5 things to expect from Dinner in the Sky Philippines (GMA News Online)

Photo for illustration purposes only

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last March 23, 2018.)

It won’t be a surprise if this has been in the bucket list of many adventurous travelers ever since pictures and videos of diners hoisted up in cranes spread in social media.

This Belgium-based novelty dining experience has been around since 2006, and it’s not its first time in this side of the world. After Malaysia and Thailand, it’s now Manila’s turn to find how it feels to dine 150-feet up in the air and with a bird’s eye view of the city.

Since this dinner is like no other, we’ll clue you in on what to expect from this limited-time only gastronomic opportunity.

1. Think airport check-in and rollercoaster seats

Local and foreign thrill seekers will get their chance to tick off another item from their to-do list starting April 3, 2018. Because of the nature of this activity, guests will be required to arrive at the Dinner in the Sky Lounge an hour before your dinner schedule (there will be two seatings per night, by the way)—just like a flight check-in.

There will be a safety supervisor who will brief patrons about the safety regulations before the “flight”. Expect to be strapped onto your seats with safety harnesses like what you see in theme park rides. Wear comfortable clothes and avoid slip-on shoes, maybe?

Read the rest of the article HERE.

7 must-try Vietnamese dishes at Bawai’s (GMA News Online)

There's something for everyone at Bawai's

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last March 19, 2018.)

Though its dishes may sound unfamiliar and even hard to pronounce, Vietnamese cuisine utilizes the same ingredients that are native to Vietnam and Philippines. In Manila, the closest you can get to authentic Vietnamese is Bawai’s Vietnamese Kitchen.

This has been Tagaytay’s best-kept Vietnamese secret ever since it opened in 2007. The first branch is actually the residence of spouses Virgilio Tatlonghari and My Duyen, or more popularly known as Bawai Dung. Yes, the restaurant is named after her, “Bawai”, Vietnamese for grandmother.

The place was originally intended to be a retirement home for the couple, and there, Bawai would cook for their family and friends who became their regular visitors. Eventually, she went back to her native Vietnam and got formal culinary education, as they realized there was clamor for more Vietnamese home-cooked food. Soon, they opened their home and that was the start of something big.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Where to eat when…going out to brunch with the titas (GMA News Online)

Cafe Mary Grace in Greenbelt

This feature was published in GMA News Online last March 11, 2018.

Would you rather watch food and home improvement shows than tune in to the 24-hour music channel? Do you prefer early wine nights than partying all night? By any chance, do you have succulents, cheese knives, or wooden serving platters at home?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are, you are on your way to tita-hood — if you’re not there already. Congratulations! You have reached that stage where you know what you want, don’t mind spending for it, and the best thing about it? You actually have enough money to spend for what you like, whether it’s good food, good ambiance with good company.

Here are some places where you can meet your fellow titas.

Cafe Mary Grace

What’s a tita restaurant list without Café Mary Grace, the joint where ensaymada topped with grated quezo de bola and/or the gloriously delectable cheese rolls are the biggest come-on?

Maybe it brings a certain sense of nostalgia with every bite, but whatever the reason may be, Café Mary Grace has become the go-to place for meet-ups any time of day. Breakfast, lunch, merienda or dinner, the restaurant is packed with diners enjoying full meals and, of course, the baked goodies.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

At this coffee shop, you can have steak for breakfast and breakfast for dinner (GMA News Online)

Fill your belly with this hearty serving of steak, rice and eggs

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last January 23, 2018)

This is not your typical café where you queue up to grab a quick cup of brewed coffee, maybe a cookie, to-go.

26th St. Bistro by The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is, in fact, a full-service restaurant. And it’s not just simple sandwiches, pasta, or pastries on offer here. It revamped its menu in September 2017 to offer “classic and homestyle food with all-day breakfast. Observing who our target market is, we now offer bigger plates for sharing to cater to groups and families,” shared Chef Luisa del Rosario.

New yet familiar flavors

All the famous Coffee Bean beverages are present, don’t get us wrong. What’s particularly unique in this location are the dish offerings that range from savory breakfast fare to main entrées, and more. Around 80 percent listed in its menu are new items and the rest are bistro favorites.
During the day, the place is buzzing with corporate folks having lunch or quick meetings. But when my husband and I went there for dinner one weekend, the vibe was different. There’s more peace and quiet as you enjoy a hearty meal.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse opens in the new Podium (GMA News Online)

This prime porterhouse weights in at 1 kilo and is good for two (at least)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last January 18, 2018)

Where do you go when you want to wine and dine a special someone? When there’s a reason to celebrate, what sort of cuisine comes to mind? There’s no better place to commemorate an occasion than a steakhouse.

We usually think of steak when there’s a reason to splurge, and although good steakhouses in the city are few and far between, we are fortunate to have a global brand like Wolfgang’s Steakhouse launch its second branch in Manila.

The establishment first opened in Manhattan back in 2004, and it now has 19 locations around the world where the Newport Mall in the Philippines was the first one in Southeast Asia.

Steak a claim

“We wanted to provide great steak to the world. And my father used to work in a restaurant called Peter Luger’s Steakhouse. He worked there for 40 years,” according to Peter Zwiener, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse President and Managing Partner. “At Peter Luger’s, he learned what makes a great steak. It’s about the product. You had to make sure you get the finest meat possible. In the United States it’s called USDA Prime.”

Having grown up in a household where steak is a regular part of their everyday diet, Zwiener has developed a particular passion for it. He mentioned that aside from getting a good piece of beef, they also focus on the breed of cattle, more specifically Angus and Black Angus. “We want to make sure that we’re in control of where we buy our beef so we focus on certain ranches and certain purveyor.”

At Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, diners are sure to have the best beef as these are shipped chilled — not frozen — and aged in-house. The establishment even built its own proprietary designed aging room where they were able to create an environment of a sustainable temperature.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

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.

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.