Sunday, December 30, 2012

Davao Food Guide: Newly Opened Restaurants Round-Up

It's the holiday season and you know what that means - lots of food! But even when our dining table is filled with lots of food to celebrate the Christmas and New Year, I am not done yet. My appetite, even, is just whetting up! I had added quite a list of new restaurants and food spots to fulfill my unending love for food.

To help you pick the next dining destination, I have listed them down here. Most of these are new restaurants/food stalls opening up in Davao, while some others I have tried before but they have new branches opening up as well. 


French Baker is something that I am looking forward to (along with Dairy Queen) and it is now open at SM Lanang Premier. And if you are such a huge fan of desserts and sweets, wonder dropping by at Giardino Gelato. I've previously tried their Abreeza branch and their gelatos are highly recommended. If you haven't tried them yet, you can visit them on the 2nd floor of SM Lanang Premier!


And to continue on with the tea trend in Davao, ChaTime is officially open (also at SM Lanang Premier). My mom went there earlier this week. Hence, I am planning a visit one of these days. Look for them at the ground floor.


If you are up for some Filipino cooking, check out Gerry's Grill newest branch at the ground floor of GMall's The Peak. They have a special bar area for those who would love to dine in open air, or enjoy some drinks. I've been to Gerry's Grill before and haven't had the chance to visit them again (by choice, because of a terrible service) but maybe I would re-consider giving them another try.


For the coffee lovers, like me, two new options for coffee shops are available at GMall's The Peak - The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Blugre Coffee. They are located at the 2nd floor of The Peak and 2nd floor of the mall, respectively.   
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Blugre Coffee

Which of these newly opened restaurants/coffee shops are you excited to try?

*Disclaimer: All images are obtained from the Skyscrapercity Forum Threads. If you are the owner of these photos and would want to be credited, just shoot me an email. Thanks!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Krispy Kreme Christmas Treats

It's no secret that I have a sweet tooth. I always blame that for my constant craving for sweets like chocolates and donuts. Hence, I am one of many excited folks in Davao when Krispy Kreme finally brought their donut goodness into the city. And that means no more asking for pasalubong for every time anyone in the family visits Manila because there are, in fact, three branches of it in the city.

Recently, I had the chance to drop by their SM Annex branch before going on a movie date for The Hobbit. During that visit, we sampled one of their Christmas Treats - the Snowflakes donut. It features the same donut goodness that you would expect from Krispy Kreme, which is a dream for anyone with a sweet tooth. I believe their Snowflakes donuts have options for fillings but I went with the kreme filling and I suggest you do, too. It's heavenly!



In addition to their special edition Christmas donuts at KK, I also munched on their New York Cheesecake (one of my faves!) and had their Chilled Caramel Latte. What a fantastic pre-movie meal!



I'm not sure if the Christmas Treats donuts are still available. But if you want to give the other donut flavors a try, make sure to pay one of their branches a visit on either SM Annex, SM Lanang, or Abreeza! 
 

Friday, December 21, 2012

McDaddy’s Café: My First and Last Visit

The new Santos Building along Quirino Avenue serves as home to a few establishments including salons, retail shops, KFC, and a new coffee shop called McDaddy’s Café. I work close to this area and have passed by this building several times before and this coffee shop has captured my attention because of its great spot and seemingly relaxing ambiance. Hence, I finally gave in to that curiosity and paid them a visit for the first time.





The ambiance is typical of any coffee shop with its dim lighting, cozy sofas and chairs, and small groups of 2-3 patrons enjoying their sip of cold drinks. I instantly loved the ambiance and realized it was a better choice than KFC (which is just downstairs) to have our dinner because the spot is a lot more quiet. Plus, they do have friendly staffs that were quick to hand us the menu and accommodate our orders.

However, my disappointment rushed in as soon as our first order was served. I wasn’t up for a heavy dinner and so I opted for their cheese omelette with crispy bacon. I forgot to take note of the price but I think it cost me roughly P120 for two eggs on my omelette. First off, I expected something that is more appetizing. Wait, hear me out here, I am not expecting a gourmet kind of omelette especially given the price, but I could’ve done something better than this at home. Seriously. I could let the plating slip but definitely not the lack of flavor. Yeah, I could definitely do better than this at home!





The other dish we ordered was the Salisbury Steak. It was nothing close to other similar steaks we've tried in the past. It was only roughly PhP 90 so, again, to expect more is probably unreasonable. 


If it were any consolation, their iced tea was really good. It is nothing like the packed ones that you simply have to mix in with water. I believe they mixed it with green tea, which is obvious because the green tea aroma is there when you sip on the glass for a drink! 

But besides that, I don't see any reason to visit again. Could be that I just placed my expectations too high. But visit them for yourself to find out. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Army Navy at SM Lanang Premier

On the day of my birthday, I went to SM Lanang Premier with my nephew and boyf to do some errands and a little bit of shopping. When we got tired and hungry, we decided to scour the entire mall to find a place we can grab a quick bite. Since it was merienda time, we decided to skip restaurants offering main course meals but opted for a burger joint, which is why the idea of dining at Army Navy struck me. I haven't tried this place before and so it might be a good time to sample them.

One of the reasons why I  was really curious to try Army Navy is due to its ambiance. It reminds you of a military base pantry with a small window in the center working as the main cashier wherein you can place your orders. It is very simplistic and straight-forward, definitely none of the over-the-top design concepts. 

The food is also equally good. We ordered the Chicken Burrito, which is a flour tortilla filled with several ingredients such as Spanish rice, chicken meat, beans, onion, lettuce, and cilantro. I love Mexican food so this was just right up my alley. The serving is pretty humongous, too! It comes served with a slice of lime and I tell you, squeezing some juice off of that lime to the burrito can make a whole lot of difference as it kicks up the flavor! An order will set you back at PhP 165.


Soft taco when rolled

Aside from burrito, I also am a big fan of taco. Since their crunchy taco is not available, we went for the soft taco carnitas. Priced at PhP 175, you get three small soft flour tortillas that are topped with meat, onions, and cilantro. Again, I squeezed some juice from the slice of lime provided with each serving to cut the strong flavor a bit. However, I was not too excited to find the pork cuts included in my soft taco were mostly the bony parts. Hence, only about half of the pork cutlets included in my taco were actually edible as I had to set the rest aside as they are made up of bones.









Lastly, we had the Tortilla Chips (PhP 35) that is served with its own freshly made tomato salsa. I love salsa! Hence, I was excited to give it a try when I saw it on the menu. And it fell nothing short of my expectation - the tangy flavor from the salsa helped to add a rich texture to the tortilla chips, which in itself is not that rich in flavor. 






Tomato Salsa

Overall, I enjoyed dining at Army Navy at SM Lanang Premier. My only qualm about this dining spot is that it can be a bit on the expensive side. For a small snack, we billed nearly PhP 500. I am not one to complain about paying for good food, but I think that it is not the best value for money. I can get an equally good taco from Taco Boy and they can go for half the price! But if you don't mind the cost and simply want to be treated to good food, give Army Navy a try! I'm looking forward to my next visit to try new items off the menu, esp their Double Burger (though it might be too big for my appetite!).

Army Navy has two branches in Davao: Abreeza and SM Lanang Premier.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cafe Andessa: New Favorite Dining Spot

For the longest time, there has been one dining spot that I've been meaning to try but haven't had the chance to - Cafe Andessa. Oddly enough, this is pretty close to where I live. So, while I was around the area, I took advantage of that chance especially with the positive reviews I have read. If you are planning to dine at Cafe Andessa, best to read my review first to give you an idea on what to expect.

It was a fantastic dinner at Café Andessa and here are our orders for the night:

Asian Glazed Spareribs


This dish is priced approximately priced at PhP 200, which is a steal with it’s savory, sweet taste. Each serving comes with a reasonable amount of spareribs cut into squares to make it easier to bite into. If you are a fan of ribs, be sure to ask for this when you dine at Café Andessa. You can thank me later!

Pan Seared Fish Fillet and Basil Sauce


Being a seafood fan, I was in a tossup between the Steamed Bangus and this Pan Seared Fish Fillet for my order. But I went ahead with the pan seared fish fillet and because it was cream dory, I knew that I was going to love it. The crisp batter that coated the fish was very well seasoned. It wasn’t too thick so as to overpower the taste of the dory, yet it was enough to give every bite a crunch. However, I noticed that after some time of eating the fish, it starts to get a bit oily. It did eventually become overwhelming and the greasy feeling left on your lips is not pleasant at all. Thankfully, the dish comes with a salad with basil sauce so you can also enjoy that to cut the greasy taste left on your mouth.

Choco Banana Fritters ala Mode


Hands down – my favorite dessert to date. I’ve been trying to recall when was the last time that I felt such level of elation from eating dessert. I haven’t felt this way about dessert since Café del Sol in Boracay wherein I sampled their Mango and Oreo Cheesecake, which were both out of this world! But this one is impressive because it is simply turon, but not your average turon. And I concede that banana and chocolate are a really deadly combo! The first taste of this dessert was like an explosion of chocolatey flavor in my mouth. I love how thick the chocolate syrup is and how it made the dessert even more rich than it already is! I would go back and eat at Café Andessa just for this dessert alone. It’s that delicious! And what’s even better than that? It’s roughly PhP 65! Steal indeed

Have you tried dining at Café Andessa? If not yet, make sure to give it a try. You are missing out on one of Davao’s best dining spots! 
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wings & Dips Continue to Wing It!

Wings & Dips is one of those restaurants that I've been too many times before yet I haven't featured yet here on the blog. Hence, I always felt like this post is long overdue. When I first got to sample Wings & Dips, thanks to a recommendation from a former co-worker and some of the blogs that I've read, I went to their Mabini branch to sample the craze that has hit the blogosphere. And even when they opened their second branch at Gaisano Mall's The Peak, I still found myself frequenting this dining spot.


I was drawn to Wings & Dips mainly because of the variety in their menu options. There are different combos to choose from wherein you can get choices of pasta, side dishes, and buffalo wings to your plate. In addition, you can also pick the sauces with which your wings are cooked in and the dip that goes with it. 

interior at Mabini branch
With their famous tag line, "Let's Wing It!", Wings & Dips have created a name for itself within the local culinary scene. Here is the Wings, Pesto Pasta, and Fries combo (pictured above) that I tried during my visit to their Mabini branch. Love the pasta and the wings, for sure! Also, their fries are of homemade variety and not the frozen ones you can pick up at the mall. And may I mention that I love the lemon mayo and blue cheese dips? 

Another one (of many) that I've tried that stick out in my memory is their version of the Fish N' Chips. The honey barbecue sauce was extraordinarily good! I also love the crunchy and rich breading used on their fish - just enough to allow the natural flavor of the fish to shine through. I would go as far as to claim that this is one of the best versions of the Fish N Chips that I've tried to date. 


interior at The Peak branch

Have you been to Wings & Dips yet? If not, head on over to any one of their two branches in the city - one in Mabini and the other one at GMall The Peak (next to Gusteau's Fud Haus).

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hog’s Breath Café Davao – Where They Do Great Steaks!

Before SM Lanang Premier opened its doors to the public, I was excited primarily for the new restaurants that will be opening in Davao for the first time. As a foodie who is always out to explore new culinary adventures, I was more than happy to find out that Davao foodies will get to experience new dining options, alongside with old favorites opening a new branch. One of those restaurants that I am keeping a close eye on is Hog's Breath Cafe. I am especially thrilled with the idea that this will be the first branch in the Philippines! This Australian-bred brand is going to introduce world-class steaks to the city (and the country!) for our tummy's delight.

When Roxie Macasaet, the marketing manager for Hog's Breath Davao, invited me to the pre-opening taste testing event, I immediately said "yes"! The idea of tasting Aussie's prime steak is already pleasing enough, but the opportunity to sample it before the rest of Davao is an even better prospect!

Upon entering, we were greeted by their friendly wait staff. Once we were settled on our seat, the ambiance quickly drew my attention because it felt so cozy and warm. I like the small details of license plates plastered across different parts of the walls to liven it up a bit!



For appetizer, we got to pick two off of the menu - the Tomato Bruschetta (which was one of their bestsellers, I was informed by our attending wait staff) and the Buffalo Wings. The Tomato Bruschetta was first served on our table and I was quick to dig in. I love the aroma of the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red onions and basil, but I did notice that the bread wasn't as crunchy as I had expected it to be. We figured it could have been the moisture from the tomato that was causing the bread to lose its crunch, though you cannot fault that given that the tomato was fresh and its flavor truly served as the highlight of this dish. 


Next up is the Buffalo Wings. Boy, I am pleased with the sizes of their serving! This appetizer features 6 pieces of wings that are well seasoned and comes with a very delicious dip! Out of curiosity, and because we dug it so much, we even asked one of the waiters about what ingredients were used on the dip. It turned out to be blue cheese, as I have guessed, and I love the slightly tangy taste of the dip against the honey sweet buffalo wings!



I opted for the Salmon Nicoise Salad because I knew that the rib was too big for my appetite as a main course. Anyway, it turned out to be a fantastic choice for a seafood and veggie lover like me. The salmon was as tasty as can be, although I do have to point out the fact that the natural taste of salmon really shone through in this dish. The dressing on the salad was also very savory but not too overpowering. According to the chef, the classic Caesar's salad dressing is tossed in with tomato salsa and some parmesan cheese. 


Of course, the most awaited part of the meal was the Prime Rib Steak. For this pre-tasting event, only the 200g serving size is available, although they do have two other larger serving sizes to choose from once the restaurant officially opens. E opted to have it cooked medium rare, which the waitress recommended is the best way to have it served. The main reason why steaks from Hog's Breath Cafe are notable worldwide is the fact that the steak is cooked slowly for up to 18 hours, thus allowing the meat to become naturally tender without losing its moisture. We also learned that all steak meats are imported from Australia and are of the grain-fed variety, which is less fatty as compared to the ones that are grass-fed. Every bite of the steak is packed with flavor and any steak lover out there would find themselves in pure culinary heaven with this one!



To end the meal, we had two delectable desserts in Mississippi Mud Cake and the Banana Split. Let me start with the Mississippi Mud Cake because it is one of two desserts that recently blew me away. The cake in itself is packed with lots of flavor. As a chocolate lover, this dessert is right up my alley. According to their website, they have guarded this recipe for over 20 years - so there is really a secret to why this cake is simply out-of-this-world! The cream and vanilla ice cream on the side is only the icing on the cake, so to speak! The Banana Split, on the other hand, is just like any you would expect.








Not forgetting to mention, their drinks were also world-class. I really enjoyed the refreshing flavor of the Mango and Apple Juice, which is served with heavy cream on top. And the Lime Mojito that E picked had a slight kick to it, which is surprising given that it is alcohol-free. Also, try the Strawberry Cocktail - not your traditional margarita as it comes with a sweet and less potent taste! 





I definitely recommend Hog's Breath Cafe to those who are in search for the best steak in Davao, or simply who want to experience world-class dining. My search might have come to an end for the best steak in town. Visit them at SM Lanang Premier wherein you can find them at the fountain side of the SM Supermarket exit.They officially open on December 13, 2012 (Thursday) but a "Secret Party" will be held on December 12, 2012. Make sure to check that out as you can get a discount when you dine!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hog's Breath Cafe Davao Opening Delayed

Last week, I got an official confirmation from the Hog's Breath Cafe Davao marketing manager, Roxie Macasaet, that the official date for the restaurant's soft opening at SM Lanang Premier will be on December 6, 2012. I am pretty sure that that news got a lot of people excited, especially those who were looking forward to sample their delectable and prime Aussie steaks. 

Sadly, I was informed that the soft opening and all other pre-opening events scheduled for Hog's Breath Cafe had been delayed. To learn more about the reason for the delay and what else Davaoenos should expect, here is the full press release from the marketing manager:

To all our valued guests and customers,

It is with great regret that we have to cancel our pre-taste events scheduled on December 2 and 3, as well as our soft opening on December 6, 2012.

Due to unforeseen circumstances related to the construction of our restaurant, we have no choice but to reschedule these events to a later date.

To our online activity winners and our invited bloggers, we will advise you on our new schedule – we promise that we will continue to communicate with you and stay true to our word of giving you the ‘first taste’ of the menu at our restaurant.

We are very appreciative of the support that you have extended thus far and we are hopeful that you will continue to support us despite this delay.

Our entire team has now touched down in Davao and we are truly grateful for the warm welcome and hospitality of the Dabawenyos. We are confident that we made the right decision to open the country’s first and worlds largest Hog’s Breath Café Branch here in your city.

Don’t worry dear friends! We won’t keep you waiting for long – see you this December!

Regards,

Roxie Macasaet
PR & Marketing Representative – Hog’s Breath Café Davao

For more updates, follow them on Twitter at @HBCafeDavao or check their Facebook fan page here.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

New on the Menu: Grub Resto Cafe

Grub Resto Cafe has been a favorite of mine since I got to try this restaurant for the first time. I love the cozy ambiance and it has been one of few restaurants in the city that has consistently been good as far as the quality of food is concerned. I cannot remember one particular time that I dined here that I was disappointed with the food - it's been that good. No wonder it's my favorite!

Just recently, I dropped by Grub Resto Cafe once again for dinner. Just because we've been here several times before, we've tried almost everything on the menu. It is, therefore, a challenge trying to decide what to eat, especially during those times when I am looking for something new to excite my palate. Hence, I tried to experiment a little and opted for new items on their menu.

Sisig Triangle


This is a very simplistic dish. This is basically sisig served in a triangle wrap, which is similar to that of a lumpia wrapper. Hence, you can get a crisp and crunchy exterior with savory sisig on the inside. It also comes served with its own spicy and tangy dip to help bring out more flavor from the meat wrapped inside. You can order this dish at Grub Resto Cafe for only P95.

Buffalo Wings



This is my first time to try this at Grub Resto Cafe and I have to say - I'm quite impressed. Love the seasoning on the buffalo wings - I picked sweet, by the way, just because I don't eat anything spicy. This serving consists of 6 servings of buffalo wings and french fries that comes with a delectable mayo garlic dip. Ah, loving this dish for the dip alone!

Steak Sandwich






This is my least favorite of the three new dishes I tried. Wait, hear me out here. I love the pork steak that is used in this sandwich. It is well seasoned and the cut of the meat is pretty big for a regular sandwich. However, the veggies added on the side and its tangy sauce just does not sit well with the steak. The bread used for the sandwich is really good, too, but after a few bites, there is that overwhelming taste that goes into your mouth until you can't consume the rest any longer. I think this dish would be better off without the veggies so that the taste is concentrated on the steak. Besides that, though, the steak is really good.

Have you tried any of these dishes? What's your favorite dish at Grub Resto Cafe?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Cafe Ilustrado Dining Experience

Cafe Ilustrado. The name brings forth an air of sophistication that anyone who hears about this restaurant for the first time will often find themselves intimidated by it. But for a few others, it inspires curiosity because there is probably only a few people in Davao who knows where it is. 

Cafe Ilustrado is located at the third floor of Gaisano South Mall, in the same level as Women's RTW. The unfamiliarity of it is completely understood. Even I wasn't aware that there was a restaurant right in that quiet side of the mall! But knowing that my office is within a stone's throw away from Gaisano South, it can be said that I frequent this area more often than I used to (before working where I do now). And during those instances wherein I feel the need to satisfy my grumbling tummy after doing some shopping, I found myself having dinner here quite a few times.

First off, I love the location. It is very convenient for those who are shopping at this mall. There is no need to go elsewhere because you can just walk into this secluded area that was built into somewhat of a sophisticated dining spot. Surprisingly, they also have good food. Not great, but good.

For appetizer, the Fisherman's Soup is recommended. This is a thick, creamy, and savory soup that is packed with flavor. The only downside to this soup is that it can overwhelm your senses after a few sip of the soup. It is best when you share this someone else


One dish that I would recommend is their Roasted Chicken. This one is very well seasoned and the meat is quite tender. The exterior of the chicken also comes with this tempting red color, leaving the chicken with that smoky aroma to it. Plus, it's a huge serving!


If you're a seafood lover, go for the Deep Fried Fish Fillet. They use cream dory for this one, which is always a good thing. I love that the fillet batter is not too thick - you just have enough to get a crunch to the surface, but not too much that it would soak up too much oil during the cooking process. The pickeled vegetables they serve on the side also helps to cut the saltiness of the dish, too.


For their desserts, I've tried their Fruit Salad and Tiramisu. The fruit salad is nothing special - just an assortment of sliced fruits in a bit of juice, then topped with whipped cream. On the other hand, the tiramisu cake is rich and chocolatey. It is fairly affordable, too, for the size of the serving. If you ever need a perfect way to end your meal at Cafe Ilustrado, this is the one!






Have you tried Cafe Ilustrado? How was the experience?

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