Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bad Night at CPK (Greenbelt 5)

This was supposed to be a food post about an old favorite, California Pizza Kitchen (CPK). Food, however, will have to take a back seat as I express my disappointment with the unusually crappy service my group experienced.

Aside from the food, a reason why I continue to patronize CPK is because of the good service I receive whenever I dine at their Glorietta 3 branch. Servers are always accommodating and attentive which certainly adds to the overall dining experience.

It’s a different story in their Greenbelt 5 branch however as service, I experienced firsthand, is below standards. It was a Saturday night so the place was brimming with people. Upon inquiry, we learned that they only had separate tables available to accommodate our group of 7. We noticed though that the maitre d could have easily fixed the problem if she had the initiative to ask the diners of one table to move since they just arrived and were dividing the two free tables. The maitre d was probably no longer interested in welcoming more guests as we had to personally talk and request for them to transfer. They were kind enough to agree.

After what I felt was a long time to make the necessary table arrangements, we were finally seated. I immediately requested for a glass of water since I was parched. We had finished ordering but there was still no sign of my water. In fact, I had to follow up my request two more times before it arrived. The refill of water also didn’t come automatically as per usual experience. I had to call a server’s attention every time my glass became empty.

Our food, to their credit came at an acceptable time. For those interested, here’s the spread that night:

The Original BBQ Chicken Chopped (585php), Garlic Cream Fettuccine(365php), Marinara Linguini Chicken (545php), Cheeseburger Pizza (445php)

After finishing dinner, we requested for our bill but had to wait a good 10 minutes before it was given to us. It didn’t escape my notice that we were the last patrons of CPK at this point so there was no excuse for the long wait. Talk about servers no longer caring. I understand that they were probably tired from the long night, but making us wait for the bill was simply ridiculous.

It’s important to note however, that this unpleasant experience at the Greenbelt 5 branch won’t prevent me from returning to California Pizza Kitchen. I just now know better and would avoid dining at their Greenbelt 5 branch at all costs. Consider yourself warned.

California Pizza Kitchen is located at Level 2 Unit 77 & 78 Greenbelt 5, Makati City. For more information and other locations, pls. visit cpk.com.ph.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Divine Delize Cakes

Pistachio Sans Rival (875php)

I was introduced to the magical kitchen of Jill Sandique via Delize’s Pistachio Sans Rival. It’s the 4th best privately baked cake in Manila according to the Inquirer so I had high expectations. The Pistachio Sansrival certainly lived up to its hype for it was love at first bite. Each layer of the crunchy, buttery goodness was nirvana and I could have finished the entire cake on my own if only calories were not an issue. It also didn’t hurt that the cake looked so inviting since the cake had a nice green shade thanks to the use of California pistachios. Undeniably, the best sans rival I’ve eaten in my life.

Because of the wonderful introduction to Delize, I’m now a Delize convert and have been trying their other specialties whenever there is an opportunity.

Pavlova (760php)

We once tried their version of Pavlova and it also didn’t disappoint. For those who like to mix fruits with cream, the Pavlova will be a sure winner. Made from crisp meringue and fruits, not only is this cake beautifully crafted but the kiwis and mangoes used were all fresh and naturally sweet. The Pavlova is the ideal treat for those who like their desserts light and not so rich.

White Chocolate Cheesecake (1,230php)

More recently, we ordered the White Chocolate Cheesecake at Delize. I had to admit that I was disappointed when I opened the box and saw this sad looking cake. I’m used to visually stunning cakes from Delize so I was surprised at how ordinary this one looked. I should, however, have had more faith in the talent of Jill Sandique as what the cake lacked in appearance was more than compensated for by its taste. The cheesecake was a close-my-eyes, where-am-I wonder!

You wouldn’t be able to distinguish the cheese from the chocolate as Delize managed to harmonize both ingredients perfectly. Also, unlike other cheesecakes, I didn’t get tired of eating the White Chocolate Cheesecake after a few bites. In fact, a single slice wasn’t enough and I wanted more. It’s hard to describe how good this Delize cheesecake is as all the superlatives won’t give it justice. Just trust me when I say that it’s a definite must-try.

I have already planned my next Delize cake and it will be their chocolate meringue sensation, the Concorde. For sure my love for Delize cakes will be brought to new heights as the Concorde, according to the Inquirer, is the best privately baked cake in Manila. I seriously cannot wait!

For orders, you can call Delize by Jill Sandique at 7217022 or 4978811. Mondays thru Saturdays 9 am to 5 pm. Allow 2 to 3 days for your order.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Murtle’s Hair- Raising Experience

I’ve always been a victim of unsanitary food preparation in restaurants. Lucky me has been served:

  • Siomai with a baby cockroach lying on top (it replaced the usual shrimp component)
  • Chicken barbeque with a giant bangaw as garnish
  •  Soup with a swimming unidentified plastic object

Thus, I can’t be blamed for being amused when it was Murtle’s turn to be the victim of a similar experience while we were at Le Coeur de France in Galleria.

The Crime Scene

She was halfway done with her pasta dish when she discovered that a long strand of hair was entangled with a slice of sautéed onion. HAHAHAHAHA

Apologies for the not-so-clear picture

Due to the impromptu pictorial with the nasty object, I think the servers knew something was up and tried to ignore us when we were calling their attention. When one brave waitress finally went to our table, she even had the audacity to imply that the hair was not from their kitchen as their cooks always wear hair net. I just rolled my eyes since it was such a stupid statement. Where did it come from then, Einstein?

Such strong hair

In the end, we didn’t have to pay for hairy dish though a part of me wished that they got our entire bill covered as food here is so-so.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Feast at Tao Yuan

Whenever my family dines in a Chinese restaurant, I have the tendency to overeat as we usually order like there’s no tomorrow. Our last meal at Tao Yuan was no exception.

Food that night:

Taosi Spareribs (90php)
Nice way to start the festivities.

Steamed Shrimp and Vegetable Dumplings (90php)
My brother’s order which he easily finished.

Egg Tarts (90php)
Much raved about by friends but I still prefer Lord Stowe’s.

Crispy BBQ Pork Pie (100php)
YUMMY! Would have eaten more if my stomach allowed.

Dipping Choices for the Chicken

Singapore Hainanese Chicken (880php) 
The dish that put Tao Yuan on the map. This was just ok and is not deserving of all the raves it gets. Not even close to the authentic Hainanese chicken served in Singapore.

Spring Rolls with Garlic (268php)
Such a simple dish which kids would love.

Singapore Spareribs (530php)
Was recommended by the order taker but this was just an msg-filled dish. Nothing special and is overpriced. One of the few dishes that we were not willing to finish.

Sichuan Hot and Sour Soup (530php)
Mighty sour making it hard to enjoy. It was as if I were drinking pure vinegar.

Birthday Noodles (460php)
Not fond of noodles; thus this was just ok for me. I, however, noticed that the noodles had a generous amount of meat, seafood, and quail eggs.

Lapu-lapu with Mango Relish (980php)
My favorite dish that night. This was uniquely delicious and should be tried by everyone.

Singapore Curry Chicken (328php)
This was another so-so dish. It had a good taste but not remarkable when compared to some stellar dishes.

Angel Shell (540php)
While I don’t really know what this is, I found it fresh and a welcome break from all the heavy dishes we had.

Singapore Chilli Crabs (2440php)
I also loved Tao Yuan’s version of Singapore crabs. Crabs were huge and fresh while the sauce had the perfect blend of spices making this a truly awesome dish. Was even able enjoy the sauce on its own.

Fried Bun (120php)
Loved it. Perfect partner of the crabs. Only gripe is that this doesn’t come free with the order of crabs.

Singapore Laksa (328php)
Good stock and loved the hint of coconut milk. The shrimps were huge and the fish balls were also fresh. I didn’t appreciate the consistency of the noodles though.

Singapore Cereal Prawn (150 per piece)
Not readily available in other restaurants so this is a must try. Cereal coating was yummy though the prawns could have been crispier.

Yang Chow Fried Rice (198php)
Not a fan of fried rice so I have no opinion about this Chinese restaurant staple. Mom said it was one of the more delicious versions she has tried in a long time.

Mochi Ball and Red Bean Jelly
Aside from mango sago, we were served a complimentary dessert of mochi and jelly. Didn’t like the mochi balls but loved the red bean jelly. This is saying much as I usually don’t eat red beans.

While the Hainanese chicken disappoints, I would still recommend Tao Yuan for families who are tired of the usual Chinese fare. Tao Yuan has a good mix of traditional and more adventurous dishes that would satisfy each member of the family.

Tao Yuan is located at 508-512 General Malvar St., Corner A. Mabini St. Malate Manila. Contact them at 522-7009 to 10.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pringles Blueberry Hell

After my addicting encounter with Pringles Lemon and Sesame, I trooped to my neighborhood grocery to try the Blueberry and Hazelnut variant. I wanted to like both flavors but this blueberry option just tasted so weird. For a moment, I thought I was eating a dessert treat gone wrong. I salute Pringles for being bold in coming out with interesting new flavors, but this combination just didn’t work. Barf!

It’s interesting to note that the cans of Pringles’ Lemon & Sesame and Blueberry & Hazelnut flavors look similar.
Could it be Pringles’ ploy to confuse consumers since they know that Lemon & Sesame is a far superior flavor?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Death to SSC’s Shawarma

Shawarma Snack Center (SSC) is a popular authentic Mediterranean hole in the wall in Ermita which I’ve tried a few years ago. I remember the experience being quite enjoyable, spartan surroundings notwithstanding. This is why I got excited when I saw a stall of Shawarma Snack Center just outside the supermarket of Robinson’s Place Manila. What a convenient way to satisfy a shawarma craving or so I thought.

The stall only offers a limited menu of either beef or chicken shawarma, with an option of combining the two. Being averse to veggies, I ordered an All-Beef Special (with cheese) for 65php.

One look at my shawarma and I knew that it wouldn’t be any good. The shawarma looked unappetizing and the beef looked puny compared to the pita bread. What’s worse is that it not only lacked value but was also short in taste. Salt completely enveloped my palate at first bite. It also didn’t help that a generous amount of oil was dripping from the bottom of the shawarma, making it extra unhealthy. Talk about a double whammy! I quit eating after a few mouthfuls because it was just unbelievably bad. Definitely one of the worst I’ve tried in years. Skip this stall and head to Osama’s instead for a more enjoyable shawarma experience.

P.S. Last weekend, I went to Robinson's Place Manila and found out that the stall has already closed! Why am I not surprised?

Shawarma Snack Center was just outside the supermarket of Robinson’s Place Ermita. Pedro Gil corner Adriatico St., Ermita, Manila.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Not for Purists: Agave Mexicana Cantina

The best experience I’ve had of eating Mexican food is at Mañana in Boracay. Nothing beats having the Boracay sunset as the backdrop while indulging in a taco or two. It’s not every day, however, that one could fly to Boracay for a blissful Mexican fix. We city folks have to make do with the crop of Mexican options available in Manila.

One of the more established Mexican inspired haunts here is Agave Mexicana Cantina. It’s a good place for decent Mexican influenced dishes whenever a craving hits and it’s exactly at Agave's Bonifacio High Street branch that I found myself one Saturday for Wamie’s birthday celebration and surprise announcement. I shared orders with my friend Dramin since both of us wanted light meals that night.

Burger ala Mexicana with Cheese (250php++)

The burger was a bit dried out but the big flavors of the patty were more than enough to compensate for its dryness. The burger tasted as if it were cooked on an actual grill giving it an authentic beef flavor. It also didn’t hurt that the fries on the side were made from real potatoes. I must say though that Agave didn’t attempt to give this undeniably American classic, a Mexican spin. Those who expect to have a little taste of Mexico with this burger will be sorely disappointed.

Shrimp and Crab Enchiladas (350php)
Agave’s version of enchilada was stuffed with only cheese, sautéed onions, and meat (crabs and shrimps in our case). Foodies who are familiar with Mexican cuisine might raise an eyebrow with Agave’s take on this popular Mexican specialty as enchiladas are commonly known to be filled with just about everything. I didn’t mind the lack of authenticity though since one bite of Agave’s enchilada and I knew that we had a winner! The enchilada had the perfect balance of sweet (shrimps and crabs) and salty (cheese) giving it a good solid taste. I was able to devour my share of enchilada in no time and its scrumptiousness also made me forget about the lackluster Mexican red rice that came with the dish.

While you won’t find authentic Mexican flavours in Agave Mexicana Cantina, it’s a place that I would still recommend to no fuss eaters who simply appreciate good food.

Agave Mexicana Cantina is located at Bonifacio Hight Street (near Nike) Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Visit www.agavecantina.com for more information and locations.
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