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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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hog's Breath Cafe Opens December 6 at SM Lanang

In an earlier post, I have listed some of the restaurants that I personally am looking forward to try out when they officially open at SM Lanang Premier. Hog's Breath Cafe quickly drew my attention primarily because it is the first branch to open in Davao and in the Philippines! The restaurant has established its reputation as “Australia's Best Steakhouse”, which should pique the curiosity of many steak lovers out there. Another reason to be excited about Hog's Breath Cafe's first ever Philippine branch? It is recognized as the largest of all 89 branches in the world!

The mere mention of Hog's Breath Cafe inspires to mind mouth-watering steaks, which is clearly the restaurant's specialty. They have also pleased Australian steak lover's taste buds with their tender prime steaks and Davao foodies will be in for a real treat when they have their soft opening on December 6, 2012.

Ms. Roxeanne Macasaet, the Marketing Manager for Hog's Breath Cafe Davao, shares the excitement of Davao food enthusiasts with the arrival of their first branch in the city. According to Ms. Macasaet, “We're thrilled to open the first Philippine branch in Davao, we're happy to share this Australian dining experience with the Dabawenyos.”

L'Restaurateur, the company responsible for bringing Hog's Breath Cafe franchise to Davao, has lined up month-long schedule of activities to whet Davaoenos' appetite for what Ms. Macasaet refers to as “Hogspitality” and, of course, their world-class steaks. The restaurant will have its soft opening on December 6, 2012 but the grand opening is expected to take place sometime January 2013. This is in order to coincide with the celebration of Australia Day.

Hog’s Breath CafĂ© Davao is located at Unit 147 – 149 Ground Floor, SM Lanang Premier, Lanang 8000, Davao, Philippines.

You can get regular updates and information about the upcoming opening and corresponding activities via their Facebook page here, or follow them at their official Twitter account - @HBCafeDavao. Also, make sure to visit this blog again as I will continue to update you with what's the latest on Hog's Breath Cafe. 
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Tales from Dimsun Diner

When it comes to Asian Fusion/Chinese restaurants, Mandarin Tea Garden has been a top choice for me. Their noodle soups are the best there is and I even blogged about my favorite post-workout meal here and chronicled my numerous visits to their branches here. But one night, feeling hungry from work, I opted to give Dimsun Diner a try, just for the sake of it. A new environment, new dining options... and hopefully a better dining experience.

The meal started off with a great appetizer in Crabstick Siomai. I haven't tried this before and I love crabs so I figured, "why not give it a try?". The three-piece serving costs approximately PhP 60 (if my memory serves me right), which is well worth it given the thick slice of crabstick that you can treat your taste buds to with every bite.

On this particular visit, I ordered the Curry Squid because I've been trying to eat seafood as much as I can. Plus, I love squid so that gives me another reason to give it a shot! It turned out to be a great choice for me - the squid meat is very tender and well seasoned. The curry sauce is also not too overpowering, which helps to complement the natural rich taste of the squid meat. Forgot to take a tab on how much this order cost, but I would think it was somewhere between PhP 80-90. 

For comparison's sake, we also tried ordering the Beef Wanton Noodle Soup at Dimsum Diner. Just to be clear, I am not being biased here just because I have professed that Mandarin Tea Garden's Beef Wanton Noodle Soup is my favorite, but Dimsum Diner's own version just does not hold a candle to it.  The soup stock alone offers a major difference. Mandarin's is well seasoned and savory, whereas this one is rather on the bland side. Another major difference is also in the noodles itself. Mandarin's version is the homemade type with thin yet firm noodles that make every mouthful truly filling.

Finally, we also had their Cold Taho. E loves taho, so this was a no-brainer. A little too expensive for the taho I might've been used to, but totally worth it. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

KFC Chicken Salad with Asian Dressing

KFC is one of those fast food chains that I frequent. They are, fittingly, known for their chicken but they introduce new items on their menu from time to time.  On my recent visit, I ordered something aside from chicken that made quite an impression on me.

KFC's Chicken Salad is priced at PhP 95 and for that, you can get a pretty decent serving of salad. The serving consists of a mixture of fresh lettuce and other kinds of vegetables. And because it is a chicken salad, you can get plenty of bite sized pieces of chicken fillet to go along with the veggies, too. 

There are two choices of dressing for the salads available at KFC: Caesar or Asian. I went with the Asian dressing and I was very pleased with the choice I made. As I'm eating, I was trying to decipher the ingredients used in the dressing to give that sweet, slightly tangy taste to it. I can tell that it has got some sesame seeds in it, probably roasted one because of the smoky aroma.

My only qualm about this salad is that the tomato that was served with it is freezing cold. Like, seriously, it tasted like it was taken straight out of the refrigerator! And I would have wanted more variety with the greens as I can see it had mainly just lettuce.

If you love salad, try the Asian dressing on KFC's salad options. If you've tried it, would love to hear your thoughts on the salad! Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

BonChon Chicken Abreeza: Review

BonChon Chicken is one of the most awaited arrivals in the local culinary scene of Davao. Their crisp and yummy chicken is purportedly one of the best in the country, judging from blogger reviews and feedback from people I know who've tried it. BonChon originated in South Korea but this fried chicken franchise restaurant quickly established a following prompting them to open a number of franchises across the US and in various parts of Asia, which includes the Philippines. Their SM City Davao branch was the first branch to open in the city but it wasn't too long until their second branch opened its doors in Abreeza. 

The other night, I got a chance to visit BonChon in Abreeza during dinner time. If you are planning to give them a try, here is a breakdown on my thoughts about this particular dining experience to help you decide:

Boxed Meal C

Fish Taco

Ambiance: The ambiance at BonChon is warm and homey. If you've been to any of their restaurants before, you know what I mean. It is very much like a fast food chain but with a bit of an upscale twist. It features a minimalistic design with white and red as the predominant colors in their interiors.

Food Choices: BonChon has been compared with Chicken Charlie and many claim that these two are each other's toughest rival. However, BonChon earns my nod here because they have more food choices on the menu. In fact, they are not just limited to chicken because they also have fish and beef dishes on the menu.

Food Quality: I love the chicken at BonChon! I was impressed with Chicken Charlie's but I think this one is much better. The crisp exterior and the savory meat on the inside makes this more than your average fast food fried chicken. Aside from the boxed meal C (containing one piece of thigh, plus rice and your choice of softdrinks - priced at PhP 95), we also ordered the Fish Taco (PhP 75) and Crispy Fish Ricebox (PhP 145). 

The chicken is the star of this meal. But I have to say that the Crispy Fish Ricebox was also a great choice. The fish is cooked all the way through and the meat is very soft. 

The only disappointment for the meal was the Fish Taco. But it's not their fault. Fish never works well with tacos. End of the story.

Crispy Fish Ricebox

Crispy Fish Ricebox

Service: For a fast food chain, I'd say they have got the best service. Orders get served pretty quickly, despite the fact that they were nearly full when we got there. Wait staffs are also very responsive to our requests for condiments.

Value for Money: Yes, admittedly, BonChon is a bit on the expensive side, especially when compared with other fast food chicken restaurants in the city. But they make up for their higher priced meals with quality and tasty food options. It's hard to tell, though, given this is only my first visit. I might have to give it another round.

Recommendation: If you love chicken and want to taste the best fried chicken in Davao, BonChon is the place to be. I held high expectations of this restaurant before giving it a try, and somehow they lived up to the hype.

Overall Rating: 3.8/5 stars

Friday, November 16, 2012

Swiss Deli Treats & More

Swiss Deli inspires in me good food and good memories. Therefore, I recommended it without hesitation when a friend of mine paid a short visit from her work abroad. The last time I dined at Swiss Deli was at their Matina branch and on my second visit with friends, we went to their Lanang branch.

For a glimpse into this filling dining experience at Swiss Deli, here are our orders.... Drool on!

 Large Mixed Salad (PhP 140) - This is a combination of mixed garden and Mediterranean salad. Also, you get a basket of Tuscan bread! No better way to start off a meal than this!

Bolognese (PhP 195) - This is the best way to eat pasta. Swiss Deli's Bolognese pasta comes with a generous amount of meat sauce and tomato sauce to delight your palate.

Fillet of Cream Dory (PhP 220) - Delicious dory sauteed with mushroom sauce, butter, tomatoes, and capers. And you also get mashed potato on the side. The perfect choice for fish lovers!

Chicken "Zurich Style" (PhP 190) - This is one of their Swiss Specials, which I recommend you check first if it is your first time to dine at Swiss Deli. The dish consists of tender slices of chicken breast in mushroom cream sauce, then served with fettucini and steamed vegetables.

Ravioli (PhP 195) - I am a big fan of Ravioli. So, when I was made to pick my order, I chose this instantly. The ravioli is stuffed with ricotta cheese and comes with a rich, slightly tangy tomato sauce as base. If that doesn't make your mouth water, I don't know what else could...

And what's the best part of this meal? Sharing it with the people you care about most. :)

What do you love most about dining at Swiss Deli? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Kublai Khan Mongolian Restaurant Offers Stir-Fry Goodness

Kublai Khan Mongolian Restaurant was one of few restaurants that opened right after Gaisano Mall launched The Peak last year. And I was one of those who were also quick to give it a try, mostly just out of curiosity. As a foodie, I always make it a point to try new food places in Davao and this is the perfect place to be for those who are a fan of stir-fry goodies.

The catch with Kublai Khan Mongolian Restaurant is that you basically get to pick what you want to have on your bowl. Thus, you will be greeted by a long section of ingredients ranging from meat, to seafoods, to veggies by the counter to make your own rice bowl. It is similar to a buffet spread with various ingredients to choose from. Among those that I can remember are cabbage, carrots, red and green bell pepper, squid balls, fish balls, onions, baguio beans, pork, chicken, beef, liver, and many more.

However, I got way too confused when I got there and wasn't up for experimenting. I, therefore, opted for their set meals instead so they can pick the ingredients on my behalf. Maybe next time once I got the hang of it, then I will create my own rice bowl mix.

I went with the seafood set for my order and was quite pleased with my choice. I like the fact that it features a generous amount of seafood meat and veggies. Loved the flavor of the sauce, too. But nothing really special here, just plain rice goodness.

The boyf went with the pork set, which was equally good.  The meat and veggies are cooked all the way, with some tenderness to the meat and juicy quality to the veggies. That way, you can tell that the ingredients are fresh! Both sets are available for PhP 90 each. 

Seafood Salsa

Fiery Barbecue

Aside from the set meals, like the ones we ordered, you can opt for the One Time Fill Your Bowl for PhP 180, wherein you basically put all of the ingredients you want in there - but the catch is, no refilling. Or, you can get the Check a Bowl priced at PhP 125 or the Eat All You Can Bowl for PhP 250. 

If you're up for exploring with your food and maybe experiment a little bit, visit them at The Peak

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hollywood Burgers Satisfy Davao's Craving for Giant Burger Goodness

I have a small appetite, so it is rare to find me in one of few burger joints in Davao. But when I do, I make sure to pick out only the ones that I know are worth the shot. One of the newest burger joints in the city is Hollywood Burgers, which opened for business early this year at Gaisano Mall's The Peak. I've read rave reviews about their burgers and have also stumbled upon a few complaints along the way, so I finally went there and gave it a try myself.

The dining setup at Hollywood Burgers is a lot like trailer park eateries in the US. You've got comfortable booths and wooden chairs with names of famous Hollywood A-listers plastered on the back. It is a fun place, no doubt, to dine with such color and vibrancy all around you. But as any serious foodie knows, the ambiance can only do so much... food is still the main thing. And that is what I came here for.

 The first order for the night is their Hollywood Onion Rings (PhP 69). For this one, you get a few pieces of onion rings served on a plastic bowl. While I might've been compelled to complain at the fact that this was a meager serving, I loved the onion ring batter. It was seasoned just enough that it doesn't overpower the onion rings itself. Also, the onions were large and sweet - just the way I like it.

E wasn't feeling so hungry when we got to Hollywood Burgers because we had merienda earlier, so he simply went for the basic Hollywood Burger. Still, it was pretty big for my standard. The burger includes lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and a thick slab of cheese. 


Meanwhile, I went all-out with the Kevin Bacon Mush. This burger comes with a large patty (probably the biggest I've eaten EVER!), tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, and bacon! Yes, yummy! Every bite of this burger features a combination of taste and texture. You get a bit of crunchy, then you have something savory. The patty is the best thing about this burger, though. I like how well they have seasoned it with lots of garlic, ginger, and pepper. E would like to disagree. He wants minimal seasoning on the patty because he would like to enjoy the meat's natural taste, but I think we can both agree that we enjoyed this meal.

I'm still not sure if this is the best burger joint in town. I think that Davao has a few more affordable yet equally good places to get your burger fix. But if you want to go big, it's definitely worth a try!
Have you tried Hollywood Burgers? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Friday, November 9, 2012

360 Degrees Hand Shaked Milk Tea: New Fave

I've never been a fan of milk teas. But with several of these milk tea shops opening for business in the city, I figured I might finally give it a shot. The first one I tried was from Tealoca and wasn't too impressed. 

But when I tried 360 Degrees Handshake Milk Tea for the first time, it changed my mind. I had the chance to try the Choco Milk Tea and it was more or less priced at P50. Yes, fairly reasonable given how milk teas are priced much higher by other more high-end establishments. I am simply pointing out the fact that there is no reason to splurge when you can enjoy something for a lesser price without sacrificing quality.

The service was pretty fast and by the time we had paid the bill for our order, it was handed over to us. Sweet!

As for the milk tea itself, I love the smooth texture and the richness of the taste. Every gulp leaves you with the natural aroma of the tea and as you continue to sip from the straw, you can enjoy the goodness of the tapioca and egg pudding. It is a subtle flavor yet you get enough to linger on your taste buds. 

Yes, I'm not a milk tea fan, but 360 Degrees Handshake Milk Tea might have made me a convert. I should give them another shot to see if it works out. 

Are you a fan of milk teas? Where's your favorite place to get your milk tea fix?

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gilligan's Restaurant at SM Lanang Premier

Seafood restaurants hold a place close to my heart. I am a seafood lover at heart; so when a new seafood restaurant opens its door in the city, you can count the fact that it will be in my must-try dining places. Such is the case when Gilligan's Restaurant opened a branch in Davao for the first time, courtesy of the new SM Lanang Premier. 

Early last week, I had a chance to visit their branch for a dinner treat with E. I figured it was a great opportunity to see the Skygarden for the first time (last time I went to SM Lanang was during lunchtime) and also sample a new restaurant in the city. We already had our pick before we even got there for which restaurant to dine - Gilligan's Restaurant. I did not get to try this last time I went to Manila so this is a completely new experience for me and I was very curious as to how the dining experience would turn out.

First and foremost, I loved the ambiance at Gilligan's Restaurant in SM Lanang. There were plenty of nautical design elements that E & I were easily transported to this beach restaurant setup (in our minds). Right there and then, we got even more excited to try out items off their menu.

For appetizer, we ordered the Baked Mussel (PhP 110). When it was first served on our table, I was disappointed. I was expecting a bigger serving but instead the plate had 10 meager pieces of mussels. When I took a bite, though, I was in for a surprise. Every shell was well seasoned with garlic, olive oil, and the top was coated with a beautifully melted mozzarella cheese. I loved the idea of biting into the meat of the mussel with the gooey consistency of the cheese and its lightly salty flavor providing somewhat of a neutralizing effect on the powerful flavor of the mussel

While I was scanning the menu, I got really excited about the Grilled Salmon Belly but was disappointed when I found out it is not available. Same thing goes with their Gilligan's Seafood Platter. That would have been excellent. 

Instead, we ordered the Baked Pork Belly (PhP 154) and Gilligan's BBQ Platter (PhP 185). The pork belly was excellent - it was tender and not fatty at all. The flavor seeped deep into the meat that you can savor the flavor with every bite. The BBQ Platter, on the other hand, consisted of 4 sticks each of pork barbecue and yakitori. I equally enjoyed this platter because they do not scrimp on flavor. Every bite is truly packed and your taste buds will indeed be spoiled.

By the time we got the bill, we were pleased to note that they do not have a service charge. The reason I pointed this out is because of the fact that their service is excellent. In fact, way better than other restaurants we've tried that have a service charge. And for that, they deserve two thumbs up from me! I would definitely be back here and I can't wait to treat my family for a dinner - it seems to be the perfect place for that! 

Have you tried Gilligan's Restaurant at SM Lanang Premier? I'd love to hear about your dining experience!

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