Saturday, November 21, 2009

Canvas: The Terraces, Ayala Cebu

Canvas is a new bistro bar that have been the recent trend in food hotspots in the country today. Cebu really is a treasure chest for great restaurants, that serve unique dining experiences. Canvas is the newest restaurant to open in the Terraces of Ayala Center Cebu, and it has shot up my list of best restaurants for the year.

Canvas calls itself a bistro bar, so it's a casual restaurant during the daytime, and a bar during night time. I heard that there were a lot of plans for this bar, which could turn it into a happening venue for the social class.

The kitchen opens up to the dining area, so you get to see and smell what's being cooked. The kitchen staff looked experienced, and seemed to enjoy what they were doing. I was really looking at how they cook the food from my seat. I observed their technique and plating, which really impressed me.

I was surprised to see how affordable the offerings were. It was a well planned menu, not too many and not too few. It was also great that they offered small portions of their entrees, so, you pay less. Most of the menu items had this dual pricing.

The first dish was called Bondi Beach (P360), which was a really shrimp 'n chips. The fries were a bit disappointing though, as it was just normal. The shrimp was also a bit small for me, but the breading was spiced right.

The salad served was the Arugla with Mozzarella (P175). The serving was enough for two. It also had some alfalfa sprouts, which always pairs well with arugula.

We ordered two kinds of pasta, both in single servings (the cheaper one). The first was the Mama's Spaghetti (P130), which was more of Pomodoro, only with richer tomato sauce. It was topped with meatballs as well.

The other pasta dish was my favorite, and was my first choice on the menu. The Linguine (P155) with a lot of other ingredients on it, was really spicy pesto with mushrooms. I couldn't remember the other stuff. I just remembered that I enjoyed this dish so much, even though it made my tongue heat up.

We also got a Seafood Risotto (P155) that was again presented on the menu with a lot of ingredients. I was intrigued by the combination of ingredients on a basic seafood risotto, so I insisted we get a single serving. Well, it turned out disappointing. I began to miss the risotto of C! Italian.

Other dishes came out, like the Beef Fillet (P195). I wasn't able to try this dish though, but my colleague told me that the meat was cooked right, medium rare. The mashed potato was also a little bland.

I asked for the most requested item on the menu, and the bubbly waiter gave us the Pork Fillet (P195), that came with a pasta as well. I didn't remember what pasta came along, because I wasn't able to write down anything. I was just tasting everything. Well, the bestseller wasn't extraordinary, but it was good.

I had to go into dessert after my having a bite on all dishes, so I immediately had the first choice, the Mango Yogurt with Green Tea Sorbet (P135). I was hesitant at first, but after my first spoon, I practically finished half of the small cup. All my favorites in one dessert: yogurt, mango and green tea ice cream. I loved this dessert.

I wasn't contented yet, so we got one more, the Caramelized Chocolate Brulee (P155). The caramelized shell on top of the chocolate was hard to break, and was so sweet as well. I had to spit out the hardened sugar. But the chocolate mousse was delightful.

We came to Canvas at around 3PM, and we were just looking for a place to relax and have dessert in. The small portions obviously made me excited in ordering, that turned our afternoon snack into a tasting feast. I love Canvas, because it mixes great ambience and deliciously cooked food at affordable prices. And their presentation was fantastic. It was also an art gallery after all, so the food must look like art. Even the waiters were wearing shirts that have been had painted. Canvas lives up to its promise of an inspiring dining experience.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Gustavian opens in Manila

The Gustavian is here in Manila, and has found its home rightfully in Eastwood Mall.

The Gustavian is an established restaurant in Cebu. When I first tried Gustavian years back, I immediately fell in love with the place, even though the food was not 5-star for me. So take note, a dining experience sometimes is not just about the food. The ambience can really make everything feel and taste better.

Even before Chelsea, the Gustavian was already making waves in the Queen City of the South. The branch here in Manila is small though, and can only accommodate 50 guests, which I think is good. At least, it won't get rowdy.

I like their sandwiches, since they are simple and relatively inexpensive. I ordered a Forest Ham panini (P160) which was lacking in flavor. The panini bread was great though.

My sister ordered a Spaghetti Pesto (P180) which was better than I expected. We were here for a snack, so we weren't able to order more.

I'm happy that the Gustavian is now here in Manila, and I hope it gains strength to fight the growing competition in Eastwood Mall. The last thing I wanna see is the deli restaurant closing, and heading back home to Cebu.

The Gustavian is located at the ground floor of Eastwood Mall, beside Old Vine.

Resorts World Manila

I recently went a spontaneous trip to Resorts World in Newport City in front of NAIA 3. We were supposed to have dinner at the Fort, but I drove myself up McKinley, and eventually found myself heading straight to NAIA3 like I was on auto-pilot. I was missing traveling I guess.

I was surprised at the casino hotel. I immediately felt I wasn't in Manila, but more of Macau. Resorts World hasn't been completed yet, but I envision the hotel to make waves once it fully opens. The decor is luxurious, red and gold furnishings with modern elements.

I went there to meet the barkada, but I arrived early, so I booked us seats in a restaurant inside the casino area. The casino area is the only facility that is open so far. Of course, I couldn't take a picture of the casino, but it looks like any modern Macau or Vegas casino. It's that good, way better than the PAGCOR one in Paranaque. Though I don't gamble, I took a shot in doing slots. I got a membership card which I used in the slots.

So, if you have time, check out Resorts World. There's a lot of wholesome adult entertainment in store. I was surprised that there were actually a lot of people already, making the place full on a Friday night. I can't wait for the rest of the hotels like Marriot, Maxims and Remingtons to open here. This endeavor will surely boost tourism in Manila.

In and Around Bongao

Bongao feels more like an island town than Jolo. You can still see a lot of trees, and the topography is hilly. Thus, you don't see a lot of rice fields. Downtown, the action is pleasant and vibrant. Lots of umbrellas in different colors lined up the streets around the public market.

We took a short drive around town, starting with the market. We moved to the Chinese pier as they call it, where a lot of Chinese traders have their warehouses and boats filled with various merchandise from Malaysia and Indonesia.

In fact, there was a boat sailing to Sandakan in Malaysia. The trip supposedly takes 8 hours, which I think is not bad. Tawi-Tawi is just beside Sabah, so it's practically part of it already.

I really didn't feel threatened here, and they don't seem to look like Muslims. It's just like any other Filipino town. I was happy to see more smiles here, than in Jolo. The people don't seem to complain, but you can see that poverty still abounds.

We moved uphill to one of the highest points in town, the provincial capitol. They really make their capitol buildings extravagant here.

The view from above is breathtaking. You could see a panoramic view of Bongao, and even some of the other islands of Tawi-Tawi. Sinumul can be seen from this point. I was pointing to beaches left and right, and wondered if there were ways to get there. Again, I got the look, "it's not safe going around".

It was almost sunset so we took great pictures from the top. The air was cooler too. We saw a lot of families hanging out here, just enjoying the breeze while watching the sun set.

My trip to Tawi-Tawi was unexpected, and thus, I wasn't really able to prepare. Hopefully next year, I would be traveling to Sitangkai, the last town of the country to the South. I hear the beaches are fabulous there. As I jetted back to Zamboanga, I couldn't get my eyes off the islets and sand bars that began to show up again, waving goodbye to me and wishing me time to come back.


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