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.

26th Street Bistro Makes Wine Pairing a Little Less Intimidating (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last July 19, 2018)

At first glance, you’d think that this corner restaurant in Bonifacio Global City is just a bigger version of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. But once you step inside and see the spacious dining area of 26th Street Bistro, you’d feel that it’s not quite like a typical branch of the popular coffee chain. It could even be a better version of it — especially if you take in the warm wooden furnishings with elegant room dividers and wall decor, along with a vertical garden to boot.

You’ll be surprised that the concept store of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (CBTL) has an extensive menu that offers more than just sandwiches, cakes, and all-day breakfast fare. They now have wine pairings, too.

One of 26th Street Bistro’s new dishes is the Burrata, Fresh Tomatoes, and Basil (P395), beautifully presented on a rustic wooden chopping board. It’s a very interactive dish that requires you to eat with your hands — get a slice of the milky-soft cheese and top it on the crusty grilled sourdough. Don’t forget to add some fresh basil, sweet heirloom tomatoes, and candied walnuts for extra flavor and texture. According to Chef Luisa del Rosario, this filling starter perfectly complements the Beringer Main & Vine White Zinfandel 2016 (P295/glass, P1,050/bottle) because of the wine’s natural sweetness.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Miyazaki beef is finally in Metro Manila — and it’s better than Kobe (GMA News Online)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last July 11, 2018)

Literally translating to “Japanese beef,” Wagyu beef is pretty much known the world over. But not all are created equal.

Believed to be one of the best and finest is Miyazaki beef, which comes from the Miyazaki Prefecture in the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. The secret, they say, is the water that the cows drink: it comes from the springs in the prefecture.

Miyazaki beef has been twice voted as the best in the world, topping the other more popular regions of Kobe, Ohmi, and Matsusaka? It has been consistently graded as A5, the highest mark given to wagyu.

The grade is actually based on the marbling quality (dispersion of fat within the meat), color of the meat, color of the fat, firmness and texture, and yield.

And it makes its way to Metro Manila via Miyazaki Gyu.

It’s easy to think this 30-seater restaurant is from Japan. Its minimalist interiors are traditionally Japanese, the ambiance is simple and elegant, and it has a Japanese national as executive chef, who happens to be the youngest challenger to ever participate in the TV show Iron Chef.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

This British Tea Brand is Finally Here to Turn You Into a Tea Person (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last July 10, 2018)

While we’d love nothing more than to take a long restful nap after a full lunch, the pile of work waiting to be done tells us otherwise. Tea lovers know that all you need is a cuppa to perk you up for the rest of the day–or you could go for a blend that has relaxing properties to help you maintain your Zen, no matter the workload ahead.

Not a tea aficionado yet? Here’s something that might get you into the drink: British tea brand English Tea Shop is now available in the Philippines.

Read the rest of the article HERE.