Friday, March 31, 2017

Solaire's Fresh: a delectable buffet experience

Solaire Resort and Casino boasts of one of the top buffet restaurants in Manila. Its intercontinental selection and exquisite main course choices boast of imported and high quality ingredients. Hence, my excitement was at its peak when I tried out a good number of these delectable dishes.

For starters, the buffet venue was an elegant and fashionable locale with a variety of glass fixtures, ambient lighting, and spacious tables. Furthermore, the excellent dining space was adorned with a sound system that plays in-house hotel music from a pianist. They also have tens of attendants to assist guests with drinks, food, and other small requests. Given these examples, I was pretty sure that the 5-star experience was with our brief stay.

The buffet selection had a variety of drinks to begin with. The juices were composed of the mixed fruit drink, the elder iced tea, and the mocktail. I liked the mix fruit drink the most due to the sweet fruity taste. The wine selection, on the other hand, was a much more extensive set, with 5 bottles on display. These ranged from Argentenian to Portuguese to Italian selections. I had quite a number of glasses from the excellent selection. They also had champagne and sparkling water to top it off. I also appreciated the fine taste of their champagne. Hard drinkers also had a bucket of Smirnoff mule waiting for them.

Drinks aside, I went to the Chinese selection table to explore what they had to offer. I was satisfied at the presence of Roast Duck and Macau style pork belly. The duck, even if it was full of bones, had that signature fatty taste. The hoisin sauce only enhanced the already flavorful taste. The pork belly, on the other hand, was excellent with ginger sauce. It was very crispy even when cold.

The hot pot selection was pretty limited, but the myriads of mixes that one can do with these ingredients are appetizing. I tried mine with an all meat ensemble: asado, pork belly, spices, garlic, leeks, and squid balls. What came out was a delightful mix of spices and meaty flavors.

Not ending there, I tried their sumptuous selection of meat carvings. I had samples of the Crispy Lechon, the Sirloin, the roast chicken, and the Baked Ribs. The Lechon had a very crunchy skin which was sinful yet delightful. The meat itself was brimming with fat. Hence, I truly liked the composition of the Lechon. The Sirloin was served medium rare with a reddish meat to boot. It blended well with the peppercorn sauce and the mushroom sauce on the side. The Baked Ribs had meat which was easy to pull out from the bones. The barbecue marinade only served to enhance the exquisite quality of the ribs. The Roast chicken was good with the gravy sauce.

The coup de grace of the night was the unlimited lobster. This was Fresh's crowning glory. The price of Php 2300 for the buffet was very much deserved due to this fact. All night long, some of the freshest imported lobsters were in the buffet tray or served directly to our tables. The lobsters were boiled and served with vinegar. They also had different servings for the lobster such as a pasta version, where freshly cooked ones were served atop pasta with tomato sauce. I was able to finish a good number of the lobster tails without difficulty due to the great presentation and taste.

I then sampled their dessert selection. I enjoyed the Solaire signature cake which was a delightful mousse cake overloaded with chocolate. It was cut into generous slices wherein a diner can have his fill of the taste and texture of the wonderful concoction. I also sampled their crema de fruita, almond tart, and black forest cake. The crema was a small yet flavorful array of creme and mixed fruits. The almond tart was a meticulously baked tart with an almond overload. The cake, while quite plain, was a mix of chocolate and vanilla flavors. An ice cream bar was also present, yet I figured that the taste was quite plain.

In sum however, I found Fresh to be a delightful experience due to the sumptuousness of most of their food. I also loved the ambient interiors and the accomodating staff. Fresh is located at Solaire Hotel, Pasay City.
Fresh - Solaire Resort & Casino Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Tamarind: A taste of Issen Thai at SM North Edsa

Tamarind is one of the few Thai restaurants in Metro Manila. According to the owner, he conceptualized the restaurant to spread knowledge about Thai food among Filipinos. He credited this desire to his long-standing love affair with the cuisine. To him, preparing Thai food has come from his heart. I say that his passion has manifested itself so well in his food. His dishes are abundant with flavor and technique. 

We first had a taste of their green papaya salad. It was a tangy mix of chicharon, green papaya strips, leeks, chili, string beans, lemon zest, garlic, nuts and tomatoes. These are ground in a mortar and pestle then served fresh. 

The Sok Lek Tuna was a round of Tuna Ceviche over hard pastry. This was akin to the Filipino Kilawin. Like the latter, this dish was also excellent with alcohol due to the fresh and salty taste.

The See Klong Khai Krem was their Salted Egg Spareribs. The salted egg was in the breading. The delightful mix of saltiness and meatiness was very much strong with this one. Also, the breading was pretty crispy.

One of their desserts was composed of Kanom Takoh. This was their creme brulee pudding with a caramelized top. I loved the bittersweet taste provided by the caramelized top.

The Thai iced tea cheesecake was a sample of the owner's ingenuity. The pinkish based was actually their milk tea drink hardened into a cheesecake crust. The same sweet and milky taste from the drink was very much present in this delightful cheesecake. 

The Yam Tao Ho was their spicier version of their fried tofu selection. It was composed of tofu with whole dried chili, nuts, and leeks. The chili accentuated the oily flavor of the dish.

The Pad Pad Tao was a sampler of their fried tofu topped with kangkong. The oily and garlicky taste was very much appreciated. The kangkong also served as a healty topping to this dish.

The Plamug Kratiem Prig Thai was composed of squid sauteed in its ink and chunks of garlic. The simple yet elegant dish was remarkable for its meaty seafood taste. The squid ink also provided a certain tanginess to the taste.

The coconut ice cream and the milktea and matcha ice cream were some of their wonderful dessert creations. The cocount ice cream, colored white, was comprised of a sherbet type ice cream infused with coconut milk. The milktea ice cream was another form of their milktea drink. The sweet flavor also translated well as ice cream.

Singha and Chang beer were just two of the most popular Thai beer brands. The beers were excellent with a lot of their dishes, particularly the ceviche and the Sai Krok.

The Sate Vegemet was something I had to get used to in order to fully appreciate. The meat had the feel and taste of sotanghon noodles and were quite soggy.

The managers and staff were very hospitable and accommodating to our visit. 

The Miang Pla Too with Nam Prik Kapi was a mix of fresh vegetables, grilled fish, and their version of bagoong. The bagoong was quite light to the taste. It wasn't too strong like Philippine bagoong.

The Sai Krok was the Thai version of the sausage. It was a mix of ground meat with lots of herbs. It also came with a sweet sauce. I loved its meaty taste and its pairing with the beer. I suggested that the cabbage be blanched or turned into sauerkraut so diners would eat it.

Tamarind is located in the first floor of the Block SM North. Their Thai favorites will surely work their way up to your heart.

Tamarind: Taste of Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Masil: Korean specialties in the heart of Tiendesitas

Masil is one of those premium Korean restaurants with a taste of authenticity. The interiors, appetizers, and main courses are offered at a premium to discerning customers, whether they be Koreans or Filipinos. Furthermore, the prices are quite reasonable even in such a classy and excellent atmosphere. 

I was invited to sample Masil's specialties in the heart of Tiendesitas, a food and shopping hub in the heart of Ortigas.

The huge storefront sign.

The dining area had a wooden finish.

The lemonade was an excellent starter to a heavy meal.

They also had a starter salad dish

The banchan was served free of charge; and it came in 8 dishes per set with up to two servings per group. These were composed of the ubiquitous kimchi, the fish cakes, spicy dilis, glazed baby potatoes, roasted nuts, and other assorted vegetables.

For an additional charge, they also served salad and scrambled eggs. 

We had two meal sets for the night. These were the MASIL SET A - P2,400 and PREMIUM SET B - P3,300. The sets were comprised of:


-Saeng Galbi - Premium Beef Short Ribs - 250g per order - P880
-Yangnyeom Galbi - Premium Beef Short Ribs marinated in special sweet sauce - 250g per order - P770 (Best Seller)
-LA Galbi - Laterally Sliced Premium Beef Short Ribs marinated in special sweet sauce - 250g per order - P660
-Galbi Jim or Korean Beef Stew - P490
-Japchae - Potato noodles sauteed with vegetables and pork - P330
-Doenjang jjgae - Bean paste soup - P300
-Gyeran Jjim - Steamed egg soup - P150

MASIL SET A - P2,400

-Galbisal - Beef rib finger 160g per order - P550
-Masil Bulgogi - Beef brisket marinated in house sweet sauce 180g per order - P490
-Chadol-bagi -Thinly sliced beef brisket 180g per order - P390
-Yuk hoe - Fresh beef tartare in sesame oil based sauce - P450
-Haemul Pajeon - Korean style Spring Onion Pancake with seafood - P350

The prices were not bad for a group meal. I must say that our group of 12 were thoroughly fed by these two sets. According to the owner, the meat dishes were composed of only the finest imported meats from abroad. Given this premise, the prices were pretty reasonable then. I also loved the fact that the meat was freshly cooked right in front of us to ensure high quality taste and freshness.

The Korean Beef stew was or Galbi Jim was priced at Php 490. It was a mix of tender beef, carrots, and potatoes in sweet sauce. Every bite was particularly fatty and tasty. The vegetables were there to temper the rich and savory taste of beef. I could finish an entire bowl if I had to.

Some of their appetizers included Doenjang jjgae or Bean paste soup at Php 300. It was a pretty spicy and sour soup that was filled with tofu, spicy bean paste,pickles, and noodles. I must say though that I liked the Gyeran Jjim or Steamed eggs soup at Php 150. It was a bowl of piping hot scrambled egg that had a soft mushy texture and a light taste. It served as an excellent accompaniment to the meat.

Yuk hoe or Fresh beef tartare in sesame oil based sauce was priced at P450. It was a bowl of raw meat with an egg on top. I don't usually like raw food; and this was no exception.

Haemul Pajeon or Korean style Spring Onion Pancake with seafood was priced at P350. It was quite filling and tasty due to the good quantity of seafood varieties on top of the dish. 

Japchae was composed of Potato noodles sauteed with vegetables and pork and priced at Php 330. The noodles were pretty soft. I also liked the dominance of vegetable flavor in every bite.

The Chadol-bagi was composed of thinly sliced beef brisket  with 180g per order at Php 390. It reminded me of bacon due to the thinness of every strip of meat. It was pretty tasty too. The meat itself, even without any sauce, was full of that grilled and smoky flavor.

Masil Bulgogi was the Beef brisket marinated in house sweet sauce  with 180g per order at Php 490. Since this one had a bulgogi sauce, I must say that it was tastier than the one without sauce. The flavor was more caramel-like and much more accentuated.

We then had the Yangnyeom Galbi or the Premium Beef Short Ribs marinated in special sweet sauce with 250g per order at P770. This was their Best Seller. It was cooked in their special charcoal for the stocky flavor. I must admit that I enjoyed this the most due to the generous chunks of beef with every serving. I also loved the rich beefy taste.

Masil is an excellent dining place for trying out their meat specialties. Their rich appetizers were also pretty excellent. I do hope to come back there soon. Masil is located at Tiendesitas, Frontera Verde, Ortigas Avenue Corner C5, Ugong, Pasig City.

Masil Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, March 24, 2017

Nikkei: Japanese-Peruvian premium dining in the heart of Makati

Nikkei is one of those discreet Makati restaurants with a flair for international fusion cuisine. In this case, the food was a combination of Japanese and Peruvian favorites for the unique dining experience. The venue itself was abound with wood finishing and eccentric interiors for a powerful, yet subtle effect. According to the manager, the furniture was imported abroad. Also, their executive chef hailed from Argentina, where he managed a Peruvian-Japanese restaurant. Talk about bringing the best from abroad!

This was a sample of their bar/kitchen. The furnishings were well-lit by gigantic incandescent light bulbs. While a bit cramped, the bar area, gave one a full view of the goings-on in the kitchen. After an observation of the surroundings, we were then able to try a good number of their drinks and dishes. 

Enter the Norito at Php 220. This cocktail was a slightly bittersweet combination of Lime, mint, nori, ginger, and cachaca. As such, it was intended to be a starter to a whole night of drinking. Since it only contained a mild alcohol variant, one may expect more than 2 glasses of this to give a discernible kick. Add to that the fragrant herb aroma due to the combination of lime and mint.

The Yellow Pepper Ceviche at Php 375 was composed of white fish, red onions, yellow pepper sauce, red chili, cilantro, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and sweet potato strings. The mix of red chili, cilantro, onions, and pepper sauce served to dilute the strong and notable fish flavor. It also provided an inkling of sweetness to the salty fish.

The Norito in a closer view looked like an herbal drink.

We then went for the stronger drinks such as the Sake Sangria at Php 295. It was a magnificent combination of lychee syrup, orange juice, ginger syrup, cachaca, and sake. The fruity mix was tasty, yet by the time I swallowed the drink, I was able to experience the bitter aftertaste of strong sake. Truly, this drink was a level up from the Norito due to the type of alcohol used and the acidic, fruity mix. I must say that the flavor was simply a mask for the strength of this drink.

The Tako confitado at Php 260, was composed of two sticks of grilled octopus in spicy panka-miso sauce. The tanginess of the panaka sauce blended well with the smoky taste of juicy octopus meat. It was an excellent accompaniment to the strong sake-based drinks that came our way.

The Coco Chee at Php 295 was an even higher level of alcohol cocktail. It was a vicious mix of vodka Absolut, Sake, Josen Nihonsakari, coconut milk, passion fruit juice, lychee juice, and single syrup. It was quite on the bitter side due to the double mix of Absolut and Sake, two alcoholic drinks that can easily deliver a kick served individually. I did have a bit of a problem with this drink since the juices and milk were unable to temper the ferocity and bitterness of the aforementioned alcohol bases.

The Fish Causa at Php 145 tempered the alcohol by providing a sweet, meaty taste. It was composed of Peruvian Soft Mashed Potato Bites Topped with a choice of Kobe, Ebi, Tako, Fish, or Salmon. We were served the Fish variant, which was white fish marinated in soy sauce, garnished with cilantro emulsion and guacamole. Every bite was sinfully delicious. 

The Spicy Sake Martini 250 was an explosive combination of Vodka, Lemon Juice, Sake, and Wasabi Paste. I do recommend the drink for those who love a little more adventure.

The Ceviche Roll, apparently was their best selling sushi; and it was easy to see why. It cost: 5 pcs P200 / 10 pcs P395. It was composed of white fish, cucumber, onion leeks, cilantro, ceviche sauce, and fresh chili (spicy). The explosive mix of freshness, spiciness, and creaminess were very much present and appreciated with every bite. The excellent plating and the flavors were enough to convince me to stop sushi abstinence.

The Kocha Tiraditos (Sashimi Peruvian Style) at Php 175 was a delightfully arranged mix of either white fish, salmon, octopus or tuna topped with salad sauce and crispy tea. We were served the Kocha Tiraditos White Fish. I must say that mixing tea with fresh fish did make a great combo. The herbal taste of tea served to purify the salty taste of fish. The sweet brown sauce also served to make the dish even sweeter.

The excellent interiors can be seen in this shot.

The Coco Tiraditos (Sashimi Peruvian Style) at Php 150 was another raw food favorite. It was a combination of either white fish, salmon, octopus or tuna with salad sauce, coconut milk, chives, and togarashi. We were served the Kocha Tiraditos Salmon, which in my opinion, had a thick and creamy coconut and brown sauce. I must say that pairing coconut milk with sashimi had created an invigorating taste.

The Mixed Jalea, at Php 680, was an exciting combination of Mackerel, Octopus, Prawns, Red Onion, Sweet Potato Strings, and Ceviche sauce. I did adore the plating and presentation of this humongous fish-based dish.  The potato strings and the seafood provided a crunchy texture altogether. Also, every bit of flavor from the seafood varieties were accentuated by the tangy ceviche sauce.

One of their rice meals was the Buta no Kakuni Chahan at Php 680 it was a mix of 
Pork Belly, Katsuboshi, Ponzu, Leeks, and Togarashi. The pork belly had thick fat trimmings. Eating a piece made me enthusiastic about the fatty and garlicky flavor of the dish. Add to that the stir-fried rice for an exciting meal. The coleslaw was pretty plain, though.

We ended our meal with the Tres Leches at Php 280. It was a small serving of sponge cake soaked in custard cream. I must say that this was a bit underwhelming. The cake already became soggy due to the condensed milk mix. I must commend it however, for its creme bruleee topped with mango for an excellent taste.

Nikkei is located at Unit GO3, Frabelle Business Center, 111 Rada Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City. It was an exhilarating experience to have tried out this premium restaurant.

Nikkei Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato