Friday, December 30, 2016

K-Twins Restaurant - Ilocano Cuisine in Davao City



If you're craving for authentic Ilocano dishes in the heart of Davao City, you'll get your fill of igado, dinakdakan, Ilocano empanada, crispy dinuguan, etc. in a restaurant called K-Twins in Damosa Gateway in Lanang.  I was told they used to have a branch in Obrero, but moved to this new location, which opened last March 2015.

Ilocano dishes aren't exactly popular in Davao, except for bagnet. What caught my attention were a couple of dishes not quite offered in many Ilocano restaurants in Manila. So I ordered them to find out.

Crispy tambucho is a dish of deep fried, pork large intestines served with spicy vinegar. They're almost similar to "chicharong bulaklak" without the omentum. They're tasty and crunchy, though it's a matter of taste. Tambucho is a Spanish term for "muffler" - and is thus self explanatory why this is called as such. A serving costs PhP180.

Tahitian bagnet is "bagnet" (deep fried crispy pork dish similar to lechon kawali, but crunchier) spruced up with a salad of vegetables. The vegetables actually "lose" the taste of meat so if you love your veggies, you'd probably love this bagnet variety. Personally though, I couldn't appreciate the "concoction". I like bagnets and losing its taste (and even its crispness) to vegetables somehow dilutes the enjoyment of eating the dish. You might as well order their traditional bagnet. The dish will set you back by PhP255.

K-Twins Restaurant is located in Damosa Gateway, Mamay Road, Lanang, Davao City. They have a Facebook page too - or try this number if you need to contact them: 0928-397-6218.

This is the Eye in the Sky.

Crispy tambucho

Tahitian Bagnet



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Shangri-La at the Fort's High Street Cafe - Great Food, Modern Posh and Fine Dine


Every Christmas, I take my family to a special place. This year, I decided it was going to be at the High Street Cafe in Shangri-La at the Fort in Bonifacio Global City. 

The term "cafe" seems to be a misnomer here. After all, the term refers to "a small restaurant serving coffee, beverages, and light meals". But use of the term has evolved. Posh hotels now use this as a more welcoming name. Cafe, after all, is "less intimidating" for some people. But take Manila Hotel's "Cafe Ilang Ilang" or New World Hotel's "Cafe 1228". Nothing about these places are small, average or light weight, right?


The place must have been conceived to accommodate a limited crowd, even on special dates like Christmas, New Year. It also follows two dining shifts for night  diners: the first set starts at 6:30 PM and should wrap up at 8:30 PM, which is the start of the second set that wraps up at 10:30 PM (the official closing time). Having said this, reservations are necessary (63-2- 264-9069 extension 213). 

As a result, the dining experience doesn't seem like one big fiesta. Personally, I do not like clutter, manual or otherwise. Here, there's no chaos to speak of unlike in Circles Restaurant in their Ayala branch. More importantly, there's no ridiculous rule to actually go to their branch on the morning of the booked date just to pay for a reservation fee - the most ludicrous practice I have ever encountered in my life. Just call, book your seats and show up. Just as they do in the modern, civilized world!


High Street Cafe doesn't disappoint! 


The place is cozy, employing a palette of muted colors and home-style interiors. It has this very comfortable vibe. There are huge shelves all around and 9 kitchen stations (buffet stations) serving mostly Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian (laksa), Filipino cuisine. There's a table for frozen shrimps, lobsters, crabs, mussels, oysters and a variety of fish; another for desserts and fruits, 2 choices of drinks (lemon iced tea and fruit drink), and another table for breads and cheeses.


Take your crabs and shrimps and have them grilled or cooked with butter garlic - or however you want them done.


Their lechon (suckling roast pig) is constantly replenished and, more importantly, fresh, tasty and succulent. So is their lechon paksiw, which is among my favorites. I was looking for the "mango crab" which was recommended by someone, but it wasn't being served. No tempura either. I was also looking for their Dong Bao Claypot Rice which was nowhere to be found either. This must signify that menu changes every so often - for variety, which is a good thing.


TO HEAVEN AND BACK


Among the desserts, I loved their "Burnt Rice" Ice Cream (which smelled like pinipig or burnt rice) and their Molten Lava Cake which will send you to heaven and back. This should not be missed. Just proceed to the dessert table and order one. They'll prepare it and you can pick it up in 7 minutes. Have a slice of their bread pudding - it is delicious! 


The atmosphere in High Street Cafe is laidback. The crowd isn't rowdy or noisy so you can enjoy your conversations and light banter with friends or family. A senior among your crowd? Use their senior citizen card for a big discount. Mind you, the cut is considerable.


Shangri-La at the Fort is located at 30th Street, corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Taguig City. They've adequate parking (5-level basement parking) within the premises - so don't look elsewhere. I paid PhP100 for our 2.5 hours parking. 


Don't forget to look up the ceiling at the lobby to check out their gorgeous and grand chandelier set! Sia would be proud to have sung for it. 


This is the Eye in the Sky!



Brazo de Mercedes (left), cashew tart, bread pudding.
Break that upper crust for your sinful Molten Lava Cake












The grand chandelier at the lobby

#highstreetcafe   #shangrilaatthefort   #finedining   #manila

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Mesmerizing Culinary Show at Cebu City's Anzani Restaurant



One lazy night in Cebu, I suddenly had the urge to try something different. I debated if I go to a Spanish restaurant called Arana (recommended by a friend) or an Italian restaurant called Anzani (mostly because I had a problem with Arana's location). After checking out directions, I decided with Anzani. Like the previous restaurant, Anzani is urban chic and ultra modern, with a tablet used as a menu. What's with Cebu and all these modern trappings? I haven't even encountered a tablet-wielding restaurant in Manila yet here I am experiencing tablet-ordering twice in Cebu. I badgered the waitress to help me out with my full course. I mean, If I was gonna pay an arm and a leg, I might as well make it right and not leave it to chance. The choice was either a halibut or a sea bass, each one an obscure concept for me - so I went with the price.

STEPS IN SEA BASS DINING

1. A sous chef brings a table filled with culinary gadgets and a huge bandehado of fish sitting on the platter - all COVERED WITH ROCK SALT! So it's a fish that looked like it's wrapped in icing!

2. Sous chef takes the mallet handed over to him. I was wide-eyed with amazement. This was a show right in front of me. Then he hammers the salt-covered fish until it breaks into crumbs.

3. Out pops the sea bass. He skins it, then pours lemonade and olive oil over the fish meat.

4. He carefully slices through its length, then debones in exquisite fashion.

5. Then he cuts the meat into pieces and puts them on my plate cluttered with salad.

6. If it were malansa, then there'd be injustice in the world to pay a thousand bucks for this fish alone, right?

7. Masticate, swallow, then sip a glass of chianti, imagining this was Villa Raiano Fiano di Avellino. But heck, I'd also settle for a coca cola.

SOUP CHOREOGRAPHY

The soup was choreographed too. An empty plate had a mound of cappuccino at its center, with bits of tendrils of whathaveyous, then the waitress carefully pours the mushroom soup around and around the cappuccino island until its full. I was hypnotized. The end.
I liked how everything turned out... like going out for a night at the theatre, Only it was performing "food preparation". I had to consciously shut down my jaw. Sorry po, taga Maynila lang. 
Anzani is a bit pricey. Let's say Seychelles-dining caliber. Mario Anzani is the Italian chef and owner. One can choose to dine inside (like me) or outside overlooking Nivel Hills, still in Cebu City. Next door is the more laidback Champagne Room.

Anzani Restaurant is located at Panorama Heights, Nivel Hills, Lahug, Cebu City. It's just north of the Gorordo Road driving towards Tops. A bystander initially pointed us to Sanson (the Rockwell compound). A JY Square is accessible about less than a kilometer away. Call them at (032) 232 7375. They're usually open until 12 midnight, with last order at 10:30PM though I did notice arrivals at almost 11. 

This is the Eye in the Sky.



Mushroom soup

Pick a bread, and i chose this perched on a pot.

Fish covered with rock salt, now crumbling into pieces after getting struck with a mallet.

Sous chef garnishes my sea bass with olive oil and lemonade, after skinning it. Then he cuts through it and exquisitely debones it.



At the wine room, a photo of The Sophia Loren hangs down.







Terrace tables of Panorama Heights in Nivel Hills. Yes, it's still part of Cebu City.











Tablet ordering (again) in Cebu City.



#food # dining #gastronomy #foodtrip #cebucity #foodporn

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Gorgeous Spaces at the Diamond Suites and Residences (Cebu City)



I love clean spaces particularly if it plays with geometric figures, color, and lights. My German friend once pointed out how I kept taking photos of hallways. I just like the possibilities of open spaces, the what-could-be's. In this post, I am posting several areas at the Diamond Suites and Residences in Cebu City.

The Archbishop Reyes Street and Escario area is a haven of big, mostly new sparkling hotels. I have stayed in each one except for Park Lane and Hotel Elizabeth. Diamond is one of the smaller hotels in the area but it's also more intimate. Agoda offers slightly more expensive rates compared to other hotels in the area, like Mandarin Plaza and Quest Hotel so all these years, this has made me wonder.

Finally, I gave it a try. This is what I found out: great staff; breakfast buffet at the ground floor restaurant called "Grain Restaurant" offers a set of delectable food although the choices are rather limited. Rooms are spacious and very clean, particularly the bathrooms. Memory Pillows are very comfortable. Boxed type AC's give it a dated feel but AC's work adequately.

What bothered me was the wifi connection which was non-existent in my room at the 4th floor. It never worked - at all! I asked for a LAN cable but though this finally gave me an online connection, it was plodding. In this day and age, there really is no excuse for having no wifi service. I will never book in a hotel without it in my room. Internet access is essential.

If I have internet wifi in my hotel rooms in Madagascar, the world's 10th poorest country, how can a suites hotel like Diamond Suites and Residences NOT have one? It baffles. So this is something the hotel can obviously improve on. Wifi at the lobby is fast but I can't work overtime at the lobby. Good elevator; there's a pool but I didn't bother to check it out. Ayala Mall is just a block away.

This is the Eye in the Sky!













"the possibilities of open spaces... the what-could-be's"














How's this for breakfast?

Grain Restaurant

Entrance facing Apitong Street. Multicabs heading for Jones or Colon pass through this street.