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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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. 

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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).  

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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.

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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.

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Durian Coffechino (Php150)

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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.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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Place setting…so ready to eat!

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Flavors: Original (Octopus), Bacon & Cheese, Kani Mozzarella, Scallops
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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.

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Don’s Original Spanish Churros Menu

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The server putting on her gloves.

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

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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.

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Razon’s Halo-Halo (Php105)

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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.

 

Restaurant Review: Rose & Grace Restaurant

B and I decided at the last minute to just take the day off and head to Tagaytay.  We had initially planned to purchase a Deal Grocer voucher for one of those Tagaytay Hotels but when I called the hotel we wanted to go to, the receptionist seemed unsure how soon we can redeem the voucher.  I couldn’t remember either since the last time I had bought something from a group buying site was about 4 years ago.  I sent an email to Deal Grocer but found out they resume office at 10AM.  So we decided to be adventurous, pack an overnight bag and just head off to Tagaytay.

Along the way, we decided to drop by the Petron Station along SLEX and get the free RFID sticker (paid for the required minimum initial load of Php500).

Since we ended up deciding not to stay overnight at Tagaytay, we decided to just check out the outlet stores in Sta Rosa and have lunch at one of hubby’s favorite stops, Rose & Grace Restaurant. Surprisingly for a lunch (though a weekday), there were only few customers around.

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Interiors of Rose & Grace

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Bulalo (Php405)

2015-11-10 11.57.47Lechon Kawali (Php105)

We order our usual Bulalo and lechon kawali, 2 orders of rice and a can of coke to share.  The first bulalo served had no bone marrow so hubby requested for a different one and the server graciously gave in.

The last time we ate there was a year ago and back then, the soup was tasty.  This time, all I could taste was this commercial taste coming from beef bouillon which is really disappointing. The lechon kawali, although had little fat, was too tough and the skin was not crispy.  From the looks of it, the pork was from an oversized old pig.

All in all a disappointing visit.  We definitely will need to find another place that would fix hubby’s bulalo craving.