Monday, May 23, 2011

Omakase, Alabang

Name: Omakase
Location: Alabang, Casa Vicente
Google Maps: Omakase, Alabang
Date and Time: May 27, 2011 (Saturday), 07:30 PM
Must Know: 10.00% Service Charge, Expect a waiting queue during peak hours


Things have been very busy for both of us so we decided to revive our food blog the moment we had a weekend where there wasn't much to think about or do. We just came from a 'wellness' date and we decided to review this restaurant which we very  much enjoyed several times in the past while scrutinizing their service against our FAVS scorecard. This time, I was the critic.


It's always easier to be seated when your table request is "for-two", so they found us a place within 3-mins of asking. After reviewing the menu, we decided to go for some items that were already familiar to us and some which were new. We ended up with the following:


Ordered from the Menu:
  • Crazy Maki - PHP 185.00
  • American Dream - PHP 195.00
  • Tori Karaage - PHP 140.00
  • Mix Sashimi - PHP 325.00
The Crazy Maki (PHP 185.00) is a new dish for us. This is a simple tuna and salmon sushi invertedly wrapped (rice outside and seaweed inside) and coated with a light layer of fish roe. When the dish was served, it looked really dry and unappealing. However, upon tasting it in our wasabi-rich soy sauce (we're wasabi addicts), it was amazing how it turned out as soft and tasty despite its dry appearance. It felt as if it was just prepared right before it was served - and we began to realize that the appearance of the dish is probably caused by the yellow dim lighting of the place. This was a good start!


Crazy Maki - PHP 185.00
The next dish on our sights was the American Dream (PHP 195.00), a very familiar dish for both of us since we often ordered the SAR platter. This is a westernized sushi, having a tuna sushi fried in batter and served with a creamy sauce. This is not your typical sushi, and having a bite of it with the sauce is a completely different taste from the first one we had. Having this alone will leave a very simple impression, nothing great. But once you compliment it with the creamy sauce, it becomes a worthy concoction. Creamy, tasty, and filling would be the best words I can use to describe it. This is a fusion of east and west cuisine.


American Dream - PHP 195.00
The next thing that came is the Mix Sashimi (PHP 325.00) which we are ordering for the first time. Nothing exotic about this dish, but it's a sashimi set of several favorites: tuna, salmon, squid, prawn, crab sticks, and our very own favorite - uni sashimi. The salmon was normal and it wasn't as creamy as we wanted it to be, but the tuna was surprisingly very tasty. The squid was so soft and creamy that I almost didn't realize it was squid. The prawn and crab sticks were normal. The winner for this dish was the uni sashimi, which tasted like it was fresh out from the sea - creamy and fresh indeed. We enjoyed this one very much!


Mix Sashimi - PHP 325.00
The last one on the menu was the Tori Karaage (P140.00). This is a boneless fried chicken cooked in a way that it kept all the flavor inside, probably cooked with butter?! The fact that it was boneless and kept all of its flavor was just immaculate - I liked how this contrasted the entire line-up we just ate. A great way to cap-it-off! 


Tori Karaage - PHP 140.00
In the end, we certainly enjoyed the sumptuous meals and they way they were prepared. Here's how we broke it down against our scorecard:


Food Quality (4.5) - This is what keeps us going back to this place. You can't go wrong with your fine Japanese food cravings by going to Omakase. Their food is just great!


Ambiance (3.5) - This was a little downer. Although the place is nice, the location and the over-all set-up could be a lot better.


Value for Money (4.0) - This is very appropriate. Considering how the food is prepared and the effort that goes with it, they are priced reasonably well.


Service (3.5) -  Despite the peak hour, the were still able to serve us in an acceptable amout of time although there is no personal touch - probably because of the volume of their customers.


15.5 TOTAL. I was expecting it to rank higher than some establishments we've reviewed in the past, but scuritinizing each aspect against our scorecard, I say that this is a fair assessment.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Okonimyaki in Little Tokyo

I was informed by my friend that there's this place in Little Tokyo that serves the best 'Okonomyaki' in the country. Well, 'Okonomiyaki' is my favorite Japanese dish and when I heard this, I heard nothing but bells in my ear. How is it that I've never tried or heard of this place before?

I'm now on the hunt for this place, let me know if anyone knows about it.

If you wanna know more about 'Okonomiyaki', click this Information from Wikipedia.

UPDATE:

After a few searches in Google, I have learned that the best lead is a place called 'Kagura' in Little Tokyo. I'm zeroing on this location this week, this has got to be a potential list-topper for me.

Google Maps Location: Kagura Japanese Restaurant, Makati.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Stock Market, Bonifacio High Street

The Stock Market (90-degrees)
Click to Enlarge
Name: The Stock Market, Bonifacio High Street, Taguig
Location: B1 - Bonifacio High Street, Taguig
Date and Time: February 25, 2011 11:45 AM
Must Know: The place has around 16 seats inside with an average of 5 seats per table, tables outside the perimeter as well and the place has a bar.

I will be away for a while with my family to go on a trekking adventure in Mt. Apo and one of the tasks assigned to me was getting our “earth pads” – this is the matting you put below your sleeping bed so you don’t freeze when the ground gets so cold. I planned on getting this from R.O.X. after my morning workout sometime around 11:30 AM, only to find out I they weren’t open until 12NN. So with 30-minutes of free time left, I ended-up having early lunch in The Stock Market in Bonifacio High Street.

I've passed by this place so many times in the past but never found the urge to stop and actually dine here, and this was the best time to do it, only a few steps away from my original destination which is R.O.X. So here I am, all alone, yet to start my work day, but glad to be able to do something to kill time like doing a solo food review – Audrey will just have to forgive me about this one.

Ordered from the menu:

• New England Clam Chowder Soup – Php 130.00
• Angus Burger with Grilled Pineapple – Php 325.00

The place is quaint with the feel of a ‘homey’ country-style setting – initially confusing because when you think about ‘Stock Market’, you’d first think of something industrial, economic or something related to business trading. This was, however, far from it and quite the opposite. A few wine racks here and there and ample lighting does the job of making you forget why the theme is what it is. One thing significantly dominating about the place is the theme of pineapples, pineapples, pineapples, they're everywhere, also in their logo in fact. If you click my first photo, zoomed in right smack in the middle is a pineapple center piece. This got me curious and I’ll make sure to ask the receptionist the reason why before I leave. I’m doing this review on-the-spot by the way.


Complimentary Appe-starters

Before I start with what I ordered, they served complimentary starters which is dough bread  and diced pineapple and tomatoes. I was a bit concerned coming into this place because I’m no fan of pineapples. This dish, however, was surprisingly refreshing and unique. You normally eat diced tomatoes knowing it’s going to taste watery and chunky, but this one tasted sweet but just right. The dough bread was also not bad, it had the right crisp and toughness, but not too tough that made it hard to break apart. The only downside about this was that they actually forgot to serve me any utensils to scoop up the tomatoes. See picture. Over-all, this is a nice addition to the quality of their service.

New England Clam Chowder Soup (Php 130.00)
First up is the New England Clam Chowder Soup (Php 130.00). Their description on the menu says ‘Thick, creamy chowder made with fresh clam meat, potatoes, corn, spices and garnished with toasted croutons’. They got it right with the thick and creamy but one thing I noticed about this soup is that it didn’t use enough clams to really stand-out. It’s either that or it was just overwhelmed with other flavors thrown into the soup. It tasted meaty and makes you ask if this is clam chowder soup in the first place, but it’s still an excellent dish. The croutons added a good twist to the soup and would be damned without it. Creamy indeed. Flavorful, spot-on. But as a clam chowder soup, not so – maybe just cream soup. In the end, I still enjoyed this as a starter for the meat dish which was about to be served.


Angus Burger with Grilled Pineapple (Php 325.00)
Finally, the Angus Burger with Grilled Pineapple (Php 325.00). On the menu, it says ‘½ pound of US Angus Beef patty with a slice of fresh pineapple and cheese, services with pickles and fries’. Again, a bit concerned about this dish because knowing burger dishes, I knew they would put a thick slice of pineapple in this, but since I’m dining alone, heck, I decided to be adventurous. When the dish came, I was absolutely right about the thick slice of pineapple - it was huge.

Let’s get things straight before I move on. I like my burgers as ‘hand-burgers’. They are meant to be eaten by hand and not gourmet with a knife and a fork. Bread buns are simply designed to be held by hand, and not staked by a fork or knife, with their rounded edges. So when they served me the dish with a steak knife on the plate, I knew it was a suggestion that the dish was gourmet. However, being who I am and how I liked my burgers, I insisted on flattening the bun so I can hold it up and chomp down to the meat. As soon as I pressed the top bun, I noticed that it was crispier than I expected on the outside and soft on the inside – implying that this bread is not meant for holding and would simply break apart if I did. The slice of pineapple also made the burger so thick that when I attempted to bite it while holding it, I didn’t even get through enough to have a chunk of the pineapple. That was a bit disappointing.

Therefore, as I gave-in to how they wanted this burger to be eaten, grabbed my utensils and neatly sliced the burger (as it shouldn’t be), I was able to slice off an entire piece from bun-to-bun. When I was finally able to have a bite of the entire chunk, it actually tasted great – even with the pineapple.

The Angus beef was superb - I had mine done medium-well, and it was exactly that way that it crisped on the outside but stayed soft and juicy on the inside (I wish the bread wasn’t like this). The flavor of the beef also dominated the pineapple and it was really great the way it did, knowing how the sweetness of pineapple can sometimes not jive well with meat dishes. Really, I enjoyed this burger very much. - By the way, the dish is also served with fries. But don’t make the same mistake I did of eating it before the burger. I ate half of the fries already and by the first bite I had from the burger, I immediately knew I was going to get stuffed. - After half of the burger was put away (by my stomach), I decided to take the top bun off and just eat it half-burger with an open top. And if you still can’t finish it, take out the pineapple like I did when it was only a quarter of the burger left. The important thing is you leave the Angus burger which is where all the quality of the dish is.

In the end, I enjoyed my solo food review in this wonderful joint. Here’s how it fared our my scorecard.

Food Quality (4.0) - Their Angus burger is superb, I just have to say it again. The Clam Chowder soup was also good but it wasn't perfect.

Ambiance (4.5) - This has the same set-up as Chelsea, Momo, and the likes. Homey atmosphere with good lighting and cleanliness.

Value for Money (3.5) - A bit pricey for the type of food, slightly above the price of Momo and at par with the prices at Chelsea.

Service (4.5) - Jean, who was my server during that time was very attentive and courteous. It's always good that you can call each other's names, adds a personal touch.

X-Factor (0.5) - For their location, another great place to bring a date because you an either opt to get drinks or dessert here, or opt to walk to another place nearby.

UPDATE:

As I was leaving the place, I asked the receptionist why they had so many pineapples on display and part of the place's theme. She (Kristel, if I remember correctly) informed me that was because the owner of this place is Del Monte Corporation.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

CLOSED: The Gustavian, Eastwood

The Gustavian, the very first establishment we did a food review, is already closed. This is the one in Eastwood and I'm not sure if there are other branches of this franchise. It scored 16.00 in our FAVS Score Board and although it wasn't the best one, it holds a special place in our blog as the maiden review we've ever made.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Site Updates

I decided to spice things up a little bit and updated the site with the following:
  • Geotags allows the readers to find the exact location of these establishments in case they want to swing-by. Care of Google Maps.
  • Cuisine Index on the upper right
  • Location Index on the upper right
  • New design which will continuously be updated as we feel.