Sunday, April 28, 2013

Old Penang Resorts World

I am a simple person, anything pleases me, almost any food, an acceptable level of service, a clean place and of course reasonable pricing.  This was not to be when I ate at Old Penang at Resorts World Manila.

I love Malaysian food, like Singapore, Malaysia is a mix of different minorities which blended beautifully together to bring in the best of each culture that manifests itself in its food which is now exotic and varied.  My love story with Malaysian and Singaporean food began when my brother lived in Singapore and I would visit at least once a year (libreng tirahan).  I delighted myself with hawker's market food, street food and food courts, particularly Laksa, the spicy, hearty complete meal soup, one of my very favorite dishes.

On to my story, on a horrific traffic Wednesday we found ourselves in Manila seeking a route to Makati.  South Super Highway was jammed tighter a jar of Milo I figured that instead of going further that we should take the Skyway and rest at Resorts World.  And that we did after a good hour from Cash and Carry to the Skyway entrance.  Being famished we ran off to the top floor of the mall and figured Penang would be something new.

  Old Penang is not cheap, dishes average 300 pesos each and hence gave me a rather bloated expectation.  The thing was

1. Plating is odd, everything is served in plastic dishes.  Portions are reasonable, not generous although the chicken and squid were veering towards the stingy side.  I understand they want to give you the authentic hawker market experience but seriously, we were not paying hawker prices and I don't care how much rent is.

2. Service is bad.  I noticed there were a lot of trainees.  I asked one what the difference was among their three or four squid dishes and I only got the answer "squid".  I asked "ano ang kaibahan" and got the answer "squid".  We also were not attended to past being given food.  I never tipped so little in my life.  Not to be a jackass but one waitress had pretty bad acne and I understand the difficulty of the condition but to show the person next to me the menu she bent across our table and I tell you her cheeks were six inches away from my mouth to my horror.  Seriously, who trains these people?

3. The cleanliness was off, we asked for dishes and the server came and placed dishes with unidentifiable black bits (I am sure it wasn't mice or rat or cockroach poop or I would have ran to the hills).  I thought they must have been some spice and ask looked at the server who grinned and ran off to replace them.

4. Price, well I wanted to relax and ordered a local beer, which turns out to be P80 and in a can.  The chicken, squid and noodle dishes we ordered (cannot remember what the names are right now) were P300 each.

I will never be back.

There are lots of other restaurants here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Burger Bar

The Metro has been peppered with the rise of the burger joints.  Like the mushrooms topping some burgers it seems like a burger restaurant has sprouted out of every nook and cranny you see and each claims to be the best.  Throwing its hat into the ring for your burger peso is Burger Bar.

Getting to Burger Bar is easy, it is in Greenbelt 2 at the Ayala Center, Makati.  Unless you hit this place during Christmas, a sale/payday weekend there shouldn't be any major problem getting there.  It is along the original restaurant row alongside the ever living Nuvo, wine bar whose neighbors come and go but it yet remains.  Burger Bar is on the second floor of Nam Nam which I understand is a sister company.

 The Signature Burgers

As I mentioned in the Burger Project article, this is one of those places that allow you to build your own burger starting with bread, patty, toppings etc.  But as I didn't feel too DIY I went with their stock double cheeseburger for P295, my companions went nuts on the signature burgers.  Add P85 and get fries and a drink, at last a value meal!

 The Rising Shroom

 Plain ole Double Patty Cheeseburger

4 Cheese Chuck with Bacon

After quite the wait the food finally arrived.  As we were hungry and all ordered double patties we didn't bother with appetizers.  The burgers arrived each looking very different from the other as they should.  The meat is excellent at Burger Bar.  Very wet and juicy, which can be bad or good depending on your taste.  The bread is formidable and the claimed 1/3 pound double patties seemed right at home.  Somehow my cheeseburger tasted like an improved Quarter Pounder which for me is a very big complement!

The fries are machine cut and taste store bought, nowhere near the Mc Donald's benchmark.  The vegetables were crisp and fresh although the ketchup and mustard were a bit overpowering.  

In terms of value, its quite good although I think for the money a Friday's burger with its delicious fries is a compelling proposition.  I know I am leaving mixed signals here but I am not too sure if I'd go back anytime soon considering the amount of options out there.  Heck I may do each one in the Battle Burger list, click to check it out, I recommend you do!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Le Ching Tea house

I absolutely love Le Ching Tea House!  Le Ching is an institution for those that frequent the Greenhills shopping center where demand for their brand of affordable Chinese food has forced them to open a second branch within spitting distance of the first in Shoppesville.

Our order, Beef Brisket and Spare Ribs Rice Toppings and Hakaw and Siomai

They have a few more branches in Quezon City.  Le Ching is one of those places that is consistently good and such great value.  Such great value that it is possible to deliberate whether to eat in Le Ching or Mc Donald's or more accurately Chowking.  The fantastic rice toppings are generous and at P155 are something you could actually share with another person.  The dim-sum is at about 100 pesos or less for each order.

The vibe is fast paced, this is a restaurant that thrives on volume and so the food is served in about five minutes even with the up to fifteen minute warning for dimsum on the menu.  Le Ching is also home of the best chili garlic sauce I know of, ask for extra load the sauce dish with a whole calamansi and toyo to make it full and douse generously on every bite.  I literally have scalp sweat because of all the chili garlic I use because its just so dang good.  I highly recommend the Beef Brisket rice, one of my all time favorite dishes in the world.  The beef is always soft and tasty and the rice has abundant sauce compared to the drier but also delicious spare ribs.  The dimsum is very good too, for the price, naturally there is better dim sum but not for 100 pesos!  The beef brisket however I would put in a lineup against any restaurant serving it.

I love Le Ching, one of the saddest things about my life is that I am not in Greenhills more often to have it frequently.  Le Ching is undeniably one of my all time favorite restaurants.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sunshine Kitchen

Out of sheer coincidence I ran into this One Big Bite blog article on Sunshine Kitchen, the very same restaurant I was going to write about today.  The pictures there are Amorsolos compared to my grade 3 crayon art iphone shots, so please look at her blog for better pics.

Cabanatuan Longganiza has always been a favorite of mine.  My former boss is from Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija in Central Luzon.  My time in that company was marked with happy moments of when he would go to his hometown and take orders of Cabanatuan Longganiza which is the best longganiza I have ever had.  Cabanatuan Longganiza is hearty, rich with fat and filled with garlic, you feel like a man ready to conquer the world after a breakfast of that along with copious amounts of garlic fried rice to conclude the anti dracula day starter.  Anyway, my whole digression is because I know one of the owners is from Cabanatuan and Sunshine Kitchen has a few dishes inspired from her homeland.  Note: She never invited me, I went over here just for the longganiza and of my own accord :D

Sunshine Kitchen is a happy place, alternating dark and yellow bricks line the walls and you notice a rather sizable staff in the open kitchen.  The must try there is the Sunshine Pizza which is brick oven pizza with the longganiza, porchetta, cheese and what looks like an egg yolk in every other slice!  That pretty much sealed the deal for me, an egg in practically every slice!  It sounds like the foundation of a balanced diet in the old nutritional pyramid - carbs, fat, protein its all there!  That is all I needed to order and their 8 hour cooked porchetta because as weird as this sounds I know that a lot of Ilocanos are in Cabanatuan and hence I figured its like having Bagnet with the longganiza and a double dose of pork can never be anything but good. And it was.

I was there from 6:30 to 9 pm, happy hour.  I had San Mig Light at Buy one, take one at P80 for the pair so naturally I had six.  Wine for the girl is reasonable at P150 a glass.  The Pizza was 520 at the Pork was 480 I believe but both are sharing portions.  I highly recommend Sunshine Kitchen for a date, just don't go during the weekends as I hear it does get packed.  It is quaint, cozy and quite pleasing, a little bit of sunshine indeed!

Sunshine Kitchen Contact info, map and other useful stuff:

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Burger Project Jupiter

Driving around last Thursday we came across "The Burger Project" in Jupiter Street Makati.  The Burger Project aptly lives up to his name because their differentiator is that you literally have a "burger project" It is one of those joints in which you literally build your own burger from the ground up just the way you like it.  You start a checklist, first you select your bun, meat, add ons such as bacon, cheese, vegetables, sauce and sidings.  I didn't take a picture of the checklist which serves as their menu with pricing but present to you my receipt instead for your perusal.

You can tell what we ordered from the receipt, my girl had a fried Portabello mushroom which came sliced thinner that I thought humanly possible and blue cheese while I had Canadian Bacon, cheddar and an egg.  Both on wheat buns and using 1/3 pound Angus beef patties.

Taste wise, I can say it was ok.  I personally prefer more aggressive seasoning that doesn't overpower the taste of the beef and yet gives a bite of flavor when all the ingredients come together.  But I must admit, I did not really want to assemble a burger, I was someone to make the optimal combination for me.  As each chef makes their signature dishes based on combinations they think will be best I want that imposed on me.  Sure everything is good with bacon and cheese but which bacon and which cheese?  The Burger Project is like me going to the grocery and buying ingredients of my choosing except instead of me firing up a grill someone cooks it for me, sort of like the Dampa of hamburger aficionados.  But they did have a few combinations available as stock burgers like a thai burger with mango and chili sauce but a quick mental computation made me think I was better off building something of my own, besides, that is why you are here for anyway.

Tada!  Our finished burgers.  Not bad for the price though, at P460 for both.  I like Chili's and Friday's burger, Burger Barn and the Sweet Bella Burgers but they all cost about P400 each so the Burger Project is actually reasonable and good value.  The only gripe really is the seasoning of the meat, a little more salt and pepper would have made a huge difference.  This was one of the most bland angus I have ever had.  But to contradict myself, yes I will come back here.  Its in a nook in Jupiter, has its own parking and is reasonable enough to give a second chance to, but I will choose plain USDA beef next time.

The Burger Project Jupiter

38 Jupiter St. corner Planet St.
Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Vask at the Fort

Past Market Market in parts of the Fort previously unknown to me lies the Clip Center Building, so named because it is inspired by paper clips as seen on the cladding over the all glass of the building sides.  On the fifth floor is the newly opened Vask.  Vask is so named because the food is inspired by the Basque region of Spain and especially of note are the Pinxtos (Pinchos) literally "pinches" which are not so small bites of bread with different toppings such as shrimp, ham and what not.

I was struck by how interesting the setting was, a Spanish inspired long table seating was the first thing I saw and then the "hidden Mickey's cut out of the cladding on the ceiling, very playful.   The entire area feels like the building, roomy and open.  The ambience is clean and new, it doesn't feel like fine dining, I saw people walk in wearing shorts but I believe they were seated outside on the deck.  The inside crowd is an interesting mix of society and business notables and Vask was close to full capacity on a Tuesday night.

 The long table

 Another Seating Area

 The bar

 The Pinchos

The Pinchos remind of Sushi Bars with sushi spinning along in conveyor belts because they are laid out on the bar.  People sitting at the bar can pick and choose simply by taking a Pinco and putting it in their own plates. Wonderful "pulutan".  For some reason their draft San Miguel Pale Pilsen tasted heavenly, maybe I've been drinking San Mig Light for too long.....

Food prepared before your eyes 

 The Cocktails, I recommend the "Vask".  The Vask has ginger and chili to give you just a little bite or drag in the throat to make each sip interesting.  At P250 each there is no reason in my mind not to keep them coming as I must say these are the absolute best cocktails I have had in a long time at any price.

 Their version of Sangria

  View from the deck, what struck me was how awesome the Fort Skyline was becoming, I feel it will rival Hong Kong in a few years.
 Amy Cathouse Dishes

 The Facade

 The Vask Cocktail

I'm not a crazy foodie but I was very impressed with the place.  You get value for the price as the place is brand new, well appointed and the service is impeccable.  The food and drinks all taste like they were made from the best stuff on Earth.  I had the croquettas, egg tortilla, spicy mussels and the Bacalao because I was there more for pica picas and to try the cocktails.

Funny as I read through the cocktail list I looked at the description and ingredients, when I decided to order, scarcely had I opened my mouth to ask for a "La Reina" (the queen, Earl Grey and Apple) that I told them to hold on a bit while I quickly scanned for something more manly sounding.  Not finding anything more masculine sounding I thought to myself what is more macho than being able to order the girliest drink at a bar and being sure of one's sexuality so La Reina it was.  But one thing that I have to highly, highly recommend is "the Vask" cocktail.  When I come back to Vask it will be for the Vask.

Vask Modern Tapas & Gastronomic Cuisine
11th Ave cor. 39th Street, The Fort

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Getting a Formal Suit in Manila the easy way. Part I

Happy Easter!  I have a wedding to attend in about two weeks and the attire calls for a black suit.  The thing is, I have a beautiful Hugo Boss suit I bought two years back on sale at a price I couldn't resist.  The problem is, that suit is dark gray and I am part of the entourage for this wedding so the slightest deviation in color might be terribly obvious.  I weighed my options and made a few inquiries.  I even looked at this interesting post on Manila Tailors by men who are far more fashionable than me.  Thing is I had my head fixed on a budget on P7,000 max.  I have a reasonably good build so some off the rack looks good on me.  But I did want a custom suit, tapered, like the ones Daniel Craig wears on the Bond movies so off I went.

Posh stores in classy malls, their minimum for a suit is 25k, way too high for my budget.  They also said "three fittings" or three test fits for adjustment.  I feel that is crazy inconvenient and perhaps a way to make you feel like you are getting your money's worth.

King Phillip
I once asked how much for a suit and they quoted me P7,000 to which I thought "not bad".  Then I realized that it was for labor alone.  Their tela begins at P3,600 per meter!  To make a pair of pants would cost 6k!

A lot of people say going to Divisoria and choosing your own cloth is the way to go.  I heard wool is 900 per square and from my trips there before I saw "Armani" cloth and what not.  Now I really don't know if Giorgio really sells his cloth but my better judgement tells me no.

Off the rack will go back about 6k for Onessimus and you can get great finds at Zara and Marks and Spencer but they still wouldn't be custom.  Last Sunday I was in the new Glorietta One with what I thought was the most cost economical way to get a suit, I had a blazer from Zara bought on sale for 1800 and I was going to match cloth to it and have pants made.  After all a suit is nothing but a blazer or jacket with matching pants.  As King Phillip quoted me 6k for the pants to match a 2k blazer I trooped over to Fabric Warehouse.  And guess what?  I found cloth similar to my blazer so I trooped over the Ogie Q, a long standing establishment in the recently closed Park Square.  I told the proprietor (found out because I asked "ikaw ba si Ogie Q?" turns out this was the son.  Aside from having the pants made I decided to have my blazer tapered.  He explained there was only so much he could do because of the cut (side bend vs center bend whatever that is).  He then went off saying I could look like Bond in a tapered and slim suit.  I was hesitant, he had packages 12k, 15k and 18k all of which I didn't feel like spending for.  After all I went to the mall just to have pants made.

Well, the girl and I had been fighting badly and I needed something to make myself feel better so I asked for a deal on the suit.  Ogie Jr gave me the cloth of 15k at 12k I dunno really as I don't know anything about cloth. Since I had bought the cloth already and I could use a tapered blazer anyway I had those done too.  Wish me luck, I will post pics when I get the suit this Friday.