Kitchen MIshaps and Victories, Restaurant Rants and Raves and a whole lotta wanderlust!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Restaurant Return: Charlie's Grind and Grill

In this entry, I actually have a photo of the burger and not the mess I left behind post burger!

My little girl with my little god daughter. Kala and Ananda hang out while their parents are pigging out.

Yum. The only burger that I never take anything out of. I usually don't like mayo, mustard etc, but I leave all that on when I eat this. it's good exactly the way it is and even better with their home made aioli sauce. Halfway through these burgers I'm usually already full, but I end up finishing it all anyway!One of my favorite burgers in Manila.

My beer loving Aussie mate couldn't handle this Arrogant Bastard Ale. When I tried it, I couldn't deal. It was so bitter! It you like really dark beers, you will probably love it. I think I will stick to Stella though.

The Arrogant Bastard with his little girl and mine going down the spiral staircase at Ronac Art Center.

Check out Charlie's Grind and Grill at Ronac Art Center along Ortigas Avenue in San Juan.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Restaurant review: Robot

First of all, I'm 2 steps ahead of you...yes I know my photos are terrible this time around. The lighting at Robot before 9 pm was actually perfect (see first photo) but then they dimmed the millions of little light bulbs and all my food shots turned to crap.I hate using flash for food photos but this one time, I shoulda just done it!

Ze boyfriend (not so) patiently waiting for our food. We found this P888 6 course tasting menu deal on Cash Cash Pinoy. Originally set at almost P2,000, this wasn't a bad deal.

This wasn't part of the Tasting Menu. Sarah and I were so hungry we ended up ordering a few rolls and starters before our food even came out. Soft shell crab rolls are always hit or miss for me, but this was pretty good.

This was actually the second course-Amaebi (Japanese sweet shrimp) set on green tea soba with uni tosazu (soy, bonito, and vinegar) froth garnished with strawberry faux caviar. This was my least favorite. The prawn didn't taste as fresh as it could have and the noodles were a bit hard.

This was the first course- Smoked Toro Prosciutto. I love, love, love Toro. If I could eat only THAT part part of tuna whenever I eat sushi I'd be a happy woman.

Lamboyaki- We got this as another extra order, coz like I said, we were starving to death. These were basically little balls filled with lamb and foie gras. If you have ever been to Robot's head chef Nino Laus' restaurant Ninyo, this might seem familiar, because over there they have the same ones but filled with duck and foie gras.

Hamachi new style sashimi with mixed green (fresh hamachi drizzled with searing butter and yuzu, garnished with jalapeno, mango faux caviar, and cherry tomato served with mixed green in yamamomo dressing)--I liked the presentation of this. The salad was basically wrapped around a bread stick. The dressing was also really good and I love Hamachi so this was one of my favorites.

Our menu said Calamansi Sorbet as a palate cleanser, but this was actually buko lychee.

USDA Prime beef tenderloin crusted with desiccated coconut and Vietnamese coffee on a bed of tarragon mashed potato, wasabi coconut sauce, garnished with dehydrated vegetables and fruit spheres---I wish this steak was bigger because it was soooo good. Done medium rare, just the way I like it.

Mango yuzu cheesecake - cheesecake with a hint of yuzu garnished with fresh mangoes on a green tea sesame meringue crust-- Not a fan of cheesecake, any cheesecake- at all. I ate half of this though, mostly the mango part hehe.

Next time I go to Robot, I think I wanna try the ala carte stuff. It was good, the restaurant itself is very trippy (Check out the unisex bathroom that makes you feel like you're inside a huge shiny disco ball)I was wondering why on a Saturday night it wasn't full though. Maybe not many people know about it yet?

Head Chef Nino Laus is also the owner of Ninyo, a fine dining restaurant in Loyola Heights, QC that my family and I always eat at. I must say, if you want a real taste of his cooking, I would still suggest going to Ninyo instead. I will come back though to try other things on the menu!

ROBOT Japanese Cuisine 7912 Makati Ave, corner Sto Tomas St, Somerset Bldg., in between Atrium & Manila Peninsula HotelMakati, Philippines. For reservations, call 8128800 or 0917-51-ROBOT

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Restaurant Review: The Stock Market

The Stock Market in Bonifacio High Street is under new management, so I was surprised at how unfamiliar the menu was. My boyfriend and I aren't the mushy Valentine's Day types so we spent the day of hearts having dinner with some relatives.

The Stock Market has a brand new menu. I didn't recognize anything on it, so even if you've eaten here before, you can probably eat here now and it will feel like a whole new restaurant.

Calamri with tartar sauce-- I like how this tasted, but I wish they used the whole squid (with legs) instead of rings

Creamy Spinach and Salmon dip, served with toast. This was yummy and really rich. Make sure you get it to share or you'll be too full to eat your main.

Escargot in a garlic butter sauce. I liked the garlic butter (but of course) but we all found the snail a bit rubbery.

Mussels in white wine sauce. I was so full already but I tried the sauce and it was really good.

Crab Cakes- I've never been a fan of crab cakes but for those of you who always order this, it's worth a try.

Pan fried sea bass with mushroom asparagus risotto. My uncle ordered almost everything on the menu that by the time this came, I was so stuffed I only had 2 bites. It was good the next day though when I brought it to work for lunch.

One complaint I have is that service took forever! I don't know, maybe because it was Valentine's Day, and also only the first week under new management, so I'm willing to let that slide for now.

The Stock Market is located at Bonifacio High Street. For reservations, call 856-6301

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kitschen Flashback: Middle Eastern Food

Home-made Hummus and Baba Ganoush-- I'm not a big fan of eggplant, but I love Baba Ganoush. Even moreso when I made it according to my taste.

Falafel Salad-- with sun dried tomatoes, feta and falafels (home-made of course!)

Assorted Kebabs- Chicken, Beef and Fish! Served with garlic yogurt dip.

For dessert- not exactly middle eastern but I used dates! Sticky date cupcakes!

This is a Kitschen Flashback because I actually made this dinner months ago and just forgot to post it! It was my first attempt at Middle Eastern food and I must say, I did A-Ok :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kitschen Desserts: Paradis Natural Ice Cream

Last Sunday, my friend Gina and I had merienda at this new ice cream place along Tomas Morato called Paradis. Home-made ice cream is becoming an increasingly popular dessert in Manila so I was curious to see what unique thing they could bring to the table.

What Paradis offers is all natural, home made ice cream in unusual (read: some of you will even think WEIRD) flavors. Some out of the ordinary flavors owner Troy Hatcho came up with are Agasajo (Chili Chocolate Saffron), Pumpkin, Pineapple Rosemary Sorbet, Coco Vanilla, Red Beet and Orange and even Malunggay.

I tried the Pineapple Rosemary Sorbet and it was a nice twist on the fresh taste of Pineapple. It was refreshing and I enjoyed it. Other flavors I tried are the following:

Agasajo (Chili Chocolate Saffron)-- I personally found this a little too spicy. I have had hot chocolate with chili, and in fact, even make chili chocolate truffles myself and when working with unusual pairings with food, one must realize that less is more. At the end of the day, ice cream is a dessert and I would prefer a bittersweet dark chocolate with a hint of zing that coats my throat as opposed to having to drink water and fan my tongue after every bite.

Wasabi-- I felt the same way about this flavor. It was a bit overpowering to the point of making the ice cream less enjoyable. Dessert shouldn't be so stressful. Flavors for these two were good, it just needs to be toned down.

Caramel-- I loved this one. In fact, I can say it was my favorite. It had that taste of caramel right before it burns (Im saying this in a good way)The taste lingers on the tongue and I couldn't stop eating it.

Coco Vanilla-- If you're a fan of Coco Jam, you'll love this flavor because it tastes exactly like it. Gina got a whole cup of this and enjoyed it immensely.

Peanut Butter
-- I liked the flavor but felt the consistency was a bit too thick and sticky and not creamy enough. I almost felt as if I was eating plain peanut butter.

Red Beet and Orange-- Before you say "Gross", let me say it was actually really good. It was more orange and less beet, except for the lovely raspberry color. Troy said kids love this flavor. I didn't like the thick consistency. Ice cream should always be creamy.

Guava Passionfruit Sorbet-- I love guava, anything guava so you already know I loved this one.

They also have this think they call YOlive, which is an olive oil based yogurt. It sounds kinda shady at first but let me assure you, it is AWESOME. It has this almost nutty taste to it and I kept eating it, even if I was supposed to be trying everything else. Will definitely go back for this one.

They also have a decent menu of savory food such as quiches, sandwiches and salads. They're also open for breakfast. Unlike some dessert cafes that tend ot put savory dishes as an afterthought, you can actually go to Paradis to enjoy their food even if you don't plan on eating ice cream. It's actually pretty good. I had the 3 mushroom quiche with button, shitake and oyster mushrooms.

Paradis is located at 1/F Unit B Kojack Building, Tomas Morato cor. Sct Castor street, QC. Call 5760589 to reserve space for meetings etc. Free wifi when you buy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

To market, to market: Midnight Mercato

A few friends and I went to the first Midnight Mercato Centrale last Friday. Although it wasn't as full (food wise) as the regular daytime market, I can already see it becoming a haven for post-clubbing, tipsy crowds and the midnight munchers from the area.

I didn't eat any of these things above (Sarah had the roast beef shown last) but they sure did look good. Ended up with the tried and tested Margarita's Paella all time favorite. I love it so much that the P280 per serving price tag doesn't even affect me.

Abdul and I went back the next day and stuffed our faces at almost 3 am. Oh God, I can already see a habit forming.

Mercato Centrale is located to the side of Cav and The Spa in Bonifacio Global City. Open Fri-Sat 10pm-3am and Sat-Sun 7am-2pm

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kitschen Invasion: Rachel's Chicken Dinner

I have known Rachel Le Roux since high school, when she was still Rachel Rapaport. Regardless of what last name she carries and how long she was away for, she is still the same down-to-earth, fun loving, cool chick I first met at Brent.

Rae and I always complain we don't see each other as much as we'd like, so the universe made it possible for us to have more frequent get togethers since she lives in the South and I now work in Alabang. Last Tuesday, she invited me over for dinner, and although her husband Hylton is a chef (an awesome one-check out Pi Catering on Facebook) she made dinner that night.

Here's what we had:
Garlic mushroom and eggplant salad with balsamic dressing

Roasted butternut squash with rosemary

Chicken ala Rae (and garlic mash which I forgot to photograph :s)

Rachel's Chicken Dinner

12 Chicken Thighs / Legs
1 1/2 packet of Asian Gourmet Thai Aromatic Grill Kai Yang
6-8 peeled whole shallots
3-4 twigs of Rosemary
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Marinate the chicken for about 30 mins. Then put it in a roasting tray with the shallots, rosemary and salt and cook on about 350˚F for about 45 minutes. Halfway through the time, I usually put water into the tray to steam up and soften the chicken.

Turn up the heat for an extra 10 minutes for extra crispy skin.


A little bit about Rachel:

What's it like being married to a chef? What's the typical meal like at the Le Roux residence?
Everyone must think that I get gourmet food at home everyday but I don't. All a chef does is cook at work so that last thing he would like to do is cook at home after hours on his feet. So I cook dinner most of the time. But when he has his days off and fancies cooking up a storm, well these are the days that I reap the benefits. Typical meal? Meat with a salad and potatoes or something Asian. Rice doesn't really come onto our table too often, guess it's from the years of living in London. But there has to be meat, because he's South African and because they can't live without it.

You used to live in London, from a culinary perspective, what do you miss about living there?
When you think about London, food doesn't generally come into mind. People often say that the food is bland. But when you live there, you discover and crave for certain things that you enjoyed. Where do I even begin? Pork and Leek sausages, Supermarket bought Angus Aberdeen Rib Eye steak that doesn't cost and arm and a leg, Pret-a-Manger, and I know we get quite a good variety here in Manila, but OH MY. THE CHEESES. What a wonderful selection. When I was up to it, I'd walk to Whole Foods and head straight to huge, refrigerated cheese room and treat myself to a chunk of Manchego with quince jelly. Solero Exotic Fruit Sorbet Ice Cream, Sunday Roasts! Lamb, Beef or Pork with veggies, Yorkshire pudding, Gastro pubs and I miss my favourite restaurants--Busaba Ethai, Belgo's Centrale in Covent Garden, my local pub (The Queens Head in Brook Green) for last minute meals out, Wagamamas around the city, and most importantly Chelsea Bun in Fulham for their traditional English fry-up breakfasts. Oh, the wonders of the English fry-ups.

Rachel with her hubby, Chef Hylton Le Roux

Tell us more about Pi Catering and what it can bring to the table in the already saturated food industry in Manila
Hylton has been a chef now for fourteen years, from working in Gordon Ramsey's kitchen at the Savoy Hotel to Heston Bleumental's kitchen at The Fat Duck to gastro pubs and catering companies. His vision and concept for Pi Catering is to bring his culinary knowledge and experiences into homes, as if you have a Michelin Star restaurant in your own home! He will initially sit with you to create a menu suitable for your palate and works on a menu concept designed just for you. And then on the day of the event, everything is brought to you. Just think of everything that you need to make you feel like you are dining out but in fact, you are sitting in your own dining room and at the end of the night, all you do is sit back and have your night cap with you and your friends in the comfort of your own home. I think Manila's foodies will be pleasantly and wonderfully surprised. :) It's different, it's classically creative and it's fun.
He's also blogging about the whole start up of the company and his take on food.

Check out Pi Catering on Facebook and Hylton's blog at

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Restaurant Review: Crisostomo

What happens when you plan to meet up with childhood friends, most of who you haven't seen in over a decade?

You stuff your faces of course.

While I don't usually look for Filipino food, I enjoy it quite a lot when it is placed in front of me.We ate at Crisostomo at Eastwood, a place I've eaten at before and though I find their food quite pricey (We all know Pinoy food ingredients are cheap!)I don't mind eating there once in awhile.

Sizzling Balut--> This was more for the only American on the table last night. Why is it every time there's a foreigner, Filipinos insist that they HAVE TO eat balut? Half of us won't even go near the stuff! No Little duck tho--boo!

We got not one, not two but THREE kinds of rice. I don't eat that much rice on a normal basis, BUT when it's mixed with adobo sauce, crab fat or tinapa, how can I resist? No, really? The Adobo rice was my favorite.

Tinapa and Salted Egg Rice--> Like tinapa, don't like Salted Egg. I know, what's wrong with me, right?

Taba ng Talangka Rice--> Who doesn't like crab fat? it's the deadliest, fattiest, yummiest thing ever...and mixed with rice? It was heavenly. Worth feeling like crap for after.

Sari-Saring Sinugba Platter--> This was a mix of seafood and popular Pinoy food like liempo, grilled squid stuffed with tomatoes and onions and pork bbq. This is a good thing to get for a big group of people.

Tadyang ni Tiago---> I don't know what part of beef Tadyang is, but this was soooo goood. it looked really crispy to the point of not being good anymore, but damn, it was so soft and with the right amount of fattiness. Yum. I want more!

And as if all that wasn't enough, we also ordered Crispy pata. I'm picky with pork, and now that I'm with Abdul ( really try to keep my intake to a minimum. Can't resist crispy pork skin though. Oh well!

I wanna eat at Crisostomo again tonight...and for someone who doesn't really crave Filipino food, the place must be pretty good.

Crisostomo is located at 2/F New Eastwood Mall. Call 7101693 for reservations

Kitschen Quickies: A little bowl of noodles goes a long way

I effin' love Mongolian Bbq. Most especially those all you can eat joints where you know you'll probably regret having that last bowl but it just hits the spot so well that at that moment, you don't even care.

Usually people put rice, but I like using noodles. I usually mix it w/ terriyaki and mongolian sauces, garlic, sesame seeds, squid and a few other things depending on my mood.

It's freakin' awesome! And if it tastes bad, it's your fault!

Sweet Inspirations is located at 311 Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Call 928-2557 and 433-4200.

Man, before Sunday the lst time I was there was in college!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Kitschen Invasion: Patti's Cookie Dough Truffles

Since I love having people over to eat what I make in my Chaotic Kitschen, I thought it would be an awesome idea to invite some of my friends that are just as into food as I am, to share their favorite recipes with you all, as well as some of their thoughts on food.

First up is fellow any-food-from-nyc lover, and woman after my own sweet-as-cupcakes heart, Patti Grandidge!

Let's start with her recipe first!

Cookie Dough Truffles


1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips - i prefer using mini morsels for this recipe
A couple bars of your favorite chocolate for the coating - I use Hershey's milk chocolate for this recipe

-Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, add the vanilla
-Beat in four, add the milk
-Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips

-Now that you have the dough, I recommend to place it in the refrigerator so that it cools and it's easier to handle (if not, it's a bit sticky)
-Once the dough is cooled, 20 minutes or so, shape them into 1" balls and place them on a cookie tray lined with wax paper
-Chill for 2 hours, and then...

-Melt your chocolate bars
-Dunk the dough into the melted chocolate so that it coats the entire ball
-Place back on wax paper and store in the refrigerator for at least an hour

A little bit about Patti...

Tell us more about this dish. How did you come up with it and how did it become your go-to food?
If it was socially accepted and my body could handle it, I would eat dessert for breakfast lunch and dinner. Anything go-to for me usually means desserts, never "real" food. Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite, and this recipe is a variation of the traditional chocolate chip cookie. They are no-bake chocolate chip cookie dough truffles! Everyone who loves cookies, loves cookie dough.

What's your favorite type of food? Like if there was one dish in the world that you could eat forever and nothing else what would it be?
This is tough! Sometimes I say I could eat bread and butter for the rest of my life... My key ingredients that I couldn't live without, though, would be chocolate, Nutella, cheese and peanut butter.

Favorite kitchen mishap story.
This is more like an embarrassing kitchen story. In general, I'm known to be neat and tidy. Even in the kitchen I like to clean up after myself and keep everything organized as I go along. One afternoon I was making red velvet cupcakes and instead of switching off my mixer, I turned it up to full speed and red batter literally got EVERYWHERE. My parents walked in and snickered at me cleaning up the red stains all over the kitchen.

Favorite food destination and why? What are your favorite restos there?
New York! One could live in New York forever and it would be impossible to try every single restaurant in the city. The different mix of people and culture really lends itself to such a variety of cuisines in an American city. A few of my favorites are Peter Luger for top of the line steak, SMAC for every kind of mac 'n cheese possible, Levain Bakery for the best cookies in the world and Momofuku for perfect pork buns.

What is it about Filipino food that makes it stand out from other types of food?

Filipino food is always made with love and typically enjoyed over family get togethers or special occasions. That in itself is just special being that the Filipino culture is so warm and friendly. Filipino food has the influence of Asian flavors along with Western touches making it unique from other types of food. I just love that Filipino food is celebratory, flavorful and always plentiful - the eating never ends! That's the best part ;)

Find Patti at