Thursday, December 7, 2017

Whitewall Coffee and Food Co. at Eton Centris Walk

Last August, I began to regularly go again to Sidcor Sunday Market after not visiting since last year. It was then that I discovered this now one-year-old (they marked their first year last September) cafe called Whitewall Coffee and Food Co. at Eton Centris Walk, just across the market and near Family Mart. I realized I hadn't been to Sidcor for a year prior to my visit in August because it was my first time 
to see this chic coffee place. 
I was surprised to see that walls at Whitewall were painted in black! The whole place is in black with just patches of white, making the interiors dark and sober. But who's complaining? Certainly not I. Black is my favorite color next to purple
It wasn't only the simple elegance of the place that could strike any newbie to Whitewall, even the food! I've gone there thrice -- once alone and then with different consorts. We all loved the food and drinks. 
What we've had:

Carbonara, P185.
This was really, really good! Except that I don't like a fried egg on top of my carbonara. But the pasta was delicious, with al dente fettuccine and sauce that wasn't 
too creamy to the point of cloying.

Beef Tapa, P130.
This was for lunch on my first visit. The beef tapa was just the way I like it -- not saucy but not dry either, tender and not salty, just rightly seasoned. I was asked how I would like to have my fried egg and I said I wanted it scrambled. So scrambled it was, and fried to perfection -- not 
dry as my helper does at home...sigh.

Pork Tocino, P130.
I hadn't had tocino for quite sometime so I decided "tocilog" to be lunch on another occasion. I loved that the pork was cut up bite-sized and very tender. Some tocino tend to be too saccharine but this wasn't; the flavors -- sweetness and saltiness -- were just right. I had sunny side up egg this time and it was divine, with the orangey yolk (proof of good-quality egg) runny.
Whitewall Signature Clubhouse, P215.
My not-so-little boy loves clubhouse sandwich and I knew he would order it when I tagged him along. He did and was actually happy with it! I ate some of it and loved the thick slices of chicken breast and lots of greens and tomatoes.

Blue Chips with Spinach Artichoke Dip, P155.
This was a nice thing to have with sandwich. The dip was delicious and healthy, 
having spinach and artichoke.

Chocolate Fudge cake, P110.
Moist, chocolatey and not too sweet. Best with black coffee!

Iced Latte, double, P125.
This was pure bliss on a hot mid-day. Caffeine kick that refreshes!

Oreo Chip Cream, P165.
My son, who is an Oreo fan, loved this one. It satisfied his sweet tooth while offering 
a reprieve from the hotness of the day.

Cafe Latte, single, P115.
I love coffee at Whitewall. It's rich, full-bodied and strong, 
even with the added milk.

Cafe Americano, Single, P105.
I had dessert on one occasion (the chocolate fudge cake) and decided to have black coffee to pair it with. Whitewall has good Americano, I didn't need to add milk or cream to it.

                            In and around Whitewall Coffee and Food Co.

Whitewall Coffee and Food Co. at Eton Centris Walk, Edsa corner Quezon Ave. 
in Diliman, Quezon City

What a gem Whitewall Coffee and Food Co. is, I must say, and "hidden" at that. I'm glad to discover it and make it my Sunday go-to place after buying what I need at the market. It's not just a nice spot for food and coffee, it's also cosy and quiet enough for some reading or studying. It's the perfect 
"tambay" or hangout place to bring family and friends. 
Visit Whitewall Coffee and Food Co., folks! 
Happy eating!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A trip down memory lane at Hizon's, Za's Cafe

I love all things old -- houses, music, furniture. As a foodie, I love eating in old restaurants as well -- especially those that have been in business since the pre- 
or post-war days. Oh, I have such admiration for those enduring businesses 
in the food industry, considering the very stiff competition these days.
One of the so-called battle-tested restaurants is Za's Cafe in the heart of Manila. This is the coffee shop owned by the same proprietors of Hizon's Cakes and Pastries -- yup, the one whose No. 1 customer was the country's king of comedy, Dolphy.  The two -- the comedian and the bakeshop -- both started humbly in their own field 
and grew popular together as the years passed. 
Dolphy, I read, was just starting out as an actor when he began patronizing Hizon's in the 1950s, often buying his favorite ensaymada at its initial store on then Calle Raon. Eventually, Hizon's transferred to where it is now on Jorge Bocobo St., Ermita, Manila and Za's Cafe was established adjacent to it to serve not only Hizon's famous baked products but also hot meals. Dolphy, I learned, was a regular there even when he was already ill, to the point that he carried his oxygen tank 
to the restaurant! What loyalty! 
Anyway, it was my first time at Za's Cafe last month, with two of my dear sisters and a brother in law. We were there for late lunch/merienda and opted for something 
a little light as we had breakfast buffet early on. 
We ordered two sets of palabok with pandesal and two dinuguan with puto 
plus ensaymada for dessert.

Palabok with 2 pcs. pandesal, P300. per order
We in our family love palabok so this was a natural choice for us. We loved that all the right flavors from the whole gamut of ingredients were present. And the saltiness was well calibrated. However, it was a bit dry. Maybe, it  would have been better if they put a bit more of the sauce. And I do believe this palabok is overpriced at P300, considering that the serving is not that big and enough for just one person.

Dinuguan with puto, P200.
This, we raved about more than the palabok. It was an impressive dinuguan - very flavorful! It was served with several pieces of puto Calasiao -- those immaculate-white,  bite-sized and sweetish rice cakes from the Pangasinan 
town where it got its name.

Ensaymada, Big, P130.
Hizon's ensaymada is big, fluffy, cheesy and delicious. It's perfect with coffee or hot chocolate -- and great for merienda, I could imagine as I write this, on a cold December afternoon. This ensaymada wouldn't be Dolphy's favorite for nothing!

  Brewed Coffee, P95.
One of my sisters, who was then vacationing from Canada, so loved the coffee at Za's, and was moved to comment that it was even better than their "own" Tim Hortons which they have every work day morning in Canada. I loved this one, too! It's easily one of my best cups ever! It's bold and full-bodied with a very pleasant taste that makes it good even without any sugar and cream added. Halfway into my cup, my sister urged me to try it with some milk. I did and it was also very good! I would definitely go back to Za's Cafe even if only for their brewed coffee.

Inside Za's Cafe

 A picture of Dolphy hanging by the entrance. 

  Inside Hizon's bakeshop

 Hizon's at 1197 Jorge Bocobo corner Arquiza Sts., Ermita, Manila

Aside from the good food and coffee, I took notice of the old-world feel inside Za's Cafe. There are vintage things on use and display and there are pictures of elderly people, most probably the original owners of Hizon's. The present management is already second generation, I learned. One more thing not to be missed by anyone is the framed picture of Dolphy prominently displayed near the entrance, 
making the presence of the late comedy king felt in the place. 
What nostalgic feel this restaurant evokes. I loved it 
and would definitely be coming back.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Bo's Coffee for everything great

If you're no newbie to this site, you know I love coffee and hanging out at coffee shops on my days off from work. I have a number of favorites when it comes to caffeine places and the list is stretching! Bo's Coffee is one of the latest additions and I've been to their store at SM San Lazaro three times and at SM Manila on one occasion. I've also gone to their branch at the ground floor of Pacific Sky Loft on Lacson St. near UST in Manila, which might as well be the newest Bo's Coffee in the metro. 
So what draws me back to Bo's? The smell (of coffee, of course) is wonderful, the ambiance is relaxing and both the coffee and food are great.
What I've had so far:

Spanish Sardines Pasta, P185.
On days that you want to avoid meat, this one's the perfect thing to eat. And you won't regret the healthy choice a bit because this dish is so good! I loved the balance of spicy, salty, sour and tangy flavors from the fish, olives and dried tomatoes.

Bolognese Pasta, P185.
This is definitely crave-worthy. I'm actually craving as I write this! I remember the spaghetti being bathed in delicious red, meaty sauce that was rightly sour and with just a hint of sweetness. A piece of herbed focaccia bread accompanied this wonderful pasta 
that came in a huge serving.

Bangus Omelette, P195.
Don't be deceived by this omelette's plain looks because the taste is far from being plain. Flaked tinapang bangus, eggs and cheese and probably onion and garlic make up this divine dish that was perfect company to buttered wheat bread. I love smoked fish and I learned from here that it could go so well with cheese. You gotta try this one!

Coffee Jelly Frappe, P160.
I paired this with the Bolognese pasta and it couldn't be any better. Still strong iced coffee with the addition of coffee-flavored jellies and topped with whipped cream. My only problem was that it was sweet and that's sinful for me.

Latte, P110.
I love coffee at Bo's -- full-bodied but not too strong to give me heartburn in the aftermath. I love, too, the fact that only Philippine coffee varieties are used here, benefitting local farmers.
Cappuccino, P110.
Espresso, milk and cinnamon. Perfect trio!

Bo's Coffee at the Pacific Sky Loft on Lacson St., Manila.

Bo's Coffee is one of those go-to places for the caffeine fix that really has a following. I know because it's always hard to find a vacant table when I come! I almost always have to do some waiting. I bet it's because of my above-mentioned factors -- great coffee, food and ambiance. Add to these reasonable prices and friendly crew. 
Try Bo's Coffee if you haven't, folks! There sure is a store near you. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween: To celebrate or not?

Today is All Saints' Day and it was Halloween just a few hours ago. Many pictures are in my social media feed showing how my friends celebrated this occasion much like the way it's done in foreign countries, the US especially. Children and even adults are dressed as witches, goblins and zombies and seem to be having fun 
in parties and trick or treat activities. 
But are we Christians supposed to celebrate Halloween and (unknowingly) glorify evil by dressing up as creatures of darkness? Before I got born again in 2013, I considered Halloween as the second happiest occasion of the year next to Christmas. I thought it was a lot of fun and even held a party at home one time, with me and all my children 
and helpers dressed up as witches and ghosts. 
More than a year later, I became a Christian and learned that celebrating Halloween isn't a good thing to do because it exposes one's self to forces of evil and Satanism and glorifies the enemy of God. In the web, there's a lot of good reads about this but there are, too, other articles debunking this, and even saying that Halloween is originally a religious (Roman Catholic) tradition before it was commercialized 
and celebrated "differently". 
Reading all these could bring confusion than enlightenment, really, but for me, a Bible verse can put the argument to rest. It's 1 Corinthians 10:31 - So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. One would be wise to do a self-examination with this verse and ask, "Do the things I do/wear to celebrate Halloween give glory to God?" Think about it and pray.

Meanwhile, I was at my favorite place last Saturday -- Amor Bakery along Espana Blvd. -- to have coffee and this was what I got: a "spider" on my cupcake! I never knew spiders tasted good. Haha! Nope, I wasn't celebrating Halloween. 
I only wanted a cupcake to go with my latte, 
and given a free arthropod, too. Tee-hee! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Bibimbap craving satisfied at Korean J Grill

I suddenly craved for bibimbap last week and asked my friends in the office if we could go eat Korean food. After doing a little research on nice Korean restaurants, off we went for lunch to Korean J Grill along Tomas Morato in Quezon City. This place is a nice one, we found out, with a more modern and casual ambiance compared to other Korean restaurants we've been to. From the many pictures hanged on the wall, we learned, too,  that many celebrities visit this place like Vice Ganda and Billy Crawford. 
In a little while, it was the food's turn to delight us. 
Our orders:

Dolsot Bibimbab, P250.
This was love at first taste! Each spoonful gives a burst of delightful flavors. I loved too that there's a whole lot of bite-sized chicken and vegetables, they won't leave you wanting but oh-so-satisfied. And the serving is humungous, it could feed two persons. Craving more than satisfied!

Japchae, P300.
This Korean "pancit" was really good although it's a little too sweet for me. Lots of veggies here, too, and like the bibimbab, the serving is big enough to satisfy two to three people.

Sam Gyeop Sal, P350.
Samgyeopsal means "three-layered-flesh" and is one of Korea's most popular dishes consisting of grilled pork belly, lettuce, and a whole gamut of side dishes, which could vary in different restaurants. Kimchi, which is fermented cabbage is, always included in the set, though, as it is a staple in every Korean meal. To eat Sam gyeop sal, put a piece of meat on a bed of lettuce and top it off with sauces - ssamjang (made out of soybean paste, hot pepper paste, sesame oil, and other ingredients) and gireumjang (sesame oil, salt, and black pepper). 
This, I promise, is sooo good, I'm craving for it as I write this! 

Dweji Galbi, P350.
Dweji galbi means means grilled spareribs but I'm not sure if it's the one that's pictured here 
'coz they look pretty much the same and even the taste don't differ to me. 
The meat is really tender and savory, I couldn't help but eat a lot!

Side dishes served along with the sam gyeop sal and dwelji galbi
My favorite among the side dishes we were served were the lettuce with chili and vinegar and sliced radish. By the way, refill of side dishes is free here 
at Korean J Grill (as it is in most Korean restaurants). 
Love it! 

 Celebrity customers

Korean J Grill is at #186 Tomas Morato Avenue, Sacred Heart, Quezon City

It was one great meal that my friends and I shared at Korean J Grill. We immensely enjoyed our lunch! Everything was really good it was hard to tell which dish was the best. To top it all, we didn't pay much and only shelled out P300 each. Such a great deal for an unforgettable lunch! We are surely coming back to Korean J Grill, 
and I have the feeling it's gonna be soon!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Coffee and photography at Shutter Cafe

Themed cafes and restaurants are interesting and fun. And being a photography enthusiast, I was excited to learn about a coffee shop with focus on this field. It's Shutter Cafe along Scout Lazcano near the corner with Tomas Morato in Quezon City. I was there with one of my kids on my weekday day-off recently. 
Well, I was pleasantly surprised to learn one thing about this coffee place -- that it's owned by a Christian man. How did I know? Well, Christian music was played during the entire time we were there. No secular song at all, much to our delight, that I couldn't help but ask the server if the owner was a Christian. The crew answered in the affirmative and even pointed to the man seated with another man near our table. 
It was then that I became interested in their conversation. Sorry, I didn't mean to eavesdrop! It was just that their voices were loud enough to reach us and also, I wanted to know what church they were attending. From their exchanges, it was obvious that the two men were both Christians as they were talking about church ministry. What a blessing to hear two men talking not about women, nor jobs, 
or business, but serving God!
Anyway, Shutter Cafe is full of things concerning photography and there 
is an adjacent area where various equipment are being sold. Also, photography seminars are held here very once in a while.
As for the food, here's what I had with my daughter: 

Quarter Pounder Burger with Cheese, P180.
This was delicious. The beef patty tasted great and the bun was fresh. The veggies were love, adding some healthy goodness to this sinful treat that I now decide to have just once in a while. 

Belgian waffles with ice cream, P150.
My daughter's choice that afternoon, as she craved something sweet.

Iced Caramel Macchiato, P110.
I would usually have hot coffee when eating out but as it was a cloudy but humid 
afternoon, I had my joe iced and a little sweet. 

Cafe Mocha, P100.
My daughter's hot drink that provided thermal contrast with 
the ice cream on her waffles.


In, around and outside Shutter Cafe

Shutter Cafe at 118 Scout Dr. Lazcano near the corner of Tomas Morato, 
Diliman, Quezon City

If you're looking for a nice, quiet place to have coffee, Shutter Cafe may just be your perfect choice in the Tomas Morato Morato area. You're gonna love it there even more if you're into photography, and yes, if you're a Christian who listens
to mostly or solely worship songs.