Restaurant Review: Genki Sushi (Bonifacio Stopover)

Featured

Since dinner at Genki Sushi was a last minute decision, we arrived at Bonifacio Stopover past 6PM.  Parking was easy to find across the building as office hours were over.2015-11-04 20.27.12

Outside Genki Sushi along BGC Stopover. Not much people waiting in line at 6PM.

2015-11-04 19.10.20

Inside Genki Sushi, the place is packed though…all tables that are being served by conveyor belt is filled up.  The farthest tables near the windows are actually regular table and there was one table vacant. Of course we didn’t come to just eat, we wanted the novelty experience of the food being served via conveyor belt.

2015-11-04 19.10.15

Once the server leads you to your table, you are given copies of the menu (the same ones posted on the wall as well as can be seen on the tab monitor).  Small plates, chopsticks and cups are also set on your table for your use. The server then orients you on what to do if it was your first visit.2015-11-04 19.15.26

The menu on the well (same menu given to you in case you’re seated at the far end and can’t see the wall menu or the tablet.  2015-11-04 19.13.57

Green tea powder besides the hot water faucet for you to make as much green tea as your heart desires.

2015-11-04 19.18.50

You just need to familiarize yourself with the Japanese terms (although there’s an English translation) used for each entree category. Once you place your order, you can no longer cancel it so make sure you entered the correct dish and the correct quantity.

2015-11-04 19.21.06

Our first orders have arrived! It’s a novelty to see the speedy little car on conveyor belt deliver your food.

2015-11-04 19.22.03

Spicy Tuna (Php80)

2015-11-04 19.21.57

Spicy Salmon (Php80)

I liked the spicy mayo of both the spicy tuna and the spicy salmon though I favor the latter more.  However with the price and only 2 servings plus there’s little salmon and tuna on the sushi, I felt this was not value for money at all.

2015-11-04 19.22.44

California Roll (Php150)

You can get better California rolls elsewhere for the same price with with a bigger serving portion.  Taste was nothing remarkable; not value for money.

2015-11-04 19.29.25

Lobster Salmon Roll (Php150)

2015-11-04 19.52.43 edited

Spicy Salmon Roll (Php150)

The lobster salmon roll and the spicy salmon roll were good but again, not much filling for both.  There’s 3 pieces per order so it’s a bit more than the spicy rolls.

2015-11-04 19.32.08

Fried Gyoza (Php150)

Our worst order for the night.  The fried gyoza was tough and chewy.  There was too much wrapper and not enough filling.  It was also fried beyond golden.  Nothing remarkable and for the price, you might as well be better off just ordering those expensive sushi rolls.

2015-11-04 19.36.57

Shrimp Tempura (Php270)

While they did not mislead you with saying it was prawn tempura, we were still dismayed because upon dissecting (yes, we dissect our food especially shrimp/prawn tempura because we always want to check how big the shrimp or prawn is and if they cleaned it. In this case, it was all doughy tempura batter and tiny tiny shrimp.  The tempura sauce was served lukewarm and tasteless.  2015-11-04 19.38.59

Chirashi Don (Php420)

This was a good order, although for the price I still found the serving portion pitiful. It looked like a full bowl on the menu photos and in reality, it even looked decent; but when you dig into it you realize each item is a tiny portion and the rest is actually just rice. However, the taste and freshness of most of the components of the Chirashi Don almost made up for the disappointing serving size.  The only thing we didn’t like was the octopus which was really tough and chewy.

2015-11-04 20.02.10

Black Pepper Chicken Don (Php190)

Now our last and after-thought order (we ordered this just to fill out our tummys since none of our orders were really filling), the black pepper chicken don, was so good I was actually taken aback.  The peppery and spicy chicken was served hot and was just tasty.  It could do with a little less of the onions though.

Overall, I think one needs to have some sort of strategy when dining at Genki Sushi.  If you’re dining alone or with friends, you can start with the rice bowls to fill up your tummy as these are more value for money; then you can go along with the sushi rolls – those priced at Php80 are the most value for money as they either come in 2s/3s/4s and would come out to be around Php40 per piece on the average.  Of course if you’re there for the sushi rolls, just go for the salmon or tuna. I would tell you to just skip the shrimp tempura and the fried gyoza.  The novelty of getting served and taking your food from a conveyor belt is a winning factor but after the first visit, I personally am not inclined to return as I can get a better fix for my sushi cravings elsewhere for a better price.  I might visit Genki Sushi in Hong Kong or Japan just to compare how this one fares but otherwise nothing would encourage me to return to Genki Sushi (Manila).

 

 

Advertisements

#BucketList: Our Maldives trip in a nutshell

Featured

Like everyone else who leaves the beach, the Maldives has always been on our travel bucket list.  A series of events led us to take a risk and book that last-minute flight to the Maldives for our week-long anniversary trip.

My husband and I like traveling together, not just to tick off some places in each our bucket lists but to enjoy these travel experiences together.  Since I’m the one with the OCD, my husband usually leaves the trip planning to me.  We have long ago, agreed to list of places we’d want to go to for our anniversaries, one of those places is the Maldives. While vacationing in the Maldives seemed like a distant dream before, reading about Rappler’s article “Maldives on a budget” as well as following Never Ending Footstep’s blog entries on “How to Travel the Maldives on a Budget“, stirred up a longing for the actual experience.

Taking heart from all the articles I saw online extolling the virtues of budget travel to the Maldives, I decided to do my research, work on a realistic itinerary and crunch numbers. It took a few weeks for me to scour the internet with feedback from locals who’ve been to the Maldives.  To help decide how to pin down our itinerary and budget, we had to pin down how many days we wanted to spend in paradise (forever would have been a great idea!), airline (the cheapest available of course!), whether we’d be willing to sacrifice an extra day each way for cheaper airfare but longer layover time, where we would be staying when in the Maldives (hostel, guesthouses, resorts or hotels??), and what we really wanted to get out of the trip, in terms of experiences.

We are perhaps the worse budget travelers nor will we even bother pretending that we are DIY travelers or backpackers.  In my younger days (back when backpacking was not even popular and booking trips via travel agencies was the usual way to go), I have done a lot of backpacking and camping with friends around the Philippines. Now that I’m older, I must admit, my body can’t take the same abuse anymore.  These days, we make plans to travel at the spur of the moment or a few weeks before the actual trip, mainly because our schedules are very unpredictable.  So what we do is  we usually bulk up our travel fund as much as we can during the year in preparation for the following year’s travels (we follow something like the 52-Week Money Challenge but we up the amount depending on where we’re planning to go), this means we scrimp as much as we can during the  year.  We eat out only on special occasions (not even fast food!) or sometimes once in a weekend, we buy our groceries in bulk, we plant our own vegetables, we save on utilities, etc.  We usually list the activities we want to do or sights we want to see for our place, make our trip itinerary with detailed budget and see whether we can afford such trip (trimming some activities along the way).

When you’ve spent weeks researching and reading about Maldives, you suddenly realize there’s so much to the country than just it’s beautiful white sand beaches and breathtaking underwater creatures.  Each article and blog I’ve read only fueled my interest and determination to visit the Maldives but at the same time, it added to the confusion and the what-seems to be a mounting checklist to tick off.

Following Rappler’s recommendation, we decided to give budget Tiger Airlines a go. In hindsight, I realized that “budget airline” isn’t necessarily true especially if you haven’t booked your flights under promo fare or you’re booking a trip at the last minute. In our case, Tiger Airways was the “cheapest” available flight for our target dates, of course we’d have to endure the long layover at Changi Airport Singapore.  Although we did pay extra (SGD48 per person) for TigerPlus which according to their website provides the following benefits: dedicated check-in, SATS Premier Lounge, priority boarding. One of the main reasons we paid extra for these items is because we wanted to see what the fuss is really about. More of Tiger Airlines and our flight details on a separate post.

So with our airline decided upon, we checked the dates around our anniversary to make sure there were available flights.  Working around the available flight schedules for our preferred dates, the length of travel time (including lay over time), the weekend (Fridays to Saturdays) being observed in Male Capital where we were touching down, as well as planning our itinerary to ensure that we would spend our last few days (as well as our anniversary date) at the island resort, we were able to come up with a workable 10D/9N itinerary.  To sum up our entire 10D/9N-day trip to the Maldives: we spent almost 2 days/nights for the round trip flights (MNL-MLE (via Singapore)-MNL) including layover times + Overnight stay at Male Capital (Sala Boutique Hotel) + 3 nights at the local island of Maafushi (Equator Beach Inn) and 3 nights at the island resort (Kurumba Maldives).

There were so many intricacies in planning our Maldives trip – from the logistics, how to get to each place, where to stay, what to do and where to eat.  Being the OCD person that I am, these were something I wanted to ensure even before we arrived in Male. For each place and activity, I wanted to set a budget mostly to reassure myself that we had enough cash in case of emergencies.

One thing’s for sure, if and when you decide to go to the Maldives, be sure to bring along your sun glasses, swimsuits, coveralls, a hat, sunblock and after-sun lotion!  The sun shines bright and hot everyday when you’re in the Maldives so sunblock/sunscreens and after-sun lotions will be your best friends. Most of all, sit back and relax and enjoy the beach.

So come join me as I reminisce on our Maldives trip in the next couple of entries, but for now here’s our Maldives trip in a nutshell.

Day 0 – Manila to Singapore (Singapore layover 7 hours)

Day 1 – Singapore to Male (Arrive Male 11am) / Overnight at Male

Day 2 – Male to Maafushi / Overnight at Maafushi

Day 3 – Maafushi

Day 4 – Maafushi

Day 5 – Maafsuhi to Male (for ferry to Kurumba Resort) / Overnight at Kurumba

Day 6 – Kurumba

Day 7 – Kurumba

Day 8 – Depart Kurumba / Male to Singapore (Singapore layover 5 hours)

Day 9 – Singapore to Manila

 

 

 

Restaurant Review: Din Tai Fung Philippines

We were invited to the soft opening of Din Tai Fung Philippines last December but since I was out of town, only hubby got to go.  No cameras were allowed during the soft opening so he could only tell me what they ordered and how the food was compared to the HK counterpart.

A spur of the moment decision found us at Megamall yesterday morning…we arrived a little before 11am and decided to head to DTF to check how long the line was.  Surprisingly while there was a line starting to form for groups of diners, if you’re going solo or just 2, its easier to get a table.  We were seated almost immediately and even got to pick where we wanted to sit.

It took us less than 5 minutes to decide on what we wanted. We ordered the pork xiao long bao, shrimp & pork wontons in house special spicy sauce, shrimp & pork pot stickers, porkchop rice, and golden lava salted egg yolk bun.

2016-05-07 11.33.09 DTF-XLB

Pork Xiao Long Bao (Php160/5pcs)

Their famous XLB was served first.  After dipping the dumpling and putting it in my soup spoon, I noticed that the dumpling wrapper was a bit tough (the kind of tough that borders to chewy). When I broke through the wrapper, there was virtually no soup inside. And the pork filling was a bit tinier than I remembered from HK. Quite disappointing really.  The couple next to us commented that the XLB from Lugang Cafe was much better; but since I haven’t tried Lugang’s yet, I couldn’t really say.  I could say though that the DTF’s XLB (whether in HK or here in Manila) wasn’t as impressive as it was all hyped up to be.  Of all the XLB I tasted, I liked Modern Shanghai’s here in Manila.

2016-05-07 11.38.31 DTF-spicy wontons

Shrimp and Pork Wontons with House Special Spicy Sauce (PHP 175 / 6 pcs)

I remembered liking the Shrimp and Pork Wontoons with House Special Spicy Sauce which we first ordered in the HK outlet so we ordered this one.  I was surprised to see the serving portion (the wontons appear to be smaller) smaller than I remembered.  The dumpling wrapper and filling was good but the best part is the special spicy sauce.  We ended up using the spicy sauce for the rest of our meal.

2016-05-07 11.46.46 DTF-pot sticker

Shrimp and Pork Pot Stickers (PHP 220 / 6 pcs)

This one was a disappointment. I mean, this was fried more crisp than the ones we ate in the HK outlet but beyond the crispy pot sticker, it was tasteless.  I had to dump it in the spicy sauce to infuse more taste.

Oh did I mention that I loved their House Special Spicy Sauce?  And I think they sell it by the bottle (saw a spicy sauce being sold behind the cashier for Php465).

2016-05-07 11.42.19 DTF-porkchop

Pork Chop Fried Rice (PHP 270)

Another big disappointment.  The fried rice was good but oily (as all fried rice are)…but the pork chop was not seasoned at all. 

2016-05-07 12.02.45 DTF-buns

Golden Lava Salted Egg Yolk Bun (PHP 85 / 2 pcs)

This is the saving grace of the entire meal (this and the wontons in spicy sauce).  We were surprised to see 4 pcs of buns in the basket (so either they made a mistake or instead of 2 large buns they gave us 4 mini buns).  

2016-05-07 12.04.01-DTF bun

The buns were soft and pillowy and is just a dream to bite into. The salted egg yolk was a bit on the sweet side and not too runny.  But I really liked it.  In fact, if I were to come back to DTF, I would probably go back for the wontons in spicy sauce and these salted egg yolk buns…and oh, the House special spicy sauce too!

All in all, it was a surprising visit.  I liked the service – quick, efficient and friendly.  Prices were surprisingly reasonable (I think it was cheaper than what we ate in HK) although I think serving size or portioning is not the same.  Taste-wise, I’m not too sure though.  I found most of our order bland or lacking in seasoning.  

Coffee Shop Review: Blugre’s Durian Coffechino

Yesterday, hubby and I had a date at SM City General Santos and he finally got to try Blugre’s Durian Coffee.  I mentioned this to him several times over the years since I first tried it when Manny Pacquaio first brought the Davao franchise to GenSan.

2016-04-26 14.22.40 blugre3

The first Blugre outlet in GenSan was first opened in Pacman’s commercial building.  I think they closed that one down and moved it to SM when the mall opened.  This is the interiors of the coffee shop. It’s a tad cramped and it smells really stale inside the coffee shop.

2016-04-26 14.24.04 Blugre

Durian Coffechino (Php150)

2016-04-26 14.26.28 blugre2

The Durian coffee still had the smell and taste of Durian but not as strong as it was years ago.  That makes it a bit disappointing given this is something distinct about the product. And a cup of Durian cofffee is really expensive at Php150.  There’s a lot of residue at the bottom of the cup, so much so that it ruins the coffee experience.

Overall, the store is stale-smelling so they really should do something about that.  I wish there’s more of Durian in the coffee but otherwise it would do for a Durian fix for now.

 

 

 

Solar Power and Renewable Energy

My posts have been far and in between (for the looongest time too!) and even the old ones I haven’t been able to get around finishing and posting…so my apologies.  I will get back on track in a week or so.

My husband and I are currently busy with several projects and one of our favorite pet project is Solar Power and Renewable Energy.  We might not be the biggest earth advocates but in our own little way we make sure we reduce our carbon footprint, plant what we can eat, save on electricity and water and recycle as much as we can.  Solar power and renewable energy is something we’ve always been interested in and we are fortunate to partner with ZA Global to bring to you solar products and water generators that are of high quality and very efficient.

We currently have the following products:

Solar Panels

Solar Street lights/lamp posts

Solar Hybrid Split Type Air Conditioner

Solar Battery Packs

Water Tower T40 (air to water generator – dispenser type)

Water Farm (air to water generator)

So do your part in conserving the world’s natural resources!  Please take the time to visit our Facebook Page to know more about these products.

Solar Power and Renewable Energy

Restaurant Review: Livestock

I had to pick up my brother’s medical records at a Quezon City hospital today and since traffic was horrendous, as usual, we arrived in the Quezon City area almost noon.  We decided to grab a quick lunch before heading to the hospital since the lady at the medical records was kind enough to warn us ahead of time that there was one document still missing and that she would text me if it was ready after lunch.

B and I decided to try Livestock since my sis-in-law has been raving about their so-tender-you-can-use-a-popsicle-stick crispy pata.  When we arrived, parking was easy enough as there were few people on a weekday noon. I was happy to find out that El Cangrejo was also in the same block as Livestock…this was another restaurant that I knew my husband would love. We were ushered in by a friendly server into an almost empty restaurant and promptly shown to our table.

20150306_121156

The Livestock menu is really cute…with the pig drawing on the face of the menu.  I have this affinity for pigs, or rather, my family has an affinity for pigs…back when I was little, we even have a collection of pig and piglet figurines and decors.

20150306_121558

Place setting…so ready to eat!

20150306_Livestock crispy pata

Melt-in-your Mouth Crispy Pata (Php650 + SC)

Verdict:  The crispy pata was really tender, not as melt in your mouth as touted by sis-in-law or the menu but more tender than most crispy patasI’ve eaten.  It certain is bigger too…big enough for me to wonder if this was a boar.  And I am pretty sure it was when I bit into the meat because boar have distinctive smell when cooked.  In this case, while the pata was huge, it certainly wasn’t good for 3-4 persons since the bone was huge as well. The husband loved the crispy pata although he says it’s probably not something we’d order for our rare crispy pata Sunday dinners since it was too expensive (we usually order from Andok’s which is only Php300).

20150306_Livestock lamb ribs

Grilled Lamb Ribs (Php480 + SC)

Verdict:  This was a really good dish, tender and juicy. We initially ordered the 12-hour roast beef but they were out of this. A good non-pork option for us since we rarely order lamb when dining out.  i was surprised that we didn’t need to have mint jelly on the side.  I do wish they added a few more sticks of asparagus to offset the richness of the lamb.

Overall, Livestock is a good place for your crispy pata fix especially if there’s more than two of you dining.  It gets pretty pricey when there’s just two people and you get lesser chance to try out other dishes too.  Service is fast and friendly.  There’s the occasional fly that can pester you especially when the food arrives but nothing that the server can’t fix.

Food Reviews: SM Makati Foodcourt – Hokkaido Takoyaki and BBQ Shack

Everytime we’re in Makati for some errands, we never get the chance to try the relatively new SM Makati foodcourt area because we always arrive at noon and by then the place is packed.  Today, we made it a point to finish earlier than usual and arrived at SM Makati by 11AM.

We got a chance to browse through BBQ Shack’s offerings as well as Hokkaido Takoyaki.

2015-11-13 11.37.14

We both ordered the 2pc pork bbq stick with rice for Php95 (3 sticks is Php125 and an additional Php10 for fried egg).  B decided not to get the fried egg since he saw a whole stack of fried eggs on the side…a big turn off given a food operator should know well enough that egg dishes are best cooked to order.

2015-11-13 11.39.06

2pc pork bbq stick with rice (Php95)

Verdict:  The bbq were really good, juicy and tender and surprisingly there was little fat.  The rice initially looked oily but didn’t taste so..in fact the flavor of the rice provided a good complement to the bbq pork flavor.  A bit more of the corn and carrots side would’ve been nice though.

2015-11-13 11.31.47

Hokkaid Takoyaki: 6pcs – Php119, 9pcs – Php159, 12pcs – Php199

Flavors: Original (Octopus), Bacon & Cheese, Kani Mozzarella, Scallops
2015-11-13 11.31.53

2015-11-13 11.33.17

6pcs Original Octopus Takoyaki (PHp119)

Verdict:  It was very very good, Octopus pieces were generous.  The bonito flakes sprinkled on top of the takoyaki was a pleasant surprise, lending a salty dimension to the sweet takoyaki sauce.  Next time we’ll try the scallops.  While I liked Hokkaido Takoyaki, I wish they’d be more flexible about allowing customers to have at least 2 flavors for each order.

Food Review: Don’s Original Spanish Churros

 

For this overnight-trip-turned-daytrip to Tagaytay, we made Solenad 2/3 as our last stop on the way back to Manila.  We were still debating if we were going to stay in Tagaytay for the night or not (though we later decided not to).

Going around Solenad 2, we were pleasantly surprised to find the mall finished and some stores operational already.  One of the stalls that caught our attention was Don’s Original Spanish Churros.

2015-11-10 15.39.03

Don’s Original Spanish Churros Menu

2015-11-10 15.39.42

The server putting on her gloves.

2015-11-10 15.39.43

The regular churros is about the length of the girl’s open palm as you can see her measuring and cutting in the photo.

2015-11-10 15.44.02-1

Original and Cinnamon (Mix) Churros) – Php79

We ordered the 8 sticks  of long churros in two flavors – Original and Cinnamon with the Chocolate dipping sauce.  The container is similar to Churreria la lola’s with 2 dipping cup holders.

2015-11-10 15.52.42The back of the churros holder.

Verdict:  I loved the crunchiness of Don’s Spanish churros, I think it could go for a bit more crisp on the inside so maybe lower the fryer a bit?  The chocolate dipping sauce while good (not too sweet) is too liquid…I wish it was more thick like Cioccolata (at Bayleaf Hotel Intramuros).  But this is  definitely a more inexpensive churros fix compared to La Lola (though I haven’t tried it yet)

Food Review: Razon’s Halo-Halo

One of our stops during our sudden Tagaytay daytrip was Razon’s for you guessed it – their halo-halo.  I know, you can get the same Razon’s halo-halo back in Manila but after that disappointing lunch at Rose & Grace, we both needed a pick me up.

What set this particular Razon’s outlet was that the server was really proactive.  When we saw a dead fly in one of their food displays, he removed it and apologized.  He was very efficient in taking our order and when he served our halo-halo, he served us 2 glasses of water as well without being asked. Upon serving our orders, he introduced himself and told us to just call him if we needed anything else.

2015-11-10 13.21.15

Razon’s Halo-Halo (Php105)

2015-11-10 13.21.22

What I liked about this particular branch is that the halo-halo serving size is exactly how it was years ago.  The right balance of milk and ice…and more importantly, two slices of creamy leche flan. I wouldn’t mind going back to Tagaytay just to visit this particular Razon’s outlet.