Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Romulo Cafe's Chocnut Ice Cream

Romulo Cafe is named after famed multi-hyphenate Carlos P. Romulo, best-known as a former president of the UN General Assembly. The restaurant's modern interiors are in black and white, with splashes of green courtesy of plastic coiffured plants. Pictures of the diplomat are everywhere. Like in most of my research expeditions, I came for a well-regarded dish, only to find out that another one is more note-worthy. The chocnut ice cream belongs to the latter.

Chocnut is made of chocolate and crushed peanut. Romulo Cafe's chocnut ice cream is a good translation of this Filipino childhood staple into ice cream. Imagine bright creamy peanut and choco ice cream with real chocnut bits. I'm smitten.

Romulo Cafe
148 Jupiter Street cor Comet Street
Bel Air Village, Makati
(+63) 02 478-6406

Monday, April 7, 2014

Makati's La Grotta Cucina Italiana for Quattro Sapori and Linguine Alla Vongole

Locating La Grotta  is quite a challenge since the frontage is not showy. Just look out for stairs leading to the restaurant at the ground floor of a nondescript building at Rufino Street, Makati.

My lunch-mates and I were raving about the cheesy Quattro Sapori (literally, four flavors). This is two of of our favorite orders. The pizza crust was just right--not too thin, not too thick, floppy enough to fold in like a sandwich. 

The Linguine Vongole (linguine pasta mixed with clams and garlic in white wine sauce) was also a winner. What makes this tasty is lots of garlic and the full, unmistakable goodness of the clams. Rare are the times I come across good seafood pasta.

Give La Grotta a try--reasonable prices, generous portions. Better make reservations.

La Grotta
G/F Etna Bldg
Rufino Street, Legazpi Village
(+63) 02 894-1320

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mabuhay Palace's Choco Buchi (Fried Balls) and Salted Egg Ice Cream

Taste is personal. I went to Manila Hotel's high-end Chinese restaurant, Mabuhay Palace, to try the Salted Egg Ice Cream, which came well-recommended  online. It was good, the novelty factor is there, making it good copy. But I was more smitten with the Chocolate Buchi (fried balls). Buchi is usually filled with custard--cooked mixture of milk or cream or egg yolk, but Mabuhay Palace's buchi is filled with warm, dense, dark chocolate. This buchi is so luxe: crisp outer shell contrasts nicely with the soft buttery filling. 

The Salted Egg ice cream is no slouch--there's the subtle hint of salted egg and even the texture of yolk. It was actually good, not weird at all, operating in the same salty-sweet principle as salted caramel and pineapple slices or even duhat sprinkled with rock salt. 

I plan to return and order the savory items in the menu.

Mabuhay Palace
Manila Hotel
#1 Rizal Park, Roxas Boulevard, Manila
(+63) 02 527-001

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kashmir Restaurant's Rhaan Roast Masala

My first vivid encounter with the South Asian cuisine was in Toronto, courtesy of Pakistani friends I made during a training. They were kind enough to invite us to a restaurant serving excellent South Asian food, and I've always hoped to recreate that experience ever since. A string of disappointing meals at mall-based restaurants and a well-regarded hole-in-the-wall led me to the point where I would pay more just to get my South Asian/Middle Eastern fix. I remember seeing a branch of Kashmir Restaurant near where I work but delayed going there, fearing that the restaurant would be old and musty. Although the familiar scent of incense and the sound of Indian music greeted me at the entrance, I was happy to see that the restaurant's interiors were livened up by splashes of  bright orange, apple green, and purple. 

I ordered the rhaan (also spelled raan) roast masala (roast leg of lamb). Masala is a spice mix. It may refer to a garam (hot) masala, a blend of ground spices common in South Asian cuisine, and this may contain black and white peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, black and white cumin seeds, black, brown, and green cardamon pods. I love the hefty serving and the tender meat. I paired the dish with pillowy, creamy naan--grilled leavened soft bread roasted in tandoor (clay) oven--to soak up the spicy sauce. I love that they did not stint on the heat. In no time at all, my tongue was burning and I was sweating like a pig. Life is good. 

For a related post, click here. 

Merchant's Center Bldg
Ermita, Manila
(+63) 02 524-6851

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cupcakes by Sonja's Bunny Hugger Carrot Cupcake

One good thing about eating out with company is that I get to try more dishes, and this ups the chances of having something that is blog-worthy. Yes, I do get duds in the name of research. Lucky for me, my friend Teeny's choices are usually spot-on (go here), and so today's feature wouldn't have been possible without her help.

Cupcakes by Sonja's Bunny Hugger Carrot Cupcake (moist classic carrot cupcake, spiced with cinnamon and covered with cream cheese icing) reminds me of Purple Oven's Soft Cinnamon Rolls, but the cream cheese topping was not too cloyingly sweet--just right, and I love the generously sprinkling of cinnamon powder. Unlike your run-of-the-mill cupcake that is all show, the base is moist. This is one pretty and delicious cupcake. 

Cupcakes by Sonja
2F Bridgeway Glorietta 2
Ayala Center
San Lorenzo Makati
(+63) 02 625-4884

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hizon's Special Queso de Bola Ensaymada

Ensaymadas have a special place in my heart. They remind me of summers spent with my grandmother, who'd come home from the market with a paper bag of ginormous ensaymadas, top-heavy with butter and sugar. I now lean towards the more subtle variants, of which Hizon's is a prime example. I ordered the large special ensaymada quezo de bola. Imagine ensaymada made of high-quality bread,  not too salty nor sweet: it's your grown-up ensaymada. Just add P15 and you can have your order grilled. This is how it looks like grilled. 

Grilling releases and intensifies the otherwise subtle flavors, crisps the pastry, and the resulting aroma of butter and bread is just intoxicating. You can also approximate this at home by popping the ensaymada inside the microwave for a few seconds. Best when paired with the slightly bitter hot choco. 

Hizon's Bakeshop
1197 J. Bacobo Street cor. Arquiza Street
Ermita, Manila
(+63) 02 524 8790

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Macarons of Paul Boulangerie Patisserie Restaurant Salon de The

these beauties (vanilla, chocolate, raspberry) are flown in from paris
I have a confession to make: my ultimate travel dream is a trip to Paris. Yes, I'm romantic that way. I've been plotting for years to Instagram my way through the City of Lights, and until that day comes I'll settle for  locally available French cuisine.

I've tasted my fair share of locally made macarons, but Paul's macarons are in a league of their own. Truly, the hype is well-deserved. Creamy, moist, and just the right sweetness--I died when I tasted the almond paste. I'll be sleeping with dreams of vanilla and the best-selling pistachio macarons

Paul Boulangerie Patisserie Restaurant Salon de The
SM Aura Premier
McKinley Parkway
McKinley Hill, Makati