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Friday, October 18, 2019
NANKA JAPANESE RESTAURANT: QUEZON CITY'S SECRET STEAK PLACE

I found myself driving to a familiar location in the metro. Granted that I live up north, I figured that this Japanese restaurant would be able to give me my fix of wants and needs food wise. Nestled in a quiet spot just off the Tomas Morato/ Timog Area in Quezon City is NANKA JAPANESE STEAKHOUSE. Generally speaking, the place serves Japanese food. In particular, they brand themselves as a Japanese Steakhouse.
What makes it different from a normal steakhouse? They prepare and serve the meat in a way that accentuate the flavors. The sauces are also leaning towards the Japanese side of things. If steaks are their bread and butter, then their appetizers and main courses follow suit as well. One could start with some Fried Oyster Mushroom. This would go well with an ice cold beer. Speaking of, this combination would work well during the night as they have live bands perform.
It seems that seafood is also one of their specialty. They make sure to get to freshest ingredients that the market could offer. The Grilled Ahi Tuna is made from fish that is flown in twice a week. It doesn't get any better than that.The Togarashi Shrimp are plump and juicy.
Oysters are also a champion choice when visiting NANKA JAPANESE STEAKHOUSE.  Each bite is just perfect. It does what it needs to do.
For pasta people, the Prawn Garlic noodles does its job. The pasta is cooked perfectly and the shrimp easy. If one could just slurp everything they could.
Another must order for seafood lovers would be their GARLIC CRAB. Although it might be a little pricey since it is based on market price, you are assured of its glorious meat and sauce. In all honesty, you could scoop everything and dump it on a cup of rice.
It isn't a steakhouse if it doesn't serve steak. The kitchen can prepare a number of steak choices. Of course they ask for your preference in terms of doneness. At most, one should choose medium well. Never well done. Granted that some find it too much to see the red in meat but that is just a mixture of water and protein. This BLACK ONYX TOMAHAWK goes perfectly well with the different sauces and side dishes that it comes with. One could go for simple rice or deep fried potatoes or other choices as well.
Dessert is made by their in house chef. Another thing that NANKA is known for would be their in house bakery. They offer different cakes and has tons of dessert to go with your meal.


NANKA JAPANESE STEAKHOUSE is located at 1810 Mother Ignacia Ave Cor Roces Avenue, Quezon City. Near the rotunda. Parking is available.




Disclaimer:wrote this based on my opinion. was invited to try out the dishes.
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Tuesday, October 8, 2019
HAPAG MANILA: MORE GOOD THINGS TO COME

For a few weeks now, I have been hearing about this place in Quezon City that offered Filipino dishes elevated through proper cooking techniques. Something pretty good that is worth a try. Thankfully one Thursday night, I found myself with friends in this new restaurant.  HAPAG MANILA is a quaint fine dining restaurant that offers an 8 course tasting menu with ala carte choices as well.
Finding the place was a journey in itself. It's actually located in a small compound that used to house WHAM BURGER on the south bound of Katipunan. Just infront of Blue Ridge, parking could also be a problem since the lot can only fit a handful of vehicles. Other than that, it seems like a good date place for couples or even a small get together between foodie friends.
HAPAG MANILA tries to be something above the norm. Utilizing Filipino ingredients is one of the things that they champion. Dishes are served and explained as they are placed infront of you.  The server or one of the chefs greets everyone and advises what the dishes are and of their components. They also explain how to eat certain dishes.
An amuse bouche of a sisig-like bite-sized dish was the signal to the start of the 8 course tasting menu. The filling was quite similar to dinakdakan. An Ilocano dish that is tangy and would wake up your senses. The real first dish though, would be the SINUGLAW. Grilled pork together with market fish is served in a vinegar concoction that also have some pickled vegetables. Quite comparable to ceviche, you could say that this one is a Filipino version.
I was pleasantly surprised with the OYSTER BONETE. As soon as I placed the entire dish in my mouth, an explosion of flavors happened. A plump Aklan oyster is partnered with adobo aioli. This went really well with the buttery bonete bun. I could have easily devoured 4-5 of these babies. Then came this huge bowl filled with green leafy vegetables that is similar to herbs. As the server explained, there are LAING STONES inside. She drowns the bowl with a mango-based spritzer for added flavor.  Although honestly, I didn't taste it. The stones, on the other hand, were deep-fried and delicious.
A favorite among guests, the GINATAANG ALIMASAG is a creamy hot mess that would make you want to lick the entire bowl. Granted that you won't really do that, this dish is made of coconut squash, custard, crabmeat, and prawn head sauce. It is heavy and finger-licking good.
To prepare for the main dish, the flavor profile seemed to tone down after the alimasag. The BANANA HEART GRANOLA was well-presented. Unfortunately, I find the flavor-lacking. Texture-wise it was great but it was a bit bland. I'm on the fence on this one. Although having a vegetarian "bagoong" seemed interesting, I think they still needed to tweak this.
To clean everything up, a SORBETES was served. This calamansi sorbet forced my mouth-feel back to zero. It cleansed everything. It was strong yet wonderful.
One thing that makes HAPAG MANILA different from other places is that they offer a main dish as part of the tasting menu. You are able to pick from a number of choices. In my opinion, it was a hit or a miss. Although not part of their tasting menu, we decided to order the duck dish as it came highly recommended. I was not disappointed as it was cooked perfectly. The meat was tender and the skin spot on.
The BISTEK TAGALOG wanted to convey a Filipino dish that is commonly citrusy and salty. Even if the Rib Eye Steak was cooked perfectly, we couldn't connect it to being it's namesake. It lacked the  flavors that you could get from a Bistek Tagalog. It seems as if its rice partner made up for it. I think if it was named differently, I would probably enjoy it even more. Choosing the APAHAP MAYONESA was a gamble. It was described as a pan seared local sea bass, malunggay and calamansi mayonesa, beetroot mayonesa, squid ink rice, and dulong-okoy. Visually stunning, I can't really describe how disappointed I was. Don't get me wrong, the fish was good and the okoy was presented uniquely. Unfortunately, the squid ink rice was too sweet. I don't know if that is what they are aiming. Dessert was a choice between a coconut based ice cream and mangoes with rice cake.
HAPAG MANILA has a long way to go. BUT,  it's definitely going in the right direction. I can't stop praising their appetizers as they really went above and beyond. The mains were a hit and a miss. Probably starting high, the meal ended somewhat just okay. If I do return, I would probably just go with ala carte so that I could pick what I really want. If this is a sign of what's to come in the Filipino food dining scene, I can't wait for the future.

As they only open during dinner service, I guess it's best to make a reservation for an early time slot. Aside from having decent parking, you are able to let rush hour pass you by. Since most of the dishes have seafood, don't forget to let them know if you are allergic during your reservation. According to the chef, they can substitute some before hand if you're planning to have the eight course tasting menu.





HAPAG MANILA
Katipunan Ext. 201 Katipunan Ave.
Project 4, Quezon City, Metro Manila.
Opens at 6pm. Closed on Mondays.

8 Course tasting menu costs around Php 2,800. (Roughly $54)
Beverage Pairing is an additional Php 800. (Roughly $16)




Disclaimer: Wrote this based on my experience. Paid for the meal.
Informed the chef of our experience. I wish them luck and all the best.
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Thursday, October 3, 2019
COLOMBIAN GASTRONOMIC WEEK AT THE MANILA PENINSULA

It was as if I was transported to a different place in time. Getting to The Manila Peninsula was as easy as pie. Honestly, I have never had the pleasure of visiting this old gem. As you enter the lobby, you are greeted by the staff with gusto. Although I am not there for their famous foyer, I can't help but be inspired by it.
The real reason I visited the Manila Peninsula was because it was the COLOMBIAN GASTRONOMIC WEEK. For this, the Manila Peninsula has invited a very special guest chef to take over SPICES. For both lunch and dinner on OCTOBER 4-5, 2019, diners would be invited to have a taste of Colombian cuisine.
Chef Rey Guerrero of Sabor Pacifico is the guest chef that would introduce guests to Colombian Cuisine. He has prepared a tasting menu and has even allowed and offered guests to try out authentic Colombian dishes ala carte.
The small get together was started off with some delicious and unique drinks. Colombian inspired, the cocktail and mocktail were sweet and lively.
After a little bit of mingling, CHEF REY went ahead and did a little bit of demonstration.
We could see him prepare a ceviche of mangrove clams and snails. Named CEVICHE MIXTO PIANGUA Y PIACUIL, this dish isn't as acidic as one would think. The addition of sweet ingredients created a balance of flavor. Having a smoker, gave it depth. According to the chef, this is actually an aphrodisiac and would be awesome for couples.
I could have asked for seconds or thirds because it was light and not as spicy as one would imagine. A mixture of snails and clams made it a must try.
For appetizers, guests were treated to ABORRAJADOS DE PESCADO and PATACONES ENDIABLADOS. Deep fried plantain coconut croquette was filled with smoked sea bass topped with sesame sauce. Making full use of ingredients, shredded fried plantain was bathe with shrimp sauce and parmesan cheese. The croquette was perfectly cooked and a joy to eat. The friend plantain was a little bit tough on the palate. Although flavorful, it might be a little too hard for some.
The CAZUELA DE MARISCOS or Seafood Caserole was familiar and delicious. Cooked in coconut milk and seasoned with coriander, the use of the squid, mussels, and shrimps made it full circle. It wasn't too spicy as one would imagine. It just was straight up good.
Personally, the best dish of the night would be the PANDAO DE PESCADO. This seabass fillet was wrapped in banana leaf and topped with a coconut milk sauce. The fish meat itself was fresh and would melt in your mouth. It was just right. Cooked to perfection, I was looking for some rice.
Thankfully, the chef came prepared. The ARROZ PUTIAO or rice sauteed with seafood and longaniza was a mixture of sweet and salty that went well with the fish.
For dessert, there were a couple of things they offered. The first being, the DULCE PACIFICO. Thisfruit ice cream with caramelized coconut candy was a little bit too sweet for me. It was refreshing though.
What impressed me would be the FLAN AROMAS DE NUQUI. The coconut flan looked simple but it was the perfect meal ender. It was topped with coconut and anise syrup. I could have finished the whole bowl by myself.
COLOMBIAN GASTRONOMIC WEEK in the Manila Peninsula is happening. On OCTOBER 4-5, 2019, SPICES would offer these incredible dishes by COLOMBIAN CHEF REY GUERRERO. 
You may order dishes by ala carte or through a tasting course. 






Disclaimer: was invited to this private event. wrote this based on my experience and opinions.
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Monday, September 30, 2019
CHECKING OUT THE GRID: More Reasons To Go Back

 I found myself in Rockwell again. It seems I keep on visiting this busy Makati Mall more and more. With a new wing added, they now offer a ton of choices to visitors in terms of restaurants. One of them would be THE GRID. The best food market around, in my honest opinion. The geniuses behind Hole In The Wall concept, they made it into the greats of the great. This time around, I was able to check out stalls 1, 4, and 11.
 Most of the purveyors in THE GRID are veterans in the food industry. Stall 1 or BUCKY'S, came out with their big guns and made me drool right off the bat. Their baked ziti was filling and cheesy.
The twister fries were better than McDonald's. No joke. But what was really delicious was their FRIED CHICKEN. They were crunchy and juicy at the same time. Each bite made me want to partner it with rice. I really had a great time chewing this baby.
 Whenever I visit THE GRID, I always see a line at STALL 4. LE CHON by Chef Happy Ongpauco-Tiu, is everyone's favorite. Here, you can have your meals customize. You pick a main like their flavorful chicken, or their crunchy pork belly. Then, you partner it with different side dishes like fried potato, banana cue chips, and even an eggplant with baba ganoush.
 The skin of their pork belly is just crunchy. You hear that sound with each bite. The meat is tasty and tender. They went well with the rice that they serve and the sauces they have.
 
 Another must try stall would be BUN APPETIT. This started way back during Salcedo's Sunday Market. The couple behind this concept figured that there is no decent seafood roll in the metro. I got to agree with them. Years later, they are now part and parcel of the growing industry. In my honest opinion, I prefer their lobster rolls compared to another foreign Jedi-named restaurant. Even if it seems a bit expensive, they are definitely more affordable compared to those rolls in other countries. Trying to reinvent themselves, they now offer grilled cheese and even avocado toast. You can actually order whole lobsters from them with prior notice.
 If you're asking me if I'm going to return, my answer would be a resounding yes. I actually been to THE GRID more than 5 times already. Yes, there's a lot to choose from. I can't wait for their expansion to open up.

THE GRID FOOD MARKET is located on the 2nd floor of the Power Plant Mall.


ROCKWELL POWERPLANT
MAKATI CITY,
PHILIPPINES.

Disclaimer: wrote this based on my experience. was invited to this tasting event.
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Saturday, September 28, 2019
8 SUITES HOTEL TAGAYTAY: An Escape Like No Other

Just a few days ago, I visited 8 SUITES HOTEL in TAGAYTAY. It was a different way of seeing the famous weekend gateaway. I was surprised, to say the least. There was only a few structures around and everywhere I look it would either be tall grass or a pineapple field. It seems as if I was transported back in time. It made me wonder if that was what the commercialized area of Tagaytay was years ago.
The air was clean and the grass tremendously green. The view was incredible. No huge buildings and it was just perfect. The nearest convenience store was around 5 minutes by motorcyle. It seems like I was in a different world. It was sort of an escape from the hustles and bustles of the city.
8 SUITES was actually a university project of David Gomez. Back then, it was either an extreme sports activity company in Boracay or a different property in Palawan. Thinking that the commute might be a bit difficult, he went with Tagaytay. In just a few years, his ROI was achieved and he hasn't looked back. Wanting to create a sanctuary, 8 Suites achieved just that. Rooms were well-groomed and taken cared of. Privacy is a key feature of staying at 8 SUITES in Tagaytay. The staff make sure that you have everything that you need and more.  They also offer glamping as a different take on spending a night in Tagaytay. With future plans to operate and maintain a pool, their garden seems to be a great venue for a little get together between friends or even for a photo shoot.
Recently 8 SUITES partnered with Chef Erica Aquino of 49-B Heirloom fame to transform their quaint dining area into a full-fledged restaurant. With views like that, they would definitely captitalize on dining and privacy.
Chef Erica went ahead and showed us a little bit of what's to come. She had this spring roll with fresh cuts of coconut meat inside. She went further with some paella and lengua sisig to spice things up.
Since sisig isn't for everyone, she also made a sizzling lengua version. The gravy was spot on. It made you want to order another serving of rice. Other appetizers like gambas, salpicao, and cheesy mussels were served.
After all the food that you could have, one could opt for a massage. For me though, their bed is more than enough reason for me to stay at 8 SUITES.

8 SUITES HOTEL in TAGAYTAY is located on Lot 7 Iruhin Ridge View, Barangay Iruhin, Tagaytay.  



P.S.
As of 9-27-2019, the access road going to 8 Suites is under construction as part of a road widening and pipe laying project. As such, it would be better to bring a SUV when visiting 8 Suites.


Disclaimer:wrote this based on my opinons. was invited to 8 suites.
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