Saturday, August 23, 2008

Icings now in Tomas Morato!

For some reason, I feel at home when I dine at Icings in SM Hypermart in Pasig (Tiendesittas). So when Icing opened a new store in Tomas Morato, I was happy. The place was bright and airy, and bigger. It was a good place for a conversation with friends over coffee, tea and cakes. The shop in Morato expanded their menu to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have yet to try their new offerings. I have been a fan of their sandwiches. So if you're in the area, drop by Icings. It's located along a street off Tomas Morato (sorry for the directions), but there was a sign that guided me. That's how I found it.

Sugarfree Ube Mango Cake

White Velvet (white chocolate coffee concoction)

Spanish Tsokolate

Cucina Gayuma

When Jason and Mich told me that there was this new resto in Greenhills, I immediately asked if it was good there. I think I have been on a bad restaurant streak these weeks, and I just couldn't find anything new and worthy of true praise these days. So, off we drove to Greenhills, trying to find the newest kid on the block, Cucina Gayuma.

Not to be mistaken for the now closed Gayuma Restaurant in Katipunan, Cucina Gayuma is located just after the intersection of Santolan and Ortigas in Greenhills. You wouldn't miss it, going to Gilmore. Parking is a problem since it's in a row of shops situated in front of a very busy road.

Ok. When I saw the sign and got a peak of the inside, I must admit I became hesitant. It was those types of restaurants that was in a wrong place, with a bad taste for design. The place was small, but had two floors. There was a function going on upstairs, and there were other big groups dining downstairs with us. So it was pretty packed and that was impressive for a new restaurant. So, despite the poor ambience and taste in design, I hoped that the food would compensate.

The place had a Filipino design, which made me think their menu was Filipino. However, there were only a few Filipino dishes. There was no theme, so it fell under those fusion restaurants. The waiter gave us a special menu, which surprisingly was half sold out. We ordered the Laing Cheese Spread (P80) to start. It came out served with hard to chew tortilla triangles. The cheese spread was good, but I ordered it for the laing flavor which was just a hint.

Next, we ordered the Seafood Aligue Pasta. They told us that the Laing Pasta was a bestseller, but since we wanted laing more as an appetizer, we got the super-calorific dish instead. At first, it was promising. The sauce was evenly mixed with the pasta. The taste can be likened to Pancit Malabon or Palabok, and since I was already craving for palabok since yesterday, that was a welcome treat. But if I didn't have that craving, I would be truly disappointed. The menu looked so inviting, and out comes a seafood palabok dish. It didn't taste bad, but I just expected something different, having tasted other aligue pastas.

So, with a disappointed mood, I was served the Baked Ribs. You can notice the variety of dishes offered. I decided between the Baked Ribs (P280) or the Inihaw na Liempo with Ginataang Santol (P195). The waiter again advised us to take the Baked Ribs as it was a bestseller. And since I am in the hunt for the best ribs, I gave in to his recommendation. The dish turned out to be the worst of them all. The BBQ sauce was so overpowering. The dish looked dull and the streak of sauce in the middle of the plate made me laugh. I wish they'd put some greens on the plate. The meat was tender though, but I just couldn't stand the enormous burst of BBQ.

Finally, we had the Baked Parmesan Crusted Fish, since we were comparing the resto to Cookbook Kitchen for some reason. This dish was okay for me, except that it was overseasoned with pepper. You could feel the pepper spiking down your throat. You had to wash a bite down with water. The mushroom was a good touch to the dish though I was bothered thinking if they used Campbell's for the sauce. The fish was also small, and didn't fill up the entire baking dish.

So, verdict? I was disappointed, and we actually didn't get dessert anymore. I was afraid that the Turtle Pie wouldn't be Turtle Pie, or that the leche flan would be store bought. I really wanted to give this resto a chance, since it was a good effort. I assume it was owned by a young chef who wanted a restaurant of his own to share with friends. But the place was horrible, not that comfortable, and the food was below my standards. Maybe I came on a bad time, since it was full. So, it's up to you to decide and tell me if I was just in bad luck.

Cucina Gayuma is located along Granda St., just after the Ortigas-Santolan intersection.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

White Hat Craze!

As I've said, I've been a fan of frozen soft-serve yogurt for years now, and it's good that the craze is finally hitting the Philippines. Fro-Yo, as it is more popularly called, is a great alternative to ice cream and is a truly satisfying dessert. The best thing is, with the notion that it is "healthier", you can devour one without the guilt.

From FIC Ice Cream Bar, we move on to White Hat. Most consider White Hat to be the best fro-yo in town, so I decided to pass by while visiting an event venue in SM Mall of Asia. White Hat is located in front of Nike on the 2nd floor near SM Discovery Center and China Highlands Palace. Rotimum is also nearby, which I think is a great partner to the Fro-yo.

White Hat has two sizes, regular (P85) and large (P115). Toppings start at P20. The toppings are not that appetizing on display, hence I had a difficult time choosing. I was weary since the fruits looked canned. No fresh ones, so that was a disappointment. The selection wasn't as varied too. I wanted more toppings, like streusel and gourmet nuts. The selection was like more for kids.

I was happy that was green tea jelly so I paired that with almonds. For another cup, we paired mango and chocolate chips. I really had not much choice.

Despite all these, the frozen yogurt was excellent. It was silky and smooth and had the right tangy flavor that I thought was missing in FIC's version. Its sweetness was balanced. I gauge how much I like a frozen yogurt by consuming spoonfuls in quick succession. If the flavor is consistent, then it's good. Try it (finish your fro-yo fast, hehe), just make sure you have another cup on standby if ever it's good. I liked the fro-yo so much, I almost ignored the boring toppings. So I hope White Hat improves on that, and present options to its customers for combinations.

Thus, all in all, White Hat is a must visit place to chill out. It definitely won me over with its balance of flavor. You'll still taste true yogurt, that makes you crave for more.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Apartment 1B

I forgot to post this entry on Apartment 1B, the quaint restaurant at the ground floor of Lafayette along Sedeno in Makati. Of course, this entry may be too late, since Apartment 1B is already considered one of the worthy restaurants in the city. I was excited to try everything in their limited menu, since I was so hungry (hence, takaw-tingin). Here's what we had:

For Starters, the New Zealand Mussels. This dish was supposed to be a starter, but it was more of an entree! Well, mussels from New Zealand are huge, but they served a lot of it. They were both fresh and refreshing. We even ordered extra bread, that was also excellent.

The first entree was the Pasta, the Spaghetti Vongole. It was a spaghetti with manila clams, white wine, olive oil and garlic. It was not a good choice, since the starter tasted similar to this dish. Just change the mussels to clams, and make it spicier and throw in some spaghetti. We just wanted some pasta, so this was the choice. It wasn't bad though.

I had the Roasted Half Chicken, which was indeed a big half chicken. The chicken was done just right, its juices oozing excessively from the succulent meat and perfectly burnt skin. It was my meal, since I am a white-meat type of guy. After devouring five big bites of white meat, I was already stuffed.

The servings in Apartment 1B are huge, so make sure you know how to control ordering. Share your dish with your friends. That's a great way of tasting a lot of treats. We still had some space left for dessert though, so we just had them bring the best. They served us the White Toblerone Cheesecake. And yes, it was indeed satisfying enough to make me rethink my previous list of the best cheesecakes in town. The cheesecake itself was moist and creamy, and the crust was homemade goodness. I remember the crust of the cheesecake of the my mom with this one. It was a great ending.

Apartment 1B calls their dishes gourmet comfort food. The gourmet I can see. The comfort food I can tell. But in the end, I think what they're trying to say is that their food is satisfying, food you love made even better. I can think of a whole lot more comfort food, but what they serve is enough to make you come back for more. See you at breakfast!

(pardon the ugly pictures, taken using my camera phone)


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