10 Great Places for Mexican food in Manila (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last August 22, 2018)

Admit it: Your mind conjures images of tacos and margaritas at the mere mention of Mexican food. This tasty south-of-the-(U.S.)-border cuisine features a mix of Native American and Spanish influences, and it highlights the use of their local ingredients like corn, beans, herbs, and of course, the ubiquitous chili peppers. In the Metro, you can take your pick from not just the traditional Mexican, but other fusion cuisines as well. Anybody up for some Korean-Mex or Fil-Mex? Savor the flavors of this hot cuisine at these delicious dining destinations around the city.

Lo de Alberto 

It’s a bold move for a restaurant to claim to be “The only authentic taqueria in the Philippines,” but it just goes to show that Lo de Alberto is that confident in their food–not that we have any problems with that! It’s also probably the next best thing to flying to Mexico; no need to go far just to feast on enchiladas and quesadillas. Zoom in on Lo de Alberto’s signature dishes such as the Agua Chile (P80), a chili-spiked ceviche; the Albondigas (P270), or a meatball burrito drenched in their savory special sauce; and Ensenada (P185), or Baja-style crispy tilapia tacos. Wash these down with their freshly made agua frescas: Sandia (watermelon), Tamarindo (tamarind), or Horchata (cinnamon-infused rice-water drink).

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Borough is Back and It’s as Cozy as Ever (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last August 14, 2018)

If you’re familiar with Borough’s old branch at The Podium–who could forget their cult-favorite milk and cookies?–you’ll be surprised to walk into their newest location in Bonifacio Global City. It has a whole different feel, which strays away from the moody, pub-like atmosphere it was originally known for.

Now, the restaurant looks more polished, playing up the trendy New York City vibe quite nicely. Though the space is smaller than the original branch, the feel is bright, light, and airy, from the white marble tabletops to the refreshing green brick walls. The space’s high and exposed ceiling showcases industrial beams and ductwork, plus a light fixture made of repurposed wood that shadows over the counter.

Even Borough’s menu has undergone a noticeable makeover. “We tried to keep our more popular items and just freshened up the menu,” shares Chef Cuit Kaufmann. A true-blue New Yorker, the chef added more dishes that he grew up with, and the melting pot of cuisine that is New York City was his inspiration.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

10 Great Places for Mediterranean Food in Manila (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last August 13, 2018)

Fun fact: Mediterranean cuisine spans different countries and continents, all of which surround the Mediterranean Sea–and it’s not just all about Greek or Italian food, it also features cooking from Cyprus, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Yes, there’s more to Mediterranean food than just gyros and kebabs! The Metro has all these specialties if you’re willing to look. We’ve scoured all the best dining spots in Manila where you can indulge in this under-the-radar cuisine that has some of the best food in the world. Time to try something new!

Cyma

You can’t help but say “opa” once you sample the specialties in Cyma, which has been around for over a decade now. Chef Robby Goco of the famed Greek chain actually traveled to Greece to bring the closest thing to authentic to the local palate. The Saganaki (P220) has always been a crowd pleaser because of the drama that the flaming cheese brings to the diners. There’s a bunch of meat and seafood dishes, but one of the bestsellers to date is the Roka Salata (P370/solo), a fresh salad that combines arugula, romaine, sun-dried tomatoes, candied walnuts, Parmigiano Regiano, and traditional Greek vinaigrette, which is surprisingly a hit with many Filipinos.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Celebrated Magnolia Bakery of New York to open in Manila (GMA News Online)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last August 9, 2018)

Whether or not you’ve been to the original Magnolia Bakery in New York City, you’d be ecstatic to know that its sweet treats will soon be available in Metro Manila — at BGC in Taguig on August 22, to be exact.

This particular bakery is basically the one that started the cupcake craze back when it first opened in 1996, and has gained a lot of popularity thanks to pop culture references in movies and TV shows like “Sex and the City,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” and “Saturday Night Live.”

In Manila, it will be known as M Bakery — slightly different name but same food, vibe, and experience. Like the American establishment, it will have an identical look and feel, from the charming vintage décor to the “live theater” area where diners can see cakes and cupcakes being decorated in full view. Even passersby can get a glimpse of it from the outside.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Flatiron 1771 Has a Cool New Outdoor Bar for Your Much-Needed Post-Work Drinks (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last August 8, 2018)

You might be familiar with the historic New York landmark that Flatiron 1771 was named after–that triangular, 22-storey building that’s just as quintessential to the Big Apple’s identity as the Statue of Liberty. And, if you haven’t heard, the Uptown Mall restaurant is practically an ode to New York City–from the looks and vibe, down to the food.

Opened in 2016, Flatiron 1771 has been through three makeovers since then. Now with a new and more relaxed facade, you’ll feel like you’re at some trendy restaurant with chic, New York-inspired interiors that are highlighted by black and white moldings, brick-wall accents, and industrial light fixtures. Chef Vicky Pacheco, who helms the kitchens of  1771 Group of Restaurants, best describes Flatiron’s cuisine as, “Modern American dishes with European and Asian touches to embody the melting pot of international mix that is New York.”

Read the rest of the article HERE.

10 Places for Great Thai Food in Manila (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last August 6, 2018)

Thai cuisine’s predominantly spicy profile will awaken your senses, not to mention its great balance of flavors: sweet, salty, and sour. And if its pleasant aromas won’t get you, maybe the vibrantly colored dishes will. We’ve gathered a list of restaurants in Manila that offer just what you’re looking for when it comes to honest-to-goodness Thai food. So whether you’re just hankering for a plate of pad thai, or want to warm yourself up with a hot bowl of tom yum, these restaurants are to Thai for!

Nara Thai Cuisine

Treat your taste buds to the wonderful world of Thai food at the recently opened Nara Thai Cuisine at SM Mega Fashion Hall. Whet your appetite with the Nara Thai Sampler (P495) so you can have a little bit of everything–fish cakes, chicken satay, pork wonton, spring rolls, and a bright and fresh pomelo salad. If you don’t mind feeling a bit of burn in your mouth (the good kind, don’t worry), go for any of their curry dishes, which varies from yellow, green, red, and massaman curry. One great piece of advice we can give is to pair your pick with plain rice to highlight the spicy, bold flavors. It’s best to save room for dessert; the Nara Dessert Set (P345) is a DIY treat that has two scoops of coconut ice cream and sweet Thai condiments, which you can add as you please.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

This New Japanese Bar Has Every Gyoza Flavor You Could Imagine (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last July 26, 2018)

From the bright neon lights to the accent walls with subdued hues of pink and purple, not to mention the medieval-style chandelier, you’ll immediately know that this isn’t your average Japanese restaurant–bamboo accents, red lanterns and all.

The vibe at the newly opened and rebranded Chao Chao Gyoza Bar is more like a lounge than a regular restaurant; there’s even a small area where diners can sit on the floor, Japanese-style. At one end of the place is an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs make dumplings by hand, while there are also a lot of conversation pieces spread all over the place, such as the stone sculptures of monkeys and lions. But perhaps the most prominent is a psychedelic mural made by Japanese artist Yasuko Sensyu.

Chao Chao Gyoza Bar’s eccentric new appearance veers far from the traditional looking original branch in Manila and outposts in Osaka, but the food is basically the same. According to General Manager Masahiro Urabe, they wanted to focus on gyoza because in Japanese culture, it’s common for people to eat and drink at the same time. “Gyoza really tastes good with beer,” he says.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Do brunch right at Nono’s in Salcedo Village, Makati (GMA News Online)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last July 25, 2018)

There comes an age in everybody’s lives when daytime drinking get-togethers trump evening tete-a-tetes. It’s called tita-hood and it’s great!

Among the many delights it brings? Brunch.

Our minds are wandering over our favorite weekend delight after enjoying ourselves at Nono’s in Salcedo Village, Makati.

It’s the restaurant’s newest location and much like its first two branches, Nono’s Makati gives off a light and airy feel — perfect for those slow sessions of brunch.

Its interiors highlight walls painted in subdued hues of teal and gray, ceiling lights in glass bubbles, and nature-inspired accents that are pleasing to the eyes. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a display of cakes and pastries by the counter—the more eye candy, the better!

Feed your mind and soul

Comfort food is hard to mess up, and at Nono’s, breakfast fare is the star of the show.

According to Chef Baba Ibazeta-Benedicto, “We’ve always had an all-day breakfast menu because I really enjoy eating breakfast—whether it’s for dinner.”

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Bai Nian Tang Bao: giant soup dumplings that require a straw for sipping the broth plus 9 more reasons to visit (GMA News Online)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last July 22, 2018)

Pancit, lumpia, siomai… we’ve certainly adopted these Chinese dishes as our own.

But if you step out of your comfort zone and expose your taste buds to new things, you’ll discover that there’s more to Chinese cuisine than that.

Enter xiao long bao (soup dumplings). It’s another one of those dishes originating from China that has recently gained popularity in the country and that is what Bai Nian Tang specializes in.

This Shanghai-based restaurant has been dishing up this dumpling since 1786 and has been serving foodies in different parts of the globe with over 300 branches in China, and several ones in the US and Korea. Finally, it’s reached the Philippine shores.

“Bai Nian Tang Bao’s secret is in the soup — it takes around 12 hours to cook it. It also takes 20 steps to make an original xiao long bao, and all this is made fresh in our kitchen,” shared Paul Li, who co-owns the restaurant with Robert Lim and Christine Li. The two specialties here are the giant tang bao and the crab roe xiao long bao, which are fit for an emperor.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

10 Great Vietnamese Restaurants in Manila (Spot.ph)

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

With the cuisine’s tongue-twisting and hard-to-read dishes, Vietnamese can seem downright intimidating — until you try it and find yourself becoming an instant fan. There’s plenty to love about the Southeast Asian country’s staples, and it’s mostly because of a distinctive characteristic highlighted by flavors from fresh ingredients, fragrant herbs and spices, and a lot of vegetables. So whether you want to try something new or are looking for authentic flavors to remind you of that memorable trip to Hanoi, we round up the best Vietnamese joints in the Metro for your eating pleasure.

Read the rest of the article HERE.