Feb 16, 2009

crossover at dusit

i'd have to say this is the ultimate crossover buffet in town. you can have brunch at umu, benjarong, tosca and basix at the dusit thani hotel for PHP 1450 net but with a privilege card you can get as much as 50% off...how sweet!

it is best to have a reservation since it's usually packed. we got a reservation at umu because i know my friends love japanese. again, we had a perfect view of the garden so once again we had great seats for a sumptuous brunch.

for starters we headed to the teppanyaki station located opposite our dining area. we got salmon, shrimps and beef. no complaints, the quality of the raw ingredients were good so the finished products were good too.

for my second round just got a little bit of everything from the other side like the gindara teriyaki which has this melt in your mouth texture, this is the only time i liked gindara because i usually find it too rich, i also liked the unagi with rice wrapped in a leaf, and again good quality salmon sashimi. the negima is just alright. the tempura in umu is way bigger compared to the tempura at basix.

next stop, is benjarong. had to go up the spiral stairs to get some thai fix. i got my essential phad thai which we all found to be extra tart so i didn't like this one, got some crispy catfish salad which was ok this was the first time i've tried catfish salad and it's nothing extraordinary for me so it wouldn't be on my thai list staple, the chicken curry was good but it was definitely cold i dunno why they do not keep it warm and we got an assortment of fried food items and the prawn cakes were definitely a hit. got some pandan iced tea too which i liked more than the green tea being served in umu.

by the time we went to tosca, i was full already. i wonder why, i used to have endurance on buffets such as this. nothing really piqued our interest in tosca, the pizza and pastas are too heavy for us. i still wanted to try something so i got a little grouper which was fishy for me, the spareribs was tough and the chicken breast was so so. we got some wine, my friends got black currant and i chose passion fruit, all tasted the same.

so after the quick stop and minimal munching on our tosca food items we headed to basix. i wanted to try the baked seafoods - we got baked oysters and mussels. they didn't come out as i expected them to be they got too watery and the bechamel sauce and cheese didn't have that thick consistency. my friends got some grilled items too like squid and lamb chops which i had to skip because i was full but i tried a little bit of the cured salmon which i find a little salty but still good.

lastly we got desserts, i was a bit disappointed because tosca already ran out of desserts as well as the other restos. we had a limited choice of sweets and i settled for these.

i liked the coffee mousse but definitely too rich, the other mousse like item with the peaches on top tasted like medicine. the other dessert my friend got, i described as lasang lupa (tastes like soil) while accdg to my other friend the crepes had too sour mangoes. too bad the sweets were all wiped out. i suggest you already grab the desserts you fancy at around 2pm otherwise you'll be left out with nil.

among the restos, i liked umu very much, simply because i find the dishes had good quality regardless on when you come in the resto. even during the latter part of the brunch they were still serving a lot of food unlike the other ones. my palate was not satiated most of the time but i couldn't complain because we got 50% off and the hits were still worth what we paid for.

dusit thani hotel
+632 8673333

Feb 7, 2009

downtown manila: dong bei dumplings

famous due to ivan man dy's binondo walks. dong bei is in my must try list. finally, found the time to visit the place. tucked away near the binondo church, dong bei is a small dumpling place where in you could see the dumplings being made through the glass wall.

got the famous kutchay dumplings , 15 pieces for 100 PHP. not bad, pretty cheap actually. the dumplings are freshly made, thin, clear and glistening boiled dumplings (you can choose fried as well). it comes with a vinegar and garlic dip which is actually a perfect condiment for the dumplings.

fried tofu with pork meat (150 PHP) more like a tofu burger, pork in between slices of tofu cooked in a brown sauce. could anything go wrong with tofu? none, if you ask me. this is our favorite dish.

they also have handiwork noodles, which probably means hand made. we opted for this unique soybean noodle dish (100 PHP) which is a dry noodle dish with soybean and sliced cucumber. this one is refreshing. but not perfect for those who want some meat in their noodles.

for drinks, they have this chinese version of C2. wong lo kat which tastes like flowers but not that much so it was tolerable for me.

the place is very affordable, limited menu but you can simply splurge with the dumplings and tofu. a good hole in the wall place in binondo.

dong bei dumplings
from binondo church
walk along ongpin street and turn left to
yuchengco/nueva st., after the first intersection
dong bei is on the right

downtown manila: wai ying

before i learned about ivan dy's binondo walk and those famous binondo hole in the wall establishments, wai ying has been on top of my mind. my friend who lives in binondo keeps raving about this place. the selling point - good chinese food at reasonable prices.

i finally got the chance to eat at wai ying which has several branches along benavidez street (intersects with cm recto) in manila. so here's what we got.

roasted duck noodle - it looks unappetizing. we actually had to dig into the bowl and put the duck pieces on top so that you can see them on the pic. presentation is the least of their concerns ;). but this is a good bowl of noodles. it has a flavorful broth. fine hongkong noodles which is bordering sogginess..would have wanted it to be more firm. ample amount of duck and at PHP 110, what more could you ask for?

pork asado with rice - might not look like a huge serving but it was really a huge serving. it's probably double the size or even more of your typical roast pork from other famous chinese restos and it's only PHP 100.

for dimsum we got, raddish cake, kuchai dumplings and chicken feet.

this is the best raddish cake i've ever had. well this is just the second time i've raddish cake and this one is way better. 3 huge squares for only PHP 50. no need to dip into the sauce because it's already flavorful.

chicken feet is my favorite dimsum. this one is good. tastes and smells fresh unlike in other restos who still serve them even if they are about to go bad. the meat is falling off the bones at PHP 50 a pop, you can't go wrong with it.

kuchai dumplings (PHP 50) - there are actually 3 pieces but i got excited and took one before taking this pic hehe. this is basically made of garlic chives and ground pork. this one takes longer because the dumplings are freshly made. unfortunately, it wasn't what i expected. there wasn't enough kuchai so the meat wasn't able to have that garlicky essence. and also, i had a hard time cutting into the dumpling because it appears that the meat is not well grounded so the pieces are huge and difficult to cut through. but kudos for having it really fresh and the huge pork pieces simply proves it's pure meat.

paired with hongkong milk tea (PHP 50), this is one of those great meals you'll have in downtown manila, easy on the pocket and yet satiable.

here's their menu to give you an idea on how affordable their food items are. they also sell frozen dimsum which i have yet to try.

wai ying fastfood
benavidez street, binondo

Feb 6, 2009

i enjoy good food and drinks

that's how i will loosely translate je suis gourmand, literally, it means i am a gourmand. so let's see if i enjoyed my dinner there last night.

we got freebie bread, nothing extraordinary and served with miniature lurpak. honestly, will you get a first good impression?

for appetizers we had roasted bone marrow "sordelaise" with herbs (PHP 390), this is not what i expected. based on what i've seen in another blog, the marrow is still in the bones. but what we were served with is cubed bone marrow sauteed with mushrooms. it's not fun to eat marrow that is very much in its solid state...it's like eating chunks of pork fat. wouldn't it be nice to have it in a bulalo like consistency with the marrow being jiggly and glistening. the flavor was nice though i wouldn't contest that.

for our mains, we had simmered ox tongue with ravigote sauce and parsley marble potatoes (PHP 390). i started with the marble potatoes and dipped it into the ravigote sauce. i almost spitted out the entire thing. it was so sour, really sour. i dunno if that's how a ravigote sauce should taste like..it's like a reduced version of sinigang. maybe i like my lengua with the traditional sauces but with how the entire dish tasted i don't think it was meant to be served that way. had to scrape off all the sauce and eat the lengua plain which was flavorful enough. still, i was so disappointed with this one.

another dish is the roasted chilean seabass with saffron risotto and tomato garlic coulis (PHP 860). again the tomato garlic coulis was a bit on the tart side but was perfectly acceptable due to the acidic nature of tomatoes. the risotto was ok and chilean seabass??? oh so not fresh! it already have this mushy texture...good thing it was not fishy in taste. gheez, i wonder if it was possible to have complained over the quality of the fish that they would replace it. b and i have had seabass before and we both know that the quality they served us last night was way below par.

getting frustrated with how the dinner has turned out, we opted to give dessert a chance to save our meal. we got banana caramel souffle (PHP 180). well nothing spectacular about it. it was so so, it was our first time to eat souffle and it didn't make an impression.

this was one resto i've looking forward to eating at and i ended up pretty much disappointed. among the mbkrs winners i have tried, this one was a strike out unfortunately.

je suis gourmand
net 1 building
the fort

Feb 1, 2009

l'opera @ the fort

another quest to try out the mbkrs winners. this time it's for the best italian restaurant which is l'opera. pardon the pics, my camera was dying on me and didn't have time to get better shots.

we got freebie bread with 3 spreads - butter, checca (tomatoes, olive oil and basil) and liver pate. the bread was freshly made, i liked the ones in triangles which were soft and crunchy with rosemary.

we ordered a pasta and meat dish and had them split into. as such, the smaller serving portion.

carre d'agnello alla romana (PHP 710), grilled lamb chops with a light balsamic vinaigrette served with spinach, potatoes and other veggies. the lamb was tender and didn't have that gamey taste, as such we didn't realize that it was cooked medium. might have finished everything until i saw too much redness already and couldn't let myself eat meat that raw.

tagliatelle delicate... (PHP 440) had a long name. it's basically tagliatelle with crab meat and baby clams. it has this unique taste which i cannot figure out what. my friend c deems it's just the crab but i'm convinced it's an herb they used.

panna cotta tartufo (PHP 290) expensive? i'd like to think so, especially since it costs as much as an entree in other restos. but is it worth it? definitely!!! the panna cotta was so rich and creamy and yet it's not "nakakasuya". the balsamic, honey and walnuts gave nice contrast of flavors.

it was a pleasant meal indeed. i'd like to think it was worth every peso spent. but something just bothers me, after the meal and just a couple of minutes, c and i both started feeling sleepy. and we've had meals wherein we were completely stuffed but never felt sleepy. i was just wondering if there was something in what we ate that induced sleepiness....the balsamic vinegar? is the alcohol content in it that strong that we both would feel sleepy? my mom says it's the msg. i'd be shock to find out that those dishes were laden with msg thus the instant knockout. maybe next time i'd try dishes without any balsamic and see if i'd still get that sleepy feeling afterwards.

the fort strip
global city, taguig