Thursday, February 9, 2017

Visayas Ave. sizzles with The Food Hive

 Food parks are the "in" thing these days in the foodie scene, aren't they? They're all over my Facebook feed as many of my young friends go to them with their group of friends and post enviable, drool-worthy pictures. Huge crowds are often seen in these parks, and people have reasons going: food choices are many, prices are reasonable, the ambiance is casual and fun and conducive to hanging out with friends. Most close down very late at night or even early in the morning, making these places food the perfect "gimmick" spots for the 
millennials and the yuppies.  
Happily, in Visayas Ave. where I go to work, there are now two food parks. Grub Hub opened in November 2016 while the other, called The Food Hive, started operating around middle of January 2017. My daughter, friends and I wasted no time and immediately tried the food offered at this newbie, and we were 
delighted at our discoveries. 
These were our orders and the stalls where we scored them: 

Bubble Wraps
Specialty: Egg waffles that can be had plain or with fillings

Chicken Bubble Wraps, P185. 
Yummy-looking and yummy for real, only, the fried chicken fillet was too salty. I removed the batter and it tasted a lot better. The bubble waffle was delicious, I could eat it on its own, 
with a dab of butter, perhaps.

Specialty: Bulgarian dishes

Kepapche, P169. 

These grilled minced and spiced meat formed into sausages called kepapche (or kebapche) are much like the Mediterranean kebab both in taste and appearance. The chef who prepared it was Bulgarian so maybe, that's how they call kebab? The meat was mildly spiced but still very flavorful and went nicely with a cup of rice. Kepapche, the chef said, was supposed to be served with potatoes but they still weren't done preparing them, I was apologetically told. No regrets, though, 
I was starving and needed rice!

Pappare Ristoranti
Specialty: Pasta-to-go

Reginette ala Pesto, P195. 
I loved this, it was delicious! The pesto sauce had a delicate balance of saltiness and basil flavor. I only wished there was a piece of garlic toast on the side. And it was fun eating pasta from an upside-down pyramid carton using chopsticks! You can eat while holding the cone if that's how you like it, but you could get and use a wooden mount for convenience. 

La Carnita
Specialty: Mexican food

Grilled Nachos ala Bomba - P195.
This is a huge order of nachos that can be shared by two to three people. This is not your ordinary nachos, however, as it is said to be the first ever grilled one ever made available in a foodie place. When an order is placed, melted cheese sauce, mozzarella and cheddar are pan-grilled together then poured over nacho chips, as you watch drooling. Hehe.. 

Crispy Taco - P90.
This one's really good and quite unlike most tacos I've had in other places. I can't figure out what exactly makes it taste different but it's obvious that La Carnita has its own distinct and stand-out recipe. The taco does not bank on a generous topping of cheese to be tasty, but on the spices themselves that give so much flavor to the meat. The meat, by the way, isn't ground but cut up into small chunks. Well, that's what "carnita" means in Mexico -- roasted or braised meat cut into small pieces. 

Soft Taco - P90.
Friend's order that I didn't bother to pay attention to because I was deep into my crunchy Taco. I guess she liked this one as I didn't hear any complaint.

Specialty: Iced tea and other drinks

Strawberry Tea, Grande - P95; Cucumber Basil w/ Lemon, tall - P75. 
Juicifi is the only stall inside Food Hive that exclusively offers refreshments. Their Cucumber Basil with Lemon Juice is very refreshing and not to mention, healthy! However, I wanted to have iced coffee on that particular visit but was told it wasn't available yet although it's in the menu. I hope I could have it already on my next visit.

In and around The Food Hive

Upper Level

View from the second level

The Food Hive is at #80 Visayas Ave., Diliman, QC

As I said, food parks are the trend nowadays and new ones open up every so often. But I see what sets The Food Hive apart from the others: the dishes are all of high and good quality. Why? Because the stalls are owned not by just any businessmen but by chefs, some of them already a household name being celebrities. There's Po Bo (short for Potato Bomb) that is owned by Chef Rosebud Benitez and serves potato dishes. There's also Wingfather that serves chicken wings in various flavors and owned by Chef Luigi Muhlach, the son of Janice de Belen and Aga Muhlach. Also, there's Blaze, which offers sisig, among others, that is owned by Chef Ed Bugia -- the man behind Pino and Pi Breakfast and Pies, among his other ventures. And the list goes on.
I hope to try the food offered by the other stalls soon. It's a good thing I could go to The Food Hive anytime I want during work days as our office is just a stone's throw away.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The thriving of Ka Tunying's Cafe

I first blogged about Ka Tunying's Cafe (KTC) in 2015 when this restaurant was just a newbie on Visayas Ave. in Quezon City. Since then, how fast has Ka Tunying's grown! Not only has it opened a branch on Timog Ave. also in QC, and another one at NAIA Terminal 3, it also has expanded its menu from just all-day breakfast to now include traditional Filipino dishes (some of them with a new twist!) 
that are well-loved for lunch and dinner. 
There is now lechon belly, embotido, and sinigang, among other entrees or ulam (viand) that are best for lunch and dinner, and pasta and pancit bihon for merienda. There are some rather unusual and interesting (and not to mention healthy!) dishes, too, such as the Pasta Ashitaba (a medicinal plant) and Kalabasa Lasagna. All these, perhaps, explain why Ka Tunying's Cafe has now become a must-visit for many balikbayan 
(returning overseas Filipinos), I read recently. 
Personally speaking, this restaurant is one of my favorites not just for the food and different coffee concoctions but also for the simple but classy
homey and quiet ambiance. Because Visayas Ave. is where I go to work, the branch there is the one I frequent, together with my friends in the office. I also would sometimes bring family - sometimes my kids, the other times my sisters. 
Here's what we've ordered over the past few months:

Tinapa Chowder
This soup is so delicious it's become one of my top favorites at Ka Tunying's Cafe. Why, there's my favorite Tinapa, creamy and flavorful soup and bread on which I lavishly spread butter. 
Just this and coffee complete my afternoon work breaks.

Tinapa Carbonara
As I've mentioned, Tinapa is one of my favorites and I eat it with fried rice any time of the day, even for breakfast, and lunch, and dinner. Yup, I can eat it the whole day! Even if Ka Tunying would put Tinapa on pasta, I'd still eat it! And guess what, he already did! Tee-hee. Kidding aside, this dish exceeded my expectations. It tasted way better than I thought! Imagine lots of flaked smoked fish and a balance of spices in a creamy sauce swirled all around all dente 
fettuccine. Served with a piece of cheesy bread, 
this Tinapa Carbonara is a winner!

Fish Fillet and Salted Egg Rolls
My BFF in the office ordered this one time when she was with another friend and she came back to the office, she was all praises for this dish. When we came back together to Ka Tunying's, she ordered this again. I then understood all the rave. This was really good! It's deep-fried cream dory fish with salted egg that's crunchy on the outside and soft in the center, and served with a tartar dip. My friend ordered a cup of rice to go with it but I imagine as I write this post that this would go so well with my favorite tinapa soup! Hmmm...Anyway, there are six pieces in one serving, laid over lettuce leaves that make a perfect  
fresh salad side dish. 
Chicken Tocino
If you love Tocino but want to cut down on red meat, like what I'm trying to do, this one is the perfect choice. The chicken is really tender and flavorful. Perfect for this plate of Tocilog that's great whether it's brekky or dinner time. 

Longsilog - Hamonado
There are three kinds of longganisa available at KTC - recado, batutay and this, hamonado. My sister and I ordered the hamonado and batutay one lunchtime. I can't remember who had which kind but we exchanged a piece so we could taste both. Well, the two longganisa are delicious  
and sis and I loved them.

Longsilog - Batutay
This is beef longganisa, the recipe for which originated from Cabanatuan City 
in the province of Nueva Ecija.

Pancit ni Nanay Benny
This was yummy but a little too salty. Maybe it's not always the case? I'm optimistic 'coz pancit bihon is among my comfort foods and I'd definitely order this again 
in one of my future visits to KTC.
Pandesal Platter
Love, love, love this! Four pieces of healthy turmeric pandesal, each with a different filling. There's Spanish sardines, corned beef, adobo and fried egg.  Served with crunchy camote 
(sweet potato) chips.
KTC Fried Chicken
My all-time favorite food! Ka Tunying's version doesn't disappoint. It's not thickly battered so more of chicken, less flour.
My friend's order and it made her happy and full.

Ham croissant
When you aren't up for a full and elaborate meal, just bread and coffee (or hot chocolate) might suit you just fine. One of my office friends had such pairing one afternoon and she was happy with it.

 Carrot cake, P125.
This has got to be the best carrot cake I'd had in a long time. It's soft, moist and not too sweet -- the perfect after-meal munchie to have with coffee.

Chocolate cake
This would have been a perfect dessert when my daughter and I had lunch one time but we were not very happy with it because it didn't seem freshly baked  because then. We would have wanted it to be moist and soft but it was anything but such

This is one extremely yummy dessert or light snack that's perfect with a steaming cup of coffee. It's firm but still soft, milky and just rightly sweet. And at just P25., it never fails 
my heart and taste buds sing. 😊

 Citrumeric Milkshake
My sister's drink. Fresh oranges with turmeric and milk.  
Refreshing and healthy!
Kape Berde
Truth to tell, this is one of my top reasons for coming back to Ka Tunying's Cafe. Whoever created this drink deserves a pat on the back. Lots of people love coffee, and green tea is fast catching up as a drink of choice so it's one commendable idea to put them together in one glass. What a genius! I sooo love this! Healthy, delicious and refreshing! 

Spiced Cocochino
This is coffee with a kick! --  cappuccino blended
with coconut syrup and siling labuyo (bird's eye chili). It's truly something different and unique to spice up a rather ordinary working day.

 Mochabayan Frappe
This coffee and chocolate drink would have been so loved by me had I not forgotten to tell the server that I didn't want any sugar in it (that's how I order all of my drinks in any restaurant). So while this was delicious, I cringed at all the sugar I was taking in!

Dalandan Ginger Iced Tea 
BFF's choice on one visit. Quite a unique concoction, isn't it? 
Great tasting and refreshing, too!

BFF's drink another time, paired with her Daingsilog. This is melon juice 
with milk, a little lemongrass and red pandan-flavored jelly.  Delicious! 

(From KTC's Facebook page)

It might seem I've tried a lot of dishes, desserts and refreshments at KTC but really, there's still many more I have yet to taste like the Kalabasa Lasagna and Pasta Ashitaba that I mentioned. So the crew there at Visayas Ave. 
haven't seen the last of me yet. He..he..
If you haven't been to Ka Tunying's Cafe, you're missing out on a lot, so come visit soon. If you're lucky, you might bump into Ka Tunying himself -- the witty and charming broadcast journalist Anthony Taberna. See you there 
and happy eating!