Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bao On the Block: the newest Bao place in Quezon City.

We only know the siopao, siomai, and those streotypical Chinese dishes copied by lots of restaurants in Metro Manila. However, we don't usually hear of the Bao. Fortunately, the owners of Bao on the Block seek to introduce Bao to the general public. Bao is actually steamed or fried dough that is usually filled with meat. Traditionally it is mixed with asado sauce. However, the owners thought of different toppings that can be used with this lesser known Chinese snack.

The dishes are usually composed of steamed dough topped with a variety of viands. The pictures below will show you their delectable selection. 

Botb classic. This dish is a combination of fried pork, hoisin sauce, and nuts. The hoisin sauce and pork make a wonderful combination that is sure to whet someone's appetite.

The chicken chop rice bowl is for those who prefer rice over the bao. It is composed of deep fried chicken with fried wanton wrappers and fresh vegetables.

The customary pork siomai at Php 85 for 8 pieces. It is a good accompaniment to the bao dishes.

Dragon Bao Z. This spicy offering has a lot of kimchi, pork, and spring onion relish. This is perfect for those who want a lot of spice in their meal. 

The stylish wall deco.

Chicken Teriyaki Rice Bowl. This has special teriyaki sauce. I find this one better than the ordinary chicken chop due to the sweet teriyaki sauce. It still comes with the standard vegetables and chips.

Another shot.

The customary sharksfin siomai. The fish based version is as good as the pork siomai.

Fish Bao with You. For those who have no inclination to eat pork or chicken, the fish version is for you. This is composed of fried fish, wasabi, mayo, and nori. The inclusion of wasabi might be a bit extreme for those who don't want spicy, but the taste is agreeable nonetheless.

The Bao selections. All come with fried wanton wrapper chips. It costs 89 Php for 1 pc., Php 159 for 2 pieces, and 379 for 5 pieces.

Back to the Baosics. This one is a chicken based alternative to the Botb classic. I prefer the pork based one; but this is still good. It has lots of coleslaw, though.

To cap it off, we had a bottle of China's most popular beer, Tsingtao. At 120 per bottle, this is actually good for two people. Way to end the night!

Bao on the Block truly satisfied my curiosity as to what could be done with the traditional Bao. It truly has gone a long way from the typical ones I used to eat at restos. 

Bao on the Block is located at 52 Sgt. Esguerra St., Scout Triangle, Quezon City.

Bao on the Block Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

LAVA Resto Bar and Grill: one of Timog Avenue's secrets

Timog Avenue is home to some of the best drinking places and grills in Quezon City. LAVA Resto Bar and Grill is one of the newer grills in the area. Fortunately, I got a chance to experience the place to check its dishes.

The grill had this art deco/ hispter feel. There was a freedom wall where diners posted pictures and messages. Also, they had the logo painted in black and white in one of the walls. The furniture even reminded me of one of those classic bars in Manila.

The place has been around for a year. According to the owners, their specialties are more on American themed dishes with emphasis on meat. As a meat lover, I surely couldn't wait to taste what they had to offer. The menu included BBQ Pork Ribs, Seafood in Olive Oil and Garlic Pasta, Savory Chicken, Classic Burger, and Buffalo Wings. Plus a bucket of Brew Kettle.

We started with their appetizers. The Buffalo Wings had this mildly spicy taste and delicious barbecue sauce. It was also in generous servings. I'd say that the skin was pretty remarkable. It was chewy and savory. The Seafood Pasta was less remarkable. The dish was pretty salty; and the seafood wasn't so fresh anymore. This, however, was redeemed by the BBQ Pork Ribs. The sauce was excellent. The servings were also good. It was also topped with garlic rice. Furthermore, the meat can easily be stripped off the bones without any difficulty. The Savory Chicken was well cooked. The meat was tender. Also the skin was tasty. The Classic Burger was also well-cooked. It had a thick patty generously topped with big buns and piping hot mozzarella cheese. In sum, I'd say that their dishes were pretty notable. But I must say that they need something to mark the distinction in their meals. The prices are quite reasonable as well. 

LAVA Grill seems to be one of the more discreet places to share a drink or meet friends or family. The quaint ambiance and casual interiors can serve to soften the mood and promote a fun and friendly conversation. LAVA Grill is located at 79 Timog Avenue, QC (In front of Buddy's)

The story in pictures:

The entrance

The freedom wall

The Lava logo painted.

The classic burger

Buffalo Wings

The menu

The BBQ Ribs

The Savory Chicken

Lava Resto Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Millie's: an Exquisite sampling of Filipino and Foreign Favorites

My invitation to Millie's was initially filled with some skepticism. As an avid traveller, I know for a fact that hotel food isn't the most memorable food that one will ever taste in his lifetime. However, this restaurant called Millie's changed all that, at least for my perception. 

Millie's is a multi-branch restaurant located at several Microtel branches in the Philippines. The name came from the mother of the CEO of the Microtel group, Mr. Jose Mari Del Rosario. She was a jetsetter who craved the fast paced lifestyle. In honor of her memory, Mr. Del Rosario created the restaurant as a testament to his amazing mother.

Upon my visit to their Mall of Asia branch, I immediately noticed that the place was replete with Millie's memorabilia. Passports, cigarette lighters, European hotel toiletries, and fans were abound. The restaurant had this old world charm that beguiled its guests. The food, on the other hand, was a variety of local international favorites.

Microtel's executive chef, Chef Gino, extended us warm hospitality and generosity. He showed us the top notch selections in the menu. These included their amazing appetizers such as the Gnocchi in Bleu cheese, the Boquerones, the Gambas, Tuna Carpaccio, the Tagliatelle Bolognese and the Seafood Marinara. I must say that these were all above the standards I expected. The Gnocchi was a heavenly delight. It was composed of baked dough swimming in a pool of bleu cheese and other ingredients. It was truly made to be paired with garlic bread. The pungent smell of bleu cheese was greatly minimized without compromising on the tangy flavor. The Boquerones was not on the menu, but Chef Gino served it anyway to check our response. I'd say that this dish must be included. It constituted a line of anchovies dipped in olive oil and topped with black olives. The anchovies were uncooked, and were served like kilawin. The fresh taste was excellently complemented by the sweet taste of olive oil. As for the pasta, I preferred the Bolognese over the Marinara. The Bolognese had an overload of mushrooms and ground beef. The meaty taste perfectly suited my preferences. On the other hand, I noticed a few things about the Marinara. The mussels in the dish were not that fresh anymore. However, I still liked its presentation. The Gambas were remarkable as well. It had a mixture of a pepper sauce with chorizo. This dish truly captured its Spanish heritage. It also went well with garlic bread. Lastly, the Tuna Carpaccio was also excellent. The fish was fresh, and while paired with lemon zest, served as a good tapas cold cut dish.

The viand plates were also the best in their game.. These included Kare-Kare, Lamb Chops, Baby Back Ribs, and the Chicken Parmigiana pasta. While others say that the Kare Kare was a bit sweet, I still commend Chef Gino's mix. The sauce's taste wasn't too overloaded with peanuts. The dish was also filled with a variety of fresh ingredients. It was truly great with steaming, hot rice. The Lamb Chops and the Baby Back Ribs were pretty exquisite in their taste. They were cooked to perfection. While the servings were a bit small, the presentation and taste outclassed this shortcoming. The lamb, in particular, was devoid of that slimy texture that the meat is known for. According to the Chef, he marinated it in lemon and their special sauce. As for the ribs, I'd say that the meat was tender; and the dish was baked to perfection. Lastly, the Chicken Parmigiana was pretty tangy. It was a chicken baked into a patty and mixed with pasta and tomato sauce. It paled in flavor compared to the other viands; yet it was still considerably tasty on its own.

We also tried their Panna Cotta and Tiramisu. These two remarkable desserts were prepared with utmost regard for discriminating tastes. The panna cotta was remarkable for its jiggly texture. It shakes when touched. The Tiramisu, on the other hand, has a considerable amount of alcohol that can make kids a bit tipsy. I love it for that distinct chocolate-mocha flavor.

Come visit Millie's for that wonderful old world charm and delectable fine dining experience. I'd surely go back for more.

The story in pictures:

Gambas and Garlic bread.

The Kare-kare

The Tiramisu

Millie's personal effects

The Boquerones

The delectable Gnocchi

The dining area

The Chicken Parmigiana

The Tagliatelle Bolognese

Another shot

Panna Cotta

The Seafood Bolognese

The Millie's logo

The delectable array

The Lamb Chops and the Baby Back Ribs

Millie's All-Day Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sigekiya Ramen:a unique taste of Japan in one bowl

Authentic Japanese ramen has been an elusive concept to my mind. With all the commercialized offers of this noodle dish in the market promising to be the best and the most unique, I truly don't know which is the most superior. On the other hand, Sigekiya Ramen promises a special brand of ramen that will surely remain unforgettable to the palate. 

The term Sigekiya indirectly means "something spicy". According to the owner, this name correlates to their ramen which has the option to be served according to the degree of spiciness the customer prefers, particularly ranging from level 0 to level 100+. 

Sigekiya is actually a noodle house that started in Japan. The owner, a Filipino expat in Japan, fell in love with the ramen after trying it out. It came to a point when he had the ramen for 2 times a week. Upon his return, he immediately started this place as a business franchise. The franchise came from Yokohama, Japan, a city 40 minutes away from Tokyo with dining traditions similar to that of the capital's. According to him, the alcohol, condiments, and sauces are all imported; while the meat, noodles, rice, and vegetables are composed of fresh local ingredients. The interiors, on the other hand, can seat about 30 people, and it mimics a typical Japanese ramen place complete with a bar. 

Sigekiya's ramen comes in two major variants. One is the Sigekiya ramen, which as said earlier, can be customized when it comes to the spiciness level. It has thick noodles akin to Chinese chami noodles used in lomi, a few thick slices of chasu or grilled pork, bamboo shoots, nori, and fresh leeks. Its main selling point though, is the special broth that deviates from the typical watery noodle soup made out of pork bone broth. This is instead, a thick dark soup with special secret ingredients especially made by the Japanese franchisors. As said earlier, its spiciness level can be customized from level 0 to level 100+.

Being adventurous, I had this signature dish at spiciness level 15. I must say that the broth is top notch. The thickness and consistency brimmed with that special flavor. Furthermore the thick slices of chasu, chopped to perfection, added to that stocky taste. As for the noodles, I had a bit of difficulty picking it with chopsticks due to its slippery and thick texture. But nonetheless, the taste was pretty satisfactory. I just hope that the noodles would be a bit thinner so as not to be too overwhelming. Bamboo shoots and nori were pretty excellent accompaniments to the already rich taste. The special Japanese chili spice powder took the cake. It was easy on the throat in large quantities, unlike the Sichuanese chili oil I have become fond of. Furthermore, the spice was pretty easy to take in large quantities. Some people have eaten the ramen at spice level 100+. At Php 360 per dish, it was pretty reasonable to the pocket as well as the palate.

On the other hand, the Tsukemen is a unique noodle dish that requires the customer to dip cold noodles into the hot fish broth topped with fish powder. While it takes longer to serve, the dish offers one a unique dining experience. The dish is 360 Php for a regular size as well. 

Their best selling side dishes usually include their tempura, gyoza, okonomiyaki, and Chicken karaage. While the gyoza reminded me of Xiao Long Bao, I found the former easier to pick up and eat. The dumpling was not overflowing with soup; and the dish was easy on the palate. It can be mixed together with vinegar and soy sauce plus a little chili for that tangy taste. A 5 piece variant goes for Php 130. Not bad for a signature snack. The oknomiyaki, otherwise known as a Japanese pancake, is a side dish that is topped with fish flakes and consists of a pan heated crust with cabbage and special filling. I'm not an expert on this dish but I'd say it's pretty decent and might go well with something sweet. A small pan goes for Php 150. 

The meal was ended with complimentary frozen jelly. While the place doesn't serve any dessert, I'd say that the jelly was enough to finish the melange of rich flavors and tastes that I've experienced at this session. I'd truly want to experience more of their flavors someday.

Sigekiya Ramen is located at 1/F Commercenter Mall, Commerce Drive, Filinvest, Alabang. You can visit their FB page at https://www.facebook.com/SigekiyaRamenPH/

The story in pictures:

The gyoza set

The complimentary frozen jelly

The Sigekiya emblem

Okonomiyaki at Php 150

The Signature Sigekiya Ramen at Php 360.

The clean, Japanese-inspired interiors

The Sigekiya ramen that reminds me of lomi, but with taste that is light-years more flavorful

The menu

The special chili pepper sourced from Japan

Chicken Karaage at Php 180 per serving

Me trying out the gyoza

The Tsukemen meal

Ebi Tempura at Php 290 for 5 pieces.

Tsukemen soup with fish bits on top

The kitchen area

The all-Japan sourced condiments

The signature Sigekiya ramen before being mixed.

Sigekiya Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato