Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Buffet Love from Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

I look forward to the amazing food at Cafe Marco whenever I stay at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel in Cebu. There appears to be new items everytime we visit, and many of the offerings were top-notch. 

On the savory side, the standouts for me were the Hainanese chicken (the chili sauce is off-the-charts hot), the Cebu lechon (always tasty, no need for sauce), and oysters (fresh, sweetish). It was my first time to try radish kimchi, and I love it. I was always on the lookout for the pork ribs siomai wrapped in cabbage--moist, delicate, and filled with so much umami flavor. 

For dessert I was partial to the decadent chocolate truffle cake, while my companions were raving about the excellent cheesecakes. 

There were jars of cookies just by the entrance of Cafe Marco, and we look forward to one kind: the aptly named malicious cookies. Since they did not scrimp with the nuts and choco chips, these cookies will surely wreck havoc on your waistline. .

Marco Polo Cebu also does ensaymada right. The thought of eating again their ube variant makes me drool. Their ensaymada was not cloyingly sweet. and the dough soft and springy. Again, they did not stint on the ingredients, including ube.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Marco Polo Plaza Hotel
Nivel Hills, Cebu Veterans Drive
Cebu City
(+63) 032 253 1111

Monday, September 22, 2014

Azzurro Ristorante Mediterraneo's Baked Oysters, Braised Ox Tongue, and Paella Valenciana

A few months ago I visited the newly opened mall in Makati, the Century City Mall. Before watching a movie, we had dinner first at Azzurro Bistro and Bar which I enjoyed very much. Below are pictures of what we ordered.

I love the baked oysters: they used heavenly fresh oysters. generously topped with butter and cheese. The  braised ox tongue was buttery soft, with a rich mushroomy sauce balanced by capers. I'm partial to paella, and the paella valenciana was tasty. Can't get enough of the toasted rice lining the pan. 

Azzurro Bistro and Bar
Century City Mall
Kalayaan Ave., Makati
(+63) 02 519-3928

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cyma's Tonnos Salata, Yemistes, and Flaming Mangoes

I usually gravitate towards favorite items when dining out, so sometimes I make a conscious effort to seek out recommendations from other people or the wait staff so I'd have something different. For this post I was happy I went out on a limb, because not only were what I ordered pleasing to the eyes, but they were delicious as well. 

The tonno (Italian for tuna) salata was lovely salad. I love how they treated the tuna, different from what I'm used to, you just have to try it. I love the tangy sauce with the salty pop of olives and wholesome white cheese.

The yemistes (stuffed pepper) was a lovely non-meat option. Imagine nutty and creamy rice inside peppers. It was smoky and sweet from the raisins. 

Cyma's flaming mangoes is awesome. Imagine skinned ripe mango swimming in syrup on a hot plate. Then scoop wholesome vanilla ice cream into the mix, adding warm tones to the caramelizing syrup

Cyma Greek Taverna
2F Robinsons's Place Malate
(+63) 02 353-3909

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sweet Treats: Little Bombay's Lassi and Fog City and Carmen's Best Specialty Ice Creams

For this post I'm grouping together serendipitous finds for those who have a sweet tooth like me. Many times I have an item in mind when I go to a restaurant and end up being smitten with another. 

I've visited Little Bombay a couple of times, and I fell in love with its lovely lassi concoctions. Lassi is a popular yogurt-based drink from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. 

The refreshing mango lassi is creamy and not too sweet, and tart as yogurts go. 

The almond lassi, on the other hand, is refreshing, tart, and sweet.

Focaccia Italian Restaurant at A. Venue Mall, Makati sells the Fog City Creamery Artisan Ice Cream line. I tried the Rocky Road and it was melt in your mouth creamy. In the picture it looks frozen stiff, but trust me it's silky. It is the best rocky road I ever had.

Kitchen 1B at Gamboa Street Makati carries Carmen's Best Ice Cream. We ordered the salted caramel ice cream and it was salty, sweet, and caramelly in one spoonful.

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