Sunday, January 15, 2017

Visayas Ave. comes alive with Grub Hub

Visayas Ave. in Quezon City has practically been my second home as I have worked here for almost 13 years now. Though it's not exactly near our residence, I love this place and wouldn't want to trade it for any other in the metro. For one thing, because there's a lot of spaces planted with plants and trees here, pollution isn't much of a problem. I love going out of the office to take a walk after it rains to take in 
the fresh smell of wet grass! 
What's more, the whole stretch of the road is fast becoming an "eat street" with a lot of restaurants opening up in the past few months. Now, there are even two food parks to embark on a food trip in -- one opened last November while the other one is yet to start its operation as of this writing
On the first working day of 2017, my daughter and I went to the already open food park called Grub Hub at the corner of Visayas Ave. and Congressional Ave. This place is very impressive - well thought out, I could say because of its clean lay-out and orderliness. The colorful murals speak of the owners' artsiness and give vibrance to the park. I love, too that there are two mini bahay kubo or nipa huts that can seat four people each. I'm a rural person, that is why. I love anything that reminds me of my coastal hometown in Quezon province. This week, I went back there twice, with my youngest child the first time and with an office friend on the second, so I was able to try 
more offers from the other stalls. 
There is about a dozen food stalls at Grub Hub offering various cuisines like American (burgers, fries, waffles, etc.); Italian (pizza, pasta), Mediterranean (kebab, shawarma rice), Japanese (sushi, etc.) and Filipino (bagnet, inihaw na isaw, etc.) 
So far, these are what we've had:

California Rolls from Aji Sushi, P89. 

Taco Lumpia from Mrs. Lumpia, P159. 

Assorted "ihaw-ihaw" (barbecue) from Mang Larry's, P10. each

Tinapa Lumpia from Mrs. Lumpia, P129. 

Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings from St. Mick's Wing Bar, P180.

Chicha Bagnet from Chica's Chicharronia, P165.

Beef Shawarma Rice from Mrs. Lumpia, P145.

                    Banana Caramel Waffle from Vinsky Big Tummiez, P120. 

                           Filled Churros from Vinsky Big Tummiez, P115.
                      Lust vanilla milkshake from Wicked Kitchen, P170.
                                                 Some of the stalls inside Grub Hub
                                      In and around the food park 
                                             Air-conditioned area                                         

                                                                 Open-air back area

             Grub Hub on Visayas Ave. corner Congressional Ave., Quezon City

We loved the Shawarma Rice from Mrs. Lumpia but forgive me for saying I thought the Tinapa Lumpia was a hoax because while it was indeed flaked fish that was inside the fried rolls, there wasn't any of the smokey flavor of "tinapa" (smoked fish). Maybe they ran out of it? In that case, they should just have said it was not available. Tinapa is one of my top favorite all-day breakfast fares and I was so looking forward to having it lumpia-style so it was disappointing to learn I got duped. 
Thankfully, my daughter loved the Shawarma rice, which I tasted and approved of. Days later, my son and I ordered the Taco Lumpia also from Mrs. Lumpia and we both loved it, having lots of meat and cheese toppings. We thought, however, that it was wrongly named. It should have been Nachos Lumpia or Lumpia Nachos because it was nachos using fried lumpia wrapper instead of corn chips.
Anyway, the fried chicken wings from St. Mick's Wing Bar lacked in oomph because there wasn't any crunch to it like it had been cooked for some time before it was served or it wasn't fried long enough, but at least the garlic parmesan flavor 
was present and it was good.
Mang Larry's is of course that popular ihaw-ihaw (barbecue) stall at UP Diliman and its patrons are surely happy to find it here, too, at Grub Hub. My daughter and I loved the "isaw" (chicken intestines) and "tenga" (pig's ear) bathed in lip-smacking, spiced vinegar. I saw fellow diners in the other tables having lots of these ihaw-ihaw with beer. Perfect match, I know, although I shun alcohol. 
My friend ordered the bagnet with rice and had churros for dessert. She said the bagnet was good with crackly skin. She wanted her churros with vanilla filling but it wasn't on the menu so she settled for chocolate and cheese. 
I had the Banana Caramel Waffle topped with a scoop of green tea-flavored ice cream and felt the sweet guilt afterwards. Tee-hee. The lovely milkshake adorned with a beautiful marshmallow crown and unicorn lollipop was my son's and he raved about it for being not too sweet but uber delicious!
I must admit that some of the food we've tried at Grub Hub aren't great but good enough to fill up. However, the place itself compensates for the lack in the taste department. There's good feel all around because there is art, nature (there's plants and trees although some are faux) and yes, nipa huts, which, for me, give the place a relaxing vibe. Overall, I consider Grub Hub a great food destination to bring family and friends over for a time to bond and catch up over a meal. 
Fortunately for me, I could be there any work day!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Maginhawa St. Gastronomic Walk #14: Provenciano (A Christmas celebration)

How do you bond with your friends? Me and my group in the office, we eat, eat and eat! We even aptly call ourselves the Kain Club -- a parody of Kanin Club, which is the name of a popular Filipino restaurant. Irony of ironies, we haven't gone to Kanin Club as a group, and we usually go to restaurants either on Maginhawa St, in our office "neighborhood" in Visayas Ave. , or at SM North Edsa. 
We celebrate milestones such as birthdays, or even the inauguration of a newly elected President of the country, and receiving bonuses by eating out.  Sometimes, we eat out even if there's no occasion to celebrate and we simply want to chat while filling our tummies. One time, a power outage caused us to stop working, and we decided it was 
a good opportunity to have some ice cream at a nearby restaurant. 
Two months ago, we even turned an "adversary" into a happy occasion. Our building (as well as other government buildings in our area) received bomb threats that turned out to be a hoax, thank God, and we were sent home early so it gave us 
another reason to eat out. 
Last December, our group celebrated Christmas by having lunch on Maginhawa St. It was Provenciano restaurant that was the choice of one of us, and we all approved. The name refers to any person who hails from the province. If you would browse 
the menu, you would discover that it comprises dishes that 
come from different provinces of the Philippines. 
Very aptly named, this restaurant is.
Our orders:

Molo ni Lolo, P270.

Provenciano Ensalada, P240.

Sinigang na Baboy, P325.
Adobong Kalding, P330.

Crispy Pata, P610. 
Pusit sa Bawang, P280.

Hardinera, P310.

Guinumis, P95.  
Condiments galore 

Inside Provenciano

Christmas 'kakanin' station

We had such a festive, delicious and enjoyable lunch apt for celebrating the happiest time of the year. All the dishes we ordered were good except for the Molo soup. Well, it could have been really tasty were it not too salty! Thankfully, there was the sinigang which sourness provided some balance. The Adobong Kalding (kambing or goat) was something different, even a little exotic for me 'coz it's not everyday I get to eat it, but I enjoyed it. The meat was tender and without any unpleasant smell as some people who shy away from it might be thinking. 
The baby squids were really tiny but the dish was big in flavor - with the sourness of the vinegar and saltiness of the soy sauce effectively doing a balancing act. It was the Crispy Pata, however, that I loved the most. The crackling of the skin under my teeth was both fun and pleasure and the meat dipped in my mixture of vinegar, soy sauce and chopped green chilies that I made from the "Sawsawan (condiments) Bar" 
were pure bliss to my taste buds.
To provide a sweet ending to our lunch, we ordered Guinumis - a dessert of sago and coconut milk that originated from where my roots came from - Quezon Province.
Speaking of the "Sawsawan Bar", it's the first thing I noticed inside Provenciano, where there's an assortment of sauces, which Pinoys love dipping their bits and pieces of meat or fish into. Outside, however, one wouldn't miss the mini-Bahay Kubo where bibingka and puto bumbong were made and sold. 
Very Christmas-sy!
Visit Provenciano, folks and enjoy your favorite Filipino comfort food with family and friends any day of the week. If you have visitors from abroad (balikbayan), it's the perfect place for bringing them for lunch or dinner. It could get jam-packed like during the time we were there so make a reservation if you're bringing 
a group, especially on weekends. 
Happy eating!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Croc cuisine and more at The Urban Cafe

Some three years ago, a co-worker/friend and I went to this restaurant that served crocodile meat -- Nueve Cafe -- located at Wilcon City on Visayas Ave., where our office is located. I remembered ordering pasta that had croc meat in it, which I didn't enjoy much. Months later, I found out that the place had closed down, and another 
restaurant opened in its spot -- Urban Cafe. 
Just last week, I decided to try this one with my daughter, only to learn, much to my surprise, that it also served crocodile meat! I concluded then that this cafe is owned by the same ones as those of Nueve Cafe, although I forgot to ask the server. 
Anyway, I thought this place was much better now in terms of interiors. It now has a more modern look and the spot where we chose to be seated was cozy and even homey. When we placed our orders, my daughter surprised me by choosing to have croc steak. She was a lot bolder than me! I, ugh..had croc meat too but settled for something already processed -- sausage. Hehe...
These were what we had for lunch: 

Sousvide Croc Crossbone Steak, P195.
I took a bite of this and thought that croc meat had a distinct taste that I could not compare to pork or beef or chicken. I read somewhere, however, that it's similar to combined chicken and crab meat. I couldn't really agree because I was confused about whether my taste buds were getting the croc meat taste itself or the spices used in the dish. Honestly, croc meat is not for non-adventurous eaters like me. One more thing I disliked about this croc steak, it had a huge fat part which made me cringe, 
thinking about my liver. Ugh! 

 Croc Sausage Silog, P180.
This was more to my liking as the croc meat had been turned into wee bits and pieces and it was rightly spiced, only it was not very tender and juicy. It could be that it was already past its best age or a bit over-fried. Still, I was quite happy 
and satisfied with my meal.

Chocolate cake, P95/slice
Chocolate isn't my favorite kind of cake but I ordered this because I thought Santa was really cute. Seriously! I love Christmas-themed desserts! The cake itself was something to love, too, so no regrets about my choice. It was moist, 
chewy and not oversweet. 

Mocha Frappe, P145. 
My daughter's drink. Quite good but really saccharine! 

Cafe Cappuccino, P100. 
I loved my cup of joe for its spicy aroma and bold flavor plus the huge serving!

Last Friday, a holiday, was still a working day for me -- my last for 2016. I decided to go back to Urban Cafe by my lonesome for my afternoon break but I did not really take some rest because I brought with me some paperwork. I ordered the Urban Clubhouse which was really good! I washed it down with a cup of latte. I loved working in between bites and sips of such yummy things! 

Urban Clubhouse, P190.
I found bacon, egg, chicken, and tomatoes and crunchy slices of cucumber placed in between slices of wheat bread, and the cacophony of flavors worked immensely well with each other. I so loved this -- the best clubhouse sandwich I've had in a long time! There's wedged potatoes on the side but I'm not a fan of fried spuds so I didn't care much about it. Well, I did eat apiece and found it a bit limp. I would have liked it if were a little toasted and crunchy.

Cafe Latte, P90.
Thumbs up for my cup of poison! Even with the milk, it was still rich, bold and strong. It established Urban Cafe as my go-to place for good coffee when I'm at work.

Inside The Urban Cafe

Try The Urban Cafe whenever you swing by Visayas Ave., folks! Go get some crocodile meat if you love exotic food but settle for the "normal" things on the menu if you're not up for some adventure. And I'd definitely recommend the clubhouse if you want 
a filling sandwich. The coffee is a must try, too!
Be comfy and relaxed with the friendly crew at your service. Save your worries and tasks for later but if you must work or study as you sip coffee, there's free and fast wi-fi for added comfort and convenience. What's more, prices are not to break the bank for. See you there, friends 'coz I'm definitely coming back for more working breaks.
Happy eating!