Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Cafe Mezzanine at Manila's Chinatown

Manila's district of Binondo prides itself in being a popular foodie destination, more than Maginhawa St. of Quezon City and of late, Lilac St. of Marikina City. In fact, some groups have been organizing a food crawl or gastronomic tour of Binondo, visiting the more popular Chinese restaurants, many of them several decades-old and 
still drawing old and new customers. 
One of such establishments is Cafe Mezzanine, which is on Ongpin St., very near Binondo Church. This restaurant is on top of another by the name of Chuan Kee. I believe that the two have one and the same owners because they offer menu items that are essentially the same. Cafe Mezzanine, by the way, is also known as the "firemen's restaurant" around here because its earnings 
go to the volunteer firefighters and rescue personnel of Binondo. 
Anyway, I've eaten twice at Chuan Kee before but it was my first time at Cafe Mezzanine some months ago. I was with 
my mom and two balikbayan sisters. 
Here are what we ordered:

                                               Pork asado with egg

                                 Shredded pork with century egg congee
                                                    Hema canton
                                                     Special tofu
                                                                          Spring rolls
                            Iced mocha java; Jasmin tea; Calamansi juice

                                            Inside Cafe Mezzanine

 Seen on the stairway
                         Cafe Mezzanine on Ongpin St. in Binondo, Manila

Some would expect Chinese food to be a little salty but everything on our table was just rightly savory. And we experienced none of the so-called Chinese food syndrome, thankfully. We liked it all, some in a lesser degree, though. But for me, it was the Kiampong that was tops. I was amazed by it, as I never thought rice and peanuts would be a good mix. The flavors blended well with the mildly saccharine Pork asado with egg, which was my favorite of the entrees that we had. My drink, the Iced mocha java was way too sweet, but the Jasmine tea was perfect and gave a nice ending to our lunch. 
All in all, it was a satisfying meal. 
Would I recommend Cafe Mezzanine? Yes, this place is worth your while and hard-earned buck. The prices, you surely noticed, are very affordable! And just think of the volunteer firefighters you would be helping. 
Happy eating!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cafe Chosun for some real good Korean fare

When my New Jersey-based sister came for a vacation in Manila earlier this year, we "lived" for a month at Adriatico Tower, the condo attached to the Robinsons Place mall in Ermita. During that time, rubbing elbows with foreigners of various nationalities was an everyday thing - we ran into them in the elevator, at the grocery, restaurant, and everywhere else. Ermita is no doubt still the metro's tourist district! No wonder, restaurants specializing in different international cuisines also abound in the area. 
One of those that caught my fancy was a Korean restaurant named Cafe Chosun (Yup, I was drawn to it because of the word "cafe". Tee-hee.) So when my nephew asked for my suggestion for a place where our family could have dinner to celebrate his 27th birthday, I mentioned it. He Googled the menu and gave his approval. We were at Cafe Chosun for dinner on a Friday - my mom, us three siblings and six kids. We ordered two set meals and one additional dish, plus rice and drinks. 
Our dinner:

We had two meal sets - one all beef, and the other, meat with sausages, tofu and crabsticks. Everything was delicious and perfectly grilled by our two friendly servers. All side dishes 
are included in the sets, but not rice.
A Korean meal is a lavish spread - there's a lot of side dishes! It's very healthy, too, because there's a whole lot of vegetables like lettuce, mung bean sprouts (toge) and onions. Kimchi, which is touted as a health food on the account of its being fermented, is included in our meal, placed on the grill. We asked for a refill of it and they gave us, at no extra charge!

Grilled Squid.
I love squid whatever way it's cooked. This one's quite spicy and pretty good!  
Clockwise: Water bottle, bowl of rice, miso soup.

My nephew also ordered this alcoholic drink "Soju" which is like gin. 
According to Wikipedia, "Soju is a distilled beverage containing ethanol 
and water. It is usually consumed neat. Considered 'Korea's most popular alcoholic 
beverage' in 2014, Jinro soju was the largest selling alcohol
in the world with sales of 71 million cases worldwide." 

Green tea

Our bill (We were 10 in the group). I think there's another 
receipt for the Soju, though. 

Cafe Chosun at 1555 Pedro Gil St. corner Adriatico St. in Ermita, Manila

It was one great and fun dinner that we had. The kids and even my mom and elder sister were in awe of the food and the way they were served and cooked on the table because it was their first time to dine at a Korean restaurant. The experience was truly something different from our usual family eat-outs when we celebrate family occasions. Well, we usually have either Pinoy or Italian food - the pizza and pasta stuff - when we eat out. Cafe Chosun was the first Korean restaurant we went to as a family. No regrets, only thumbs up!
Try Cafe Chosun, folks! The food is good, prices are reasonable, service is fast and attentive, and the ambiance is homey and relaxing. 
Happy eating! 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Banapple at SM North Edsa's Sky Garden

SM City North Edsa, lately, has become one big and exciting place for foodies like me who are constantly looking for something new to eat and enjoy. In the recent months up until the present, new restaurants have mushroomed, especially at the building at its one end called The Block. There are still, however, the so-called oldies but goodies, the ones that are standing the test of time. Such among them is Banapple where the entrees are crave-worthy and the desserts (cakes) are divine. I've been here thrice (with my kids) but I'm only sharing a few photos because on the first visit, I left my camera at home and I wasn't able to get good shots with my cellphone.
 Here's what we've had so far at Banapple:

Lasagna Roll-ups, P210.
Love, love, love this pasta dish! This was actually my daughter's order but I had a fair share of it. Tee-hee. Because there's basil in it, it's like eating lasagna and pesto at the same time. And notice that the flat pasta sheets are rolled up instead of piled one on top of the other like the usual lasagna. The melted cheese poured over seals in the guarantee that this one's uniquely delicious! Even the pesto bread that comes with it was good and served as the perfect complement to the pasta.

Glazed Pork Tocino with Creamed Parsley Eggs, P185. 
Had this once for brunch and it gave me the perfect start for a grueling workday. The pork tocino is very tender and flavorful, only it was a tad too sweet for me. 
Still, two thumbs up for this tocilog!

Bannoffee Pie
Believe it or not, we got this yummy dessert for free! Banapple was then celebrating its anniversary and they were giving this, which is their signature dessert, to the early birds. That's why my daughter and I were there for brunch and I had the tocilog. Haha! What a huge treat it was because believe me, Banapple's Bannoffee Pie is to-die-for! (Sorry, though, that this slice looks like a mess. The give-aways were prepared beforehand, placed by the piece in take-away containers. I only had it plated but failed to make it look better).

Blueberry Cheesecake, P125.
This was my little boy's order on another visit, this time just for dessert. This cheesecake, as you can see, is thicker than most other cheesecakes. 
It's also firm and sinfully delicious!

Iced Choco, P110.
This was my young son's drink. He liked it but it was
too sweet for me.

Cappuccino, P100.
A real caffeine treat! I'd go back for this anytime. 
Home-Made Iced tea, P70.
My daughter's drink. Banapple's version of this iced tea has a clean, smooth taste 
that's refreshingly good.

Banapple at SM City North Edsa's Sky Garden

On my first visit to Banapple with my daughter (when I failed to bring my camera), I had the Fettuccine Jacintha, which is herbed carbonara. I could say it was good but my daughter didn't like it. I commented that its taste was the kind that "grows" -- gets better as you eat. My daughter had the Warm Chicken Salad Sandwich then. 
The filling was a lot, but it was quite bland for me.
Still, Banapple is one of those restaurants that I want to keep coming back to - for the lasagna, coffee and cakes (for those cheat days!). It's a haven for those with a sweet tooth! I want to try their pies and other pasta next time. See you at Banapple, folks! 
Happy eating! 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Today's Word: Psalm 9:10

Facing challenges today? Boss at work becoming unreasonably demanding? Just lost your job or simply short on cash to pay bills? Physically ill? Troubles in this life are many and difficult. Sometimes, they overwhelm us and send us to the bottom of ourselves. Even Christians are not exempted from depression -- the reason Jesus asked us to pray for and strengthen one another. And when we come to God in 
prayer, let us trust that He will not turn His face away. 
He is near to us, always ready to listen and help. 
Psalm 9:10 says, "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord
have never forsaken those who seek you." So whatever is bothering us today, let's lay it the Lord's feet, and have confidence He will make everything good in in His perfect time. 
God bless you today.

(Thank you, Digital Bible for this photo)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Kumori Japanese Bakery & Cafe at SM City North Edsa

We Pinoys love bread a whole lot. And why not? They're delicious, filling and convenient to eat. Fact is, we love any bread we could sink our teeth into - whether they're traditional Pinoy bread (pandesal, ensaymada, hopia, etc.) or those that come to our shores from other countries (croissants, bagels, ciabatta and the likes) . As it is, we patronize both the neighborhood bakeries and the upscale ones in the malls, some of which are franchises from abroad like the immensely popular BreadTalk from Singapore 
and Tous Les Jours from South Korea. 
Middle of last year, another specialty bakeshop opened up in the country - Kumori Japanese Bakery & Cafe. It now has three stores in Metro Manila - at SM North Edsa's The Block, SM Makati and Landmark Makati. Earlier this year, my food buddy and I tried Kumori at SM North Edsa and found out how much fun bread-shopping 
and of course, eating here could be. Why? Look at 
how lovely their breads and pastries 
and cakes are and you'll know. 

Clockwise from bottom left: Signature Cheese Tart, Pudding, Krone 
(where they put something creamy into when you order it) and 
Nutty Bos - Dark Chocolate, Oreo and Chocolate.
Clockwise from bottom left: Cherry Brioche, Salmon Bonito, Blueberry Brioche 
and Fuwa Fuwa Chocolate 
Hanjuku Cheese Chocolate, Apple Bun, Saku Saku Chocolate cake, 
Apple Crumble 
Caramel Crunch
Here's what my friend and I had for our afternoon merienda that day:

Cheesy Ham & Mushroom Bun, P49; Red Bean Bun, P41 and Dark Choco-Bo, P30. 
The first one is soft bread with sliced mushrooms, ham and onions, and then topped with mozzarella cheese; The Red Bean Bun is a soft with sweet red bean filling and topped with black sesame seed; Nutty Choco-Bo is an elongated soft dough bread dipped in choco-hazelnut frosting and dusted with roasted almond bits. Of these three, my top pick was the Cheesy Ham & Mushroom Bun because it tasted like pizza, which I absolutely love. Also, I don't have a leaning towards sweet breads like the Red Bean Bun and Dark Choco-Bo.
Matcha Milkshake, P185. 
Thumbs up for this healthy, almost guilt-free cold drink. Well, the crown of whipped cream made me commit a little bit of sin but at least, 
it's unsweetened as I requested.
Jasmine tea, P75.
My food buddy's merienda cena drink.

My friend and I both loved Kumori, and the first visit asked for a second. And so, last week, I brought my daughter there, the one who loves anything Japanese.
Our orders:

Only one differs here from our orders in our previous visit - the Salmon Bonito (P55.) which both my daughter loved for its yummy filling and pillowy soft bun. I have a new favorite!

Soft Tuna Bun, P46.
Additional order for me.

I loved that the tuna filling had corn kernels. Yummy! The downside here is that there's too much air in the bread. 

Brewed Drip Coffee, P85. 
As always, my drink.

Summer Peach Tea, P110. 
My daughter's. She loved the refreshing blend of tea and peach fruit.
Inside Kumori
Kumori Japanese Bakery & Cafe - Ground Floor, The Block, SM City North Edsa

We loved Kumori Japanese Bakery & Cafe and I'm sure you would as well if you love bread (What Pinoy doesn't, anyway). The choices are many and fresh. The breads, pastries and cakes are different from what we usually see in other bakeshops. 
What's more to love? Everything is reasonably priced! 
Visit Kumori now, folks and find a new favorite. 
Happy eating!