Tag: review

Game of Thrones: Why I now look forward to Mondays

Game of Thrones: Why I now look forward to Mondays

In case you’ve been living under a rock, learn more about what happened in Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 1-6 right in time for the final episode. Find out what type of GOT Fan you are, and some predictions for the final episode.

Hanoi Corner: From Hanoi with Love? 

Hanoi Corner: From Hanoi with Love? 

Hanoi, a place close to my heart. After my trip last year my eyes were opened to the Hanoi food and coffee culture. In a place where food is treated like a religion, expect their exceptional dishes to leave a lasting mark.

That’s how I felt and ever since I’ve been hunting for the best pho and bún chà available in Manila. I’ve tried several restaurants like Ba Noi’s, Pho Hoa, and Pho Bac. After a long wait, I finally hear about this restaurant franchise straight from Hanoi, I was beyond excited to try it. They’ve been heavily been boosted by their social media ads and partnership with Booky.

 

Those wooden chairs and tables on the outside looked familiar. The same vibe I had when walking thru the small streets of the Old Quarter.

 

The place was quite spacious, and the condiments on the table were what you would expect while eating in the sidewalks. It’s quietly located at the corner of Unit 111, 8760 Residences, Santol cor Aranga St, San Antonio, Makati.

Bún Chà- the Quintessence of Hanoian Cuisine

It has long been a specialty of Hanoi. This dish represents the northern region and has been part of the Hanoian’s culture. The dish is often served at noon, in summer when the intense heat makes people go in for something cool, light but flavorful enough. Fresh rice vermicelli with grilled pork is an ideal for such days. Bún Chà is absolutely an art, in such a way so that tasters could feel best the sophistication of vermicelli, grilled pork and herbs all well combining together.

 

 

It is not so difficult to find a Bún Chà store in Hanoi. On every street of the capital, between 9 a.m and 10 a.m, smoke from meat grilling flies to every corner, carrying along sweet-smelling of grilled chopped meat, which can make anyone passing by feel appetizing.

These two photos were taken during my Vietnam Trip last year. Read more about our Hanoi Travel here.

 

I was drawn to the scent of grilled meats along Old Quarter I learned what it was. Bún Chà is a dish from Hanoi comprising of grilled fatty pork(bun) served with a side of white rice noodles(cha). It also comes with a dipping sauce and fresh herbs.

 

 

Upon seeing the poster above and had been used to promote their restaurant, I asked the waiter if this was where President Obama and Anthony Bourdain ate at in Hanoi, he told me that it was. Upon researching, I found it wasn’t.

Hanoi Corner’s Version

 

Composition of the Dish

My long wait to finally try Bún Chà in Manila had been in vain. The vegetables that were ever so bountiful and fresh in my trip turned into stale lettuce that looked like it came from leftovers of Wendy’s salad bar, the bean sprouts looked like it was just grabbed from a bin in the supermarket and wasn’t even properly cleaned before serving it to our table.

The Flavour

The sauce that carries the dish should be of moderate taste that is sweet enough with the elegant sour of vinegar. The grilled pork is soft, smooth-tongued with a strong taste of grilled onion. Hanoi Corner’s version turned out to be too sweet and the mixture of the taste aren’t that balanced, to begin with.

The seared barbecued meats with their juices dripping into my broth turned out to be 3 pieces of dried flat meatballs and 2 pieces of pork that were cold to the touch.

These ingredients are already available here locally in the Philippines anyway and can be sourced at a reasonably priced as compared to Italian or Mediterranean restaurants where they need to source out cheese, vegetables that aren’t normally available in Southeast Asia. I just cannot fathom why serve a mediocre version of a dish that supposed to be the flagship carrier of the restaurant?  Bún Chà is the quintessence of Hanoian cuisine and sadly it wasn’t well represented with love by Hanoi Corner.

It’s unfortunate that although we already have a lot of dishes here that can compete to what you would get from their original countries, this was sadly not one of them.

Other Selections

 

On the other hand, the serving of the Phở was alright. For 200 PHP, they served a reasonable tasting phò, again incomparable but it was much more appealing than the other dishes. The rice noodles were perfectly cooked and bouncy with every chew. The broth though needs more flavor and a cleaner taste. Again, what lacks in every serving are the side of mint, coriander, and other leafy vegetables as you would see in Hanoi that sells Phở.

 

The best thing we had was the brown coffee with the classic steel filter. You can already tell that this was good coffee because of the aroma. Vietnam uses strong Robusta beans that produce that concentrated flavor. See our post on Hanoi, for more detail on how this works.

The Verdict

Good Points for:

  • Ergonomics
  • Airiness of the space and ventilation
  • Fixture
  • Appeal and Aesthetics
  • Social media hype efforts?
  • Coffee

Bad Points for:

  • The clueless staff
  • FLAVOUR IS EVERYTHING: Below average taste of their flagship main menu and other selections
  • Clogged up toilet

Hanoi Corner reminds me of a blind date. You don’t know how he looks like, what he sounds like, unknowingly curious about his personality. Hearing about him with your chatty friends or thru the use if the internet, you still have a vague indication of who he really is leaving you intrigued. So you dress up, put on your makeup, scared yet prepared for what may come. The date opens you to discover someone you couldn’t have fathom or dreamed up, the kind that leaves you smitten and anxious because you do not know what will happen to your encounter.

He takes your expectation and throws it in the trashcan and gives you something that will make you say that why did I ever waste gas going to this date. You blame your friends why the hell they ever talked you into going to this blind date in the 1st place- These chatty friends are Booky and Facebook’s boosted social media advertisements.

Their promise of  “From Hanoi with Love” as their tagline was actually an unrequited love that was never felt when we went there that Saturday afternoon.

We’re still psyched about the valiant effort of bringing in Hanoi cuisine to Manila as it is a certain specialty niche to the dining scene. We believe that there will always be a room for improvement. I am hoping that Hanoi Corner will improve on its flagship menu selections as it has lots of potentials to cater to us Filipinos. I’d probably be back for their coffee and spring rolls should I ever find myself in San Antonio Makati area.

CX Rating.

What is CX Rating? Find out more

Hanoi Corner 

 Unit 111, 8760 Residences, Santol cor Aranga Sts., San Antonio Village,, Makati,, Makati, Metro Manila

(02) 815 0183

Hanoi Corner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Tajimaya: My Yakiniku Done Right

Tajimaya: My Yakiniku Done Right

Unlimited grilled meat on charcoal. Need I say more?

Kushikatsu Daruma: Deep Fried Wizardy

Kushikatsu Daruma: Deep Fried Wizardy

Meat on Sticks. Deep Fried. Do we need to say more?

The Original Pares Mami House: 2 Decades of Serving Comfort

The Original Pares Mami House: 2 Decades of Serving Comfort

What is Comfort Food?

It is a dish that our mother or our lola used to make us during our childhood – it can be that good bowl of Sinigang, Arroz Caldo, mac & cheese. Regardless of what the food is, it soothes our souls and comforts us in such a way having that dish makes everything seem okay. A dish that provides emotional comfort to us and linked us to a place or time when we were kids when situations and life weren’t this complicated.

When I was just 5 or 6 years old, my granddad would always take me to buy Pares to this place just 2 blocks outside our house back in the mid-1980’. We have it to go and bring back home for dinner. On Sundays, my mother would take us after church to the same Pares House to reward us for sitting steadily for 1 hour without whining while listening to the Pastor’s sermon. It has been in business for more than two decades. People from all ages and all walks of life come to this place to enjoy a good set of stewed beef brisket.

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The Original Pares Mami House is at the corner of N.S. Amoranto (famously known as Retiro). Red and white walls are scruffily faded and the bright orange bowls are readily available to welcome patrons. The place is simple, again scruffy, and raw. But you can see the old hardware of aluminum, paint on the wall, faded old menus that it is a heritage restaurant and the tradition of eating at this place had been passed on from generation to another.

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I have lived in Mayon for only a few years after we transferred to the southern part of Metro Manila. As I was growing my craving for Pares always brings me back to this place.  My siblings and I would drive from Bicutan to Retiro at 2 AM just to satisfy our cravings. It has been in business for more than two decades. It is amazing how this humble fast food/eatery attracts people from all walks of social class, from taxi drivers, students, millennial young professionals, Chinese businessmen. The food here satisfies everyone. They grew up eating the same Pares meal with their parents and now they’re adults they carry it out then shared with their children.

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The beef Pares is slow-cooked beef stew, a bowl of garlic rice with bits of chorizo and scrambled egg, and paired with soup. They boil the beef briskets in a pot with water, salt, and onion. Cooke until it is soft, tender, falls off easily. They put soy sauce, brown sugar, star anise, and pepper. Simmer everything to perfection. The sauce is thick that wraps around the beef brisket with the just the right ratio of meat and fat.

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As I ended my stressful day at work at 10 pm. I decided to drive all the way from BGC, the Fort (Taguig) and go to Retiro. Purely out of whim and I was reluctant about certain aspects of that week. A lot of things going thru my mind. I need a meal that will remind me of the good things. A meal that reminds me how my mom would feed us for comfort. I arrived past 10:30 pm and saw this huge crowd gathered around the service area.

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Patrons

People order what they want. The food is served fast and hot. They sit down, do not talk and just enjoy a good meal of Pares. Everything runs efficiently in this place, even the patrons know that they need to eat their food fast as there are other customers eagerly waiting their turn.

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10:45PM on a weekday and the place is packed.

SUV’s, pedicabs, motorcycles and taxi cabs are parked strategically around the restaurant. As I have mentioned earlier, everyone here is equal. In our country that is pretty subdivided by socio-economic class, this is quite a rare site.

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I have to give credit to their service system. They have this lean efficiency of order taking, serving your food up until you get your tab. They are assigned per area of the diagonal space, take your order stick the order sheet and total bill behind your table then in less than 10 minutes you’ll be served with your order. A pitcher of complimentary distilled water with ice will greet you while you wait. The way the service staff moves is like a choreographed dance that is well rehearsed.

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Service here is extremely fast and transactions are quick. It seems that the waitresses anticipate what their customers need and want.

There are other restaurants serving Pares:

  1. Jonas Pares (La Loma ,BGC fort), One of the 1st establishment who serves Pares. Grew up eating here as well, but over the years the recipe seems off and different. They weren’t able to maintain their original recipe.
  2. Pares Retiro (P.Tuazon), one of the new ones who even copied the name to confuse people that this is the Original Pares place in Retiro. But they are not connected at all. Good cuts of beef and affordable.
  3. Pares Mami House (Espana Blvd.)
  4. Best Friends Pares Mami House (Mandaluyong), sweeter taste. Not comparable.
  5. Kumpares (mostly peppered in Las Pinas, Market Market Taguig), this is. Nevermind. Don’t even try.

But none of these competitors or copy cats can battle out The Original Pares Mami House.

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I recommend ordering the classic Beef Pares of course, the camaron rebusado and their campto soup. Good food stands the test of time. You do not need so much forward thinking concepts and expensive restaurants to satisfy your search for palate satisfaction. A complete set of Pares will cost you 90php (2 USD) as of May 2017. Expect to spend 300php (4 USD) for two people. You already have 2 sets of Pares, 1 side viand or noodles and share a bottle of cold Coke.
Now that I’m 32 years old. I come back here for the food, for the memories, whenever I want to share something great with a friend and when I need to be reminded that life can be as simple as a bowl of Beef Pares.
4 extra rice rating for The Original Pares Mami House.
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The Original Pares Mami House (check Waze for exact location)
N.S Amoranto Sr. Avenue, La Loma, Quezon City
Open 24/7 (except Maundy Thurday and Black Friday)

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Sushi Ninja (Alabang): Stealth in its own way!

Sushi Ninja (Alabang): Stealth in its own way!

Keeping what is essential to every piece prevalent and not compromising to what makes a good sushi dish.

Urameshi-ya Yakiniku: 500 PHP for unlimited wagyu cubes from Monday-Wednesday 

Urameshi-ya Yakiniku: 500 PHP for unlimited wagyu cubes from Monday-Wednesday 

 

I can still remember the first time I tried Urameshi-ya. I was brought there on a date, unknown to my partner that I was a certified yakiniku monster. I just love the stuff, and my favorite yakiniku restaurant Mori-Mori in Alabang Town Center which closed down for unknown reasons. So I was on the prowl for the next best thing, that would take me back to those glorious yakiniku days. (I don’t care if you smell like food after), but let’s just say every special event (Graduation, Birthday, Winning Games) was celebrated with Yakiniku. When you come over to Urameshi-ya, you have a choice to sit inside or outside. I suggest taking a table outside, aside from the al fresco ambiance, it makes it easier to cross order between restaurants ex. Hana for Takoyaki, Sashimi from Nodasho or Oishinbo, and its much cooler since the exhaust inside the restaurant is not that good. This is one of the reasons why I love Little Tokyo, you can cross order between restaurants and get the best of everything.

 

The thing about yakiniku though is that you’re only as good as your sauce, and indeed Urameshi-ya has the BEST sauce I have ever tried. You can ask the servers to make it for you but it really depends on your taste. I like my yakiniku sauce with TONS of garlic, a small amount of the chili paste drowned in that sauce from the gods. Honestly, I love this sauce so much that sometimes I just add the sauce to the piping hot japanese rice. And it may seem gross to others but I love it when I can taste the garlic even after the meal reminding me of that last yakiniku encounter.

 

Yakiniku Sauce
I’ve been here more times I can count but the best meal they serve to date is the Wagyu Tokutoku Set (this will set you back a bit since its quite expensive but worth it), which comes with prime cuts of wagyu beef, pork, and tongue. You will want to order a cup of rice for this.


Wagyu Tokotoku Set

Insider Tip:
 Make a separate dipping sauce for raw meat. Best eaten when you dip the raw beef slice on your yakiniku sauce and char the meat on the grill as it sizzles absorbing the delicious sauce. When I take the beef from the grill I immediately put it on top of my japanese rice and get all that char on my rice for even more flavor. UMAMI!!  
Unlimited Surf and Turf Yakiniku Buffet
Another thing to come here for is their weekday buffet with comes with unlimited serving of wagyu cubes, king crab claws, shrimp, scallops, oysters, and several cuts of marinated beef and pork for only 500 PHP. Make sure to come early and only on Monday to Wednesday since they don’t offer this on other days of the week. Also, make sure you get everything you want early on since they limit the buffet to 45 min. per person. Insider Tip: Don’t forget to tell them to serve your soup, salad and rice (you get one free refill, make use of it!)
 
UNLIMITED Wagyu Cubes

The wagyu cubes are frozen so make sure to cook them thoroughly. As much as, I love wagyu, I can only eat so much of this. Another tip is to ask them to give you salt and pepper, so you can season it how you like. (This is similar to the gyukushi served in Izakaya Kikufuji but 3 cubes will cost you 120PHP).

Every time I visit Urameshi-ya, my mouth always water, every time I see meat sizzling and the sauce flowing. Yes, the place is a bit dirty, but in my opinion it is the best yakiniku restaurant in town. This is THE place to go when you have those days when you just gotta have some MEAT! Order it with some warm sake and were in business!

4 extra rice
Address: Little Tokyo, 2277 Chino Roces Avenue, Legaspi Village, Makati City

Operating Hours: Open daily from 5pm – 1am
Contact Number: 02 894 3915

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Do you want to collaborate? or recommend other places? Comment on the line below or send us an e-mail over at experience@fatgirlsdayout.com

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Ichiba: Tsukiji Market in Manila?

Ichiba: Tsukiji Market in Manila?

Inspired by the Tsukiji Market in Japan. They have various stations with Takoyaki, fresh seafoods, and grilled meats.