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Monday, January 27, 2020

 If I was asked what food I would enjoy when I'm feeling homesick, I would usually answer something to the tune of anything from my childhood. It has got to be familiar and tasty. The food needs to remind me how it was and bring joy to what I am doing. One place that I recently visited brought smiles to my tummy and great pleasure to my taste buds. I just had one heck of a time enjoying FRIENDS AND FAMILY in BGC.
Located in Bonifacio Global City's High Street Central, FRIENDS AND FAMILY is right in the middle of everything. It's a restaurant from the Raintree Hospitality Group. This is the same people behind a number of restaurants and hotels in the Philippines that is known for quality service. (RELATED: CHECK OUT MY EXPERIENCE AT BLUE MARINA BORACAY) They know what they are doing and I'm glad I visited them that day. No other than chef extraordinaire Kalel Chan was there to welcome us. 
 "It has got to be something comforting. Dapat masaya pagkinain mo." These were the words of the chef that is known to make things simple but delicious. You could see how passionate he was when he was talking about the different dishes and how they got to be. He knew that the dishes had to be best shared with friends and family. Hence, everything on the new menu jived in. 
 It was no surprise for chef to make something that is familiar from his childhood. New additions were all related to FILIPINO-CHINESE dishes that would make you remember how Binondo or even Greenhills used to be. There were a lot of similarities and flavors that were definitely spot on with the dishes in FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
 Honestly, I would have been happy with just the CHINATOWN FRIED RICE. It was not your normal yang chow. This had cuts of spring roll or lumpiang shanghai and even some sweet Chinese sausage.
 Speaking off, you could get an order of their LUMPIA SHANGHAI as well. It's not your ordinary spring roll. There's a spark that is clear with the quality of ground meat they used to make the rolls. The wraps were crunchy but the meat kept its form. Really good on its own but better with a bottle of beer.
Other main dishes that should not be forgotten would have to be the HONEY LEMON CHICKEN,  CHINESE ADOBO, SWEET AND SOUR PORK,  and the CAMARON REBUSADO. The Lemon Chicken had a bit of a sweet streak in it. The Chinese Adobo was pure heaven with each spoonful. The Sweet and Sour pork was just crunchy and perfect. Heck, I had such a great time that I almost forgot about the Camaron Rebusado. Somewhat similar to tempura, this shrimp puff was a great treat.
 Another part of the new menu from FRIENDS AND FAMILY that got me hooked was their Noodle section. Comprised of mostly Makis, it can't get better than this.
A Filipino-Chinese Heritage dish, this thick and silky sweet soy soup is filled with egg whites and fried pork. You can choose between MAKI, MAKI MI, and MAKI and KIAMPUNG COMBO. The Maki is basically just the soup itself. The MAKI MI has noodles in it. The must order though would be the MAKI and KIAMPUNG COMBO. This is soup served together with rice topped with chinese sausage, peanuts, thinly sliced pork humba, and pickled mustard greens. Don't forget to mix in some black vinegar and hot sauce. They complete everything.
Just to get that crunchy texture, the MIXED SEAFOOD CRISPY CANTON TOSTADO ON A SIZZLING PLATE might entice you. The noodles is first served separately from the toppings and sauce. It is then added. Here, you get to hear the sizzle coming out from the hot plate. A great dish for noodle lovers.
 If these aren't your type, you might want to try the CHILI GARLIC MIXED SEAFOOD JAPCHAE. Granted that it sounded like a Korean dish, this is mixed with xiao xing wine along with seafood ingredients.
 At this point, I was already full but I was determined not to stop. With a Filipino Styled Spaghetti, I dug in. Each bite let me have a sweet salty flavor that you would have experienced as a kid. It was joyful and reminisce of my past. I devoured it with gusto. Yes, I finished the dish.
 Dessert would make anyone swoon with delight. You have to make room for them. The Buchi were filled with peach mango, flat tops, and even salted egg cheese dulce. Flat top would be the easy choice but I was surprised with the salted egg cheese dulce. It was actually weirdly good. If you like something refreshing, they also offer mango and sago and even almond jelly.
 If you're a smoker, you'll be happy to know that COCONUT CLUB, just beside Friends and Family, is a designated smoking area. It has ac just like chotto matte, another sister restaurant that offers the same refuge for smokers.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY is like your home or your friend's house. It's where you get a little dose of your past just so that you enjoy the present. Good Stuff from this restaurant.

G/F Bonifacio High Street Central
Near Central Square Mall
Bonifacio Global City,
Taguig, Metro Manila

Disclaimer: Wrote this based on my opinion. Was invited to try out the restaurant.
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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

 It's no surprise that TOKYO MILK CHEESE FACTORY now runs a cafe. I know this line says a lot but it was well received by foodies in the metro. Not only do they now offer quick sweet bites, they now have a full menu offerings for guests visiting their new cafe. 
Just opened a few days ago, THE TOKYO MILK CHEESE FACTORY CAFE now serves comfort food that leans towards the Japanese side.
 If one wants something light, they could go for the chips, the kani salad, or my personal favorite the sweet corn tempura with truffle mayonnaise. The corn fritters reminds me of my visit to Tsukiji's outer market. It's sweet and you won't notice how you might have eaten 2 or 3 then 6 pieces. Yeah, it happened to me.
 Snack bites are aplenty in the menu. One could go for the Molten Mozzarella Hamburg, TMC Tamago Sliders, and 12 hour short-rib sandwich when you just like a quickie.
 The cheese was perfect with the small hamburgers. The egg sliders though was a little different to what I was expecting. I was thinking that it might be one the sweet side but it was more savory.
 The 12 hour short-rib though was magnificent. The meat was perfectly seasoned and went well with the bread.
 Pasta lovers would enjoy the ebiko carbonara and the baked three-cheese and tomatoes. They are pretty heave for the stomach so thread lightly when you go for it.
 If you're into rice, you could very well head for their OMURICE dishes. The Hayashi Beef was the better choice compared to the Chicken Cheese.
 The beef was tender and went well with the egg rice. The chicken dish, on the other hand, was just okay.
 Another favorite would be the Pork Mille-fuille Furai. Cheese kept on oozing out once you cut it in half. It's better to order it with a cup of rice.
 Dessert is a must when visiting TOKYO MILK CHEESE FACTORY.  Aside from being known for their cookies and soft serves, their Japanese Pancakes and Waffles are just plain awesome.
 In my honest opinion, you have to try the Summer Berry Pancake and also the Caramel Banana Waffle. The pancake is jiggly and light. The waffle has perfect crisp spots that go well with the whipped cream.
 Checking out TOKYO MILK CHEESE FACTORY CAFE is well worth your time. It's more than just coffee and sweets. It's now a full pledge restaurant cafe that would and could fulfill your needs and wants.

New Wing of Estancia,
Capitol Commons.
Meralco Avenue, Ortigas Center,
Pasig, Metro Manila

Disclaimer:wrote this based on my experience. was invited to check out this new restaurant.
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Monday, January 20, 2020

Just recently, a number of influencers were invited to a special lunch in the city. Each one of us were asked to try out the new sauces coming from HEINZ. Heinz is known for their ketchup, mayo, and even mustard sauce. It's a no brainer that ketchup is synonymous to Heinz. This time around, they are getting into the asian flavor sauce business.
Visiting a hotpot and grill buffet was the best place to show how HEINZ ASIAN SAUCES were versatile and catered for the Filipino tastebuds. Granted that buffets tend to marinate their meat most of the time, it's not enough for us. HEINZ ASIAN SAUCES makes a great addition to the kitchen cupboard.
Actually, Heinz has been in the business of Asian Sauces since 2002. They recently launched it here in the Philippines. It's actually available in big supermarkets around the metro. Leading supermarkets like Robinsons, Unimart, All Day, Citimart, and even Landmark carry Heinz Asian Sauces.
Some of these sauces are great ingredients to simple or even complicated recipes. Mostly, I enjoy them as dipping sauce. The Chili sauce is perfect with anything deep fried. The oyster sauce works well as a marinate for steaks and even stir fry vegetables.
HEINZ ASIAN SAUCES are now available in leading super markets. At family friendly prices, you sure are guaranteed to enjoy these high-quality sauces.

Disclaimer: wrote this based on my opinions. This is a sponsored post.
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Monday, January 13, 2020

I will definitely not be able to live with myself If I can't have at least one decent meal whenever I visit Japan. I make it a point to have at least a meaningful dinner or in this case breakfast when I go to a different place. This led me to a very old sushi institution in Osaka. It's one of the  few places that struck me when I was researching about OSAKA. This would be ENDO SUSHI.
Located in the parking lot of a working fish market. ENDO SUSHI has been in the business for more than 113 years (since 1907). They have been in their OSAKA CENTRAL FISH MARKET LOCATION for more than 89 years right back when it opened in 1931. There is a lot of history and character for something like this to stand out and stay alive for many decades. Getting there was an adventure in itself.
My brother and I had to wake up pretty early as the restaurant opens around 6am and closes around 2pm. We actually had an adventure getting there as we tried to go down and upward moving escalator, got left by the train, and even got lost in a parking lot.
Getting to ENDO SUSHI'S original shop location is a bit of a walk from the nearest station. Roughly 1km away or 15 minutes, you can get there easily since it's all flat. Just get off the NODA station if riding via JR LOOP LINE. Go towards the south. Stay on the right side of the main street and cross the intersection just before reaching the river/bridge. There will be a pedestrian lane on your left towards the middle of the parking lot of the OSAKA CENTRAL FISH MARKET. Cross the pedxing and enter the parking lot. Continue walking in this parking lot and head towards the main building with the clock. You should see a couple of restaurants that are stand alone on the left side of the parking lot when facing the main buildings. That is where ENDO SUSHI is.
That day, they opened up at around 0615. Unsurprisingly, we found ourselves at the restaurant together with locals. We were the only foreigners. It was early but they already had a number of guests lining up. Thankfully, we were all accommodated.
Once you enter, you are transported back in time. There are a number of memorabilia on the wall. You could see a traditional sushi counter as well. One thing to note about ENDO SUSHI is that they created the technique known as TSUKAMI-ZUSHI. Unlike nigiri-zushi, warm rice is loosely pressed together to make it.
The tables are filled with ginger and soy sauce. In this restaurant, you brush the soy sauce onto your sushi. Don't forget about your sushi etiquette though. For foreigners, they have an english menu which is a big help. 
They have a couple of rules to follow. A plate of 5 pieces would amount to 1,320 yen. An order of miso soup would be 330 yen. If you know me well, you could easily tell that I had the entire course. Yes, I ordered everything from 1-4 together with the miso soup.
While waiting for our dishes, we were given our miso soup first. Drinking this would make your tummy warm. It would definitely prepare yourself for the meal ahead. This is no ordinary miso soup as clams were used as the base and it seemed to be a little more reddish than usual.
For the first plate, we had the L-R: ANAGO (sea water eel), UNI (sea urchin), TAI (sea brean), TORO (Fatty Tuna), Hamachi (yellow tail.). My brother and I both started with the ANAGO. If you had been there and seen both our faces you would laugh at us. We looked as if we had just had an foodgasm right there and then. The ANAGO was sweet but had a delicate texture. It was something that was meant to be. The uni was fresh and perfect. The TORO was just amazing. It was extremely fatty.
For the second plate,  L-R KANI (boiled crab), AKAGAI (Ark Shell), HOTATE-BASHIRA (Scallop), TORO, TACHIUO (Hairtail). Please forgive me as I forgot to take a photo of the crab. Let me just assure you that it isn't fake crab. Rather, they used real crab meat from their arms and legs. It was sweet! The Ark shell was somewhat different. The scallop was plump! The Hairtail was just incredible. It was torched and had a smokey flavor.
For the 3rd plate, L-R TAMAGO (egg), EBI (Shrimp), AWABI (abalone), TEKKA (tuna roll), TAKO (octapus). This has got to be the beginner plate. If you aren't as adventurous as your other friends or family members when it comes to sushi, this might be your intro plate. The tamago was different. I was expecting it to be sweet. Rather it was sweet but had a fermented taste. It was different. The Shrimp was sweet as heck. The abalone was delicious. The tuna was simple. The octapus had a sweet flavor as well.
For the fourth plate, we had the L-R IKA (calamari), IKURA (salmon roe), SAYORI (halfbeak), TORO, SAKE (salmon). I was expecting for the calamari to be rubbery but it wasn't. Instead, you could cut it with each bite. The ikura was just splendid. Each roe would pop in your mouth. The salmon was fresh as it could ever be. My goodness.
If it was me, I would definitely go back for the ANAGO, SALMON, KANI, UNI, TORO and TACHIUO. These made an impression with me.
Believe it or not, you could also order take out from them. Although it might be a bit pricey, I guess if you're willing to share the wealth then go for it.
We finished our meal after almost an hour of eating. It was delicious but wasn't as expensive as one would think compared to other michelin restaurants. The quality of the seafood was spot on. Since they get their seafood right there in the market, you can definitely be assured of the freshness. It was actually surprising to see that the chefs of the restaurants were wearing rubber boots. I guess they also participated in the 0415 tuna auction in the market. Definitely worth a visit.
1 Chome-1-86 Noda, Fukushima Ward, Osaka, 553-0005, Japan
6am to 2pm. Closed on Sundays and Holidays.

They also have another location in a mall/train station in Osaka and one in Bangkok.

Endo Sushi English website

Disclaimer:wrote this based on my opinions. Paid for our meals.
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