Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rough Night at Ascend

Another Banawe escapade, another massage parlor to try. I didn’t enjoy my experience at Ascend though.

Ascend's Lobby

It's cheap... that's for sure!
I, in fact, hated my Chi-Thai massage for several reasons:

1. STUPID STICKS: I was excited to try the Chi-Thai massage because I thought it was going to be different for it utilizes sticks in the massage process. The massage indeed started with the sticks but it was all for show. There was no technique or science behind the use of the sticks and it certainly didn’t give any comfort to the body. Walang kwenta!!! Good thing the stick show only lasted for a few seconds.

2. ROUGH TECHNIQUES: I also felt that the techniques used for the massage were a little too rough for one to relax. I don’t mind a little stretching but the stretching component of Chi-Thai massage was simply too much. I was put in such awkward positions that I wondered if I would be breaking a bone in the process.

3. SLEEPY THERAPIST: My therapist was also probably tired from the long night that there were some instances wherein she just stopped from what she was doing. I guess that I should be thankful that she didn’t completely fall asleep as she resumed after a few seconds. This, however, is simply not acceptable.

It’s safe to assume that I will never go back to Ascend. There are far better massage joints in the market for me to return to this one.

Ascend Chi-Thai Therapy is located at 115 D. Tuazon Cor. Maria Clara St. Quezon City. It is open daily from 11am to 12midnight.Telephone number is 6646585.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chateau Hestia Wonderland

My friends and I celebrated 10 years of friendship in Tagaytay. See what we were up to. This is the last of 3 parts.

Before leaving Tagaytay, my friends and I made sure to have lunch in a Tagaytay restaurant that we’ve all not tried before. We ended up at Chateau Hestia, a European insprired restaurant.

I love the overall look of this garden restaurant.
Entrance to Chateau Hestia

Chateau Hestia is also a bed & breakfast. Here's a model unit.

Dining Area

On to the food...
Complimentary Bread Basket
Loved the variety of bread.

Hestia’s Onion Soup (120php)
Good version though I wish that this was presented more appetizingly.

Forest Mushroom Soup (130php)
Certainly better than the canned variety.

Alt Wiener Erdapfel Suppe or Potato Soup (125php)
 My favorite soup among the three. Rich in potato flavor.

Pasta di Mare or Scallops and Prawns in Pomodoro Sauce (320php)
My favorite dish at Chateau Hestia. Has to be because of the sauce’s strong garlicky taste.

Say Cheese (540php for 12 inches)
My friends loved this cheese pizza but this just tasted ok for me. Probably because I had a cheese overload before going to Tagaytay.

Wiener Schnitzel or Pork Schnitzel Vienna-Style (380php)
This is supposedly a famous Viennese dish of pan-fried and thinly-sliced pork cutlet. This, however, was a disappointment as it just reminded me of liempo. The bread also had the consistency of a fruitcake. Not what I expected from a house specialty.

Osso Buco Milanese (480php)
The beef was at least soft but the flavors of this osso buco was bland. Enjoyed eating the mashed potato more than the osso buco.

Sausage Platter of Debriziner, Austrian Buren,
 and Bockwurst with cheese (430php)
I only liked the Austrian Buren as the other two tasted like commercial sausages that I could easily get from the supermarket. (think of the Purefoods and Swift variety) Needless to say, Santi’s sausages are far superior than Chateau Hestia’s.

Chateau Hestia is known for its Limoncello so we had to order it. It was the perfect way to cap a 10 year anniversary weekend.

Limoncello (750php per bottle)
 While this looks harmless, the Limoncello was certainly no mild drink as some friends (who will not be named) reeled from too much “celebration.” 25% alcohol content if I’m not mistaken. Tastes only a hint of lemon as the strong alcohol flavor dominated every shot.

Though the food didn’t wow us, we have no regrets in choosing Chateau Hestia to cap our Tagaytay weekend as the Limoncello made us forget about any negative thoughts we had with the place. Chateau Hestia is a place where visiting it once is enough. Good to try but I don’t think I’ll ever be back.

Chateau Hestia Garden Restaurant is located at Purok 5, Brgy. Bukal, Silang, Cavite, Philippines 4118. For more information, visit

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dinner at Antonio's

 My friends and I celebrated 10 years of friendship in Tagaytay. See what they were up to. This is the 2nd of 3 parts.

ANTONIO’S… the reason we took the cliché route of going to Tagaytay for a celebration.

Having been consistently hailed by critics and foodies alike as being the best restaurant in the Philippines, we knew Antonio’s will not fail in giving us a memorable night.

Antonio’s is best visited at night as it exudes a classic elegant charm. Though the place is huge, the restaurant manages to make the dining experience feel intimate and private.

Complimentary bread was served once we were settled.
Poppy Seed Bread
Nothing special in my opinion. At least it was warm and toasted. It was inconvenient to eat as the poppy seeds had the tendency to get stuck on teeth.

Pristine and Vics first ordered fresh dalandan juice and I was able to take a sip.

House Juice Dalandan (refillable at 200php per pax)
 This was very refreshing though I would have to say that it's easy to replicate this juice at home.

Appetizers before the start of the meal:

Roasted Bone Marrow topped with Parsley Salad and Onion Marmalade (550php)
Much raved about by anyone and everyone. At first bite, It immediately dawned on me that that I now know what sinful and divine tasted like. Words can’t describe how good it was though having the bone marrow extra hot would have made the dish perfect. The cool Tagaytay weather must have played a role in turning the bone marrow cold immediately. It deprived me of a melt in your mouth experience which could have sent me to heaven.

Tempura Scallops with Mango Orange Sauce and Lumpfish Caviar. (450php)
The appetizer sounded complicated, but this was simply marvellous. Kudos to Zho for picking this! The tempura scallop was crunchy on the outside but very soft inside. The scallops were also fresh, sweet, and huge. The caviar was a nice touch to temper the sweetness of the mango orange sauce. The play of flavors and textures was genius on this dish. YUM YUM YUM

Every meal at Antonio’s consists of salad, soup, main course, and dessert plus tea or coffee. Price of meal depends on main course.

Let the games begin...

House Salad: Fresh Mesclun Salad from the Garden: Bleu d’ Auvergne Crumble, Glazed Walnuts,
Dried Currants, Dried Cranberries with Raspberry Vinaigrette
I don’t care much for vegetables so I can only comment on how fresh the vegetables were. It was so crisp that I would not be surprised if they were harvested and served on the same day.

Soup of the Day: Mung Bean Soup with Chorizo
I was disappointed when I heard about the bean component of the soup but was pleasantly surprised when I got to try it. It was refreshing, creamy, and delicious. Who knew monggo and longanisa worked well together.

And now for the main course:

Dee’s choice: Beef Fillet on Plancha with Black Pepper Sauce, Pappardelle,
Toss Baby Arugula with Honey Lemon Truffle Vinaigrette (1750php).  
Decided to go with the beef dish with the most basic sauce as I wanted to know how good Antonio’s meat produce is. It didn’t disappoint as it was flavorful and tender. There was goodness in every bite. The mashed potato also added another dimension to the dish making it more satisfying. I barely touched the vegetables though. While my dish was more than decent, I wouldn’t order this again as it didn’t wow me. I would think that there are more worthwhile choices in Chef Tony Boy’s menu.

Here are what my friends ordered. Thank you friends for the commentary.

Wamie’s and Lian’s Choice: Gratinated Beef Fillet,
Gratinated Wild Mushroom, Mashed Potato (1,750php):
Wamie: Class na class compared sa homecooked steak with cream of mushroom sauce! Really tasty. :D

Pristine’s and Teej’s Choice: Grilled Beef Fillet,
Garlic Mustard Cream Sauce, Gratin Potato (1,750php)
Pristine: Perfect! loved the potato gratin! Ang cheesy!
Teej: Potato gratin was yummy!!! Bakit wala ito sa wild mushroom?

Vic’s Choice: Antonio’s Trio (Beef Fillet on Plancha with Black Pepper Sauce,
Grilled Seabass in Tomato Rissoto, and Honey Glazed Lambloin
 Gratinated with Goat Cheese) (1,900php)
Vic's: Everything was good. Five stars!!! Beef fillet was of course yummy and juicy but had a taste of the wild mushroom sauce and it was better. The seabass was very flavourful unlike others I’ve tried which are bland. For the lambloin, it also tasted like steak so it was also yummy.

Zho’s Choice: Roasted Duck Breast Infused with Truffle, Goji Berries,
Seared Foie Gras, Braised Red Cabbage  ( 1,500php)   
Zho: I liked the foie gras. Duck had a funny taste

I also was able to sample all the desserts we had that night thanks to my friends’ generosity. It’s just sad that the dessert pictures turned out blurry due to poor lighting.

1. Earl Grey Flourless Chocolate Cake: I remember this as having the right amount of sweetness. Not the best I’ve tried but is halfway decent.
2. Dark Chocolate Souffle with Cardamom Crème Anglaise: Three of us, including myself, chose this dessert, and I didn’t regret it. It was very comforting to eat and I loved the toasted crunchy parts of the soufflé. Simple but good.
3. Panna Cotta with Vanilla, Caramel, and Chocolate Notes: Panna Cotta is panna cotta. Either you love it or hate it. I appreciated the strong vanilla flavor of Antonio’s version.
4. Dulce de Leche Cheesecake: The dessert I liked the least. I found this too sweet for my liking.
5. Felchlin Marachaibo Chocolate Terrine with Double Cream and Roasted Pistachio: Something light and unique for those who are craving for chocolate but are already full.

Before the night at Antonio’s ended, I visited the wash room and was surprised to see this.

Not for the faint of heart ! 

So is Antonio’s the best restaurant in the Philippines?

When I consider the overall experience (ambiance, service, and food), I have to say that it undeniably is. However, if I have to judge Antonio’s solely on what I had that night, a return visit is in order as I wasn’t completely blown away with my beef plancha.

A perfect excuse to revisit Antonio’s soon!

Antonio’s is located at Purok 138, Barangay Neogan, Tagaytay City. For more information, do visit

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Peace & Serenity at Hotel Kimberly

My friends and I celebrated 10 years of friendship in Tagaytay. See what we were up to. This is the 1st of 3 parts.

While looking for a decent place to stay in Tagaytay, I discovered that most hotels only offer packages for couples. This made the search for the right hotel doubly hard as we were a group of 7.

We were lucky that Teej chanced upon an unbelievable promo from Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay! For only 7,499php net, we were given two family rooms with free buffet breakfast for up to 8 people. This is a steal considering that rates of Tagaytay hotels are actually more expensive than some 3 star hotels in Manila.

This is how the lobby looks like.

Spacious and tastefully decorated

They also have a pool.

I salute those who brave the Tagaytay weather for a dip

We were happy with our room as it was spacious and clean. It also didn’t hurt that Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay just opened last year so everything looked and felt new.

Family Room

Room With a "View"

We had problems with our shower in the morning though as water was not flowing through the right outlet. Good thing the maintenance staff of Hotel Kimberly addressed the problem in no time. Just make sure to take a bath early as hot water seems scarce 9am onwards.

Small but Functional

We, of course, availed of our complimentary breakfast at Cafe at K and it was the saddest breakfast buffet spread I’ve ever encountered. Food choice was not only limited but was also unremarkable. I didn’t mind this though as I didn’t expect much to begin with.

Breakfast Venue

Pathetic Excuse for a Bread Basket

Salad "Bar"

Hurray for Choices

Good Breakfast Comfort Food

Porridge Toppings

Rice Was Bountiful

Bland Looking Eggs

Ketchuped Hotodogs & Giant Tawilis

Definitely Not Half Full

Coffee/Tea Area

How Not To End a Breakfast
As long as you don't have great expectations for breakfast, you will be fine.

The only thing that might throw people off about Hotel Kimberly is its out of the way location. The hotel is a good 10 minute drive from the national highway. The seclusion, however, is actually another thing that I liked about our hotel as it removed us from the maddening crowds of Tagaytay. No annoying perky tourists!

We couldn't have made a better choice as one can't go wrong with Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay!

Hotel Kimberly Tagaytay is located at Brgy. Kaybagal Amadeo Road, Tagaytay City. For more information, click here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Good Times at Pino

We were supposed to eat at Van Gogh is Bipolar but it wasn’t meant to be no thanks to the Van Gogh owner who was in Europe. Upon the suggestion of Lian, we decided to just eat at another Teacher’s Village establishment, Pino.

The wall illustrations capture Pino’s transfer from Maginhawa to Malingap. The restaurant exudes a hip vibe true to its yuppie market.

Pino offers Filipino fusion food as well as a decent selection of vegetarian dishes.

Taro Chips (60php) for appetizers
Crunchy with the right amount of salt. Perfect when dipped in the garlic-mayo sauce.

Tempura Oysters and Pearls (165php)
Good deal considering the number of oysters. Kudos to Pino for being experimental but this didn’t work. The breading was soggy and the soy sauce didn’t fit the overall taste. What I especially hated is the wasabi aftertaste this had.

Crispy Hito (365php)
My favorite! The hito was fresh and was perfect when dipped with the soy sauce. The ensalada also made this dish interesting.

Kare-kareng Bagnet (245php)
The kare-kare sauce was good but the bagnet was salty and not as crispy as it should have been. I still enjoyed this dish though because of the bagoong rice it was paired with.

Gambas & Squid Aligue Pasta (165php)
Not worth the calories and cholesterol as the pasta tasted like it was swimming in butter and not aligue.

Mango Banana Peanut Butter Roll
Dessert was burnt and dry. Barf.

Dinner at Pino isn’t complete without a few drinks as the flavored beers made Pino the popular hangout place that it is.

Watermelon Beer (75php)

Pino’s concoction is able to mask the general bitterness of the beer while still managing to preserve its soul. An excellent way to introduce beer to non-drinkers.

Margarita (120php)
Not my alcohol of choice but this certainly looked inviting.

If you want to have a good time and indulge in the novelty of flavored beer, Pino is the place for you.

Pino Resto Bar is located at 39 Malingap, Teachers Village Q.C. Call them at 4411773. For more details, pls. visit
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