3.28.2011

Kanin Club at the Ayala Triangle

I finally got the chance to try this popular lunch go-to place in Ayala Triangle (aside from Wee Nam Kee and BonChon)... KANIN CLUB. My cousins and a lot of friends have been recommending the place but my first two attempts to eat here failed because the wait time was just too long. My dad, Addie and I took our chance earlier to have lunch there and we were lucky that the line wasn't that bad (to think it's a Friday). Well maybe it's because we got there almost 1:15 already and we passed the rush "lunch hour". 

Their menu is pretty extensive with a wide selection of Classic Filipino dishes with a twist. It's a good thing that the first page made it easier for us because it stated the most ordered and chef's recommendations to narrow down the choices. Here's a rundown of what we had;


Sinangag na Sinigang  (Php 224.00)  - I've been a Sinigang addict since I was a kid so I was really psyched to try this new take on my all-time favorite Filipino sour broth. Can you imagine sinigang without soup? Well, this is it! It's "dry sinigang" so to speak. The rice was flavored in sinigang but it wasn't as sour as I want it to be (bitin sa asim!). The thinly sliced liempo on top of the rice was soft and juicy though. And the kangkong tempura sprinkled with tamarind (sinigang mix) powder was a nice addition to the dish. Over-all, I would give it a 7.5 out of 10.




Crispy Dinuguan (Php 261.00) - A number of friends and cousins recommended this dish so I made sure that we sampled it. It was nothing like what I expected. I thought by "crispy dinuguan" it would mean a dry kind of dinuguan (the same concept as crispy adobo flakes) but still had a lot of sauce and the meat used was mostly CHICHARON! So they could have called it Chicharong Dinuguan. I'll give credit to the creativity put into it but I wouldn't rave about it (taste-wise). First of all, the sauce needed more vinegar/acidity and eating chicharon as a viand/ulam is just too much for me. After taking a few bites of it, my dad complained that he was starting to get a headache! So just a fair warning to those who want to try this dish...get ready for your blood pressure to shoot up! hahaha!




Seafood Salpicao (Php 224.00) - Nothing spectacular...I wouldn't order it again :(

 KC Turon (Php 90.00) - Addie was so intrigued with this dessert because the menu said that this is a must-try dessert and she really loves turon. Turns out it's not your classic turon with banana and langka...it's more of a "halo-halo" turon and with this I mean the components of a Halo-halo are inside the crisp deep-fried lumpia wrapper - ube (yam), macapuno, red beans, langka/jackfruit and saging/banana. and the wrap itself was covered with a hard caramel coating. Talk about sugar overload! It was difficult to eat because it was way too sweet and not a very comforting dessert :( 


With all the hype I've heard about this place, I was disappointed. I expected more.  To its detriment, I guess they tried way too hard to change the traditional Filipino favorites.  

Kanin Club
Ayala Triangle Gardens, Makati City
02-6216109








3.14.2011

Special Anniversary Edition : Toki Japanese Fusion Fine Dining

I don't know if it was stress, my pregnancy hormones or just plain bad memory but I almost forgot our 2nd wedding (Civil) anniversary last Thursday. And to make things even worse... Joel didn't remember either! I realized it mid-day when I wrote down the date on a check I was about to issue. *Sigh* I felt pathetic and sad that we both ALMOST didn't remember. But what's important is that we did! And we wanted to make the most out of the time we had to celebrate. We couldn't think of a particular place to spend our special night so we just literally winged it. 

We both agreed that Makati was our best bet. We passed c5 and ended up passing by the Fort. Then it I just suddenly decided to go with Aubergine when I saw their signage. On our way to Aubergine, we saw this new (well I'm not really sure how long it's been there but since I don't regularly visit this area, I deemed it new) Japanese place called TOKI. 

We quickly browsed through the menu and when we saw the special Chef's course which included Wagyu steak, we were sold.

Joel asked that we be seated in one of their private rooms and they said there's a minimum of Php 3,500.00. And so we computed that if we both get the Chef's Special Menu (Php 1,900 ++ each), we would surely reach it. So right after we were seated they gave us their menu and drink list. 



Joel had Red Wine and I had fresh dalandan slush. We were already set on what to order so we informed our server that we wanted to both try the set menu. He immediately apologized and said that they didn't have any Wagyu on stock so they are NOT offering the Chef's Special Menu! BOOOO! :( He said that          they instructed the hosts outside to already inform the customers upon entering the resto but unfortunately they didn't. Then the manager came in and apologized himself. He said the best thing he can do is let us use the private room without any minimum consumable charge. Not wanting to ruin our night, we let it pass and searched their menu once again...

We ended up ordering these 4 dishes:

Negi Toro Hosomaki  (Chopped Medium Fatty Tuna Belly with Spring Onion Roll) - Php 190.00
Ok fine. I'm guilty! I'm not allowed to eat sashimi but I had a 2 pieces of this - for the price, I believe it's worth it! Toro has always been one of my top sashimi picks.

San Shu 3 Cheese Salad - Php 290.00 - This was pretty interesting. I don't taste any Japanese in it but just the salad with the combination of three strong cheeses was good (they were very generous with the blue cheese!).

Wagyu Tataki (Seared Japanese Beef Dish - Medium Rare) - Php 620.00 - Since they didn't have the Wagyu steaks we had to settle for this...because this was the only Wagyu (thin slices though) item they had. Thank God it was good! The thin slices of Wagyu were cooked medium rare and tasted delicate with just the right amount of fat. It was seasoned with a hint of soysauce, rice vinegar and calamansi then garnished with onions and toasted garlic. Japanese Beef Carpaccio but thicker meat slices. A must-try!

Gomoku Somen (Chilled Thin Noodles topped with Shrimp, Eel, Baked Egg & Vegetables) - Php 320.00 - This was nothing extraordinary. I like the Hiyashi noodles of Shinjuku way better. 


Based on the little research I did,  The Japanese word “TOKI” means “this moment”, connoting a zest for life, an appreciation of the now. This philosophy is what TOKI is all about. TOKI Japanese Fusion and Fine Dining restaurant seeks to bring the most authentic Japanese cuisine to the modern palates of its customers. Using only the best and healthiest ingredients, TOKI aims to showcase a unique Japanese flavor that can cater to contemporary tastes.

OUR VERDICT: 2nd Chance for TOKI

We had a pretty good experience with the place, food (well except that the tasting menu we really wanted to try wasn't available!) and service. Joel and I agreed that it deserves a second chance. We are planning to go back there another time to try our luck again with the Chef's special set menu. Chef Yonekawa (the main man behind Toki), you better not disappoint us next visit! :)

We didn't bother looking at their dessert because we wanted to chill out and spend some quiet time at the Peninsula Lobby while having ice-cream. And that's exactly what we did! It was a lovely ending for a special and almost-forgotten Anniversary Night! :)

TOKI 
Japanese Fusion and Fine Dining
2nd Floor - 32nd & 5th Building
corner 32nd st and 5th Avenue
BGC, Taguig
846-TOKI


Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner - Amy Bloom.

Thank you Joel for being my perfect dance partner. Looking forward to dancing and skipping through the rest of my life with you. Happy Anniversary! :)


3.13.2011

Lugang Cafe: Authentic Taiwanese and Cantonese Cuisine


Last Sunday, my brother Migo made reservations at this new Chinese restaurant along Connecticut, Greenhills. Apparently, this place is always full so reservations are very much required especially on weekends. We were lucky because it turns out that the family of Migo's really good friend is one of the partners (It's operated by the Bellagio Group of Companies). Because of this, we were given special treatment and put in their VIP room on the second floor.

Interiors : Very Modern, Purple, White & Gold theme, High Celing...not your usual Chinese resto look!

We started off with some Assorted Cold Cuts

Pork Xiao Long Bao (Php 188.00) & Steamed Crab Roe & Pork Xiao Long Bao (Php 228.00) - The wrapper was light, thin and delicate and it kept the soup inside. The pork and crab though wasn't as good as Cyrstal Jade's and Din Tai Fung. So for me, its a  7.5 out of 10.
However, I think Henri thought it deserved more of a 9/10...hahaha! He loved it! We actually had to order another pork one because he wanted some more.


Garlic Pork Roll (Php 160.00) - This was surprisingly good... the wrapper was a thin slice of pork!

Milk Tea with Tapioca (Php 70.00)

Here are the other dishes we sampled;

Stir-fried Spinach (Php 250.00)

Taiwanese Fried Beancurd (Php 220.00)

Left - Stir Fried Beef with Chili (Php280.00)
Right - Three Cup Chicken (Php 290.00) - I would recommend this main dish, the sauce was rich and very flavorful!

Dessert : Mango Shaved Ice (good for 4-5) - The ice was was really thinly shaved and felt like fresh snow inside your mouth! We all wanted to try the Durian flavor but it wasn't available. Boo :(


Lugang Cafe
116 Conneticut St. Northeast Greenhills
San Juan, Metro Manila
 721-9100 or 570-9100

3.01.2011

Pampanga Eats 3: Aling Lucing's Sisig

I totally forgot to publish this post... this should have been right after the Pampanga Eats Part 2. 

A lot of people told me that I shouldn't miss this classic Sisig place which started it all.  Similarly, I saw it in Anthony Bourdain's Philippines special - he stopped by this no-nonsense open area dining by the riles (railroad tracks) and really enjoyed the authentic sisig! And so even if nowadays I've been trying to eat healthy for my pregnancy, I just had to try Aling Lucing's specialty...after all she is hailed as the original Sisig Queen (God bless her soul!). 

This popular dining spot is situated by an old railroad track.  The noise of the PUJs and tricycles passing by contributes to its authentic and rustic ambiance. 

"Turo-Turo" (which literally translates to "Point Point"style...you can choose/point to the dish you want to have grilled or prepared. They offered a variety of meat (chicken, pork belly/liempo/chicken liver/gizzard/etc.), fish and vegetables. 




Turo-Turo ( Point-Ponit) at its best...

Buro with Vegetables - I haven't had this in a long time so I was delighted to see that they had it. Buro is made out of fermented rice with fish or shrimp. It is sauteed in oil, garlic, onions and tomatoes and is usually served as a condiment to grilled fish, fresh mustard greens, steamed eggplant and okra (just like in the picture). My late mother taught me how to enjoy this delicacy although I must say it's not for everyone. It's an acquired taste which I guess I developed over the years of being exposed to it.

I got the Ensaladang Mangga (green mangoes with fish paste, onions and tomatoes) 

"The" Original Sisig (Php 175.00) - it's  the wet kind of sisig which luckily Joel and I prefer over the crunchy and dried one! I must say the "timpla" (how it's seasoned) is very well balanced - not too salty, peppery and hot. It does not require any kind of additional seasoning. We usually put knorr/soysauce/etc. to strengthen the flavor and try to mask all the fatty goodness of pig's face in there but this is good as it is. Just a splash of calamansi (our local lemon) is what it needs!

Our meal by the railroad tracks :)

Aling Lucing’s Sisig
CROSSINGS (by the old railroad)
Angeles, Pampanga
Manila Branch

Aling Lucing’s Sisg
G/F Centerpoint Building
Pasong Tamo (Near the Corner of Buendia)

Namaste : Quiet, Laid Back Indian Dinner

On our way back from Cintai Corito's Garden in Batangas last Thursday, we were caught in the C5 traffic so we were lured into just having a quick dinner at the Fort. We initially wanted to check out Burgos Circle because we've only tried 3 restos there but we couldn't find parking (for some reason, it was jam-packed on a Thursday night!). Then we chanced upon this small unassuming Indian place called NAMASTE just passed the string of restos. It was perfect because I was feeling a bit sick and didn't really want to bump into anyone (although our friend Miguel still saw me in my very unglamorous state! gulp!).

The place is rather small and very casual. There was only one table occupied by a foreigner couple when we entered which was perfect for the "I-don't-want-to-see-anyone" mood I was in. Their menu was quite overwhelming considering the size and look of the resto. It was challenging to read through all their offerings from Meat Specialties to purely Vegan and Halal Specials. I was too tired to try to analyze the new things I saw on the list  so I decided to stick to the basics...


 Henri shared the Sweet Lassi (Php 60.00) with me

 Paneer Tika (Fried Homemade Cottage Cheese) - Php 140.00

Vegetable Samosas (1 order had 4 pieces) - Php 100.00 - this came with two dips - tamarind and coriander chutney. I personally enjoy eating samosas with a tamarind...the sourness balances the rather rich and thick potato and pea filling. 

 Mutton Roghan Josh - Php 290.00 - This is another Indian favorite of mine. It's a special delicacy dish made out out of kashmiri curry and a lot of aromatic spices. It tasted very authentic to me (well I say this in comparison to our favorite Indian place very near our apartment in New York before called Dakshin). We figured it was authentic because the people eating there were always locals.

Chicken Tikka Masala - Php 225.00 -Oooh! Another favorite dish... This had just the right amount of spice (I told them to make it mild because based on experience when you say spicy it's really freaking hot... which is too much for preggy me if you know what I mean! hahaha!) 


We had 2 orders of Naan - Php 60.00 x 2  


I don't know if the food was really that good but we wiped out the everything. I think it's also because we haven't had Indian in a long time so having it again ignited that inner carving. Lastly, it brought back memories of our casual no-nonsense Indian lunches/dinners in NY.

Namaste was a good choice that night.


* Namaste is a Hindu salutation or greeting. It's a combination of two words nama and te which literally translates to "to bow"and "you". 

Namaste Indian Cuisine
Unit 1A Kensington Place, 1st Ave. corner 29th St.
Burgos Circle, Crescent Part West
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
02 - 403-6088
Open Monday-Sunday, 10 am - 11 pm