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#Restaurants

Latasia Fusion – Vegetarian Food that is making a difference!

I must admit, the first time I asked my wife to eat in Latasia Fusion on a Saturday night, I thought twice about visiting this place. I was expecting an al fresco setup with a garden but instead the place was small and literally a hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant. If George Ramos did not rave about how good the vegetarian food is, I wouldn’t even consider to eat here. I was flabbergasted by how good the vegetarian food even better than its meat counterparts at a low price of less than P100 for a complete meal! This beats the cost of a Jollibee meal these days and it gives you healthy benefits that not even a chicken joy or jolly burger can provide.

I won’t give a lecture on how vegetarian food is the best diet for a guilt-free eating to a healthy living (as Latasia Fusion’s slogan suggest). I was a struggling, trying-hard vegetarian at one point (if you been reading my blog for some time now) and the last thing I want to hear is somebody preaching about the bad effects of a carnivorous diet. I was only able to sustain it for a month and then I was back to my steak-eating ways. I had a lot of excuses which includes the availability of delicious vegetarian cuisine at a low costs as possible. Latasia Fusion was able to break this excuse by providing vegetarian versions of our favorite Kare Kare, Shawarma, Barbeque, Lengua, Morcon, vegetarian egg and eggless mayonnaise, etc… You have to taste it to believe it and if this was near our place, I wouldn’t mind eating here the entire week 🙂 Also, one of the complaints of people going to a vegetarian diet is that your Uric Acid will drastically increase because of eating a lot of soya, nuts, and beats. Alex is a living testimony that this is not so even if you eat it on a daily basis. Although your body needs to undergo an adjustment period as the body cleanses the toxins in your body at the start.

Latasia Fusion’s menu is a mix of latin and asia cuisines (hence the name Latasia) owned by Alex and wife, Fortune. They make sure that they serve a complete meal consisting of meat, vegetables and dessert. Snacks such as muesli and granola are also available for those on the go. Alex Orlino, who is an animal rights activist and a member of PETA ( People for the ethical treatment of animals) was determined to become a vegetarian to live his convictions. Thanks to his wife Fortune with her Kapampangan culinary powers, she was able to cook creative vegetarian dishes that is palatable to the Filipino taste and at the same time healthy for the body. Alex has been a vegetarian for 5 years now and in fact, he shares this conviction to people who visits Latasia by giving out free packet containing brochures, stickers, and video materials to inspire people to become a vegetarian. Their lunch menu changes every day and you have to go there when the vegetarian Kare Kare is available. Fortunately, their vegetarian shawarma best seller is available everyday. To those who may be interested to know their weekly menu, you may contact them so your trip there will not be wasted but then, if you are already there why not try out their other dishes as well.

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Je Suis Gourmand: Revisited

My favorite restaurant in the Makati area just got better 🙂 Last January, we celebrated my son’s birthday in Je Suis Gourmand ( see Aidan’s Je Suis Gourmand Birthday Dinner ) and I’ve complained about how small the place is. Last June, the place just got bigger and I would dare to say more romantic. I’m glad that they can accommodate more people already because before you would usually need to reserve to eat here at night. They now have two private rooms for celebrating special occasions — how I wished they renovated earlier 🙂 This is my favorite restaurant because you can’t go wrong with any of the dishes you order here. Secondly, I love places where the Chef is always in the restaurant and interacts with his guests. Lastly, it is has a cozy environment conducive for chatting with friends and co-workers. To top it off, the waiters are very friendly and parking is never a problem.

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Cookbook Kitchen – a secret homey place in Mandaluyong

I always love to find secret restaurants. The ones that are out-of-the-way quaint places and you have to find it like having a treasure map with X marking the spot. I also want to surprise my wife every time with these few secret places that’s becoming rare these days. I always love it when you really have to drive and maneuover your way through the city maze not knowing exactly where the place is. My wife would start to sermon on how expensive gasoline is but I just had to satisfy my thrill of looking for these places specially if the only clue I have was “it is just along shaw boulevard.” Even though we traversed the entire shaw boulevard, we cannot find Cook book kitchen and it is just a stroke of luck when we just happen to pass by the place when we are becoming desperate.

Once you arrive in the place, you would instinctive realize why it is called cookbook kitchen. The place is right in the middle of a residential community in Mandaluyong with a house turned into a cozy restaurant. It was a dream of Chef Gen Capati to open his own restaurant that serves home-cooked dishes and it came true almost one and a half years ago. Beside the restaurant, there is a home-based gym that one of the son is operating and it probably make sense to co-locate them 🙂 The lovely couple is always there with the husband cooking the best sellers of the house and with wife, Liza, manning the cash register and entertaining the guests. We had fun chatting with Liza and I caution you not to start a conversation with her because she has so much stories to tell 🙂

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Chocolate Kiss Cafe – The Good Stuff?


Gamberi Pasta (P210)

We were planning to eat healthy food last night, and we were looking for this literally hole-in-the-wall vegetarian restaurant called Latasia Fusion in UP. It is a small carinderia place but there was no parking near it to our disappointment. We did not want to risk to park in the dark specially with the heavy rains so we just decided to drive along Magsaysay blvd to visit the famous Chocolate Kiss Cafe of Bahay ng Alumni in UP. It was our first time there and we were excited to finally get a chance to taste “the good stuff” that it was famous for. The Bahay ng Alumni reminds me of my college days (in another university) and the ambiance of solid straight line structures with tall pillars in the facade of the building. Since Chocolate kiss is hidden at the second floor of the building, we were doubtful at first whether it is open or was it the right place. The ground floor appeared deserted after what appears to be a wedding event that was just finished.

The food was indeed good and we all agreed that the Gamberi Pasta was a sure winner. The small sauteed hot shrimps with large garlic and green chili slices with lemon juice is a must eat dish here in Chocolate Kiss cafe (CKC). The servings are generous and is good for 2. It is a very good value considering that the P210 is a net price already with no hidden additional charges of VAT or service charge. We were also surprised how big the place is inside because you only see a small restaurant in the second floor from the door. On saturdays, you get live piano music to add an overall romantic ambiance of the place which it is famous for. Also, we were happily surprised that they gave my 18 month old son a free chocolate chip cookie which the mom enjoyed eating because her reasoning was chocolates are not yet for toddlers especially near bedtime 🙂

The only thing that bothered me is the staff, particularly the manager. I would normally start to talk to the one in charge of the place and get his / her recommendations which is usually a lot better than talking to the waiters. To my disappointment and shock, as I was talking to her she told me, “Maybe you should ask the waiter so that we will know if they are trained very well” and then immediately looking the other way. This reminded me of the snobbish treatment one would receive in Fat Michael’s. To top it off they have this paranoia about people taking photographs. She said that they were traumatized by a young group of people who took pictures and wrote a whole page bulletin write-up criticizing Chocolate Kiss Cafe. So this cafe is the first No-Photography-Allowed Cafe in my one and a half years of blogging experience and hopefully the last! I still managed to take some photos of CKC’s good stuff but I guess this makes it as my first paparazzi photos.

Just one piece of unsolicited advice, the good stuff should be complimented by a good staff !

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Food

The Battle of the Gasoline Cakes

Caltex Chocolate Cake aka Celine’s Bakeshop Choco Midnight Fudge

VS.


Shell Chocolate Cake aka Ms. Polly’s Specialty Cakes and Desserts Chocolate Cake

Sometimes I would come home late from the office and my wife will be disappointed. I always make sure that I have chocolates as pasalubong to appease her heart and tummy — and usually it works. One day, we had a lovers quarrel and she said that no amount of chocolate in the whole world can fix our misunderstanding. I told myself that this is the perfect time to try out the chocolate cakes of Caltex in Buendia/ Pasong Tamo and Shell Magallanes, which a lot of people are raving about. These gasoline cakes passed with flying colors because both of them are equally very good and my wife was happy 🙂 !

If you would ask me which one is better, I would have a hard time answering. We even tasted the chocolate cakes side by side but still it was a close call. But of course, only one can win the Battle of the Gasoline Cakes!

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a 6 Underground Party



I must admit that I’m too old for drinking all night at a bar. I was down all weekend and the suspect may be because of that nasty hangover. After drinking 4+ glasses of red wine, 1 tanqueray cocktail, and 4++ bottles of red horse last friday night, I realized that my body can only take so much alcohol abuse in one night. The celebration was all about Romi Garduce’s treat to his colleagues which he decided to celebrate at the 6 Underground Bar along C. Palanca in Makati.

The crowd normally arrives around 10ish (as they would say these days) once the front act band starts. So if you want to have the place all to yourself then i suggest that you be there before 10pm. Once the clock strikes 10, the program starts it with two groups of amateur band, working their ass off for free. In exchange, 6UG gives them jam time to showcase their talents. If you are into pinoy rock, then you might enjoy the music. As for me, I find it too loud and felt too old for these kind of stuff 🙂 But I had to hear the music of Mayonnaise band who sang “Jopay”. They started to show their stuff by midnight. It was a Red horse night which means most of the bands are sponsored by Red horse. However, only Red horse beers are served at a buy one take one promo for that night.

Even though loud rock music is not my cup of tea, I still had fun listening to them with the company of my officemates. However, I learned my lesson that night on my body’s limit in drinking alcohol. This is one of the reason I don’t really blog about bars in the metro even though I wanted to include Embassy, Temple Bar and others. Thanks to Romi for the treat last Friday. Check out some images of 6UG…

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Kublai’s Rock is Back!

“Kublai’s Rock on Jupiter St. was the place to be in the late 80’s.” according to Christine of ramblings from a gypsy soul. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t know and the name does not ring any bell. I started hitting the bars in the 90’s already during my college years. As with anything that is 80’s, this legendary place is making a comeback and hopefully for good after 20 years. ( Can somebody share what makes this Kublai Rock a legend during its time?)

What interests me in this place is the all-you-can-eat Mongolian Buffet that my wife and I have been craving for the past years after our favorite mongolian restaurant along Mile Long closed down, no other restaurant here in manila have been able to fulfill this craving. I’m sure some of you would remember that simple Mongolian restaurant (they even have 2 stores at that same location), the favorite hangout of almost everybody before watching a Louie’s movie (the first THX movie house in the Philippines) in Milelong, Makati. So ever since Christine posted “The Return of a Legend: Kublai’s Rock“, we were looking for the first opportunity to eat in Kublai’s Rock and finally we satisfied our hunger for Mongolian last Sunday night.

The good thing about Mongolian is that the food is as good as how well you would mix and match the ingredients. So for me, I had the best Mongolian buffet that I have ever tasted in years 🙂 Although, I think we ate too much and we were so excited that we finished 3.5 bowls. I was not disappointed with the assortment of meat, seafood and vegetable ingredient, including my favorite fish ball, mushroom, and tofu. They also have a free potato soup that comes with the buffet that just tasted like too much arina. We were hoping instead of soup, that they would include a dessert — that sago coconut milk dessert which gives closure and a satisfying experience after eating a lot of mongolian bowls. For P365 / person (including VAT and service charge), I do hope they include a dessert because we just felt that it was expensive for a Mongolian buffet. If I can remember correctly, we would only pay P100+ then for the mongolian buffet with dessert and I can’t imagine that it would be 3x more. But I guess you go here to experience the Legend of Kublai’s Rock…

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Tandoor King – Indian-inspired Fast Food in Mall of Asia

I love food adventure and I’m always excited to try innovative food. So when my friend Grace called me raving about this new indian place in the Mall of Asia, I can’t wait to taste their Indian-inspired food. Like most restaurants in the Mall of Asia, they are on soft opening mode and hence, there is an invisible sign that says “Proceed with caution”. My wife and I only agreed that the Mixed Tikka Pizzanaan is an absolute winner but the rest of the food got mixed reactions. First and foremost, the reason for being of the restaurant is its Tandoori Chicken cooked in a very hot special clay oven with charcoal. I loved the spicy Tandoori taste where the chicken is marinated in a mixture of herbs, spices and yogurt that give it a distinctive red color and it has a distinctive smoky flavor. However, my wife was expecting a sweet teriyaki taste but it failed to meet this expectation. Since this is a fast food concept, the food is very affordable with a price range of P100-P200 max.

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Peri Peri Chicken Experience

Definitions of peri peri on the Web:

“Piri-piri, peri-peri or peli-peli is the name used in Portuguese and a number of African languages to describe the African bird’s-eye chilli, a member of the capsicum plant genus. This is a small and extremely spicy variety. The variations in spelling derive from the various pronunciations of the word in parts of Africa, although “piri-piri” is the correct spelling in Portuguese. ” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peri_peri)

Just by its definition, you can tell that the peri peri chicken would taste something exotic. After roasting the chicken for 30mins, it is then subjected to a spit fire oven before being served to the guest. The white meat was just as tasty as the dark meat that every bite was juicy and releases the flavorful taste of herbs and spices. One would be surprised that the usual chicken wing can now be eaten with much gusto unlike when you eat Baliwag’s or Andok’s that it just goes to waste. The experience was similar to the CNT lechon of Cebu where you do not need any more sauce to supplement its taste and it can stand on its own. Although for chili lovers, you might opt to try their unique peri peri chili sauce which could be an acquired taste because we are used to the tabasco chili sauce or the garlic chili taste in chinese restaurants. The sidelines are nothing but ordinary but the place turns over diners like a fast food restaurant.

I’m not surprised that this less than a month old restaurant is such a hit and this became famous through word of mouth. Although, I was sad that Peri Peri Chix replaced Kohikan’s spot in Greenhills Prominade. This is their first store and I’m sure at the rate they are going, I’m hopeful that they will open in Glorietta soon! Check out the rest of the photos of the peri peri chicken experience. Thanks to Pam and Tanya for the tip!

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Sonja’s Cupcakes— Creating the Cupcake Craze in the Philippines?

10/2/2015 Update: CRUPCAKE Craze by Sonja in Manila?! #Crupcakes

What happens when a passionate baker, who had a stint in New York’s Magnolia Bakery, famous for its cupcakes which have a cultish following (where Carrie and Miranda of Sex in the City devoured cupcakes), opens up a bakery store dedicated in selling cupcakes in Serendra by July 2006, and bakes the most mouth watering cupcakes I have ever seen in the Philippines? Just maybe, we are looking at the next dessert cupcake craze in the Philippines! As Lori pointed out in her article, “Cupcakes for a birthday girl and an anxious mom“, the cupcake craze have not yet taken off in Manila but it is one of those desserts that are absolutely loved by kids. I recently recall an interesting article by Lori regarding her daughter Boo baking art cup cakes. There are in fact, an entire blog dedicated to cupcakes and recipes: Chokylit’s Cupcake Bakeshop blog, and Cupcake Queen’s 52 Cupcakes.

I got this tip from Christine’s blog “Ramblings from a Gypsy Soul” and I immediately got hooked and I was not disappointed. The cupcakes are heavy because they are full of ingredients and not one of those cupcakes from local bakeries that are full of air. One cupcake which costs P45 for the classic ones and P65 with special ingredients, is actually enough for one sitting. So just imagine how much weight my wife and I gained in devouring 18 cupcakes in 4 days. This is to share with you what we think about Sonja’s cupcakes. But just a disclaimer, I’m really not fond of cupcakes and as a child we never really got into eating cupcakes for dessert, so read the following review from a point of view of a virgin cupcake lover.

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