  The soup was cheesy and again came with toast.  We had escargots de Bourguogne or snails/kuhol with wine, parsley and garlic butter.  Then some duck with orange sauce and for the desert a sugar crepe.  

 The Pate

Our table

 French Onion Soup

 Escargots in garlic and butter

Flowers always cheer me up 

 Duck a la Orange

Sugar Crepe

Truthfully, the food is not cheap.  You need to have cash ready if you want to eat at L’Eau Vive.  The flavor is not mind blowing, the orange sauce on the duck tastes like Clara Ole and their butter sauces taste like margarine.  Each dish is about 300 pesos and the duck as pictured was P600.  What I am trying to say is that the ingredients But everything tasted ok

So why would I recommend L’Eau Vive to you?  Because of how you will feel emotionally.  What you pay for is not the most stupendous French meal you can have but the thought that your money is going to feed others and those that feed them.  It is knowing you are literally eating for a higher cause, their pamphlets all say "when you dine, you help" and it is true.  A lot of charitable institutions seem like scams to me with their regular contributions and canned letters and what not but not L’Eau Vive.  There is a courtyard with a statue of Mother Mary and the missionaries ask you to pray with them after the meal to properly see you on your way and that is nice.  Your money feeds your soul and the surroundings, quiet and peaceful seem like a welcome respite from the world outside which couldn't be truer with the traffic to get there.  The courtyard with the Madonna in the garden feels like tranquility and gives you a sense of hope that you will be helped in your own needs as you have helped others.  And this is not saying that missionaries are extremely warm and live inspiring lives that are filled with purpose.  If you haven't thought of what to do this Lent go to L’Eau Vive and chances are you will know after.

Their official website.
My favorite reviews of the place:
Philstar and Eat, Pray, Love at L' Eau Vive, in there is a picture of Sister Martina who attended to us too.

Phone numbers of other Fine Dining establishments.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Very Nice Locally Handcrafted Leather Items

On another note, I want to talk about some of my excellent local finds.  Finds that I think are exceptional both in terms of quality and value.  I am by no means "bespoke" whatever that means, I just hear the metro people using that nowadays and I imagine it pertains to something fashionable but I do know when I like something and it doesn't have to expensive or imported.  And here are two things I really, really like.

Jancorba Belts

Jancorba is an institution in Makati Cinema Square where I have been going since I was a wee child.  It is located on the second floor, same floor as Jollibee and if you are facing Jollibee go to the left corridor and it will be on your left.  It is a leather shop that sells everything from wallets, shoes,belts and holsters (In case you didn't know, Makati Cinema Square is gun mecca in the Philippines, almost all gun shops have presence in the basement and there are two shooting ranges there).

Jancorba sells very thick leather belts built for the purpose of carrying a holstered gun which means it has to be thick and durable.  And yet, they are incredibly soft and look really good with a pair of jeans.  They have black, brown, tan and even cordovan/cherry sometimes.  As you can see from my picture above, the construction is heavy, double stitched (you can choose single if you like), thick aluminum buckle and its riveted for strength.  Truly an awesome belt that could be an excellent gift and its onlyP600 pesos last time I bought!  Jancorba builds the leather goods themselves, although they have been around a long time, the operation is still small and ran off a home factory.  There is only one other branch in Pasay.  You can get shoes and boots made to order there.  Their wallets look like those Saddlebacks too.

Mark R Shoes

Mark R has also been around.  It is one of the old Marikina Shoe factories and you can find an outlet in Marikina Shoe Expo over at Cubao X.  Their shoes are truly excellent value for money as most are less than 2k.  Look at the lovely honey tan number I'm rocking up there, the tan has developed a beautiful deep patina over time and that is just the leather.  The sole is made of recycled aircraft tires.  Thats right, these babies should last a very long time and I go through phases were I wear my favorite shoes for weeks on end and these have held up very well, unlike the designer China made things you find nowadays that have the soles flying off them.  These babies are stitched!  They are comfortable too but don't expect padding, but you can easily fix that by getting aftermarket insoles at sport shops.

Buy Pinoy!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sutra at Bonifacio High Street Central

I oddly expected Sutra (prepare to dance on your seat if you click on that link, turn off speakers if at work) at Bonifacio High Street Central at the Fort to serve "passion food" or well, food that arouses or stimulates certain feelings such as food such Oysters and what not but that changed when I saw the menu.  

I actually read here that Sutra actually means "thread of life", go figure.

What initally attracted me to Sutra was their lunch menu which boasted of a four course meal at four hundred pesos but as luck would have it we went there on a Lenten Friday for dinner meaning no meat and no lunch menu :(

Black chandeliers, I know I've seen these before but can't remember where

Shot of the Bar
The Private room at the end

Spicy Firecracker
Adobo Escargot
My Glazed Tuna

 The "Earth" dumplings which had Shitake and bamboo shoots.  I didn't notice the bamboo but the Shitake was very tasty.
                            My custom Old Fashioned                                

We were two so we were given one of the tables for two next to the left wall.  I must say, I absolutely hate having a wall to my side.  I feel cramped and my elbow keeps banging in to them.  Otherwise I liked the look of the place.

I liked the Earth dumplings, if you read anything before you would know that I do love anything mushroom, the adobo escargot  -that I didn't order, never liked snails as food, heck I kept them as pets when I was younger (the aquatic kind).  On another note, you can tell if a Golden Snail is male or female by the color of the flesh of the live animal, golden are males and dark are female but I digress.  The firecracker was so so, if you want a truly awesome version go to Keiko in Pasay Road and get the Crazy Tuna Maki.  I did like my glazed Tuna Steak with mango, it was good and the closest thing I could have to meat that day.

The "famed" cocktails were not fantastic unfortunately but they were not expensive either at an average of P120 each you shouldn't expect much.  For cocktails there are places like Las Flores but you will run about P500 each!  You get what you pay for.

The experience was pleasant albeit a bit pricier than I imagined, the adobo escargot, firecracker, tuna steak, dumplings and three cocktails ran to P1,700 (will post the receipt tomorrow).

Sunday, March 10, 2013

iHop - Meh

IHOP or International House of Pancakes has caused quite the ruckus since it opened in the Fort.  Crazy queues for a table like lines in an amusement park have been a source of curiosity for me each time I would walk by.  "pancake lang yan" was in my thought bubble as without fail people were trooping their to pay homage to the new mecca of pancakes in Manila.  It really shows how nuts we Pinoys can be at anything American that we or our friends and family see abroad or relatives abroad like.  Its not like Pancake house is new and Flapjacks has been around (well, was around for the most part).  Heck Maya pancake mix is pretty good and do you remember Karo syrup? I remember my one trip to the US and trying the mythical In and Out burger to think to myself "Jollibee?" when I bit into it.  People told me that I didn't know the secret menu blah, blah, blah whatever.  But, I will admit that someone once brought me Krispy Kreme and one bit into that made me see heaven.

I was with a group of 8 people last Tuesday and we figured we could see if we get a table.  There were already people waiting but apparently they had a big table ready so we sat right away.  The oddball that I am wanted the fried chicken with masshed potato and a biscuit, I always order the pan chicken at Pancake House and never the pancakes so go figure.  But I do love Pancakes and was looking forward to cutting off a piece from someone else.  They didn't have the fried chicken so I ordered the Bacon and Cheddear hashbrown stack which even had an egg.  Everything is better with egg!

 The selection of syrup or Pancake Sauce as I like to call them

 Buttermilk Pancakes

Club sandwich with onion rings and that is not me! 

 Smokehouse Combo

The pancakes were good, nothing mindblowing, the novelty of choices in syrups at the same time made me pour then bite, pour then bite and so on.  I recommend the plain maple flavored syrup and maybe the strawberry.  The blueberry and butter pecan tasted a bit artificial, all were artificial but those two were more unnatural in taste.

The sausages, egg, ham and bacon with scrambled eggs were great but nothing really memorable.  I had bits and pieces of everyone's food and nothing really gave me an impression.  It felt like hotel breakfast buffet, everything is of quality, something you feel you do sometimes but not something you do often.  IHOP is everything breakfast done well but I didn't see what the fuss was about.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Brasas, Super Duck and my walk

As luck would have it I found myself in Ortigas Center yesterday for several meetings there.  As I had several stops to make that day I decided to park in Podium and just walk.  That morning I put on my rubber soled leather shoes, my most formal looking black sport socks and packed my sunglasses.  From Podium I was going to walk to Shaw then San Miguel Avenue then Robinsons Galleria then Emerald Avenue then Megamall and back to Podium for my last meeting at the Fort.

As I just said in my last post, I was hankering to try Brasas - South American Street Food.  I was in Podium and ordered the Puerco Asado or Pork Asado or Roast Pork.  Your P240 gets you a plateful of rice with beans, the delicious roasted pork with what looks like the skin separated and further cooked to a crisp with plantains and a bit of salad.

 My Puerco

 The Chicken Wrap

Arepas, pancake with meat

I really don't get why anyone would order the Arepas as a meal but women and their diets....  My Puerco was absolutely delightful.  It reminded me a bit of Racks' Ribs, slightly fatty, smokey and very tasty.  Yes, Racks is what came to mind.  The portion of meat was not quite impressive but I wasn't bitin either.  I would go back to Brasas sometime.  We topped off our meal with Mochicakes from the stall nearby where I just have to recommend the Orange Cheese mochi, oh my, oh my, oh my!  I love ice cream and I love orange ice cream with fading memories of Coney Island back in the day....

After Galleria, I was off to Emerald when I chanced upon Super Duck (click for an excellent review I found), a Milk Tea shop tucked in Garnet St. and ADB avenue.  "Should I or shouldn't I?" was my question, I love good old Milk Tea, the usual black tea and milk with maybe some pearls.  I once nearly OD'd on Serinitea having had 3, yes 3 large milk teas in one afternoon and nearly barfed it all out when I read this, if that is true, then I just had nearly 1,200 calories, putragis!!!  My abs!!!  But then again, I did walk quite a lot and was quite thirsty.  I called my girl to let her know of my find and asked her if she would want some as she was the one I was meeting next.  I walk into the shop and was quite surprised.  It looked brand spanking new and had a staff of 8, 8 people, 3 of which looked like the owners which was confirmed when I saw the review I linked to above.  I of course asked which of their selection is the plain old milk tea.  They had a specialty signature milk tea which was a mix of green and black tea with milk for "a mix of both teas' health benefits" the owner explained.  Naks!  As tempting as that was I opted for the traditional milk tea, usual less sugar and less ice.  It cost 95 pesos which is less than Serenitea.  It took almost ten minutes which is about the time I needed to walk from Podium to Shaw.  They finally gave me the tea, sealed top as popularized by Zagu back in the day.  I walked to Emerald shaking it like a tambourine and opened when I got to where I was supposed to wait.  Oh my!  It was the absolute best milk tea I have ever had.  It tasted clean, crisp even, very pleasant, the sweetness was perfect with none of that artificial syrup aftertaste.  The only thing unbelievable was that was the 25% sugar it was too sweet to be but luckily not unpleasant.  The only thing sad about it is that there is no Super Duck in Makati or the Fort.  I have a new favorite Tea place.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Brasas - Latin American Street Food

I was working quite late last night, work just seemed to pile up and my outbox just couldn't equalize with my inbox.  I was going nuts and right as I was about to completely lose it I get this picture on Whatsapp.

My girl was in Podium at Brasas, the Latin American restaurant I have been hearing about.  I am not one to look at food porn pics but I am a guy and the prospect of eating copious amounts of roast meat excites me.  This girl is a keeper!  I squint and scan at the menu picture and request the pork grilled wrap.  I am usually a beef eater but heck, change is good every so often.  

 This is the salad my girl ordered for herself while waiting.  Meat and vegetables for P150, quite impressive!

 And this is what the takeout looked like.  It was the grilled Beef Wrap and Pork Wrap.  The pork wrap had cheese (P30 add on).  The darker colored wraps are the beef.

Patacones! Plantains with pork and cheese

Sure they have rice meals too but I ordered a wrap simply because its supposed to be "street food" and I sort of can picture the wraps being carted around like Shawarma.  Matter of fact, why is it so similar?  The South American roast meat wrapped in a tortilla and the Middle Eastern roast meat wrapped in pita bread?  I was curious but no amount of Googling gave me a conclusive answer.  Naturally you will only find pork in the South American menu - no need to explain why I hope and tortilla being made with corn flour vs pita using wheat.

My guess is that the tortilla having originated from Spain which has historically has been intertwined to the Middle East through cultural cross pollination due to historical invasions - both ways, Spain then colonized South America bringing the practice of wrapping roast meat.  So again, my theory is Spain got the idea from Pita from the Middle East or perhaps other Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Turkey and then brought it to South America because the ties with the Middle East predate the era of colonization.  Well, anyway....

From the three dishes I tried I see what Brasas is all about, a deep, rich smoky flavor and this exuding juiciness to the meat and that is even with it being takeout and reheated - very impressive indeed.  The flavors of the wraps are strong, accentuated by peppers and something slightly sour, my guess is some lemon.  Admittedly the pork was nowhere as good as the beef wrap but I should have known that already. 

And even more similarities with Middle Eastern food are the sauces, chipotle for spice and hmmm, something orangey and mild which are like the spicy and not spicy yoghurt sauces.

I am rambling, in conclusion the food is truly excellent.  The Patacones were crunchy and we got five pieces for 140 pesos so with the two wraps the bill was P520 which isn't too bad because it is quite filling and we could have done with sharing one wrap.  The beef wrap is what to get, don't bother adding cheese, it doesn't need it and why get extra calories.  I'm going to go to Brasas myself and eat right there soon, its that good.