Sunday, April 16, 2006

Let's Go Sango!

With the opening in the past few years of specialty burger joints like Brothers, Hotshots, Bite Club, and Wham!, not to mention the McDonald'ses, Jollibees, BKs, and Wendy'ses (did I do my possessive plurals right?), I thought this city had no more room for another burger joint. But Sango! is a welcome addition because it isn't like anything I've ever come across in Manila.

Sango! - don't forget the exclamation point - is a Japanese style burger restaurant that prides itself on cooking your food as you order. If you were to compare it to another burger chain, I think it would be pretty close to MOS Burger. The inside is bright and spotless and you can see the burger grill, with Mr. Kobayashi flipping the patties, through a glass pane. For food that's cooked as you order, the burgers are ready surprisingly fast (although it was a slow day).

Now to the food. You can get the regular "Hamburger Burger" or be adventurous and order the Master Burger in any of its variations (Double Master Burger, Triple Master Burger, with or without cheese). The difference between the Master Burger and the Hamburger Burger is the presence of chili con carne and a tomato slice in the Master. The burgers are juicy but not that special. Their French fries are excellent - big pieces, not the frozen kind. If you order a Master, you'll notice that you have some excess chili after finishing the burger. We were taught to scoop up the chili using the fries. Nice.

The real draws here are the rice burgers. They have two varieties: Kimpira and Yakiniku. The Kimpira - which is bacon, dried seaweed, and stir-fried burdock root - was just wonderful. The Yakiniku looked good too but I'm saving that for my next trip, when I'll also order their Tonkatsu and Teriyaki burgers. Their cold green tea goes well with the Asian flavors of the rice burgers and any of their milkshakes would be a good cap to the meal.

Sango!'s prices are very reasonable. From P50 for the barest burger to P148 for the Triple Master Cheeseburger.

Sango! Hamburgers
Room 5 Ground Floor Creekside Mall
Amorsolo corner Legaspi Streets
Makati City

Sango! is right beside CO-OP, a nice Japanese grocery where almost everything costs P75. It's worth a visit in its own right.

Sunday lunch at Cafe Juanita

If you’re craving for the good ol’ Pinoy dining experience without the fastfood feel of Triple V, or with an ambiance that’s richer and quainter than Kamay Kainan, you might want to head over to Pasig and check out Café Juanita.

Eating in Café Juanita is just like eating at your lola’s house. The food is just as great, and the interiors are... well, just like Lola’s house. In a hyper real sort of way. The place is chockfull of old china, antique chairs, tables, cabinets, and other sorts of Filipiñana-themed clutter. And true to our national heritage, there’s also a lot of Spanish, Chinese, Americana bits and pieces scattered about. They have elaborate chandeliers made of little Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling, Coke paraphernalia mounted on the walls, and kitschy little European ceramic figurines all around.

But, even if it is possible to let your mind wander just staring at all the charming clutter, you’re there for the food. I’ve only eaten there on Sundays, and that’s the only day when they prepare their sumptuous lunch buffet. You can start off with their molo soup. It looks really great, and they say it’s really delicious. I’ve never tried though because right beside it is their lechon kawali (sorry, I ate it before I took a picture). It’s cooked just right, the meat kept tender and juicy while the skin is deep fried to crispy perfection. So for my first round, it’s usually the lechon kawali, the tasty Bicol Express (gata rocks), the fried tilapia, and the nutty kare-kare.

After getting my basic food groups over and done with, I head back to their cute little round buffet table to sample the other traditional Filipino fare. They’ve got caldereta, inihaw na liempo, adobo, adobong pusit, menudo, okoy, and all the other foodstuff that any Noypi worth his/her rock salt grew up with. I sometimes feel, though, that there’s a bit of redundancy in the buffet menu, but who cares. Filipinos know that when it comes to eating, there’s no such thing as an overkill.

Anyway, personally, I try to pass on the rice on my second trip to the buffet line. Only because I firmly believe that one must always leave room for dessert. At Café Juanita, they have the usual minatamis na saging saba and DIY halo-halo with very fresh ingredients. But I usually skip those too because I like to zero in on the sweet foods of my childhood. I eat Café Juanita’s homemade (I presume) puto because it reminds me of the breakfasts I’d have as a kid in my Lola’s house. Lola would buy them off the lady who goes from house to house selling puto, kutsinta, palitaw and sapin sapin out of her banana leaf wrapped bilao. I eat their ginatan because it reminds me of the warm merienda I’d use to have when I’d come back from an afternoon of playing hard with the kids on our street.

Dining at Café Juanita not only transports you back to the time when you were five and things were good and simple. For your trip down memory lane, they feed you with all these delicious, great and timeless dishes that remind you that, really, there’s no place like home.

Cafe Juanita is at No.2 United Street corner West Capitol Street, Brgy Kapitolyo, Pasig. 632-0357.

Sunday lunch buffets go for Php 375.00++. Slightly pricey since I remember that it only used to be around 300 bucks. But it's well worth the good food and ambiance (apparently, something we pay for).

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Izakaya Kikufuji


You're in Kikufuji and you just ordered California Maki? Shame on you.

I'm no food snob and I like my kani-mayo-mango roll just as much as you but there are better things to order in this bustling Japanese bistro - things they don't serve in Tokyo Tokyo.

DSC00056Start with some edamame (parang nilagang mani pero soya beans) and order a nama (they have some of the freshest draft beer in town). The ika wasabi is also pretty good, especially with the nama. For sashimi, forget the usual suspects. Try the nigitoro - finely chopped tuna belly mixed with onions and chives, or the aji tataki - salay-salay chopped up with ginger and chives.

Then try their beef nikomi soup - tripe and other innards boiled in a miso, ginger, and garlic broth. Make sure you pre-order some grilled stuff - yakimono. Nankotsu (chicken cartilage) and gyutan (beef tongue) are my favorites. For variety, order some grilled green chilies and mushrooms too.

Feeling sated? Don't quit now - just order a salad. The maguro daikon helps clear the palate. When you're ready, order the grilled salmon head and don't forget to suck on the gooey cheeks. Another nama will go down really well just about now. While waiting for the salmon, get some uni temaki - a nice generous scoop of sea urchin in a seaweed cone.

DSC00052For more food ideas, call over your server and order what the Japanese salaryman seated at the next table just ordered. Don't point with your finger - that's rude. Be discreet and point with your lips. Oh, and order another nama while you're at it.

Izakaya Kikufuji
2277 Pasong Tamo
(just outside Little Tokyo)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Market in Salcedo (but not the Salcedo Market)


Among the things I like about Salcedo Village are the small streetside shops you can find around the area. One of these is The Market, which is a charming little place along Leviste (Alfaro) Street. It's a deli/restaurant with around six tables (half outside, half inside). They serve sandwiches, pizzas, and salads within the 130 to 200 peso range.

I've tried the Cuban (P190), a hearty sandwich with three deli meats and mozzarella; the Tuna Bagna Cauda (P135), a sandwich with tuna, egg, and olives in achovy sauce, an the Steak and Cheese sandwich (P175), which is roast beef, gruyere, and caramelized onions; and the Grilled Hungarian Sausage (P150).The salads are also ok, but not enough to fill me up. Other things that might be worth trying are the pizzas (P115-140) and the Raclette Toasts (P175).

The Market sells beer in can and wine by the bottle and will provide you with wine glasses if you ask (but you can only drink until 9 pm). They also sell deli meats and cheeses, salad greens, fruits, japanese groceries, milk, ice cream, cereals, etc.

The Market
156 L.P. Leviste Street
Makati City
Tel. 887 2993
Delivery available within the area

Friday, April 07, 2006

leche talaga...

When I was five, we’d spend Sunday mornings biking inside Elliptical Circle and having brunch at Aristocrat. They had the best BLT, and I remember getting upset when, in one visit, it was out of stock. I may have been five but I knew that not having bacon, lettuce and tomato in stock was unforgivable.

Anyway, as I got older and got over my fear of orange rice, I developed a real appreciation for Aristocrat’s Pork/Boneless Chicken BBQ with Java Rice. And let’s not forget, it came with the only atchara (pickled… stuff) I ever bothered to eat.

Years and countless branch closings later, I’ve found a new reason to visit any of the two remaining Aristocrat outlets (there’s the original resto in Malate, the one in Jupiter, and another one, soon to rise, in T. Morato).

Get out! Get out now and get your hands on Aristocrat’s Mucha Leche cake.

It’s best served straight from the freezer so that eating it will be like eating leche flan and pastillas de leche in rich, creamy, soft ice cream form. I'm no expert but something tells me it's made of milk.

By the way, this is Miguel, your bogchinoypi chikiting reporter from the North.

Call 8995035 (Aristocrat Bakeshop, Jupiter St. branch) first to check if they have it in stock. P370 for the whole cake. A pittance for a cake that’s de calidad

100 Beers and more

IMG_1687_resizeI would never pay a hundred bucks, or even 70 pesos for a bottle of San Miguel in any pretentious Makati bar when I know I could get it for less than 25 bucks in any supermarket, and it will taste exactly the same, maybe even better, kahit hindi nakatambay dun sina bestpren Tim. But I’m willing to pay the 150 pesos for freshly brewed imported Belgian beer in this place ironically called Paradise, located on the corner of the street where the lights are red and women roam to sell flesh.

This isn’t the first time I’ve gone from stingy to galante on pricey beer. Bogchief and I used to frequent Grappa’s for the Czech beer they brew, Pivo Praha. They serve banana-y wheat beer that’s very refreshing, but too much of it could make you constipated. Or in Bogchief’s case, run to the toilet every 5 mins. The best European beer fare is in Salcedo Market though: ice-cold German Oettinger, sold in 1/2 liter aluminum cans, perfect for a sunny Saturday at the park with spicy Hungarian sausage for lunch. If you want to get hammered at 12 noon, you can also try the extra strong just below 10% alcohol content beer. The after-effect is like finishing a whole bottle of wine all by yourself for 80 pesos.

IMG_1688_resizeBack to the 100 Beers. The ambience is pleasant but all the potential coziness is ruined by the blaring taxicab sounds. I generally like sitting by the bar, not because I like to flirt with the bartenders and coquettishly beg for an extra bowl of nuts. My God, there is this Belgian dude owner/manager behind the bar who resembles Albert Einstein, hairdo and all.

I digress again.

IMG_1698_resizeI would recommend for the lady drinkers, especially the morena or sige na nga Boracay-tanned ones with long hair, to bring male companions with them, lest you be subjeted to the advances of sleazy, balding white men that are on the prowl in P. Burgos.

Now to review all the 100 Beers, one by one. I wish. Since I couldn’t afford most of the bottled beers there [the picture with the fancy looking bottle costs a whopping 269 bucks!] I just tried everything on tap.

IMG_1695_resizeThis green drink is mint beer. Drinking Listerine beer is not exactly my thing. You don’t see any green fairies after finishing a glass of this either. But if you’ve had one too many garlic pizzas for dinner, then you should have this first, cos it’s better than any breath freshener. It’s not bad. It is just strange. And the teenage mutant ninja turtle color doesn’t exactly make it seem all the more appetizing.

Then there’s Cherry beer. To cater to the ladies. It coats the bitterness of the beer and leaves a sweet tangy sensation. I am no fan of this either. I like my beer the good old fashion way, and drink it like a man, bottoms up. What’s interesting about this Cherry beer is that this is no sherry temple; no artificial flavoring added or so the owner claims. Actual cherries were brewed over a period of time with the malt.

IMG_1700_resizeThen there’s the least interesting coke beer, where SURPRISE! SURPRISE! Coke is added to the beer.

My personal favorite [ergo, the most value for your money, you can’t find this anywhere else in the country so go ahead and splurge 146 pesos on a glass of it] is the white beer, Hoegaarden. This is supposedly popular the world over. I can’t feign beer connoisseur-ness, why the white tinge is significant to its taste. Basta astig na puti, saka masarap sobra. Mark my word, if all draft beers tasted like this, I promise to never make fun of Tim Yap again.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Chowking chow

Run, skip and hop to the Chowking branch nearest you! Try the Mongo Pao for just P15. Soft siopao bread with sweet mongo filling. Not bad at all. My favorite merienda munchie of the moment. And while you're there, samahan mo na ng Nai Cha, similar to the milk tea they have in Hong Kong, may gulaman lang. A bit pricey for me at P33 for a small glass, pero di hamak na mas sulit sa kape sa Starbucks. Oh, and unless may kasama kang marunong magHeimlich Maneuver, best to order the Nai Cha sans gulaman. It's a bit tricky sucking the jello-like morsels up the thick straw without going into a coughing fit. Mas sulit this way anyway as you'll get more milk tea for your buck.

Oh, and they've also started selling fortune cookies at P5 each. Syempre wise-old Chinese sayings yung tono nung fortunes. But if I had my way, I'd stick Inquirer Libre horoscope-type predictions in there. Waaaay funnier. Although dapat may malaking warning na-- Do not read while drinking Nai Cha (with gulaman).