Sizzling ramen and 6 other delicious Japanese specialties in Kureji (GMA News Online)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last March 14, 2019)

Ramen is among the first things that come to mind when you think about Japanese cuisine. It is what Kureji specializes in, and in this restaurant, you’ll find that not all ramen are created equal.

Kureji, which means crazy in Japanese, is a local concept launched in January 2018. “It’s a re-imagined Japanese restaurant,” revealed Mia Teng, Marketing Assistant, who said that the idea was inspired by a trip to New York where tori paitan or chicken ramen restaurants are plentiful.

Since Metro Manila has its fill of pork-based noodle soups, they decided to make chicken broth the star of their show. “We don’t want to serve food that’s too ordinary, but of course, we still keep some traditional ones. Some people don’t want to stray too far away.”

With the white brick walls, colorful Japanese art and knick-knacks, plus minimalist furnishings, you would think that you’re eating at some hole-in-the-wall in the Tokyo subway station. Sample the usual favorites here, but also try something new. Here are our top picks.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

This New Makati Café Is Your Next Must-Try Brunch Spot (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last March 1, 2019)

It’s not a place you’d easily miss, with sleek black-and-white interiors, elegant furniture, shiny light fixtures, and stylish wall accents. It might even make you think of the sort of café they’d have in the movies—you know, the kind where the girl bumps into the guy and maybe accidentally spills some coffee on him. But it’s right in the middle of the busy Makati business district, and it’s just the kind of place you’d want to have coffee in every single day, guy or no guy.

“The vibe is like New York-chic, café-restaurant. The reason behind that is because before my mom got into the restaurant business, she was a fashion designer,” shares Nicole Thorp, who helps manage family-run NIC’S.

NIC’S started as a commissary in 2001 and evolved into a full-fledged restaurant a few years down the road, with their first branch at UP Town Center. In November 2018, they opened a second outpost at Ayala Center’s Park Terraces in Makati. “There are a lot of recipes that my mom used to do when she lived in New York with her now-late sister, and a lot from our travels. She replicates it and makes it her own,” Thorp shares, explaining the restaurant’s Filipino-European cuisine.

NIC’S started as a commissary in 2001 and evolved into a full-fledged restaurant a few years down the road, with their first branch at UP Town Center. In November 2018, they opened a second outpost at Ayala Center’s Park Terraces in Makati. “There are a lot of recipes that my mom used to do when she lived in New York with her now-late sister, and a lot from our travels. She replicates it and makes it her own,” Thorp shares, explaining the restaurant’s Filipino-European cuisine.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

An overnight in: Batangas (GMA News Online)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last February 28, 2019)

Living in Metro Manila will definitely take a toll on you, what with stress from work, worsening traffic, worsening commutes, and so it goes.

So we propose a quick getaway to de-stress and recharge. Just about an hour away from Manila is Batangas. This means, there is no need to wait for another long weekend just to book an escape.

Below are under the radar things people can enjoy in the land of Barako coffee — of course, that too is in the agenda.

See Taal Lake up close

You can do so with the 32-footer catamaran, M/Y Lady of the Lake from the Taal Lakeland Tours that you can book through Lima Park Hotel.

Lake Point Manakah

Better have your hiking shoes on because you’ll need to do a short walk up the hill while there. Don’t worry, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the lake, Volcano Island, and Mt. Maculot during sunrise or sunset, depending on your tour schedule.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Bench Café Brings Their Fiesta Faves to Makati (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last February 16, 2019)

If their stylish interiors aren’t enough to pique your interest, then it might be their familiar name that would most likely make you come inside. Bench Café is from the same family of homegrown fashion line Bench, which started over 30 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a giant lifestyle brand with a salon, barbershop, and now, a restaurant, which first opened in 2018 in BGC.

Now, residents, cubicle-dwellers, and mall-goers in the Makati CBD can finally get a taste of the restaurant’s modern Filipino cuisine through their second branch at Greenbelt—the menu still offers the same, familiar flavors of home-cooked meals presented in a modern way.

In fact, Bench Café’s signature dishes reflect the sleek vibe of the restaurant, which is accentuated by monochromatic geometric floor patterns juxtaposed with tropical wallpaper prints, plus walls peppered with mirrors, neon lights, and framed statement artworks. It’s safe to say it’s unlike other conventional Filipino restaurants that are heavy on the woodwork and native details. Bench Café is the kind of place where a big group can share a family-style meal, office workers can grab a quick lunch, or solo diners can enjoy a set meal or have a leisurely merienda.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

10 Great Places for Hot Pot in Manila (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last February 13, 2019)

There’s nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of soup on a chilly day. Hot pot—a centuries-old Chinese cooking method where various types of protein and vegetables are cooked in a simmering broth in front of you—can give you this satisfaction and more. Not only does it warm up your belly, but it’s lip-smacking and nutritious, too. Take advantage of the last few days of this cold season and head over to these great hot-pot places around the Metro.

Shaburi

Besides their regular shabu-shabu sets, Shaburi is known for their unlimited Wagyu, which you can cook in their signature umami broth. It’s best to come hungry so you can maximize your 90-minute time limit. Their Regular Shabu (P549/weekday lunch; P649/dinner, weekends, holidays) comes with tender slices of beef and pork and a slew of fresh veggies that you can mix and match. Or you can also splurge on the Shaburi Wagyu (P1,249/weekday lunch; P1,349/dinner, weekends, holidays), with Wagyu beef and other proteins like pork and chicken.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

10 Places in Manila for Healthy Eating That’s Anything But Boring (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last February 6, 2019)

Listing down your New Year’s resolutions is one thing, but following through with them is another. Living a healthier lifestyle may be on top of your list right now, but let’s admit it, with all the good food out there, it’s just easier said than done (How can you say no to sweets and sisig?). Luckily, the Metro has a lot of wholesome restaurants and local grocers where you can get your clean-food fix, stat. We’ve gathered some places for your healthy-eating goals in 2019.

Read Food

Originally from Alabang, Real Food recently opened its doors in BGC. This wholesome neighborhood grocer is for everyone, including health-conscious folks and those who are just getting started on their healthy-eating habits. You’ll enjoy their selection of locally sourced organic meats and vegetables, wholesome grains and nuts, guilt-free snack food (kale chips, anyone?), and a lot of vegan and vegetarian options. According to co-partner Katrina Mañosa, over 90% of their products are from local farmers, cooperatives, and social enterprises. Pro tip: If you live in Alabang, Makati, BGC, or Pasig, they can deliver your grocery items straight to your doorstep.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

10 Great Places for Lobster in Manila (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last January 31, 2019)

Lobster is probably one of the most sought-after crustaceans in the world, whether it’s part of a surf-and-turf dish or the main entrée, perhaps for its hefty size and succulent meat. And since it’s a bit hard to find in the Metro, you’d be surprised that there are actually places that serve this tasty shellfish. Luckily for you, we’ve done all the scouring and listed some places where you can find this indulgent treat.

Bun Appetit

Manila may be thousands of miles away from Maine, but Bun Appetit makes a mean Lobster Roll (P695) that’s the next best thing to having one in New England. Though a tad bit pricey, the lobster-stuffed buns are worth the price tag since their sandwiches don’t scrimp on filling. You’ll get about a hundred grams of high-quality, sweet lobster meat on a buttery bun—the perfect vessel for this delicate seafood dream. A dash of tasty seasoning and lemon zest brings it all together, setting the standard for great lobster rolls in the Metro—no wonder this weekend-market cult favorite has planted permanent roots at Rockwell’s The Grid.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

This New Hong Kong Café’s Egg Tarts Are Worth Lining Up For (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last January 16, 2019)

Food is good enough reason to fly all the way to Hong Kong—after all, the nation’s cuisine is an intriguing mix of East and West thanks to their rich history and culture. One of the great things that resulted from this cultural mishmash is what they call “cha chaan teng,” or tea restaurants, which you can find scattered all over the island.

Established in 1940, Honolulu Café is the original and oldest tea restaurant in Hong Kong. Then known as Honolulu Ice Parlour, this pioneer Hong Kong coffee shop has been serving up their signature egg tarts for over seven decades now, and Manila is finally getting a taste of it.

Their first Manila branch at SM Aura will transport you to any of Honolulu Café’s outposts around the world, having a consistent style that’s more youthful than most traditional tea houses in Hong Kong.

The restaurant’s vibrantly painted yellow walls are adorned with modern Chinese typography and drawings, while random splashes of green and blue accentuate the place’s fun and casual ambience.

Honolulu Café’s famous Egg Tart (P50/piece) has a near-perfect, glossy, yellow center that’s surrounded by a golden crust—judging by its looks, you’d instantly know the sweet treat is buttery and flaky. And after one bite, you’d stop wondering why people line up for hours just to have a taste of its delicate pastry and creamy custard made with egg yolk.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

10 New Breakfast Places to Try in Manila (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last January 13, 2019)

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After all, how can you kickstart your day with an empty stomach? Whether you’re into healthier stuff like granola or toast, or prefer the more filling rice meals, you’ll find your favorite morning treats at these new spots around the Metro where you can have breakfast like a king.

Manam Cafe

You must be living under a rock if you haven’t tasted Manam’s famous sisig yet. Luckily, the new Manam Café at Mega Fashion Hall, also offers the famous dish, which you can have for brunch through the House Crispy Sisig Silog (P265), served with garlic rice, eggs, and a special salsa. Aside from the typical -silog favorites, like tapa or corned beef, Manam Café serves an appetizing Ube Champorado (P155), a creamy take on the classic that will sweeten your morning.

Essential Goodness, for the Pilgrims.

While Poblacion is now well-known for being home to some of the hottest bars and dining spots in the Metro, it’s also a heritage district, in part due to all the colonial-era churches that were built in the area. The neighborhood has practically turned 180 degrees over the past few years, but there’s a new rooftop restaurant-slash-bar that pays homage to its roots—Essential Goodness, for the Pilgrims. The name may conjure up images of novels or films, but it is, in fact, an all-day breakfast concept by chefs Nicco Santos and Quenee Vilar (of the now-defunct Hey Handsome). Get a little bit of everything through their Essential Breakfast (P325), a hearty plate of English bangers, bacon, eggs with pesto, rye toast, and potato confit.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

10 No-Fail Places for Filipino Desserts in Manila (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last December 20, 2018)

No meal is ever complete without dessert. In Tagalog, they call this sweet end to lunch or dinner panghimagas. Filipinos love sweets, as evident in some of our most popular dishes (Hello, Pinoy-style spaghetti and pork tocino!), and we typically always have something delightfully sugary to cap a meal. No wonder the country has hundreds of Filipino desserts to choose from—and it’s great news that more and more chefs are experimenting with native delicacies. Make your way to these sweet spots when your sugar cravings strike—we’ve listed some places with great Filipino desserts in the Metro.

Manam Cafe

Manam Café is the younger sibling of Manam, whose claim to fame is their watermelon sinigang and crunchy sisig. But what’s new at Manam Café, aside from their youthful décor that features fun pop art and vintage Filipino ads, is their decadent Pinoy desserts that mix traditional with modern. The Choco-Nut Tart (P235) will remind you of your favorite childhood choco-peanut treat, while the Calamansi Tart (P220) has a delicate yet crisp crust filled with a creamy, gooey, and tangy center. For more familiar flavors, the Ube Sticky Roll (P115) or the Tsokolate Sticky Roll (P115) is a fun take on Western sticky buns. There’s also the Frozen Mango Brazo de Mercedes (P265), a literally cool take on the classic merienda.

Read the rest of the article HERE.