Monday, December 16, 2013

Introducing the Zabadani Cafe Buffet

From its humble beginnings to a new branch at a prime location, Zabadani Cafe has gone a long way. And yet, it continues to draw crowds from the usual suspects (also dubbed as "Zabbers") to new patrons who've been introduced into Zabadani Cafe's cuisines through (mostly) word-of-mouth marketing. For this reason, Wadi (the owner) has concocted a wide range of tricks up his sleeve in order to offer something fresh to its customers.

The latest on offer might be something that few did not expect. But this is not to say an unwelcome surprise either for I'm sure a lot of people envisioned something like this. A buffet of your favorite Zabadani Cafe dishes and offerings? It's finally here!

For those who are interested, check out the end of this post for Zabadani Cafe's contact details in order to place your reservations in advance. Those who reserve in advance will get access to the buffet for only P349 while walk-in customers will be charged P450 for the buffet. The Zabadani Open House is set to take place this Friday, December 20, 2013 from 6PM to 8PM.

To get a glimpse of the items available at the buffet, check this:

Make sure to reserve your tickets now!


Zabadani Cafe
The Peak 4th Level Gaisano Mall of DavaoDavao City
(beside Kublai Khan Mongolian Restaurant)
Contact no.: (082) 301-6065

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Eden Nature Park & Resort Buffet

Eden Nature Park & Resort is one of the most popular tourist spots in Davao. The majestic location that offers a breathtaking view of the city and the gulf down below, the cold temperature that makes for a cozy spot to hang out, and the opportunity to be close to nature are just a few of the reasons why this famed park has become one of Davao's landmarks.

But whenever I make a lengthy trip towards Eden, there is one other thing I look forward to most - indulging in their delicious buffet spread that features the park's own grown vegetables and herbs. On our recent trip to Eden, we were able to witness their greenhouses and huge herb garden that showcases nearly all kinds of herbs you can imagine. As a foodie, there is nothing better than being able to get a glimpse of where and how your food is prepared. And with Eden Nature Park & Resort, you can expect the freshest of ingredients.

The appetizer section is filled with healthy and fresh selection. For instance, they have a huge bowl of quail egg soup and garlic bread with chopped herbs. In another spread, they have all kinds of lettuce, chopped fresh vegetables, and all kinds of dressing (such as Oriental, Asian, and honey mustard dressing). The opportunity to create your own salad provides endless possibilities and with fresh ingredients, you can expect top quality salad to start off your meal.

The entree section is just as appetizing as the salad, by the way. One section is dedicated solely for preparing your own pasta. There is a choice of two sauces: carbonara and squash sauce. I went for the latter even though I have not tried this sauce before. Good choice, actually. The flavor was subtle but you can tell that it's fresh, and healthy!

I spotted a long queue on one end of the restaurant so I decided to hop on over there, too. As it turned out, the long queue was for the pork barbecue that is grilled by the chef right in front of you. He then chops them into smaller, bite size pieces and you are free to pick up as much of the grilled pork chop on your plate as you like. The seasoning on the pork is very well done and it was cooked perfectly such that the meat was tender, not rubbery. Props to the chef who was working the grill that day! No wonder it was a major hit!

Check out my plate above with the grilled pork chop, pasta, and the buttered vegetables. Heaven, I know.

Just when I thought this meal could not have been any better, I indulged in a few (well, actually I sampled all items on the buffet spread) desserts before officially ending the meal. There were custards, ube float, chocolate cupcakes, maja blanca, and halo-halo. I noticed that even with their desserts, they still use a lot of the local ingredients and produce; in fact, I suspect most of these are harvested straight from Eden's own garden.

The options at Eden Nature Park & Resort's buffet might be fewer when compared to other buffet restaurants in Davao City. But what sets them apart is the fact that all ingredients used for preparing these dishes are fresh. In fact, they grow their own vegetables and herbs so it is a self-sustaining restaurant! It's also a good thing for customers who are very picky about food quality because you can expect fresh and high quality food all the time.

Have you sampled Eden's bountiful buffet spread?

Eden Nature Park & Resort
Eden, Toril District, Davao City

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Top 6 Favorite Desserts (So Far!)

What is your favorite part of the meal? Mine would have to be dessert, hands down. For someone with a sweet tooth, this is not surprising at all. Desserts can make or break a dining experience for me so I tend to be very picky. In most cases, I hunt down restaurants with a good dessert selection and rush through the entree to satisfy my sweet tooth craving.

I would like to think that I had sampled quite a few restaurants in Davao and along the way, tasted a hefty amount of delicious desserts too. Check out below for my top picks - but before we get to the top six, here are the ones that I really liked but did not make the top six:

Zabadani Cafe's Baklava - Baklava is a dessert that might not appeal to many but for those who love pistachios, this one's for you. The aroma and the variety of texture that goes with this dessert is what makes it unique. The flavor can be quite strong, though, so make sure to brace yourself for a dessert that gives quite a kick to your palate. For now, I've only tried Zabadani Cafe's Baklava, but if you know of any other Davao restaurants who have one on the menu, leave me a comment so we can try it.

Annipie's Cinnamon Rolls - I was seriously contemplating putting this on my top 6 but given that Annipie's cinnamon rolls have become a local culinary tradition should give it enough justice. It don't need any more hype. Anyone who gets to taste it will surely leave them wanting more.

Pearl Farm's Dessert Section -The array of desserts at Pearl Farm's buffet spread is unbelievable. And you know what's the best part is? A lot of these desserts make use of Davao's produce, which is why you can expect to find lots of fresh fruits in there.

Grub Resto Cafe's Homerun Pie - Homerun pie from Grub Resto Cafe is pretty much like it's name - this dessert scored a definite homerun for my taste bud! If you're a big fan of peanut butter, it's a must try. But even if you aren't, you'd still appreciate the perfect blend of texture from the crunchy crust and the soft and melts-in-your-mouth kind of sensation from the creme topping.

Now, onto the top six...

6. Cello's Doughnuts and Dip

Quite possibly the best doughtnut I've ever had. Cello's has never failed me when it comes to providing satisfying donuts. The secret is in the dough itself, not just the toppings. And I believe that is what makes them unique from other more famous doughnut brands. You can take away the toppings and you'd still be quite satisfied with what is left.

5. The French Baker's French Macaroons

On first look, you might underestimate this dessert, especially since it is small in size too. But don't you dare! The French Baker's macaroons are out-of-this-world. That first bite is such a pleasant surprise to your taste buds. Then, you get a bit of the filling and there is more of the wonderful flavor filling up your mouth.

4. Bon Appetit's Apple Tart with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

I'd like to believe that French cuisine features some of the best desserts in the world. When I visited Bon Appetit Le Boutique for the first time, I made sure to try out their desserts and I was in for some luck! I sampled quite possibly one of my favorite desserts of all-time (hence, it's on this list!) - the Apple Tart with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. The crust is sweet but not too sweet and I love the crunch to the crust, too. The crust's texture provides a nice contrast to the soft ice cream that is nearly melting on the top. Must try!

3. Lachi's New York Cheesecake

To not include Lachi's cheesecake in the list would be to dishonor a Davao culinary tradition. Even though Lachi's is located far from the metropolis center of Davao, diners do not mind hunting down this nook in order to be treated to amazing yet reasonably priced food. But I beg you to not miss their cheesecakes, or any desserts for that matter, because they're one of the best in the city (if not the best!). You can thank me later!

2. Cafe Andessa's Choco Banana Fritters ala Mode

Turon is a popular Filipino dessert that I love to eat growing up. However, never did I think that turon could be turned into something gourmet. Cafe Andessa blew me away with their Choco Banna Fritters ala Mode that, once you've tried it, will give you a whole new perspective about this Filipino merienda treat! If you dine at Cafe Andessa, try it - I'll let you be the judge!

1. Hog's Breath Cafe's Mississippi Mud Cake

If you love chocolate cakes, I can guarantee that Hog's Breath Cafe's Mississippi Mud Cake is going to end up in your favorite desserts list, too. From what I've heard, the top chefs of Hog's Breath Cafe are highly secretive about this recipe and rightfully so. It is a gem of a dessert and I did not even think twice about placing them at number one despite the fact that the other five desserts on this list are huge favorites of mine.

Which is your favorite dessert from any restaurant in Davao?

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Dexter's Shawarma Pizza

Shawarma is the Middle Eastern cuisine's version of sandwich that consists of a meat preparation ranging from a wide range of meats including beef, lamb or chicken. The meat is placed on a vertical spit wherein the meat is shaved off and then combine with other ingredients (normally vegetables and other toppings) and then wrapped with pita bread. Most shawarmas are thoroughly seasoned so you can experience the potency of the meat mixture with every bite. I had been a huge fan of shawarma ever since I had one since I had one. Middle Eastern cuisine is also a favorite.

But when I heard about Dexter's Shawarma Pizza, it struck me as odd first. Really? Shawarma in a pizza? Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine does not seem to be two that would work together well. But I was dead wrong.

When I visited one of many Dexter's Pizza branches in the city, I was confused as to what to order and so I let the waiter recommend something for me. Of course, you've got to go for the best-seller. He said it's the Shawarma Pizza. Okay.

The first bite was a lovely treat. I did not expect Dexter's Pizza to deliver good quality pizzas prior to this visit. For a large-sized pizza worth P230, I'd say it was not a bad choice. You have two other choices for the pizza size: P130 for the small pizza and P285 for the party size. By the time of our visit, there were no small sizes available so we only had large as a choice.

The seasoning on the beef shawarma topped on our pizza was good although I wish there would've been more meat. The shawarma sauce also does a lot to enhance the flavor of the meat and the pizza sauce. However, don't expect too highly of the quality of the dough. It tasted like the store-bought kind and tend to be slightly thicker and chewy in texture.

Nonetheless, I loved it enough to want to try it again soon. Even though I prefer an Italian-style pizza (Dexter's is Filipino style), I still left feeling quite satisfied. Have you tried Dexter's Shawarma Pizza?

Dexter's Pizza has branches in Camus St., Ecoland, and Claveria St. Davao City.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

2-in-1 Dining Experience: Sushi Dito & Il Forno

Despite Davao offering a major lineup of international cuisine restaurants, a serious foodie like me is always on the hunt for new restaurants and those offering a new concept that will help them rise above the competition. When me and the foodie BF are dining out, it can be a daunting task just trying to decide where to eat. We both love food and though we have similarities in our preferred cuisines, we also have just as many differences. Gladly, we found out about this new restaurant that lets you pick three different cuisines under one roof. He gets to eat Japanese food while I satisfy my craving for an Italian stuffed pasta.

If you're wondering where this is, it's the new building that was built in front of LandCo in JP Laurel Avenue. This was quite a surprise for me, too. I thought that this building is going to be an office or commercial space but it was a brilliant idea to open a restaurant in there. Pardon, three restaurants!

Image: SushiDito Davao Facebook

The three restaurants in question are Sushi Dito (Japanese), Il Forno (Italian), and Klasikos (Filipino).Of all three, we went for the first two because Japanese and Italian are our top two favorite cuisines.

Walking into this restaurant is a unique experience. The interior in itself is divided into three different sections with their corresponding interior design that signals right away where you need to sit if you are looking for an Italian dining experience, a Japanese dining experience, or a Filipino dining experience. However, if there are plenty of you in the group, you can sit wherever you prefer and the staff will hand you any one of three menus that you prefer to enjoy while there. What a cool experience, huh? 

Romanitos (PhP  240)

The stuffed pasta is an absolutely refined yet delicate type of dish to pull off, in my opinion. I am developing a stronger preference towards stuffed pasta over noddle pastas of late. There are several components that make preparing a stuffed pasta dish a bit more challenging than your usual pasta. The thickness of the pasta has to be just right so that when you fold in the filling, it is not too thick to the bite and you can get an even amount of pasta and filling with every bite. In addition, the amount of filling must also be properly apportioned or else it will become too overpowering to the palate.

Ravioli has always been a top favorite of mine, but as I get to explore other types of stuffed pastas, I am also starting to realize that there is more that I am missing out on. Hence, it was a no-brainer why I picked Romanitos for our dinner at Il Forno. And I could not have been more excited with my pick because this dish is aromatic and rich. The Gnocchi pasta is a specialty that is served in only a few countries so that is one more reason why I was excited to try it. The potato dough is very soft that it almost melts in your mouth when you bite into it. Then, it comes with a ham and cheese filling and finished off with a marinara sauce. Absolute perfection in my book!

Katsudon Bento

This bento meal comes with several Japanese goodies so I am not surprised that E picked it for his meal. There are two pieces of Philadelphia Salmon Maki, Katsudon, sauteed vegetables, and Japanese rice. Every component of this bento box can stand on its own yet it was a pleasure to have them in one plate. The maki was delicious, as Sushi Dito's sushis and makis had been. All of the vegetables were evidently fresh such that even the veggie side dish was beautifully sauteed and could eat it by itself.

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Sandwich

Desserts are always an exciting part of any meal. A good dessert, in my opinion, can do a lot in ending an even not-so-good meal on a high note. When I saw this cookies & cream ice cream sandwich on the menu (priced at approximately PhP 120), I knew I had to try it out.

This dessert was actually very light and comes with a subtle flavor. If you're a fan of cookies & cream, there is not a question that you are going to love this dessert. The drizzle of chocolate syrup and whipped cream on top helped to incorporate more sweet flavors into the dessert, which is a treat for someone with a sweet tooth like me.

Have you checked out any of these three restaurants? Visit Sushi Dito at G/Fof Hai Global Building, Pryce Business Park, JP Laurel Avenue, Davao City.

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