Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Teriyaki Boy: Affordable Way to Indulge in Japanese Cuisine

Japanese restaurants, like most foreign cuisines, have intimidated many with the notion of expensive and fine dining experience. In some parts, I do agree. Japanese food entails the use of the freshest ingredients, mostly seafoods, that you have to pay a huge price in order to enjoy quality Japanese cooking, especially an authentic one. But Teriyaki Boy seem to belie this myth and has proven to be a quality contender in the local scene for those who are into Japanese food. 

Davao City is now saturated with Japanese restaurants like Tsuru, Tadakuma, Rai Rai Ken, Red Kimono, Sumo Sam, Nonki, and with the arrival of newbies like Sushi Dito and Pepper Lunch. But I do believe that Teriyaki Boy will find itself establishing loyal patrons with its budget-friendly yet quality culinary offerings. Hence, I made sure to give this resto a try as soon as they opened their first branch in Davao at Abreeza Mall.

The most notable difference with Teriyaki Boy is the casual dining experience, which is not usually the case with most Japanese restaurants in the city. It does not care for the fancy stuff because at the heart of your dining experience here is the quality of the food that won't hurt your pockets.

First on the plate is the Kanikama Roll (PhP 100). This is a very affordable sushi considering that you are served 8 pieces. And yet, you can enjoy delectable combination of flavors from the sushi rice, nori, and crabsticks. The presentation is also very clever!

We also picked one of their Ramen because soups are a must when you visit a Japanese restaurant. I am a big seafood fan, so we went for the Tanmen Ramen. In this dobin soup base, you can enjoy a variety of seafood meat to feast to such as cream dory, squid, tiger prawn, and shrimp! Sorry, I got too excited and forgot to take a photo until after I've dug in.

Another one of their noodle goodness that I had a chance to try is the Gyuniku Yakiudon. Priced at P250, the glassy udon noodles are stirfried then added with tender beef slices, chives, and shiitake mushrooms. I love shiitake mushrooms and their strong yet savory flavor! The serving of this noodle dish is topped with an egg yolk and nori flakes. Needless to say, I enjoyed this dish a great deal.

Who says you can't enjoy quality Japanese food at a reasonable price? Try Teriyaki Boy to see for yourself...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Saturday Dinner at Pancake House

Last Saturday, I set up a date with the boyf for a movie. Before going into the cinema, we decided to have dinner first as we intend to catch the last full show at Gaisano Mall. We had dinner at Pancake House and while this isn’t my first time to dine here, this is my first time to write a blog about my dining experience at their G-Mall branch.

Last time I was at Pancake House, I’ve tried one of their set meals. I wanted to try something different this time so I went for one of their Hearty Mains & Healthy Dishes section on the menu. The Steamed Fish in Mintsai Sauce looked very tempting in the photo and I like having Asian herbs on my cream dory, so it looked like the perfect choice for me. Sure enough, the vegetable side and the fish itself was cooked to perfection. The sauce was very aromatic – I can tell it has garlic and ginger, two of my favorite herbs! The serving already comes with its own rice, so it is a complete meal that is fully satisfying for your belly.

Meanwhile, E opted for the House Specials Set. The serving consists of a taco, meat spaghetti, and one piece chicken with gravy. To say the least, this was a truly hearty meal. I love the taco because the ingredients were fresh and there’s lots of cheese on top. I also liked the use of ground beef on the spaghetti sauce instead of the usual ground pork, which helped to bring a different kind of flavor that is quite savory to the palate.

Ironically, I have been to Pancake House a few times but haven’t given their pancakes a try. That should be something for my next visit, right? I will look forward to that!

What about you? What’s your favorite dish from Pancake House?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Annipie: More Than Just Your Cinnamon Destination

I’ve been hearing about Annipie for a while now but never really had the chance to pay one of their branches a visit… until one Friday night when the boyf was hungry that we decided to drop by before having our gym session. Thankfully, their Malvar branch is just a short walking distance from the gym and so it was a convenient option for us.

The place was rather small but cozy. I love the dim lighting at the place and of course the captivating smell of cinnamon upon entering. And I instantly knew I had to taste one of their specialty cinnamon while I’m there. More on that later.

We opted for a light dinner because we were heading to gym after. And so, I went with the Lemon Butter Cream Dory (95) and E chose to have pasta – Classic Carbonara (85). The items on their menu were fairly affordable but maybe because it was also a medium-sized serving, ideal for people with a smaller appetite. But if you’re not yet satisfied, though, there is always a ton of dessert and sweets to choose from to fill you up.

The cream dory dish was nothing special, however. Although I did not really expect anything better at this price, I felt like it was lacking in seasoning. Don’t get me wrong – I love cream dory because it naturally tastes good and requires minimal seasoning. But I felt like there was little attention given to making this dish special (for lack of a better term). I feel like I can do a better job at preparing this dish at home (and no, I’m not kidding).

The classic carbonara redeemed it for us, though. The sauce was rich and creamy with the garlic bread sprinkled with dried basil leaves for added flavor and aroma. Two thumbs up!

And of course, the cinnamon roll was everything I had imagined it to be. I forgot to note how much each slice cost but whatever that cost may be is definitely worth it. I can see now why it’s been much raved about.

If you ever find yourself around Malvar Street, be sure to give them a visit. Highly recommended!

PS: Pardon the quality of the photos. My cam died on me again and had to make do with my camera phone to take food shots.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fruits in Ice Cream @ Creamery Cafe

I don't know about you, but desserts and sweets are the best ways to complete a meal for me. This is why finding a good dessert place in the city has been on my food radar in a long time now. And it seems like my hunt has finally come to an end..

A few months ago, when The Peak opened its doors to the public, there is this one spot at the left side of the entrance to The Peak that was under construction that caught my attention. I got to see a glimpse of the interiors while construction was still ongoing and I guessed that it must be a dessert shop with its interior design. It turned out to be Creamery Cafe when I went back to The Peak after some time and they already have the name put up. The dessert lover in me got a wee bit excited knowing that I have one more option in case I wanted to grab something sweet. 

And one night, a few weeks after it opened, E & I were contemplating on where to grab dessert after just having dinner at Pepper Lunch. Creamery Cafe, therefore, was the perfect choice for that particular night. Their "gourmet ice cream" selection is quite varied with a lot of flavors not normally available in local ice cream shops, and in local ice cream brands. Hence, this is a good option for those who are looking for something different to treat their sweet tooth to.

They have one scoop, two scoop, and three scoop options for their ice cream so you can pick according to your sugar craving. However, they also have the family size pack that you can enjoy with a friend or two. We opted for the latter as E (thankfully!) spotted a Cookies & Cream flavored one. Of course, I can't pass up the opportunity to sample a gourmet version of my favorite ice cream flavor. 

Don't be deceived by the photo though, the serving is actually fairly reasonable for its PhP 199 price tag. I think this serving would be ideal for 2-3 people. And it is worth the extra money you spend from the regular ice cream. It is not too sweet, but more on the creamy and rich side. The texture of the ice cream is also very smooth, like it glides through your tongue as you put it inside your mouth. I've never had ice cream like this before and was really happy with our choice. 

I will definitely try out Creamery Cafe again, this time out to sample their Fruits in Ice Cream selection. If you happen to drop by at The Peak, do check them out. Highly recommended!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tadakuma Japanese Restaurant

It’s no secret that I love Japanese cuisine. If I had to eat one particular cuisine for the rest of my life, I’d pick Japanese without hesitation. It therefore comes as no surprise that I’ve made a few  rounds to various Japanese restaurants in Davao, but here’s one that truly brought that authentic Japanese vibe – Tadakuma. 

This is one of the first Japanese restaurants in Davao City and was formerly called Ramen Tei. They have a couple of branches in the city, the first one is located near Central Bank (where I had the opportunity to dine in) and the other one is in Damosa. I prefer the branch near Central Bank because the ambiance feels more authentic, in fact it is more like dining at an actual Japanese home.

This is, therefore, a relatively small restaurant with only a few tables to pick from. However, every small detail of the restaurant's interior design help to incorporate authenticity into your dining experience. There is no need for anything fancy because the food is the star here.

Here are our orders for the night…

First order up is the Seafood Ramen. The sauce is thick and creamy with a succulent flavor coming from the seafoods added into the soup stock. I appreciate the fact that it is served with huge slices of squid, fish, and crabsticks so every mouthful is a pleasure to your taste buds. The noodles used for this soup is also homemade, not the variety you can get from the grocery. Nothing fancy with this dish - just pure Japanese soup goodness that makes it the perfect comfort food for that night (it was fitting that it was a rainy evening when we dined here, too). 

Of course, I can't have a proper meal at a Japanese resto without trying out their sushi. We went for the California Maki, which is an 8-piece serving. I forgot to note the price for this one but it is certainly affordable, especially when compared to the more high-end Japanese restaurants in the city. The freshness of the ingredients is very apparent here. And they don't scrimp on the fillings on this sushi.

We also ordered their Ebi Tempura consisting of two slices of prawns. The simplicity and fullness of the flavor to these dishes remind me why I have come to develop such a deep love for Japanese food. The freshness of the ingredients and their natural flavor serve as the highlight of every meal. And here in Tadakuma, you cannot get anything better than that.

The authenticity of the ambiance and the food are two of the qualities that make Tadakuma a true favorite for the Japanese food lovers out there. If you haven’t been to Tadakuma, you haven’t tried the best of what Japanese cuisine has to offer, locally speaking.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chowking Offers Quality Value Meal

As a foodie, there is nothing that would satisfy me more than enjoying quality food at affordable prices. But with a tough economy, it’s a real challenge to find that. Remember the phrase, “you get what you pay for”? There appears to be a rising trend these days wherein quality food can be expected only of fine dining restaurants.

Chowking seems to fall under this rare category. I’m not trying to say that their food offerings are of comparable quality to some of the city’s authentic Chinese restaurants; however, dining here won’t make you feel like you’ve been ripped off. In fact, it’s my number one option for Chinese fast food.

Case in point.

Pork Tofu

For all these, I spent no more than PhP 200. And this dinner is good for two. If you want a quick pick-me-up or a full meal to satisfy your belly, but without breaking the bank, you know where to go.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Primo Cafe and Grille: The New Prime Culinary Destination in Davao

There appears to be a scarcity of sports bars and restos in Davao, so when Primo Café and Grille at Camus St. opened its doors to the public, it was quick to draw my attention. Although this restaurant has been open for quite some time now, I haven’t had the chance to give them a visit until recently – a long overdue one, I’m afraid. But I was glad I did because their food is actually way beyond what I had expected.

Before we get to that, though, I just wanted to point out that this restaurant has the feel and look of a true-blue sports bar. Lots of flat screen TVs in various parts of the restaurant showing clips of sports shows/games, group of male patrons enjoying a cocktail drink or two... you know the drill. They also have booths wherein you can sit in a comfy chair while having your dinner and enjoying a bit of a private space from the rest of the restaurant. The ambiance is undoubtedly cozy and warm – just the right fit for a sports fan who’d like to enjoy a great dinner or cocktail drink.

The first order for the night is Salisbury Steak and we had it cooked medium well. This dish is approximately priced at PhP 280. And while the serving looks deceivingly small, you can't fault this dish because the steak tastes excellent! This must be the best Salisbury Steak I've had (yet). The meat is juicy and savory - the way a steak should be! 

Meanwhile, I ordered one of their pasta dishes - Seafood Linguini. I wanted to order the Aligue Pasta because I am a sucker for crabs, but I opted for the seafood linguini instead so I can get all the seafood goodness I want. The linguini pasta is coated with a tangy homemade marinara sauce (yes, just like a true-blue Italian marinara sauce!), together with slices of squid and fish. Then, the dish is topped with two large pieces of shrimps. A large piece of garlic bread is the perfect compliment to the tangy flavor of the marinara sauce on this pasta. And I had to note the pasta is perfectly cooked, al dente, so it still has a bite to it.

For dessert, we had their Ice Cream Sundae. Surprisingly, they had quite a few selection on their menu for desserts but since we wanted to eat a frozen dessert, we settled for this. At PhP 81, you get a single scoop of your choice of ice cream flavor that is then topped with chocolate syrup and crushed nuts. Not the best value for money, but hey! I wanted ice cream that night!

For drinks, I ordered mango juice but was disappointed to find that they served me canned Gina mango juice. Don't get me wrong, I love Gina mango juice. I was hoping they'd serve us fresh mango juice instead of the canned ones. This, and the ice cream dessert, is probably the only disappointment for this meal.

But overall, I would gladly recommend Primo Cafe & Grille. I'm a bit stunned with myself why I waited this long to try it (esp considering that it is a block away from where I work). But still, better late than never. That Aligue Pasta alone is reason enough to go back.. hopefully soon!

What's your experience with Primo Cafe & Grille? Let's hear them!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Duo Commis Classic Cuisine

Always on the hunt for dining places in the city, my research brought me to this quaint dining spot in Plaza del Carmen in Loyola St. Bo. Obrero – to a place known as Duo Commis Classic Cuisine. The name of this restaurant might intimidate many with its seemingly sophisticated appeal, but I encourage you to look past that because in this simple, cozy, and quality restaurant lies one of Davao’s hidden culinary destinations.

The ambiance at Duo Commis is very warm and modern. I like the predominant use of white hues and dim lighting. I instantly thought of this as the ideal place to have family lunch or dinner. However, the ambiance is only the icing on the cake, so to speak. The food does not belie the very promising name the restaurant bears.

Again, I forgot to make a note of the name of the dishes. But my order is a poached cream dory with cream sauce and dill. This is a very simple yet sophisticated dish that highlights the flavor of the dory. I initially thought the cream sauce would overpower the fish, but it didn’t. The use of dill also works quite well with helping to bring out the natural flavors of the fish – plus, it makes the presentation look even better! So, that’s always a plus.
Poached Cream Dory

The next dish that we ordered for that night is the Herb Crusted Tuna. The plating for this dish was really clever. I also appreciate the contrast of the crunchy exterior and the soft yet savory flavor of the tuna inside. The sauce appears to have mustard in it, which is probably why I wasn’t such a huge fan of this dish. But overall, it was one of the best tuna dishes I’ve ever had.

Herb Crusted Tuna
The service at Duo Commis is also fairly good. I think the waiting staff still needs a bit of polish and training, but they were polite, so that was not too big of a problem for me.

We no longer ordered dessert from Duo Commis because we had our dessert at a restaurant next door, Bon Appetit (of which you might remember me posting about this delicious dessert here).

If you are looking for a dining experience that is simple and intimate without compromising on the quality of food, I suggest you pay them a visit. I will surely drop by again soon to sample the other dishes on the menu. If you have been to Duo Commis before, I'd love to hear about your experience. Don't forget to drop a comment.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mom’s Birthday Cake: Choco Cherry Torte from Goldilocks

My family is big on birthday celebrations and we also love food so much that we use every opportunity we have to celebrate and enjoy great food –whether dining out or at home. Recently, mom celebrated her 51st birthday and even when she persistently refused, we opted to buy her a birthday cake. Too bad, there isn’t a Sugar Munch branch at the mall and they’re also closed on Sundays, so we decided to buy one of Goldilocks’ cakes instead.

Mom isn’t a fan of Goldilocks. She prefers Sugar Munch or Red Ribbon (I would agree, too). But I also enjoyed what we had chosen for the occasion – Goldilock’s Choco Cherry Torte. I heard it is one of their premium cakes, so I expected it to be better than their usual options.

Thankfully, this succulent creation was everything I hoped for. This culinary creation is adorned with cherries on top and chocolate crème. There are also three layers to this cake, which consisted of strawberry, chocolate, and chiffon. Hence, you can enjoy a blend of flavors in your mouth that is succulent and rich at the same time.

If you want to indulge in this sugary goodness, make sure to drop by a local Goldilocks shop! It’s sinfully delicious!

What’s your favorite Goldilocks cake? And why? Share them in the comments.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pepper Lunch for Dinner at The Peak

Pepper Lunch is a unique restaurant that offers a “fast steak” concept to its diners. Hence, when I happened to be at Gaisano Mall The Peak for dinner time, I knew I had to give it a try. I thought this was your usual Japanese restaurant that I’ve tried before, but I was completely taken aback. The unique dining concept at Pepper Lunch will, however, please foodies that are up for something completely new.

The menu at Pepper Lunch allows you to pick from a wide array of choices such as Pepper Rice, Premium Beef Steak, Steak, Japanese Classics, and their Combo meals. Because E & I were really hungry that time, we opted for their Pepper Rice choices. 

I went with the Salmon Pepper Rice (PhP 275) because… well, I just can’t resist anything on the menu that says salmon! Meanwhile, E went for the Chicken Pepper Rice (PhP 195). We both skipped the Bonus Meal offer, wherein you just add PhP 60 to get a drink and one side dish of your choice.

Salmon Pepper Rice
Chicken Pepper Rice

Now, onto the food preparation… I had to be honest, although I’ve tried Tong Yang Shabu Shabu and Smokeless Grill before, I was a bit nervous about the idea of preparing my own food using a specialized Japanese sizzling plate. But it’s actually fairly simple. When the sizzling plate is served on your table, all you have to do is add special sauce of your choice (that is provided on the table) and then flip the meat over. Make sure to mix it with the rice to incorporate the flavor. It’s actually kinda fun! 
After mixing...
The great thing about my order is that the meat is fresh and so when you add in the sauce, it really brings out the flavor. Also, the pepper rice is flavorful on its own. One benefit to dining here is that your order is served fairly quickly as the cooking process is done on your table.

My only qualm about dining at Pepper Lunch is that it can be tricky trying to estimate how much sauce to put into the sizzling plate. Given that there is no way for you to taste it until after you’ve mixed everything together (lest you risk burning your tongue), you could end up doing the same mistake as I did – putting on too much sauce. It ended up being too salty for my liking. Also, the orders aren’t inexpensive despite being a “gourmet” version of Japanese fast food. It is therefore hard on your wallet trying to experiment with your food. I would rather pay the same amount to a real Japanese restaurant with an experienced chef preparing the food for me so I can truly enjoy Japanese food at its best. 

But, hey, it’s only my first time dining at Pepper Lunch. I look forward to dining again, though, so I can sample their steaks. 

What about you? How was your dining experience at Pepper Lunch? Love to hear them.

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Go Nuts Donuts Favorites!

Last Sunday, I was able to visit the Go Nuts Donuts store in Gaisano Mall because I was craving for something sweet to munch on while waiting for the parents to finish doing the grocery. I must say that I got quite lucky during that visit because they had the Cookies & Cream donut that I always look for whenever I go to their store (but always seem to run out of stock). My nephew Andre quickly finished his share of donut, too, so he must’ve enjoyed it.

We ordered one piece each for us – the Cookies N' Cream and Red Velvet Crumble donuts. The Cookies N' Cream donut is a loop donut topped with sweet vanilla and crunchy cookie crumbles for that irresistible flavor. I love anything cookies and cream, so it wasn’t surprising that I love it at first bite (ha!). Meanwhile, I got to have a bite of my nephew’s Red Velvet Crumble, too, and it was equally good! This Stuffit donut is topped with red velvet cake crumbles and comes with a rich Bavarian filling. Yup, yummy!

Cookies N' Cream
Red Velvet Crumble
My other favorites at Go Nuts Donuts are Chocolate Cake Crumble, Chocolate Frost, Double Chocolate, Rocky Road, and the Peanut Butter Frost. Just the thought of these yummy donuts make my mouth water. And of course, I scored a hit with my nephew yet again.

What about you? What’s your favorite Go Nuts Donut flavor?
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