Friday, March 29, 2013

Upcoming Event: X Factor Philippines Top 6 Live in Rhapsody!

The event's poster
Are you doing anything next Friday, April 5 at 8 pm? Join us and come watch this entertaining event at Metrobar! This concert will be featuring the top 6 contestants of the recently concluded first season of X Factor Philippines. In case you aren't already familiar with these great singers, here's a list of what you're in for:

Kedebon Colim: Always the lively performer, Kedebon has always given entertaining performances with his  seemingly limitless energy and stage antics. We are likely in for a fun duet performance of "Mahal Kita Kasi" with Top 4 finalist Allen Jane Sta. Maria.

Jeric Medina: My own brotha-from-the-same-motha, Jeric Medina has made his mark with his cool voice and R&B/Rock vocal stylings. Have a listen to his most acclaimed performance from the competition and my favorite version of the song, "Careless Whisper".

Allen Jane Sta. Maria: This young singer always performs with a sweet, yet powerful voice. I loved her X Factor album single, "Love The Way You Lie" by Rihanna. If she performs it, I hope they get someone to rap the Eminem part with her! (like me lol)

Daddy's Home: With Jerome's smooth falsettos, brothers Allan and Ebet's soulful vocals and Doc E's soaring notes, this is one amazing group to watch. Here's their latest music video, "Minsan Pa"!

Gabriel Maturan: This smooth singer continued to impress us from the X Factor stage weekly. Check out his X Factor rendition of his mentor's favorite song, "Forever"!

KZ Tandingan: KZ has made soulful, jazzy performances since the start of the competition. I really like her single from the recent Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs competition, "Scared to Death".

Martin Nievera: Last but definitely not the least, the legendary Concert King and funny man Martin Nievera will be a special guest at this concert.

It has been a while since I have seen all these performers live together so I am really looking forward to the event. See you all next Friday!

- Joaquin

Tickets are available for P500.
Ticket Inquiries:
Metrobar, Laffline, or Punchline: (02) 3747505
Vernice/Jeng: 0917-9501022

Event Location:

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Movie Review: Les Misérables (2012)

Image from here.
This girl sure looks like a young Dakota Fanning. Having missed this on the big screen, we finally got to watch this yesterday. I am not familiar with this story at all, so this was a first time for me.

I liked the story and I instantly came to love Hugh Jackman's character, Jean Valjean. Russell Crowe, despite all the spoofs on his singing, gave a very good acting performance. It was also interesting to see Sacha Baron Cohen (from Borat, The Dictator) and Helena Bonham Carter (Tim Burton's wife and Johnny Depp's frequent co-star) together in another musical since Sweeney Todd, which was a movie I loved.

As a two hour and thirty eight minute movie, it was quite dragging at times. One hour and a half into it, I found myself wishing the movie would come to a swift end. Perhaps, it would be much more appreciated by people who are already fans of the story. It does have some shining moments, and that for me, was during the more emotional scenes where multiple characters sing together in different lines and different harmonies.

Verdict: 3.5/5 - Good movie that is well worth watching, but if you are not a fan of dramas and musicals, you will likely not enjoy this.

Loved Les Misérables? Hated it? Let me know by commenting below! Or you can always just tweet me!

- Joaquin

LA Diner: A Feast in the East

We were looking for a good place to have dinner with Alvie's Guama in the Antipolo area and we thought to head down to a place we heard had good, affordable food, LA Diner.
LA Diner
You can't miss it.
We've been down this road several times in the past to dine at a ramen place called Tamagoya. I wish we had gone down the street and explored the other establishments sooner. Apparently, this little street has been garnering fame as one with many good restaurants. As someone who lives near the Bicutan area of Paranaque, I must say, I am jealous (Haha).

LA Diner
Heading for the comfy corner booth.
We were greeted by a warm (not literally), lively interior which had an old Hollywood theme. There were bits of memorabilia, including pictures of Marilyn Monroe up on the walls. It was a festive place and that alone was enough to whet my appetite.

LA Diner
Red Iced Tea and Blue Lemonade, P60.00
These were pretty cheap for good bottomless drinks, so we decided to give them a shot. A blue drink for me and a red one for the lady. My blue lemonade had the perfect balance between sour and sweet. . I thoroughly enjoyed sipping my drink throughout the night as she did with hers. We appreciated that the waiters were very attentive with the refills. I don't think my glass was ever emptied!

Buffalo Wings, P185.00
While munching on these, we wondered why they are called buffalo wings. I did not know. I did my homework after and it turns out, it's because this dish grew to popularity in Buffalo, New York. A little trivia for ya. These were decent buffalo wings. I enjoyed them but we were expecting it to be served with blue cheese dip, as the menu indicated, and what came with it was just plain old mayonnaise. Too bad.

LA Diner
Tri-Cheese Pizza (Regular), P170.00. Also available in Large for P275.00.
This thin-crust pizza topped with Mozzarella, Parmesan, and Cheddar was good. I always prefer thick crust pizza but this was surprisingly enjoyable. There was a lot of cheese on it, enough to make it have an almost pungent aroma, but we didn't mind it at all. There is no such thing as too much cheese (words I live by), after all. Due to my companions' limited stomach space, I was happy to have a huge share of this fairly priced pizza.

LA Diner
Spicy Shrimps Linguini, P195.00
This wasn't really that spicy, but I guess the spice was enough to keep things interesting. I liked the texture and taste of this tomato-creamy shrimp pasta. The garlic bread was soft, tasty and moist too.

Chicken Fingers, P165.00
Since we were sharing everything, we picked an entree that was convenient for a group. The chicken was soft and tasty. It was delicious enough to be eaten on its own. The corn & carrots and gravy were both okay. The mashed potatoes could have been much better, though. It tasted different to me and with the texture, it seemed like there were a lot of extenders mixed in. Then again, I was the only one who felt this way so I'll leave you to be the judge. It was in no means inedible and I did eat quite a bit of it, anyway (I'm such a hypocrite).

Buffalo Wings: Average
Tri-Cheese Pizza: Great
Spicy Shrimps Linguini: Good
Chicken Fingers: Good
Blue Lemonade: Great
Red Iced Tea: Good

Does LA stand for Lower Antipolo? Nice one, you guys. Despite a few flaws, we actually really liked this place. They have a vast, interesting selection of delicious and affordable dishes. It is not hard to imagine myself coming back multiple times and trying everything on the menu. Past Tamagoya and LA Diner, it might be a while before we ever venture further down the famed Lilac Street.

LA Diner
Happy with our newly-discovered restaurant.
Love LA Diner? Hate it? Let me know what you think about anything by commenting below, and you can always just tweet me!

- Joaquin

257 B. Soliven Ave.
Greenheights Newtown Subdivision,
Antipolo, Rizal
(02) 681 1051
Operating Hours: 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Facebook: L.A. Diner

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wrong Ramen: The Weirder, The Better

In a city with many great restaurants abound, how does one stand out? A restaurant needs imagination. It must shake things up a bit. While all other establishments take themselves too seriously, this one has the cojones to call itself Wrong Ramen.
I doubt I'll end up screaming in pure ecstasy, but the humor alone  made this look interesting enough to try.
Heading out one rainy day with friends for the usual Friday lunch-out, we decided to give this place a shot. The place seemed a bit tight, but they managed to fit the five of us at their center table. We were amused by the wit and sarcasm that continued to show on the inside.

Well then, let's see what these "idiots" are made of! I wish they DID have Cream of Mushroom Ramen...
We appreciated that the staff was warm and polite. Some restaurants seem to forget that this goes a long way in the enjoyment of one's meal. The playful atmosphere that manifested from the condiments to the menu also added to the experience.

A Salt in Battery. (get it?)
The menu was very interesting. Many of the selections were dishes you would not find elsewhere and some of them were uhm.. very interestingly named too (you'll see). We naturally started with the appetizers.

Enoki Mushroom Fries, P150.00
Fried enoki mushrooms. Enoki mushrooms are more familiar to us by the name "golden mushrooms" in Chinese cuisine. I, on the other hand, have always thought these were what they referred to as "straw mushrooms", which would make much more sense because they do look like straw! This dish sounded great but we didn't like it that much. The fried mushrooms were quite airy and it felt like all I could taste was the breading. The katsu ketchup it is served with helps, though. Katsu ketchup is a combination of ketchup and Tonkatsu sauce.

Bacon Katsu, P260.00
Bacon, cheese, wasabi sauce, breaded and fried, YUM. I don't even care about the alfalfa sprouts that top the katsu anymore. If I were to nitpick, the cheese was abundant but tasted a bit too much like quickmelt. Mozzarella would have done much better. The bacon wasn't very bacon-y in texture, its texture was more like that of ham. With a combination like that though, you'd have to try really hard to come up with something that isn't delicious. ...and this dish was very delicious. So much so that we were tempted to cancel all other orders and get four more Bacon Katsus! However, it would be wrong not to order ramen, wouldn't it?

F.U. Ramen, P425.00
F.U., ramen! Aptly named since this ramen is bursting with attitude. and oil, yes, oil too. This dish takes the concept of ramen and F's it up (in a good way) with bacon, spam, cheese, and a sunny side up. The broth was mildly salty and very peppery. It really did taste like breakfast in a bowl. This is something some adventurous eaters would enjoy trying. It was fun to eat, messy and weird and I loved it for being so.

Wrong Ramen Tantanmen, P395.00
Chashu (barbecued pork) and ground pork on noodles with a delightfully nutty and creamy, spicy, sesame broth. We really liked this one, too. I remarked that if I could have it done, I would take F.U. ramen with this tantanmen broth instead. I imagine that would be absolutely delicious.

Wrong Ramen Rich Tonkotsu, P385.00
The title of this dish sounds like a martial arts action film. This is the more standard type of ramen. This was good, but wasn't as interesting as the first two. We noticed that it had a strong clam taste despite being described as having creamy chicken broth. The only ramen on the menu that had seafood was the "Sea Men Ramen" (you read that right) so we were curious and asked. They explained that there was a mix-up in the kitchen. I found it amusing that quite poetically, we were served the wrong ramen at Wrong Ramen. They were very nice about it though. They kept apologizing and took this off our bill. We were totally fine with it and we were just glad that no one's allergic!

There were two things we really wanted to try but weren't able to. 
- Poop of the Gods. This nastily named dessert is Belgian chocolate with sea salt and olive oil. It doesn't sound too appetizing but chocolate with olive oil is just too interesting to pass up. It was disappointingly out of stock. Perhaps it was too early in the day for Zeus to perform his divine business on his "other" throne.
- Buffalo Chicken Tsukemen. I read about this from a blog post prior to visiting and with chicken karaage (fried chicken), a buffalo soup base, and bits of blue cheese, this dish looked like the king of strange! I noticed it wasn't on the menu and asked about it. Unfortunately, they said that this dish has been discontinued. Sad. Very sad. 

Enoki Mushroom Fries: Average
Bacon Katsu: Great
F.U. Ramen: Good
Wrong Ramen Tantanmen: Good
Wrong Ramen Rich Tonkotsu: Average (though with the soup mix-up, this is likely not credible)

I love the humor of this restaurant as much as I enjoy the "most wrong" of their dishes. I hope they build on that strength of theirs and come up with more innovation. For the ramen bowls specifically, we believe they could do to lower the prices significantly. P400++ is quite heavy on the wallet for an average-sized serving of ramen, especially if their ramen isn't supposed to be "authentic" at all. The rest of the menu seems to be priced much more fairly, anyway.

Love Wrong Ramen? Hate it? Let me know what you think about anything by commenting below, and you can always tweet me!

- Joaquin

Burgos Circle, Forbes Town Center, Forbestown Rd,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
(02) 823-8249
Operating Hours:
11:00 am - 2:00 pm
6:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Facebook: Wrong Ramen

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Good Earth Roasts (GER)

If you've been around The Fort Strip recently, chances are you've noticed the new restaurant that has popped up where the Italian restaurant Focaccia used to be. We were walking home one day, tempted to have dinner out, and decided to drop by for a taste.

The vibrant sign illuminates one side of The Fort Strip.
Good Earth Roasts looks like what a hybrid of a Hong Kong restaurant and a bar would look like. The interior was quite dark but pleasantly cozy and the theme continues to show on the inside. There was some music keeping the mood festive, but not too loud so as to make it difficult to converse.

I appreciate the contrast of the lively display against the dim backdrop of the restaurant.
Upon acquiring our table, we went right down to ordering. We were planning to just have a quick dinner, after all. We decided to go with one variety of fried rice, one hofan, and what turned out to be a minuscule side of isaw, which was surprisingly on the menu, and also surprisingly, is something Alvie hasn't tried yet.

Duck Hofan, P198.00
You'll have to bear with our pictures, as we had to take them in the dark environment. :) Hofan has always been a favorite of mine in Chinese cuisine. This version was alright. The noodles were a tad bit too wet, oily, and bland. The duck was surprisingly delicious, though. Not as good as authentic Hong Kong fare, but it was comparable. I can imagine myself wanting to order this if I find myself having an intense craving for duck or hofan.

Crispy Pork Fried Rice, P168.00
Now, this one wasn't as good. The pork was indeed crispy yet slightly overcooked and deficient in moisture. Both the rice and the pork were lacking flavor for us both. We expected more taste from a fried rice dish. It was not too expensive, but we are not likely to order this again.

Chicken Isaw, P20.00
Unfortunately, this was as sad as it looks. It was not a good first experience for Alvie because it had both the taste and consistency of cardboard. I had to convince her not to give up on isaw entirely. With the vinegar, it becomes more tolerable but we learned the lesson that this is no place for street food.

Duck Hofan: Average
Crispy Pork Fried Rice: Not good
Chicken Isaw: Worse

This place seems like it's okay for a quick fix of affordable Hong Kong cuisine. However, its quality and taste pales next to its neighbors in Fort Strip. Nevertheless, I consider the ambience to be quite good for a night of drinking, complete with a Foosball table (I've wanted to try this since FRIENDS, but we were too tired that night). I think we were the only table in the entire establishment that did not order beer. The alcohol on their drinks menu seem fairly priced as well, so this venue might be more apt in that regard.

Love Good Earth Roasts? Hate it? Let me know what you think about anything by commenting below, and you can always tweet me!

- Joaquin

G/F The Fort Strip, 26th Street,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
+63 917 200 6056
Facebook: Good Earth Roasts

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Movie Review: Die Hard

Image from here.
Finally, a break from all the eating! We watched Die Hard 5 recently and it was difficult to believe Alvie hadn't watched the first one before. That's just wrong. And we fixed that. I took advantage and watched this action movie forefather again with her.

In case you also haven't seen it, Die Hard is about an off-duty cop who finds himself smack-dab in the middle of a terrorist attack during Christmas season. Bad luck for him, or bad luck for them? It was fun to watch the legendary "John McClane" onscreen with a full head of hair again. Now, that just takes me back to my childhood (haha). Also of note is the movie's very cool villain, Hans Gruber. He is portrayed by Alan Rickman, or as he's more popularly known, Severus Snape. This was the role that helped Alan Rickman make his mark in Hollywood. It was doubly amusing to watch because the actor has gotten so intertwined with his role as Snape that I could not unsee the humor of it all anymore.

"Ten points from Gryffindor, McClane." Image from here.
Needless to say, this classic was a great movie. I might not be used to the pace of older movies anymore, or I was particularly tired that night, but I did doze off for a few seconds here and there. There were some slower scenes that require a more attentive mind to stay alert through. What's great about this story is the scale. This is not like all the other over-the-top action movies. It's just one guy and twelve terrorists in one building. Because of this, the story becomes more believable and you can find yourself caring more about the main character because above all else, it is evident that he has his weaknesses and that he is just one man. This movie also gave birth to one of the best lines of all time: "Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*****!!!!!"

My favorite Snape picture. Image from here.
Verdict: 5/5 - I may be biased here, but everyone should see this movie at least once in their lives. 

Loved Die Hard? Hated it? Let me know by commenting below! Or you can always just tweet me!

- Joaquin

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Peri-Peri Grill House

After an afternoon of running errands around Greenhills Shopping Center, we had burnt our afternoon snack at Mien San and were looking for a good place for dinner. Nearing Promenade, we spotted Peri-Peri Grill House's warm facade and Alvie said she had eaten there before and that it was a good place. It did look good, so why not?
The lively Peri-Peri Grill House.
The menu was quite interesting. Peri-Peri is a Portuguese sauce and way of cooking that uses the african bird's eye chili, which goes by the same name. We did want to have their signature Peri-Peri chicken but in addition, wanted to try their Callos Ala Madrilena. I consider myself to be something of a callos connoisseur because though I have tried many varieties in restaurants, none seem to come close to our family's home-cooked callos. Pity though, that it was out of stock.

Peri-Peri chicken (1/2), P280.00
The Peri-Peri chicken comes in three variants: Lemon & Garlic, Mild, and Hot. Since Peri-Peri sauce is also available on the side, we decided to start with basics and take the first option. On its own and with the gravy, its flavor was okay for me. The chicken was juicy and mildly flavorful. This dish only comes to shine when you take it with the Peri-Peri sauce available on the table.

Peri-Peri sauces and Chili Oil.
These sauces were glorious on the chicken. The Peri-Peri sauce isn't just spicy. It also has the refreshing taste of salsa, and is mildly sweet. If you hadn't noticed yet, sweet and spicy is my favorite combination. :) I personally prefer the hot version because it is bursting with even more flavor. I loved the sauce so much, I even purchased a 150 ml takeout bottle for a reasonable 75 pesos. The chili oil just tasted like oil with a hint of chili.

Warm Tortilla, P55.00
The chicken and sauce also go wonderfully with the warm tortilla, which comes in three pieces and is served with salsa. We also tried the Java Rice as recommended by our waitress, but we found it quite bland.

Beef Salpicao, P350.00
For lack of our favored callos, we ordered the next best-looking item on the menu instead. The Beef Salpicao was good. It had a delicious, solid flavor typical of salpicao. However, there was not much of it and it was a bit tougher than we had hoped. I found it to be a bit too expensive for what we were served.

Peri-Peri Chicken: Great (mostly due to the sauce)
Warm Tortilla: Great (still, mostly due to the sauce)
Java Rice: Not Good
Beef Salpicao: Good

Overall, it was a good dinner! The chicken and tortilla heavily remind me of the food at El Pollo Loco, but the Peri-Peri sauce sets this food above and beyond that.

Love Peri-Peri? Hate it? Let me know what you think about anything by commenting below, and you can always tweet me!

- Joaquin

G/F GH Promenade Greenhills
San Juan, Philippines
(02) 725 5270
Operating Hours: 11:00 am - 12:00 mn

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mien San Noodle House

Mien San Noodle House has always been a favorite we rarely have the luxury of enjoying. Slightly near Greenhills, this hole-in-the-wall is not very conveniently located for us. Being the lazy driver that I am, I also find it very tedious to park here, since parking is perpendicular for this tight, busy street. Is it worth the hassle? Yes.
Parking here is stressful for me.
We were in the area one Saturday afternoon and decided to take the chance to drop in for a snack. The place is nice and cozy, setting a nice ambiance for a good meal.

Inside Mien San.
Something to look forward to as you sit down is munching on their complimentary fried wanton wrappers. These fried little tidbits of wanton wrapper, sprinkled with sugar are addictive! We wiped it out before our orders came and even asked for more.

Sweet Fried Wanton Wrappers, Free!
It wasn't difficult for us to start ordering, because we have two favorites from this restaurant that we never pass up on having. I spotted Seaweeds in the Cold Cuts part of the menu and hey, I love those! Just 58 pesos for it too, so I went ahead and ordered it. Seaweeds is what some restaurants use to refer to that delectable Chinese appetizer, jellyfish, pictured below.

Jellyfish, what I didn't get. Image from here.
Turns out, Mien San is a restaurant that knows their Chinese food terms. Disappointingly, I got exactly what I ordered. My fault for underestimating Mien San's intelligence.

Seaweeds, P58.00
Faintly reminiscent of Spinach Fettuccine, this tasted like, well, seaweed. I found it interesting enough to eat up (Alvie did not like it at all) but I probably wouldn't order it a second time. On to our favorites!

Beef with Tendon Noodle, P228.00
The soup is great, the meat is tender.. and will you look at the tendon on that! If you are a fan of this particular cut of meat, this bowl is for you! If I were to improve anything about this dish, I'd prefer egg noodles for this soup, though, as I am not a fan of these shanghai-type noodles, texture-wise. Nevertheless, this is still a dish we always order. There is a version of this that has goto, too. I have yet to try it, though. It's quite big, so you can share this by asking for an extra bowl and leave space for our other favorite item (they won't split it for you upon request, so this is the most they will do).

Spicy Wanton, P128.00
This is the star of the show! I am usually a critical person when it comes to food (much to my mom's ire at home), but I can find no fault in this dish. We even had a second order of this when we could have had something else, sacrificing variety for another scrumptious bite. The wantons are good, yes, but what makes this magical is the sauce. It is subtly salty, tantalizingly sweet and mouth-wateringly spicy. It envelopes the dumplings in so much flavor. It makes me want to drink up every drop and lick the bowl clean, but I don't for health reasons. This may seem quite pricey at 128 pesos for six pieces, but deem it to be worth every penny. If I were on a tighter budget, I'd be happy with an order of this and just rice!

Soy Milk, P60.00
We saw the waiter carrying around a tray of these bad boys and ordered one. It was quite good and enough for two. You can customize the sweetness to your taste with the syrup they serve with it.

Seaweeds: This is okay if you are adventurous.
Beef with Tendon Noodle: Definitely worth a try.
Spicy Wanton: Definitely must be ordered. Twice. Every time.
Soy Milk: Good (Joaquin), Great (Alvie)

If you're ever in the area, try and drop by! The next time we do, we're probably going to order the same stuff again. We don't feel like gambling with something new since our visits are few and far between. Let us know if there's anything you suggest!

Love Mien San? Hate it? Let me know what you think about anything by commenting below, and you can always tweet me!

- Joaquin

36 Granada St.
Valencia, Quezon City
(02) 721-5794
Operating Hours: 
Mon-Sat: 10:30 am - 11:30 pm
Sun: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

IHOP: The Latest Pancake Craze

IHOP, or the International House of Pancakes, has recently made itself more international and branched out to right here in the Philippines. Alvie and I have actually gotten to try the place twice, once with family and then with friends. Here are the highlights of both meals.

The standard IHOP buttermilk pancakes.
Being as hyped up as it is now, IHOP can also stand for "IHOP-I-can-get-a-table-in-two-hours!". The first time we went, which, to be fair, was the first Sunday since its opening, we had to wait a whopping two and a half hours just to get seats. You can just put your name down and roam around a bit, but you can't go very far lest you'd risk losing your spot. The second time we visited was at lunch on a Friday, two weeks later. The lines had gotten better, granted, but it still took us more than an hour to get in line. We noticed that due to limited larger tables, smaller groups have a much better chance of getting in sooner, so you'd have much better chances if you go as a pair.

IHOP's only branch is located at Bonifacio High Street.
IHOP's menu is mostly breakfast-oriented and you'll see that most of these selections come with the pancakes on the side. Among the first things you'll see on the menu are the omelettes. I have tried the Big Steak, Hearty Ham & Cheese, and the Chicken Fajita omelettes and I find that only the last two are good. Delicious as the Big Steak Omelette sounds, I just found it quite boring.

The Chicken Fajita Omelette (two buttermilk pancakes not in picture), P265.00
They have many different breakfast combinations, most of which have healthy options, like having sides of mixed fruit instead of pancakes (No thanks, though. This ain't the IHOF). We had the Breakfast Sampler. It had eggs, hash browns, bacon strips, sausage links, and ham, also with a side of pancakes. A bit too heavy for one person, we decided to split this.

Breakfast Sampler, P395.00
I wouldn't say everything in the platter was great, but I thoroughly enjoyed the variety. The hash browns are different from what's usually available in that it seems much more fresh. It wasn't exactly bursting with flavor, but I loved the texture (think Pik-Nik chips that were freshly cooked and fried altogether). The rest of the breakfast meats were just alright. The bacon was good, but I wish there was more of it. There is never enough bacon. Right next to all the oily, salty goings-on is the sweet escape of pancakes, which turns this meal into a fun meal. The buttermilk pancakes on the side were fluffy and tasted delicious and we're glad they got this spot-on since it is their namesake, after all.

This foursome makes the pancakes and waffles even more interesting.
What is fun becomes more fun with four available kinds of syrup, which you can mix and match to taste with all the pancakes and waffles (hell, even the bacon if you're adventurous). Old-fashioned has that good old maple taste we are all used to. Strawberry and Blueberry are both good and very sweet, almost candy-like in quality. Butter Pecan is my personal favorite, because it has that rich butter taste with a subtle sweetness. Sugar-free syrup is also available. The pancakes come in many different flavors, of which we have tried a couple.

Harvest Grain 'N Nut Pancakes, P195.00
Visually similar to the standard buttermilk pancakes, these are quite different. This may just be my favorite that I have tried so far. It is a healthier option (I think) as it is packed with oats, grains, walnuts and almonds. I enjoyed the texture that filled every bite and the soft taste that went with it. This goes great with the more flavorful Strawberry syrup.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes, P255.00
Now, I don't know if the whipped cream on the side was intended or it just slipped down before they served it (haha). Barely needing any syrup at all, this was quite a rich pair of pancakes. Not excessively sweet, but it had a very strong chocolate taste, almost to the point of being bitter. This goes great with butter pecan syrup just for added sweetness and moisture, but not too much of it. There is also a version of this that uses buttermilk batter instead.

Verdict: Good, Definitely worth a try.

All in all, eating in IHOP is a good experience, not counting the wait. You can avoid waiting too long by visiting during off-hours, in a small group, or just waiting for the hype to die down a bit. The offerings are very interesting and I love the variety. The pancakes are not too different from what we are used to, better, but still comparable to our local "house of pancakes". In addition to everything above, we have also tried the waffles, which were good, and the french toast, which was just average. It can be heavy on the wallet for a regular meal but I placed some tips below to help out. :)

The family at dinner (notice my multi-colored waffle).
Love IHOP? Hate it? Let me know what you think about anything by commenting below, and you can always tweet me!

- Joaquin

IHOP Philippines
W Global Center, 30th St cor 9th Ave
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
(02) 687-5611
Operating Hours: 6:00 am - 12:00 am
Facebook: IHOP Philippines

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BUDGET-SMART TIPS: The menu can be quite pricey so here are some things we did to make the most of the menu and our wallets.
- Share! This applies to pretty much any dining experience. Some of the meals are big, like the Breakfast Sampler, so they can be shared by two, along with any other side dish. It's also fun to have a taste of everyone else's orders, too. :)
- Plan your orders! One peculiar aspect of the IHOP menu is that despite the varying prices for all the pancake flavors, it costs the same (P50.00) to upgrade to any of them from a buttermilk pancakes side dish. For instance, an order of New York Cheesecake pancakes will cost P285.00. A Hearty Ham and Cheese Omelette would cost P245.00. Adding fifty pesos to upgrade your standard pancakes to the same flavor would just come up to P295.00. You just got a good omelette for ten pesos! You can navigate the menu all you want to come up with your ideal meal, with this in mind.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

In-N-Out Burger: How It Took Us by Surprise

Who'da thunk we'd have In-N-Out burgers in the Philippines today? Last I heard of this famed burger was that they had a pop-up store in Singapore recently. I never heard any news or rumor that it was going to pop up here but surprise, surprise! We were among the fortunate few who got to have a taste.

These lovelies can barely keep their mouths shut.

We first heard of it at around ten o'clock this morning, taking it very skeptically. At around quarter to eleven, we noticed the announcement flooding the twitter feeds, stating that there would be a pop-up store at High Street from eleven in the morning to three in the afternoon. Ten minutes after, we were on our way there to stay ahead of the crowd. Ahead of the crowd, we were not!

no... no, no, no, NOOO!!!
I remained pessimistic about how long the line would be but even my pessimism was overwhelmed when we saw the line. We apparently arrived just in time too, because they started distributing whatchamacallems, paper wristbands not unlike those for entrance in Enchanted Kingdom. Minutes after, they ran out and it was only 11:30!

Not very "In-N-Out" but a relief from staying in line the whole time.

We waited in line for another hour, tweeting, candy crushing (just me), and talking with some friends, who also just learned about the event! We learned there was an unfortunate, but probably necessary, one burger per person rule. We saw a couple of celebrities around (Christian Bautista, Anne Curtis, Paolo Valenciano) and props to them for braving the long lines like everyone else. We eventually found out that the stub-bracelets guaranteed that you can get a burger as long as you get back before 3 pm so we headed back to the office to start working (haha).

Come 2:20, it was time to get back to acquire our rightful burgers. We almost did not make it as the store was already closed. I explained what I was told and they happily let us in (phew!). Grateful that they accommodated their last customers, we went right to ordering.

They were already wrapping up, so the cashier was nowhere to be found.
The potato chips were out of stock, which was not a problem at all because it could have been much worse. We asked for two double-meat, double-cheese "double-doubles" (how could you order any less at this point?) and two sodas. The staff was very nice and attentive, despite us being last-minute customers.

Cokes, P40.00 each
Totally understandable for this makeshift setup, the soda was bad, out of cans and out of spirit, but that's not what matters here, is it?

Regular and Animal Style Double-double burgers, P160.00 each
We decided to go with the two main varieties of the burgers, regular and Animal Style. There is also a Protein style for the more health-conscious, which is served on lettuce leaves instead of the bun. Eating in In-N-Out right here in the Philippines is no time to be health-conscious.

A closer, mouth-watering look of the regular Double-double.
The burger was great. The meat was flavorful. It was a tinge salty but still had that good, grilled, meaty taste. There was a lot of cheese on it, which is always good. The veggies completed the burger "trinity" by adding the much appreciated crisp and crunch. There was a spread in there somewhere, too, but the taste wasn't very apparent to us. Its taste melded with the cheese and the rest of the burger so well that we didn't notice what it tastes like on its own. It did help a lot with the burger's moisture.

The less photogenic, much more flavorful Animal Style Double-double.
My preferred burger of the two, this one packed much more flavor in every messy bite. The patties are mustard-fried, and it's served with caramelized onions, pickles (mostly ground, not whole), and extra spread. Well, you taste the meat a little less in this version, but it all fuses into one great taste that you can't stop wolfing down. I had to, though, to take home half of it to my family because they also want a taste. Man, it's going to be a difficult test of my resolve not to settle the unfinished business I have with the remaining half of this burger...

Cool In-N-Out take-out bag which may or may not be empty when I get home.
Someone from the staff approached and thoughtfully asked how everything was, to which we replied "great!". I asked if there were any plans to build a more permanent setup here but unfortunately, there isn't at this point. It is likely just a test of the market. If today's mob (for an event which had no prior promotion) was any indication, they should know they have a gold mine here. They gave us nifty key-chains too. Thanks!

Key-chains. Or really heavy In-N-Out earrings.
Verdict: Great!

I could easily compare these to my favorite burgers that are available around here, the burgers from Chili's. If this is going to be sold at this price, it would REALLY be worth it. Chili's burgers cost more than twice as much. If you ask me at gunpoint though, not considering the price, I'd probably choose Chili's, which wins by just a bit. Nevertheless, it never hurts to have another great restaurant around, and a much more affordable one, to boot!

Next time you come back, In-N-Out, please stay longer. and bring your famous milkshakes, too!

- Joaquin

Location: not here. :(