Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sweet Aroma: Delighting my Sweet Tooth

On our weekly trip to the grocery store, me and my nephew Andre are always looking for ways to spend time while parents are doing the grocery. Sometimes, we do window shopping, or shopping, but most of the time we eat! Yes, eat! My nephew seem to have inherited my innate love for food, too. The only downside is that it can be hurtful for my pocket to indulge. But when we saw this new stall featuring colorful and pretty cupcakes, I thought to myself heck I'll definitely give those cupcakes a taste, even if it might put a wrench into my budget. 

The stall in question is Sweet Aroma. It wasn't the first time that I spotted them but this is the only time I gave in to my urge to try them. 

Each cupcake costs P45 but we opted for the 3-piece set, which is sold for only P115. You can also order 7 pieces for only P250. Check out these cupcakes we my nephew picked. He ate the two cupcakes like his life depended on it. Judging by that, it must've been really good

I had the chance to sample one and their cupcakes are really excellent. The cupcake mixture is rich and thick. Very chocolate-y, which is why I enjoyed it to the last bite. Their cupcakes and cakes are too cute they make perfect gift ideas! 

Have you tried Sweet Aroma? Check out their stall at Lower Ground Floor of Gaisano Mall, fronting the grocery section.  

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Beyond Davao: Balinsasayaw

If you've read my bio, you probably know by now that one of few things I love doing when visiting a new place is to go on a food trip. I am a firm believer that food, culture, and arts are intermingled. Hence, I never miss an opportunity to sample a place's local cuisine when visiting it for the first time. When I visit Palawan just recently, that was one of the things I had in mind - to explore the culinary offerings of the city. 

And what better way to learn about the best of the local cuisine than from the locals themselves. Since we were not sure where to dine, I approached one of the locals and ask them for recommendations of good places to eat. It was a bit of a scary yet exciting moment when we allowed our tricycle driver to bring us to this place that we knew nothing about because you'll never know what to expect. He ended up bringing us to Balinsasayaw, who according to the driver is a famed restaurant in the city. Got to take the local's word for it!

As it turns out, Balinsasayaw is one of the more popular dining destinations in Puerto Princesa City. My initial reaction upon stepping in is more of awe. The place looks more like a bahay kubo, albeit slightly more elaborate. The setup truly makes you feel like you're dining at home with a relaxed vibe and, from what I've heard, really good food. 
We wasted no time and asked for the menu upon settling down to a table for two. They specialize on seafood, grilled, and Filipino dishes. I also learned that their Bird's Nest Soup was one of the best there is, but we skipped that given that it is a large serving and there were only two of us. 

Instead, we ordered the Steamed Lapu-Lapu and Shrimp with Green Peas. The lapu-lapu dish is remarkable. I love how steam cooking has made the meat really soft and allows the natural flavor of the fish to come out. It did not even need any special seasoning, and you can tell that they did not add too many, because the natural flavor would suffice. As for the shrimp dish, it was all about subtlety. Love that they did not scrimp on veggies for this dish. 

The scorching heat outside also made us crave for a frozen dessert to help us cool off a little bit. And Balinsasayaw's Halo-Halo was the perfect relief from the heat. I've never been a big fan of Halo-Halo but this one I did enjoy digging into. Well worth the P90 (approximately) price tag!

If you happen to be in Puerto Princesa, I suggest you try dining at Balinsasayaw. Scrap that - you should definitely dine here! It's popular for a reason.

Stay tuned for my review of KaLui, another popular dining spot in Puerto Princesa.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Ineng's Special BBQ at The Peak

Davao is in no shortage of barbecue and grill restaurants but when a new one comes along, it is a welcome addition, especially for foodies out for more options. Thus, when I spotted Ineng's while strolling at The Peak one night hunting for new foodie destinations, I knew I had to give it a try. To be honest, I am not familiar with the brand and its history so I am coming in to this restaurant with an open mind about their food and service. But it is supposedly a popular barbecue chain that has several branches in the Philippines that opened its first store in 1999.

The ambiance at Ineng's is simplistic and the color hues are easy to the eyes. The orange-hued wall provides a cozy atmosphere for dining, whether you're with family or friends.

As for the food, I distinctively remember not being too impressed with what we were served with. It started off with the complementary soup that was served even before our orders came in. It was too salty that I set it aside after only a couple of sips. 

We ordered the Hit4 meal that comprised of their 12" stick premium pork barbecue, sisig, rice, and a choice between lemonade or iced tea. This set costs PhP 145. The pork barbecue is excellent - the meat used for the barbecue is truly of premium quality! Also, the sisig was really good. 

We also tried their Hit6 meal (P129), which consisted of rice and pinoy chicken barbecue (leg part). The chicken meat was too dry - don't know if that is due to the quality of the meat or as a result of the cooking process. To add insult to injury, the chicken wasn't cooked all the way. In fact, I could still see some of the blood inside the meat. But because I was too hungry, I could not muster to have my order replaced. Besides, E was happy to share his meal with me. Bummer, I know.

The meal ended with their Mais con Hielo (P 45) for dessert. Nothing exceptional here. Well worth the price.  

The Verdict: I am not sure if I will be back at Ineng's anytime soon. The price is steep especially when you compare it with other grill houses in the city. In fact, some grill restos like Penong's can offer better quality food for a cheaper price. Their premium pork barbecue is the sole reason why I wouldn't necessarily deem this a disappointing dining experience. But everything else is subpar at best. Don't think I would be able to recommend them.

If you would like to try Ineng's for yourself, they are located at Gaisano Mall The Peak. It is located beside Cafe France and Chicken Charlie. 

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jade Dragon Hotel: Luxury You Can Afford

Last week, I received an email invitation for the blessing of a new hotel and opening of a new restaurant. I later found out that the restaurant in question was Chings Resto Kaffe. The blessing was held last March 10 at Jade Dragon Hotel & Suites located at Aurora Street. It was an intimate celebration with the owners, their families, a few of their friends, and people from the media. 

After the blessing of the entire hotel, we were treated to a lunch feast that featured Filipino classics such as pancit, beef brisket, and chopseuy. There were also desserts served including cakes and macaroni salad. While chatting up with Omie, the one who invited me over for the event, we had some coffee and had the opportunity to look around the place to take pictures.

Jade Dragon Suites brands itself as a budget hotel offering a luxurious experience for its guests. The hotel officially opened last May 16, 2012. The owners love traveling themselves, which is how the idea for this business was derived from because they wanted other travelers to Davao to have a safe, luxurious, and comfortable accommodation without spending too much. 

According to the owner, "It is always great to add our personal touch to serve our guests. We ensure that Jade Dragon's Suites is a luxury that anyone can definitely afford." 

Chings Resto Kaffe is the main restaurant serving guests at the hotel.They do serve Filipino dishes on the menu so you can enjoy homemade dishes even when you are away from home. 

You can get more details about Jade Dragon Suites and Chings Resto Kaffe if you visit their official website here


Jade Dragon Suites
Aurora Jacinto St., Davao City 
(082) 2241931

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Friday, March 15, 2013

The Bagnetian Kitchen: Sinfully Good

I've been hearing a lot about The Bagnetian Kitchen for some time now. In fact, when I once held a poll on my Facebook fan page on which restaurants to review next on my blog and a lot of those who responded suggested The Bagnetian Kitchen (even though it wasn't in the original list of choices I've provided). It told me right away that this must be a good restaurant I have to check out soon given the hype that it has been getting. Just recently, I finally made a trip to Brick Lane Square and sampled their famous bagnets. Even when I am on a strict diet, I just couldn't resist the temptation and so I dug in to my taste bud's delight (and my tummy's scorn).

Given that The Bagnetian Kitchen is set in a place where people would mostly hangout and enjoy some drinks, the ambiance of this restaurant is appropriate. The dark walls (predominantly black and red) is the ideal place for friends to come together and eat, then have a few drinks after dinner. 

The real star of this restaurant, though, does not hide behind extravagant ambiance - it is served on a plate right before you. Hence, it is only but necessary that we order one of their Bagnets, apparently since everyone's been raving about it online. We went for the classic Bagnet (P 158). For those who aren't familiar with what a bagnet is, it is basically a sinful serving of crisp pork belly. Think pork liempo, only much crispier! Sounds good, right?

We also ordered Sisig (P 188) off the menu, which is a Korean style marinated beef grilled to perfection and served in a sizzling plate. This is a unique take from the traditional sisig I've tried before because it comes with a crunchy texture. 

Another favorite dish of mine is the Chicken Fajita (P 178). This dish is made up of grilled chicken with caramelized onions and bell pepper. Each serving also comes with Spanish rice and flour tortilla. This dish might be a little too spicy for my liking but that does not keep me from having a taste. 

Whenever I see any shrimp dish on the menu, I got to order one, especially when it is a Gambas (P 188). I love their version of Gambas because even though there is a hint of spice, it comes with a reasonable amount of sauce coating the shrimps. Thus, it is fun to top it on the buttered bread that is served along with the dish. 

My least favorite dish of all the ones we ordered is the Chicken Nuggets and Fries (P 138). The chicken lacked seasoning despite the perfect crunch. The french fries wasn't special either. And to make it worse, the gravy wasn't very tasty. In fact, it is probably the worst gravy I've had. Hopefully, they can make improvements to this dish because I've loved everything else on the menu. In fact, I certainly see myself dining here again... hopefully soon because we got promo cards. 

How did you like dining at The Bagnetian Kitchen?

The Bagnetian Kitchen is located at Door 1, Brick Lane, Palma Gil St., Obrero, Davao City.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Zabadani Participates in the 1st Dabaw Sinugba Festival

The upcoming Dabaw Sinugba Festival on March 14 to 17, 2013 is one of the most awaited events in the 2013 Araw ng Dabaw celebration. This event is ideal for foodies who want to enjoy unlimited BBQ and grilled goodness for only PhP 200. It will be staged at Tienda del Mercado wherein you can enjoy all of your favorite BBQ treats from various participating businesses.

One of those featured at the said food festival is Zabadani. This Halal Middle-Eastern cuisine restaurant will be showcasing some of its culinary specialties to all attendees of Dabaw Sinugba Festival. Make sure to visit the event to taste their mouth-watering Middle-Eastern specialties including their Kabsa, Biryani, Shish, and kababs in saffron rice! If you've sampled any of these dishes, you don't want to miss them on this event!

Zabadani Cafe is located at the Ground Floor of Gaisano Mall The Peak. 
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Friday, March 8, 2013

J. Co Donuts Coming to Davao Soon!

Image credit: SM Lanang Premier Facebook Page

Donuts are one of few items on my list of guilty pleasures. I've a long list of favorites including Cello's Doughnuts & Dip, Krispy Kreme, and GoNuts Donuts, to name a few. But it does not mean I am not open to trying new donuts. Hey, it's always good to have more options, right? Thus, you can only imagine my excitement when I saw a photo on the Facebook page of SM Lanang Premier. This new mall has introduced a wide range of new restaurants into the city, delighting foodies like myself with more options available to us. And with a new donut shop in tow, I now have more reason to frequent this mall.

J.Co Donuts & Coffee is a cafe retailer originating in Indonesia. Over the years, they have satisfied their loyal patrons with their massive selection of donuts, yogurts, coffee, and other sweet treat offerings. They had been considered as one of the best gourmet donuts in the country, which certainly piques my interest. 

Here are some of their donut specialties I am looking forward to try (images taken from the official J.Co Donuts website)

Choco Caviar Chocolate

Are you excited to try J. Co Donuts & Coffee?

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Majid's Kabab Favorites

Since tasting my first kabab, I had been a big fan. I admit - I was slightly reluctant about trying out Persian food. But Majid's Kabab has made me a convert and it is one of my favorite go-to restaurants for kabab, aside from Zabadani. When I feel like being exotic, I go for the Ox Brain on the menu. If you haven't tried it, I suggest you should - it tastes way better than you think! A little squeeze of lemon can go a long way to add a kick to the flavor. 

But aside from the Ox Brain, which might freak out most people, I have two staple favorites on the menu at Majid's Kabab - Biryani Chicken and Cholo Kabab. To find out why, read on:

Biryani Chicken

Majid's Kabab's Biryani Chicken is a very tender serving that is seasoned with all kinds of herbs including basil. The java rice that it is served with is cooked with slices of potatoes and green peas to make it more delectable. However, I love that they are served with the stock used to cook the chicken meat with such that the dip is packed with flavor! In fact, I love pouring the dip onto the rice and the salad on the side to give them more flavor. 

Cholo Kabab

This kabab dish is made from goat meat, which I haven't tried before until I had this dish at Majid's Kabab. The goat meat is tender and lean. It's also seasoned perfectly that every spoonful is a celebration inside your mouth. If there is one thing that I would eat over and over again if I dined at Majid's, this has got to be the dish.

What's your favorite dish at Majid's Kabab?

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Ronaldo's: Fine Dining Made Affordable

With a huge array of restaurants promising to treat Davaoenos' taste buds to some of the best local and international cuisines, restaurant owners are compelled to come up with unique offerings to entice the local foodies and tourists. Ronaldo's is one of those restaurants that fit this bill. They promise to offer local inspired cuisines using locally grown ingredients but also something that is unique and creative enough to excite the local palate. 

The ambiance at Ronaldo's might slightly intimidate - but don't let it. It might be a classy looking restaurant but you will quickly feel at home with the deletectable dishes served on your table. Even before our orders were served, we got this complimentary that comes with freshly baked bread served on a pastry basket and comes with its mango puree in olive oil dip. If the complementary were any indicator, I knew this was going to be a great meal! You have to try it to believe it.

As if that hot and fresh bread isn't enough to fire up your appetite, we ordered the Sopa de Samal Estilo Ysabel or market fresh shellfish in a saffron chowder (PhP 140). What a rich soup this is! I am a big fan of chowder as there isn't anything more that could represent comfort food better. The soup is a combination of creamy and savory. And I love that the shellfish flavor really comes out on top, which is a treat for a seafood and shellfish fan like myself! And with that, we are so ready for the next course...

The Salmon Lasagna (PhP 245) is another unique dish that quickly drew my attention. And you've probably guessed why by now - salmon. This dish consisted of a layered Norwegian salmon pasta with homegrown herbs in a saffron sauce. The aroma coming from the saffron truly does help to bring this dish to another level, just like it did with the chowder. The meat from the salmon is extremely tender that it almost melts into the pasta. 

The only not-so-good part of this meal is their half Fragrant Fried Chicken (PhP 160). There was nothing special about this dish though I appreciate the color from the outside. The seasoning is just right, too.    

This is one of few restaurants that had been in my must-visit list for the longest time and I can say with confidence that I will recommend it and be back here soon. Ronaldo's truly exemplify how the local cuisine can compete with some of the world's bests.

Ronaldo's is located at Torres St. beside Tiny Kitchen

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