Monday, August 30, 2010

Ramen Bar, Eastwood

Name: Ramen Bar
Location: Eastwood
Google Maps: Eastwood Mall
Date: Aug 27, 2010 08:30pm
Must Know: Outside the mall, 10.00% service charge.

Ordered from the Menu:
  • RBS #1 Php 380.00
  • Super Chasyu Ramen Php 380.00
  • Kakuni Buns Php 180.00
  • Tempura Ice Cream Php 120.00

This one opened just a couple of weeks ago if not more than a month. I'm not sure about the Ramen Bar franchise but this is the first time I've seen and heard about it - and for that, this place starts on neutral territory. No recommendations, no good or bad reviews - this is make or break.

Let's start off with the location - I last reviewed its neighbor, Cook Book Kitchen, and I maintain my stand that this is strategically located. It's very convenient and accessible to its customers, being right beside the chapel and just outside the mall. It also gets great visibility even to passersby. The setup of the place is normal: sufficient lighting, fairly comfortable seating, and very accommodating staff.

Let's get down to business. The good thing about dinner-for-two is that it's always easier to be seated as opposed to being with a large group of three or more. Once we found our table, we asked our server their recommended dishes. Zani, our attendant that evening, recommended their best seller big bowls: the RBS #1 (PHP 380.00) and the Super Chasyu Ramen (PHP 380.00). For starters, she recommended the Kakuni Buns (PHP 180.00).
After roughly 5-mins of waiting, I was surprised to see the big bowl dishes arrive together. Shortly after that arrived the Kakuni Buns - yes main dishes first, but I'm not complaining because the whole order arrived fairly quickly.

Super Chasyu Ramen (PHP 380.00)

I immediately reached for the the Super Chasyu Ramen (PHP 380.00) which is a big bowl of ramen with thin slices of beef and tamago. In case you're wondering, tamago is really just fish cake, the same material used for fish balls just grilled egg. The soup (I think) has coconut milk which makes it tastes a bit Filipino - remember ginataang kuhol? It's also sprinkled with sesame seeds and one sliced egg. The noodles have just the right firmness to soak and absorb just the right amount of the soup's flavor. Over-all, the bowl was great and I feel justified as this was my pick for this evening.

Kakuni Buns (PHP 180.00)

Okay, so I skipped the starters and now I'm coming back for it. The Kakuni Bread (PHP 180.00) is siopao bread served as loaf with grilled chicken slices, some sauce, and veggies. It's very light and healthy and it is served for you to eat it as a sandwich - it's very unique and interesting. Hats-off to the chef for thinking of something unique like this. Is this the only place which serves something like this ? - Not sure, but surely the first in my book.

RBS #1 Php 380.00

Moving on - the next bowl is the RBS #1 (PHP 380.00) which was Audrey's order. This one is soy infused tonkotsu ramen topped with tamago, naruto, nori, negi, chasyu, and kakuni. Don't ask me to translate what those ingredients are - but my opinion is that this bowl is more pork based. No hint of coconut milk in this bowl but this one came-out tasting more Filipino than the first one. This bowl wasn't bad at all and I still recommend it - but I preferred to stick to my order this evening.

Tempura Ice Cream Php 120.00

To top-off the evening, we tried their Tempura Ice Cream (PHP 120.00) for dessert. I was curious to see how this would stand against Omakase's own version of this dish and I wasn't disappointed. As opposed to Omakase's dessert bowl (just like ice cream), this one is more of a dessert dish because it is served with a wafer stick and melted chocolate dip. Still, I enjoyed it very much as they sliced it open into bite sizes and you have the option to dip it in chocolate to control the sweetness.

In the end, we were both failry satisfied by our dining experience.

Here's what I thought about this place.

  • 3.5 for food quality. The firmness of the noodles was just right and the soup had a unique taste.
  • 3.0 for ambiance since its still fairly new. However, it doesn't have its uniqueness to stand out and be remembered.
  • 3.0 is value for money. The noodles is a bit on the high end, but it should be since this is their signature.
  • 4.0 for service as Zani was really accommodating and kept on checking on us for whatever we needed.
13.5 total.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cook Book Kitchen, Eastwood City

Name: Cook Book Kitchen
Location: Eastwood City, Libis
Google Maps: Eastwood Mall
Date and Time: August 15, 8:30 PM
Must Know: Not in the mall, in front of Excelsior Condominium

Ordered from the Menu:
  • Super Salad PHP 190.00
  • Green Iced Tea PHP 140.00
  • Gold Iced Tea PHP 140.00
  • Wasabi Soy Fish PHP 280.00
  • Lamb Shoulder Steak w/ Fennel - Oregano Sauce PHP 420.00

This place, CBK, made me curious the day it opened. I pass by this place occasionally on my way to get my car and I couldn't help notice the satisfied look on people's faces through their large windows and ambient lighting. Also, a good sign for me is when the usual crowd is families - it means the place has a balanced menu which can keep everyone satisfied and the place has enough staff to support a large group of customer’s demands. Let’s face it, we consumers can be very demanding when it comes to our food.

The place could probably seat 40-50 pax comfortably. The lighting is good, the tables and seats are great, and the staff look fairly courteous.

The Super Salad (PHP 190.00)

For starters, we asked for their Super Salad (PHP 190.00) which came out as a really simple salad served with honey mustard sauce and bits of chicken. I was a little bit misled by the word "Super" because it actually turned out fairly plain, but I wouldn’t go too far to say it was disappointing. It was refreshing - just like any salad should be. However, adding the word "Super" to your dish sets the bar high and it was in that aspect that they got me wondering how they would have it served. In the end I believe that for the price, I'd recommend friends to just get CBK's other regular salads. I'm sure it wouldn't be too different from the quality of this one.

Wasabi Soy Fish (PHP 280.00)
Moving on to the main dishes, the Wasabi Soy Fish (PHP 280.00) is served with a big slice of Lapu-lapu fish in oil, sauce, a few garnishes, and topped with a spiral of wasabi and mayo. The fish is really tender that dropping your fork is enough to break it apart. Here it goes…

The first bite stuns you - and you've got to have another one right away. (Pause) The dish is really flavorful that some may find it too much. For me, however, the combination of the flavors is just perfect! Its taste is a bit oriental and Filipino at the same time. The mild kick of the wasabi tops it off really well to complete the dish’s over-all appeal. I couldn’t keep myself from slicing some more of this that Audrey had to remind me to save some room so I could critic the lamb steak.

Lamb Shoulder Steak w/ Fennel – Oregano Sauce (PHP 420.00)

After finally gaining control of myself to get away from the Wasabi Soy Fish, I was finally able to move on the next dish. The Lamb Shoulder Steak w/ Fennel – Oregano Sauce (PHP 420.00) is also served with rice, sauce, and the steak sprinkled with herbs and spices. Like the fish, this dish came out very tender. It had just the right texture that it’s not over cooked and not too moist. The herbs add some needed freshness - but personally, I'm not a lamb person. You can already taste the flavors in the meat that there’s no use reaching for the sauce, which is hickory sauce. However, as a critic I was compelled to try it with sauce and I did, but still wasn’t enough to convert me into a lamb lover. Don’t get me wrong, the dish is good because the meat is tender and the flavor is rich. However, for someone who's not a lamb person like me for my own personal reasons, I can still imagine the neutral person getting won-over by this dish 9/10 times.

In the end, Auds ended up with the lamb and I ended up finishing the fish. We were both highly satisfied and would not hesitate to come back.

Here’s how it tallied against the scorecard:

4.5 – Food quality is probably their best trait. No dish is left prepared in a rush or mass produced. You get the impression each dish gets the proper care and attention to satisfy each customer’s dining experience. The flavors are rich and this says a lot.

4 – Ambiance is also good as their setting is not too cramped and the lighting is really relaxing. The only which could be improved is the bare walls which made each table’s conversations amplified that it becomes a little noisy. They could pad the bare walls with some decors to muffle some sounds and make it more relaxing – just my two cents.

4 – Value for money is good because most restaurants these days base their success on repeat customers. If their patrons find their prices appealing, they can count on people coming back – just like I would for this place.

4.5 – Service was also excellent and we were greeted with a server who made it look like he was there for the day to really just serve us. He refilled the iced teas, wrapped our dishes to-go, and even asked if we needed anything else.

+1 – The x-factor for this place is its location which is very accessible to those who don’t want to go through the mall anymore. It’s right beside the Holy Family Chapel in Eastwood and is the perfect location for families to walk-over to right after mass.

Total = 18, I recommend the Wasabi Soy Fish.