Thursday, September 15, 2011

Philippines, Manila: Casa Armas

Spanish food is an all-time favorite of HT wife.  So I just wanted to share with you my all-time favorite spanish place in Manila.

Even though a number of Spanish restaurants sprouted in Manila, my love for Casa Armas never fades.

My usual order: gambas al ajillo. The chunky bits of garlic are so tasty and it's not overcooked so no trace of bitterness.  The gambas were cooked just right.  It was juicy and flavorful.  I haven't visited Casa Armas for years and I'm glad that the quality in this dish remains.

Still al ajillo (garlic and oil sauce), their beef salpicao always wins my heart.  The tenderness of the thick beef cubes is what I loved the most.  Each piece of meat absorbed the garlic pretty well but still leaving the meat succulent.

The free bread loaf was fresh and was a good companion for the tapas.

Paella Valenciana -  this is not excellent but one of the good ones around.  More chorizo, more taste on the small chicken pieces, more salt, more aroma of saffron and maybe a few strips of jamon iberico suits best for HT wife. :D (haha, it's just what I like my paella to be). The rice was cooked well and we have to wait for almost an hour for the preparation.  It was worth the wait.

Don't be conscious when these are looking over you and your plates.  They just wanted to make sure that everything is in order.  :) So enjoy yourselves!

I didn't become a HungryTrotter if i didn't come from a family of one.  So HT sisters!  They were my partners in crime before and they're still are everytime I go back. :) So HT sisters, be prepared with those tummies when I'm back.  'Till our next indulgence!

Price Summary:
Tapas - range from 250+ - 500 pesos~15 sgd ~7 euro
Paella - 800+ pesos~30 sgd~17 euro (good for 4)
Casa Armas
*with all these years, they didn't expand so fast and they didn't dream of  becoming a common restaurant chain.  That proves the consistent quality they're offering until now.  So keep it up!
Greenbelt 3, Trinoma, Jupiter St. Makati, Podium
Metro Manila, Philippines

*For a finer Spanish cuisine indulgence, check out  my posts when i was in Madrid with HT hubbie. :D

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Philippines: Cintai by Corito's Garden

With my 3 weeks stay in Manila, I just can't help but to look for a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the metro.  Luckily, for Manileños', like HT wife,  it was easy to bring ourselves out of town in just 2 hours drive.
We wanted something new...something different...a place we've never been...
The centerpiece  of Cintai by Corito's Garden parking area in Batangas City.

An entrance to one of the gardens. 

their carefully decorated villas (maximum 9 pax)

the beautifully carved walls separating the villas.

the detailed interior and exterior of our villa.  Every space was made with lovely designs and from natural resources. 

the exterior of their biggest villa...your own bar and your personal jacuzzi...perfect for getaway parties.

The place has 4 swimming pools - just enough to accommodate the bakasyonistas (vacationers).  This is their biggest swimming pool with wonderful fountain facade.

A lounge area beside the pool is also available where you can take your afternoon nap or after-swimming snooze.  Love that big buddha head at the background.  The eyes give a mysterious look. :)

I love every details they put in this 5-hectare garden.  It took 5 years to get this look and is still in progress.

one of the smaller pools which was designed similarly from the others

Open and roofed pavillions are also available.  I think this place would be great for weddings!

They have several huge cages spread around the garden.  And with the size of a mansion, only 1 animal lives in every cage.

Dad enjoyed playing with the fauna.

The concept is bali-inspired.  I've never been to Bali so tell me if it is. :)

the landscaping of the area was perfectly done.  You'll see something interesting wherever you go.
and they said if you can't beat them, join them. :)

they provide buffet meals if the guests chose to dine-in.  Guests are ok to go out and get food from outside.  There are a number of restaurants which was not too far from the garden.

no-frills comfort asian food.  They did mix-and-match dishes around Asia such as lumpia, tom yum soup. grilled fish, mapo tofu.  The food tasted good.  But for 450 pesos/pax, i think the quantity and the selection needs some improvement.

I enjoyed this jelly-fied water chesnut dessert.  It was unique and refreshing.

The dishes were prepared and whipped up by some of the owners themselves!

No internet or data signals are available.  So stay away from your laptop, ipad or wifi phones as this place let you experience and enjoy every minute with your loved ones personally.

trivia: this place was built by the love (cintai) within the family.  The garden was named after the mother.  More story in

Cintai by Corito's Garden
Batangas City, Philippines

Friday, September 9, 2011

Philippines, Manila: Vikings

HT wife is still raving on Manila food scene!  I just can't stop indulging and trying out the all these new restaurants in Manila for the past 6 years that I was not living there.  Somehow, it makes me feel that it's time to move back (all for the love for food :D).  Of course, if only HT hubbie goes with me. (HT hubbie and food goes together in my dictionary :D).

There's been a craze on this huge eat-all-you-can place, facing the Manila bay.  Reservations should be done in advance especially on weekends or else you end up going there being disappointed.  As a family of food lovers, we booked weeks in advance. :)

I'm not a fan of eat-all-you-can as quality is being sacrificed.  But i've been reading a lot about Vikings and it was considered a luxurious buffet.  There's only one way to figure out...I just have to try it!

A good parking area was provided and as soon as you see this pirate-looking chef with a sneaky smile, you know you're up for the unexpected.

The place was huge!  I just have to spend 10 minutes going around to check out every buffet section without getting lost.  I like the idea that the buffet tables were laid out all over the whole area making sure that everyone doesn't squeeze  and not too much in each other's face.

What amazed me was the huge variety of selections they have.  You name it, they got it.

After going around, i started with this...
sashimi is included! :)  Both the sushi and sashimi were cut and done fresh respectively.  It was an entertainment watching the chefs making it if you wanted to take a break from stuffing yourself.

Cold cuts section was consists of western cold cuts of ham, cheese and other small bites.  I chose to get the chinese cold cuts such as century egg, jellyfish, marinated pork (simply anything you can get on the 1st plate of a lauriat).

We were sitted near the dimsum area and i love those mirror panels on the ceiling as you can see what the section offers you.  Chawan mushi, herbal soup were present as well.  I love that they still considered the presentation of each dish.

Imagine yourself in a market of fresh seafood around you.  Point which one you like and hand it off to the staff for immediate grilling.  And after a few minutes, it will be served to your table.  And for those who's impatient, grilled items are also available. :)

a row of hot dishes showcasing Western, Chinese and of course, Filipino cuisine.

Shabu Shabu Plain and Mala Tang works well for the kids. :)

The dish for the day...peking duck wrap with hoisin sauce.  This changes every week.  The pig's trotter (teer-mah) I got on the side was good.

the all-time favorite seafood was the choice of the night of HT wife's family.  The shrimps were big and the crabs were meaty.

Baked oyster delivered to our brother was an expert.  He knew where these aphrodisiacs were hiding.

 more grilled items...whew...i wonder if i can stuff myself more...

A buffet in the Philippines would never be complete without our famous roasted pig, lechon.
Lamb and tenderloin were also served for non-pork eaters.

Even though, I was so full, I made sure that I can still enjoy the desserts.  I indulged more on Filipino delicacies (upper left).  Oh my, I miss them so much!

Free flow of juices, sodas, fruit shakes, beers, coffee and tea are included in the buffet for 888 pesos (~30 SGD~17 euro) per person.  This September, they have increased their weekend price to 1088 pesos but i heard Angus beef came to the scene.

Overall, the food was ok.  You wouldn't reach to the point that you'll be're in heaven but with the price, wide variety and decent serving (they don't scrimp), this is one of the the worthy eat-till-you-drop place in town.

What made this dinner special was celebrating my birthday again (after 6 years of being apart) together with my sister.  It was a month late, but who cares? :)

Seaside Blvd, Pasay City
*you can even make reservations on their facebook page :D

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Philippines, Manila: Chef's Table

Chef Bruce Lim, a Le Cordon Bleu graduate might be familiar to Asians who watches AFC (too bad it's not available in Europe).  He's a Filipino by blood but grew up in the US.  He was more exposed to western cuisine growing up but he never forgot to trace down his roots.

I remembered that he had a private dining which you have to be in a group of 10 or more and reservations only.  3 years ago, the concept of having his own restaurant pushed through, showcasing the best of Filipino cuisine giving it a fine twist which appeals to the palate of everyone.  HT wife have been wanting to try it out and finally, she got the chance...

love this concept of open kitchen that gave the diners the dining experience from the moment they enter the place.  We were at the 2nd floor and they still made sure that everyone can see what's going on in the kitchen with their full glass panel wall overlooking the clean busy area.  Check out the bald chefs...hygienic, isn't it? :)

Aside from food, they made sure you can get their house cocktails with something Filipino in it...

Grape Gaudinez - made of grapes, cranberry, spring onions and lambanog (alcohol made from coconut - local wine).  The drink was very refreshing and light.  The spring onions were not overpowering and complemented the lambanog.  My best friend's choice.

NCR (No one Can Run) -  NCR stands for the national capital region in our country and they used the acronym for this special drink.  From the name itself, I made this as my choice for the night even if I haven't read what was in it as the name made me curious.  It was a mixture of everything, gin, brandy, lambanog, orange and mango juice.  What made it unique was the chili extract which gave the drink an after-sip bite.  Don't worry about the chili decorated on top, the drink was pleasant and it wouldn't burn your tongue.  It was a strong cocktail but delightful to drink for a long evening chatting with your friends.  No worries, I was still able to run after a glass :).  And this goes to the top of my favorite cocktails list.

Now, it's time for food!!!
For appetizer, we decided to get Hot Rock Pusit (squid) - beer-marinated squid grilled between hot rocks.  It was very tasty and the squid was cooked to its perfection as it was very tender and juicy.  It can go well with rice too.  I think a fancier presentation as per the description would make it more enticing.

Calamansi Tuyo Spaghetti - Tuyo, salted dried fish, a favorite of most Filipinos that goes well with rice and can be eaten at any time of the day.  Usually eaten with a vinegar dip, to smoothen out the saltiness.  This version was served with spaghetti and calamansi.  I love this idea as it makes the dish less boring.  It's easy to make this at home as you don't need much ingredients as the tuyo is flavorful itself.  If you're a pasta lover like HT wife, you're gonna love this dish.

Kare Kare - a very Filipino dish, ox tail in peanut sauce.  This version is drier than the normal but the richness of the peanut sauce remains.  The ox tail were soft and delicious.  What made this dish different is the eggplant caviar on the side.  Kare Kare is always eaten with fish paste (bagoong) for salty kick.  I love chef's table's bagoong twist i.e. the eggplant caviar as it's sweet salty taste is not too fishy but still giving the its Filipino authenticity taste.

Chicken Sat on Salt - their version of slow-roasted chicken served with atchara, pickled unripe papaya and a spiced-oil dip.  The chicken was placed on top of a bed of salt when cooked letting the salt absorbed into the chicken meat.  I'm not very fond of this dish as i prefer my white meat very salty just like most Filipinos :D.  I used the eggplant caviar to give my chicken more taste.

Overall, it was a great dining experience.  The waiters were very knowledgeable of what the restaurant offers and were very helpful. Before we left the place, we made sure that we end our dining experience the best way...

a remembrance with the chefs at their table. :) 

Cocktails cost 150-180 pesos~6 SGD~4 euro
Dishes cost 200-600 pesos~20 SGD~12 euro

Chef's Table
The Infinity Tower
26th street
The Fort Global City
Taguig Philippines