Tsuta, world’s first Michelin-starred ramen, opens in BGC (GMA News Online)

Shio Soba

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last December 22, 2017)

Meet Tsuta, the latest ramen brand to arrive in Manila from Tokyo. But it’s not just another one of them ramen brands from Japan making it’s way to our shores — it’s the world’s first Michelin-starred ramen making its way to our shores.

“For it to win a Michelin Star shows how special the chef is and the dish is, but also how the industry has grown and matured,” Brian Chua, Tsuta Global President said at the opening.

Don’t expect the milky kind of tonkotsu ramen here —  that’s Hakata-style. Because Tsuta’s chef is from Tokyo, it’s Tokyo-style ramen we’ll be getting at Tsuta — “more of a clear soup broth. What we serve is the shoyu soba, shio soba, and the miso soba,” Chua continues.

The Founder and Executive Chef of Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta, Master Chef Onishi Yuki, actually cooks three separate soup stocks just for one bowl of ramen. It is a pleasant combination of chicken stock, asari (clam) with kelp (seaweed), and fish stock that is all imported from Japan to keep it authentic. The chef then blends all three stocks just before serving it.

But it’s not just about the broth in Tsuta. What also makes Tsuta stand out from the rest is its unique blend of noodles. The chef creates his own blend, one with a medium sort of texture.

According to Chua, “It’s not so hard, like Hakata-style where it doesn’t soak in the flavor of the soup but it still has the al dente bite. It has a very unique blend—between soba and ramen kind of noodles. But it’s not soba, there’s no buckwheat, but it tastes like it.”

Chef Onishi actually flew to the Philippines to help with the brand launch. “He actually trained the chefs and, at the same time, he actually personally selected and chose the local ingredients and actually went through the first batch of cooking himself.” It seems like his meticulous ways have paid off since this is the only ramen shop in the word to be awarded a Michelin star for 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

The Noodle Studio will satisfy all your Asian noodle cravings (GMA News Online)

Find rice dishes in The Noodle Studio, too

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last December 5, 2017)

It seems only natural to look for a Thai restaurant when you’re craving for pad thai. Or a Vietnamese joint when you’re jonesing for pho, and so on. But what if you’re craving for pad thai and the missus wants japchae?

Ladies and gents, please meet The Noodle Studio. It’s a new restaurant concept where you can get practically all the Asian noodle specialties under one roof — except ramen, allow us to get that out of the way.

But you won’t likely miss it as there are all kinds of stir-fried noodles, soups, and even rice meals to curb your hunger in Pasig’s mall-based eatery.

40 dishes and counting…

Currently in its soft opening, The Noodle Studio is still in the process of expanding its menu that already features 40 dishes as of writing, some of which are the original and creative concoctions of Co-Owner and Executive Chef Gregorio “Gigo” de Guzman.

“This is my first concept and first restaurant venture that I masterminded,” said the young chef. He started planning for this business venture five years ago, which led to him getting formal culinary training in Enderun Colleges and then interning at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris where he learned more about kitchen life.

But despite his exposure to European cuisine, he focused on elevating Asian noodle dishes. “The entire menu I created based from my favorites — all my favorites from around Asia that are inspired by my travels, inspired by people who introduced me to the dishes, also inspired by my research.”

Read the rest of the article HERE.

9 decadent desserts to indulge in this Christmas season! (GMA News Online)

Kayce’s Confectionery_Brownies with chocolate frosting

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last December 19, 2017)

Christmas is always a good time to indulge and be merry. But while you’re spoiling yourself, why not share the calories with others? Sink your sweet tooth into these decadent desserts. After all, calories don’t count during the holidays!

1. Yema Queso de Bola Cake from Claudine’s Homemade Classics

This home-based kitchen in Parañaque has been baking up a storm since 2015. It became known for its Belgian chocolate chip cookies, but has expanded its offerings since then. From cakes to ensaymada, and even pasta, all are baked fresh to order, which requires one to two days lead time.

A must-try is the Yema Queso de Bola Cake with its two layers of light, fluffy chiffon filled with sweet custard buttercream. It gets another layer of flavor with its rich yema frosting and a generous sprinkling of shredded Marca Piña Dutch Edam Queso de Bola. (P900 plain 8-inch; P1,800 9×12; P2,700 10×12; P3,600 12×16). Pick-up available in Scout Ojeda, Quezon City every Mondays and Thursdays only; deliveries to Makati and BGC can be arranged for a minimal fee.

33 Hamburg St. Merville Park, Parañaque City. +63917 5322300

2. Vegan fudgy brownies from Earth Desserts

Vegetarians and vegans, rejoice! You can now eat guilt-free with the all-vegan pastries from Earth Desserts. These are made from plant-based ingredients and are organic and locally sourced. And instead of using the conventional baking ingredients, Earth Desserts use healthier alternatives, making it lower in fat, calories and sugar — and high in fiber.

Apart from the vegan fudgy brownies (P200/box of 6; also comes in gluten-free), Earth Desserts’ vegan peppermint brookies (P180/dozen), vegan dark choco sea salt granola (P165/150g) and choco chia bark (P165/150g) are a must-try.

+63917 8552748. Website. Facebook. Instagram[email protected]

3. Brownies and cupcakes from Kayce’s Confectionery

Kayce’s Confectionery is another home-based baking business that has developed its own special recipes like Brownies with Chocolate Frosting (P150/3 pieces; P300/6 pieces) and Chocolate Cupcakes with Boiled Icing (P180/6 pieces; P330/1 dozen). Owned by a young entrepreneur who personally does all the baking and quality control, she makes sure to use only premium ingredients and adds her personal touch to all her pastry products that are big enough to satisfy a man’s appetite. Usual lead time is two days, but a week is required for bulk orders. Delivery can be arranged, as well as pick-up or meet-up.

+63977 823 5511. Facebook. Pick up points: 2/F 1052 EDSA, Magallanes Village Makati City.  314 San Juanico St. Ayala Alabang Village Muntinlupa City. Meet-up point: Alabang Town Center, Starbucks in Metro Food Court, 11:00am-6pm, Saturday & Sunday

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Survive Christmas with this helpful little guide (GMA News Online)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last December 7, 2017)

Christmas means the birth of Jesus, lots of gift-giving, copious amounts of parties, traffic jams, carmageddon, crowded malls, and are you tired yet? As much as it’s the happiest time of the year, it’s also craziest.

The stress is only bound to get worse as December 25 draws nearer, so we’re minding the gap. Below are necessary bits of information to help everyone deal and have a merry good time. Happy holidays everyone!


That said, consider online shopping; you’re plugged in 24/7 anyway. It will save yourself the hassles of a carmaggedon, lack of parking, and the thick mall crowds.

For your last-minute Noche Buena needs: Honestbee offers stress-free grocery shopping. It gets its goods from Robinsons Supermarket, Robinsons Selections, and Fresh Options so you know you’re getting good stuff.

You can get a concierge shopper option for an extra P99, which can get you wines from AWC, Boozy.ph, and The Straits Wine Company. You can also choose ready-to-eat offerings from establishments like S&R Pizza, Grind Bistro, Chooks to Go, and many more.

Free delivery for purchases above P2,500 but if you’re spending below that amount and badly need your cart to be delivered, shell out an extra P49 for delivery fee.

Once you download the app, just register for free, log on and click on the items you want, and then pay with your credit card or choose cash on delivery. Oh, and first-time users get a P500 voucher with a minimum spend of P2,500.

For your monito monita needs:  Lazada has pretty much everything. The website incidentally has an ongoing Online Revolution Grand Christmas Sale until December 12 where you can grab deals up to 95% off from top brands . Get holiday stocking stuffers on flash sale, plus a chance to win raffle prizes.

For your Christmas OOTD: Haven’t the time to shop for a Christmas dress? Seek the Uniq is it! Surf through its wide selection of beauty stuff, accessories, clothing, shoes, and more and pay with your credit card or do cash on delivery. Item exchanges and returns are welcome within five days of receipt.

Hotel holiday promos

Don’t know where to go for a special Christmas lunch? Take advantage of special offers from the city’s best hotels.

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila
It can’t get a more festive than Spiral’s impressive offerings like Christmas ham, turkey stuffing and cranberry sauce, roast suckling pig, lobster thermidor, lechon, beef morcon, chicken embutido — not to mention its incredible cheese room and decadent desserts. Christmas Eve Dinner (P5,500) is from 6pm to 11pm, while Christmas Day Champagne Brunch (P4,900) is available from 12pm to 3pm.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

What to bring to…Christmas potluck parties (GMA News Online)

Photo from Aperitif

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last November 28, 2017)

‘Tis the season for yearly get-togethers, where food is almost always the honored guest. The big question is: “What to bring?”

Make your potluck contribution more special than the usual pancit and barbecue-on-a-stick with the following impressive food finds.

1. Graze platter from Aperitif Catering

The titos and titas of Manila will love you when they see a pretty platter of appetizers that would pair perfectly with wine. This graze platter (P6,000) from Aperitif Catering would be welcome at any gathering and would be the perfect conversation starter. It is jam-packed with five luxury cheeses, four kinds of premium Italian deli meat, nuts, crackers, and fruits. Everyone will enjoy snacking on these chic finger foods throughout the event. The serving is good for 8-15 people. There’s also a sweet graze box (P2,850) filled with wine, chocolates, and donuts for those who want something sugary.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Tokyo on a budget? Yes, it’s possible! (GMA News Online)

You must see Shinjuku, a large entertainment, business and shopping area

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last November 21, 2017)

Most people think Japan is expensive, but with the various options in transportation and travel-related stuff, it has become less prohibitive to visit the Land of the Rising Sun.

I first visited Japan three years ago and I loved the experience so much that I have been going back every year since. Along the way, we’ve learned how to make the most of our travel experience without breaking the bank. Below are 4 tips we picked up.

1. Prepare for the trip. Unlike our neighboring Southeast Asian countries, Japan requires tourists to apply for a visa. But don’t worry, the process is simple — and fast. Google ‘Embassy of Japan in the Philippines’ to see the short list of requirements and the list accredited agencies where you can lodge your application. Not all offer the same rate so make sure to ask around or let your fingers do the walking by calling each one on the list.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Dipping into the cheese fondue at Korean fried chicken joint Kko Kko (GMA News Online)

Cheese lovers must not miss the Chicken Cheese Fondue!

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last July 6, 2017)

If you’re not familiar with Korean fried chicken, you must be hiding under a rock. Many have become smitten with this crispy and crunchy dish, judging from the number of chicken joints mushrooming around the metro.

You’ll find that most places serve almost the same menu items. But Kko Kko is different. Yes, it has the traditional crispy fried chicken marinated in Korean spices, and the yang nyum variety that is tossed in sauces like classic soy and sweet chili. But what makes this restaurant stand out from the rest is its chicken and cheese fondue.

Kko Kko was established by local TV personality Grace Lee, who was born in Korea. “The idea behind Kko Kko came from my mom,” she said. “She had been in the restaurant industry for about a decade when she came up with the idea of creating a modern Korean restaurant, with Korean fried chicken as [its] specialty.”

And modern-looking it is. With its newly opened branch at Market! Market! (the third one already) showcasing an open space with colorful steel chairs, wood wall panels, and a high ceiling with exposed ductwork and vertical gardens in full view.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

The Night’s Still Young No Matter How Late You Are at This New BGC Hangout (Spot.ph)


(This feature was published in Spot.ph last July 3, 2017)

The bright neon sign at the door is hard to miss as you step into Early Night? where a big chunk of Aracama used to be. Instead of an upscale Filipino restaurant and bar, you’ll be transported to a more casual concept that attracts the nearby crowd of office-goers who want to de-stress from the demands of their nine-to-five jobs.

The same management team runs both establishments, but “Early Night? is a place where people can just go to for a drink without the need to dress up or pay for door charge. It’s a place where you can come as you and have one drink and an early night,” says Managing Partner Pamela Solilapsi.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

4 dining spots to sample the goodness of Australian grassfed beef (GMA News Online)

Wildflour's California Burger has become a crowd pleaser

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last July 2, 2017)

Eating “healthy” could mean opting for leaner and healthier cuts of meat. For other’s, it’s going vegan all the way. I consider myself someone in between—a flexitarian.

When I do eat meat, I go straight for the good stuff like Australian grassfed beef, which has less saturated fat than regular beef and a high level of omega-3 fatty acids essential for a healthy heart.

It’s a good thing, then, that Australian beef has become more accessible in the local scene. The Australian Embassy even has an ongoing promotion, running until August 20, with 36 participating restaurants and 60 outlets in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao.

Where’s the beef?

Wildflour Café + Bakery

My personal favorite at Wildflour Café + Bakery would be the California Burger.

Made with 1/3-pound Australian grassfed beef, cheddar, caramelized onions, and tomato, its components seem simple enough but one bite into the juicy patty will transport you to burger heaven. The high-quality ingredients really made all the difference.

Those who like their meat in its purest form can also go for the Steak and Eggs: rib-eye steak slices topped with chimichurri sauce and plated with crispy potatoes. The steak was cooked perfectly—a bit seared on the outside but still pink in the middle. I couldn’t help but sigh as I relished the tender meat and its juices with each bite.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

8 must-try items at Spiral’s Sabores Españoles (GMA News Online)

Make your way to the Cheese Room to get a serving of Jamon Iberico and Manchego Cheese

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last June 22, 2017)

I felt like a kid in a candy store at Spiral. I didn’t know where to start from the 21 dining ateliers because the food offerings were so overwhelming. There were stations such as the boulangerie, salad and appetizer, rotisserie, churrasco, French, Indian, Asian… so whatever you’re craving, it would most likely be there.

But my lunch visit coincided with the Flavors of the World series featuring Sabores Españoles so I was able to focus on one cuisine alone, Spanish, which is one of my favorites. I admire Spain’s culinary traditions so much that my travel bucket list includes having wine and tapas at Catalonia. Since I’m not flying there any time soon, I would settle for sampling curated dishes at one of the city’s grandest hotel buffets.

For this third installation of the culinary series, Spiral highlights the specialty dishes of guest chef, Executive Corporate Chef Nicolas Diaz from Barcino Wine Resto Bar. My taste buds especially enjoyed the native Basque dishes that he prepared. If you’re a foodie like me, make your way to this limited culinary engagement and indulge in these eight must-try Spanish specialties.

Read the rest of the article HERE.