Eat, pray, and love these 50+ restaurants open during Holy Week 2018 (GMA News Online)

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

With most of its residents heading off somewhere for a vacation, Metro Manila transforms into a less crowded, (slightly) less traffic, and a much more breathable space during Holy Week. For those staying in town, shopping or dining in malls might not always be an option, as most will likely temporarily cease operations in observance of the Lenten season.

Though it’s a time for fasting and abstinence, you can’t deny some food for your body and soul. No need not worry since there are some compassionate establishments out there who plan to open even during Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Bring your hungry brood to any of these restaurants located around the metro.

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.

7 sexy staycation deals for post-Valentine’s and Chinese New Year long weekend (GMA News Online)

Photo from Nobu Hotel, City of Dreams

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last February 7, 2018)

The long weekend that resulted from Chinese New Year having been declared a special non-working holiday, sounds like a good time to celebrate Valentine’s day too. Chinese New Year falls on a Friday following Valentine’s Day that falls on a Wednesday — Ash Wednesday at that, if you’re a Catholic.

Instead of flying off somewhere, why not stay in town and have a short but sweet holiday with your special someone or even the whole family? We’ve narrowed down some hard-to-resist staycation options below.

Nobu Hotel

Indulge in a romantic retreat with your partner at this luxury boutique hotel. Aside from an overnight stay in a deluxe room, the Moments Made Perfect package (P12,888) also includes buffet breakfast for two, a special Valentine’s amenity, and P5,000 worth of dining credits that you can use in any of the City of Dreams Manila-operated restaurants such as Nobu Manila, Crystal Dragon, The Tasting Room, Red Ginger, Jing Ting, and Café Society. Another option is the Stay Well room package (P14,888) that comes with a 60-minute renewal massage for two at the Nobu Spa, plus P3,000 dining credits, buffet breakfast for two, and a Valentine’s treat as well.


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.

Survive Christmas with this helpful little guide (GMA News Online)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last December 7, 2017)

Christmas means the birth of Jesus, lots of gift-giving, copious amounts of parties, traffic jams, carmageddon, crowded malls, and are you tired yet? As much as it’s the happiest time of the year, it’s also craziest.

The stress is only bound to get worse as December 25 draws nearer, so we’re minding the gap. Below are necessary bits of information to help everyone deal and have a merry good time. Happy holidays everyone!


That said, consider online shopping; you’re plugged in 24/7 anyway. It will save yourself the hassles of a carmaggedon, lack of parking, and the thick mall crowds.

For your last-minute Noche Buena needs: Honestbee offers stress-free grocery shopping. It gets its goods from Robinsons Supermarket, Robinsons Selections, and Fresh Options so you know you’re getting good stuff.

You can get a concierge shopper option for an extra P99, which can get you wines from AWC,, and The Straits Wine Company. You can also choose ready-to-eat offerings from establishments like S&R Pizza, Grind Bistro, Chooks to Go, and many more.

Free delivery for purchases above P2,500 but if you’re spending below that amount and badly need your cart to be delivered, shell out an extra P49 for delivery fee.

Once you download the app, just register for free, log on and click on the items you want, and then pay with your credit card or choose cash on delivery. Oh, and first-time users get a P500 voucher with a minimum spend of P2,500.

For your monito monita needs:  Lazada has pretty much everything. The website incidentally has an ongoing Online Revolution Grand Christmas Sale until December 12 where you can grab deals up to 95% off from top brands . Get holiday stocking stuffers on flash sale, plus a chance to win raffle prizes.

For your Christmas OOTD: Haven’t the time to shop for a Christmas dress? Seek the Uniq is it! Surf through its wide selection of beauty stuff, accessories, clothing, shoes, and more and pay with your credit card or do cash on delivery. Item exchanges and returns are welcome within five days of receipt.

Hotel holiday promos

Don’t know where to go for a special Christmas lunch? Take advantage of special offers from the city’s best hotels.

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila
It can’t get a more festive than Spiral’s impressive offerings like Christmas ham, turkey stuffing and cranberry sauce, roast suckling pig, lobster thermidor, lechon, beef morcon, chicken embutido — not to mention its incredible cheese room and decadent desserts. Christmas Eve Dinner (P5,500) is from 6pm to 11pm, while Christmas Day Champagne Brunch (P4,900) is available from 12pm to 3pm.

Read the rest of the article HERE.