Sunday, September 14, 2014

What I Ate in and Around SM Davao

I recently stayed at SM's Park Inn Hotel. Here's a post of the more noteworthy things I ate. 

1. Bistro Selera's Buchitaw

I already had dinner when I dropped by the restaurant, so I wanted a dessert that's interesting at the very least. The 15-minute wait was worth it for this mash-up, a curious hybrid of buchi (rice calls covered in sesame seeds with a sweet bean paste filling) at the bottom and palitaw (soft, round, and sweet rice cakes) on top. 

I love the textures--soft and chewy for the palitaw half, the desiccated coconut, and the sesame seeds--and the choco filling.

Bistro Selera
SM Lanang Premier
JP laurel Avenue Lanang
Barangay San Antonio Davao City
(+63) 082 285-2184

2. Mesa Filipino Moderne's Laing 2-Ways 

I know I broke my rule on posting only local-based restaurants in my travels, but this stellar dish from Mesa is just irresistible. Laing, one of my favorites from Bicol, is a dish made of taro leaves cooked in coco milk and seasoned with fermented shrimp or fish paste.

Mesa serves their laing topped with pork flakes and in original and crispy versions, although it appears to be either dry or creamy, but I love both.

Both were buttery and creamy and I can't decide which I liked more. The pork floss adds flavor and texture. This version is perfect with crispy pata (pork knuckles).

Mesa Filipino Moderne
SM Lanang Premiere Davao
JP Laurel Ave, Barangay San Antonio
(+63) 082 285-0493

3. Park Inn Hotel's Durian Cheesecake

Before going to Park Inn's ABG, I tried a coffee-chain, famed for infusing durian in its offerings, for their version. I left disappointed. Their cheesecake was dry and needed loving. Good thing Park Inn's version was consistent in taste, but it looked remarkably different from last timeLet me break down Park Inn's Durian Cheesecake: it was moist, with the undeniable yet delicate flavor of durian. The body is not too cloyingly sweet. I love the crumbly crust and the burst of freshness from the mint.

Their mangosteen cheescake was good as well, although the delicate sweet and tangy essence of the fruit did not come through. 

Park Inn Davao
JP Laurel Avenue
Agdao St., Davao City
(+63) 082 272 7600

Friday, July 4, 2014

Century Park Hotel's Bibingka

Yes, this is another bibingka entry. Bibingka is a rice cake traditionally served during the Christmas season. It is made of rice flour, coconut milk or water, eggs, and milk, cooked with coal both belwo and above, and infused with the aroma of toasted banana leaves.For Tootsie's version, click here. For bibingka from SIDCOR Sunday Market, click here.

Century Park Hotel's bibingka is so good. It is decadent--buttery and so soft, melts in your mouth, and the toasted portions are bursting with flavor. I love the mix of coconut brown sugar and coconut meat shreds. This for me is best bibingka I've tasted so far. The sweet crust is cut by salted egg and cheese. The order came with a cup of traditional thick chocolate drink. This duo warms you up instantly, making you feel so festive.

Century Park Hotel
Ocampo Street, Manila
(+63) 02 528 8888

Friday, June 13, 2014

Banana Leaf's Penang Char Kway Teow and Chicken Pandan

This is my third post on Banana Leaf. You can read my earlier post here and here. What I love about this chain is that it allows you to savor the best of Asia's varied cuisines without having to board a plane. For this visit I tried two of their bestsellers.  

First was the Penang Char Kway Teow

Char Kway Teow, meaning stir-fired ricecake strips, is popular in Malaysia and Singapore, and is made of flat rice noodles, soy sauce, prawns, cockles, bean sprouts, chives, egg, sausage, and fishcake. This was originally a cheap source of energy for laborers. Banana Leaf's version is smoky and spicy, with the distinct aroma of fish sauce. I love the crunch from the sprouts, the chewy flat noodles, and how the fried egg absorbed the strong flavors. Imagine how glorious this could be if they didn't dial down the heat (note to self: remind restaurants you don't mind dishes as spicy as they should be).

The second dish was the Pandan Chicken 

Banana Leaf's Pandan Chicken was - juicy and succulent, with a pronounced pandan aroma. This comes close to Azuthai's version (click here for my review), which is the best for me. They paired this with sweet spicy sauce. I noticed that they let the meat soak in the mixture a tad too long, but the dish was still good nonetheless

Banana Leaf Asian Cafe
188-189 Level 1 Robinson's Place
Midtown, Ermita, Manila
(+63) 02 567-1888

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Tagaytay's Tootsie's for Turon Halo Halo and Bibingka

Today I'm featuring Tootsie's versions of two popular snacks, one a ubiquitous street food, the other usually served during the holidays. 

Turon is made of slices of plantain and slivers of langka (jackfruit), dusted with sugar, then wrapped in spring roll wrapper and fried. Tootsie's Turon halo halo came with heart-warming ube (purple yam) filling, and drizzled with langka sauce. The crisp outer layer and warm delicious soft filling make this a winner.

Bibingka is a rice cake traditionally served during the Christmas season. It is made of rice flour, coconut milk or water, eggs, and milk, and infused with the aroma of toasted banana leaves. I love Tootsie's version: redolent with egg, oh-so-soft, and buttery. It was also freshly baked. They need 25-minute lead time to prepare the dish. 

J Abad Santos cor. Aguinaldo Highway
Km. 57.5, Tagaytay City
(63) 46 483 46 29

Friday, June 6, 2014

Arya Persian Restaurant's Couscous Salad and Chicken Koobideh

Scoring a good meal is more art than science. Sometimes I overlook certain restaurants just because they're mall-based or I had one bad experience with them. Fortunately I'm always open to recommendations which may come anywhere--from friends, fellow bloggers, food writers in traditional media, even celebrities in the know. All these I enter in a database of restaurants to visit. One thing is sure--the list gets longer and longer. 

I had already eaten in Arya before (click here for my review), and I thought that was it, until I reviewed my database. While waiting for a movie to start I headed to Arya to cross a couple of times from the list. 

First is the lovely, refreshing Couscous Salad. Couscous is a traditional Berber dish of steamed semolina (granules of durum wheat). The salad is tart from the vinegar and tomatoes, crunchy from the veggies and peanuts, and with the welcome sweetness from the raisins. The ingredients came well together, all these on top of a tortilla-like base.

I then had the Chicken Koobideh with pita bread. I'm a fan of anything that resembles shawarma, so this is a no-brainer for me. I  love crushing the grilled tomatoes over the smoky meat, which I also douse in chili and garlic sauce, and wrapping everything  in the bread.

Arya Persian Restaurant
Midtown Wing
Robinsons Place Manila
(+63) 02 567-7200

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tagaytay's Carlo's Pizza for Buffalo Wings and Quattro Formaggi Pizza

My current food obsession is blue cheese. Blue cheese is a general classification of cheeses that have cultures of the mold Penecilium added, resulting to the characteristic blue spots or veins and strong smell of the final product.  Up until a few years ago I was indifferent to this oh-so-pungent cheese, but after eating this and this, I'm joining the bandwagon. 

The Buffalo Wings came with the said ranch dressing, but we prevailed upon our server to give us the blue cheese dip instead. I love this dish because of the soft, hefty, juicy chicken, perfect with the blue cheese dip to cut the sweetish coating. The chicken wasn't too cloying, making you want even more, and this is good enough for us. 

Another winner was the Quattro Formaggi, the toppings of which are made of blue cheese, parmesan, cheddar, and mozarella cheeses. This was one tasty pizza., very cheesy, but of course, with the pronounced aroma of blue cheese. Didn't I i mention I love the blue cheese? It has jut the right crust--not too thin or thick.

Carlo's Pizza
One Destination
Tagaytay City
(+63) 46 483 0707

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ferdie's of Meycauyan, Bulacan for Special Palabok

This is one Special Pansit Palabok. My officemate served this as his birthday treat in the office, and he had it shipped all the way from Meycauayan, Bulacan to our office in Manila. 

Pansitabok Palabok is a noodle dish topped with shrimp sauce, shrimp, pork, crushed pork rinds, smoked fish flakes, fried tofu, scallions, and garlic. It is usually served on large woven trays (bilao) during gatherings and parties. 

What makes Ferdie's Pansit Palabok special is it is a touch spicy, garlicky, and rich, with generous toppings of chicharon bulaklak (artery-clogging fried pork intestines). You have to order it in advance and pick it up yourself, but I guarantee it's all worth the trouble. 

Dinar Street, St. Micahel's Home
Meycauayan, Bulacan
(+63) 915-4995500