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.

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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.

What to expect at this Saturday’s food and (craft) beer pairing event (GMA News Online)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last July 5, 2018)

Thanks to the growing craft beer scene, we’ve gone beyond drinking beer by the bucket and having some rando pulutan with it.

In 2017, Quezon City saw Casa Marcos launching a tapas menu that they deem the perfect fit to Baguio Craft Brewery’s lineup.

This year, it’s Tagaytay’s Monkey Eagle Brewery turn to try and make a go for it. “What we want to do with our beers is really to develop flavors and taste and let people enjoy it,” said Ricardo C. Lopa Jr, one of the founders of Monkey Eager Brewery

They paired up with Privatus Private Dining for a one-night pairing event happening on Saturday that will see a five-course meal and the different craft beers that go with each dish.

“Their beers are crafted strong, bitter, and with different kinds of alcohol volume. The Saison is a light refreshing beer, best with salads and pizzas, which are light as well. Then we slowly progress into stronger, premium, and heavier dishes. The last one, Potion 28, we paired it with something smoky, salty, vinegary, and sweet,” shared Privatus Private Dining Executive Chef and Owner, Antonio Jose Reyes.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

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

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last July 4, 2018)

With its lively night markets, quirky dining destinations (ever heard of their toilet-themed restaurant?), and unique street-food finds, it’s no wonder foodies from all over the world are flocking to Taiwan. But when you suddenly get that insatiable hankering for xiao long bao, dan dan noodles, or their famous milk tea, know that the Metro has you covered. Here are some of Manila’s best Taiwanese restaurants for when your cravings just can’t wait.

Tien Ma’s

From light bites to full meals, you’ll find affordable and traditional Taiwanese food here. Aside from the usual steamed or fried soup dumplings, they also have Cheese Xiao Long Bao (P215) for those who want to try something out-of-the-box. You can also dare to try the Deep Fried Stinky Tofu (P199) to see if your palate–or olfactory senses–can take it. Don’t worry, there are other (less smelly) assorted dimsum and meals you can sink your teeth into at Tien Ma’s. If you don’t feel like ordering a hot bowl of Taiwan-Style Beef Noodle Soup (P200), order their very photogenic Pineapple Fried Rice with Pork Floss (P200), which is laid out in an actual pineapple, and you’re all set.

Read the rest of the article HERE.