Ristras and the ‘Man vs Godzilla’ Bout

At the time of writing, I am excruciatingly digesting the burrito I have eaten at Ristras.

I should be in Batangas to spend the holidays with my grandmother, but I have to stay in Manila until today to meet some old friends whom I have not seen for months or years.

Yesterday, I decided to meet them in a much-loved place called Greenhills. AGAIN?!

Well, why not? Greenhills houses many recommended restaurants and beverage shops such as Serenitea and Happy Lemon. Walking around the area, one can find a wide variety of good food choices that fits any budget. Many of the firsts I had were also on Greenhills and this trivia adds a personal touch to the establishments I have been featuring on Tongue Out.

Despite habitually dining into a more affordable and commercialised food chain offering quality Mexican food, Ristras has a special spot in my taste buds. I first tasted its burrito more than a year ago. I even saw then-presidential candidate Jamby Madrigal. Unfortunately, that was also the last even if I have been frequenting Greenhills to sip some Green Tea with Rock Salt and Cheese.

Ristras is a very small place regularly filled with customers who get hungrier while waiting for a seat to be vacated. Yes, it’s usually crowded there and I can’t blame the people for clumping inside the restaurant. The food is always worth the wait due to its freshness and quality. But I wonder why its owner has not thought of physically expanding its current place.

Even before setting my feet inside the place, I knew that I’m not back at Ristras for nothing.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Little Asia: Big Taste with a Twist

RATING: FULL TONGUE-OUT

Little Asia 1
33829_471402594262_712599262_5813235_3451597_n

Two years ago, Greenhills stood as the star witness to the most memorable date I had. Apart from the start of a realistically magical love story in Peri-Peri, that night also awakened my taste buds from dormancy. All I know before was to plainly eat food without paying attention to its blend and ability to complement other dishes served on the table. After years’ worth of experiencing different cuisines, I believe I have already developed a peculiar way of assessing these aspects.

I have been frequenting Greenhills recently due to Happy Lemon (which I visit twice a week). It’s surprising, however, that my friends and I have not fully thought of coming back at Little Asia when looking for a place to eat. Though we truly recommend it, the drive to explore new and exciting places to dine in overpowers our protracted desire to relieve our antiquated memories of the restaurant.

Taste with a twist
Unlike other establishments in Promenade, Little Asia was not jam-packed. In fact, it was too spacious. Objectively, this aspect is a two-edged sword: it might sway individuals looking for serenity to dine in or it might give an impression of Little Asia’s ‘mediocrity’ in terms of serving quality food.

For us, the apparent calmness of the place worked. The ambience feels perfectly serene and looks cosy, sparing us from the usual noise of the metro. As we lengthen our stay, we felt more relaxed, an excellent build-up to an eventual enjoyment of the Asian cuisine.

Little Asia 2

Despite flu partly paralysing my ability to taste, I ordered the following: Singapore Style Noodles (Stir-fried Egg Noodles with Curry Paste, Shrimps Squid, Vegetables, and Egg), Japanese Beef Fried Rice and Fish Fillet Wrapped in Bacon (Steamed Fish Fillets Wrapped in Bacon coated with Teriyaki Glaze).

The last dish bears a note: it takes 20 minutes to be prepared. Good thing the Singapore Style Noodles was served earlier. Sceptical, I thought it could just be a notch above the customised street noodles, if not equally comparable.

To my surprise, it was good. The noodles, complemented with squid, shrimp and bell pepper, were carefully cooked. Seafood has a reputation of being awfully blended with noodles, but that was absent from the dish. The spiciness was just. In Filipino, the rightly-spiced noodles was beyond the masarap level; it was malinamnam.

151021_471402084262_712599262_5813215_1768112_n

TIP: Restaurants with a relatively higher price range, in general, offer dishes meant for sharing. Don’t carelessly order this and that.

The Japanese Beef Fried Rice came after a few minutes. To be honest, I have never been fond of fried rice in general, harbouring some ‘salty’ sentiments about it. But the beef fried rice was flavourful to deny it of a compliment. This fried rice tasted so good that one can eat a cup of it on its own!

Japanese Beef Fried Rice

Contrary to the 20-minute preparation period, the fish fillet only took 15 minutes to be served. Fish fillet should not bear any taste; it is dependent on the dip or the sauce it will be paired to. To wrap it with bacon is another story. Forget the guilt-loaded strips. The bacon was tender and juicy. The fillet inside was well-prepared, somehow neutralising the salty bacon. Glazed and seasoned with a sweet-salty and smoky sauce, the dish is best paired with the Japanese Beef Fried Rice.

68247_471402329262_712599262_5813225_7587432_n

An award-winning Asian taste
In less than a decade, Little Asia has already received recognition, bagging at least 10 awards in such a short span of time. For those unfamiliar and who have read mixed reviews about Little Asia, this trivia might be decisive enough to spark your curiosity and try it. You will find yourself indulged with the menu, as it offers a wide variety of  Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian and even Filipino dishes.

Expect relatively unconventional preparation. I have been to several Asian-inspired cuisines but the ones offered by Little Asia were somehow unique or have been innovatively prepared, giving them a remarkable identity.

Price is also reasonable with the serving size, ranging from P200 to P500. Eating with friends, in large or small groups, will surely become an enjoyable time.

But I encourage you to try Little Asia not because of the awards. Instead, why don’t you try Little Asia’s specialties and award it because of its ‘truly Asian’ taste? ;)

P.S. This review is specifically and solely applicable to the Greenhills branch. Please be guided accordingly.

Happy Lemon: Sip Happiness!

RATING: FULL TONGUE-OUT
(My photo will be uploaded after my next Happy Lemon visit)

Happy Lemon

Customer number @ Happy Lemon

Drinks offered in various kiosks and spaces in the country are traditionally dominated by multi-national coffee shop companies. In the urban zone, these places have been observed to house barkadas catching up through unheard stories, students cramming over their papers and office workers trying to boost their stamina during the graveyard. Regardless if the hype has been due to the inviting, aromatic scent of the coffee or to capitalism, drinking coffee is an undeniable part of city living.

However, options have been gradually shifting from coffees to teas and other types of juices. This is somehow surprising since Filipinos were unaccustomed to tea drinks, at least before C2 was launched in the market.

As an initial treat, I feel the urge to review Happy Lemon.

I’ve actually heard of Happy Lemon as early as late September due to some vital connections. Ha-ha. Excitement immediately filled me in. The feeling was even amplified when I got informed in October about its soft launch last November 13. The month-long wait was not disappointing–I have to warrant it with full honesty.

As with other establishments, Happy Lemon provides its customers ideas on what to drink. If you’re too shy to ask a crew about this thing, just proceed directly to the counter and check out those drinks bearing the cute lemon logo beside them.

Lemon Series
Of all names, why Happy Lemon? Have this question answered by the Lemon Series.

One step before entering and yet too conservative to try Happy Lemon? Then have a sip of the perilla AND never expect the drink to taste like your normally acidic lemonade!

Perilla Honey Lemon Juice

The drink was refreshing but never too tangy to irritate your taste buds. This is the first drink I have ever tried at Happy Lemon. Never mind that you will be allowing these slimy perilla bits penetrate your system. It’s healthy, refreshing and interesting!

Just yesterday, I ordered Lemon Yogurt with Aloe. A perfect sweet-and-sour chemistry, the creamy lemon drink exhibited no signs of an overpowering taste even with the aloe serving as its sinker.

Doubt over the lemon-peppermint team-up plus the lemon logo will drive sceptics (and curious cats alike) to try Lemon Peppermint with Nata de Coco. Though it could have effected an icier sting inside my mouth, the drink is innovative enough to enjoy a different twist of lemon.

L-R: Lemon Yoghurt with Aloe, Lemon Peppermint with Nata de Coco
L-R: Lemon Yoghurt with Aloe, Lemon Peppermint with Nata de Coco

In summary, I’m certain of you loving the brand with the Lemon Series alone. As a suggestion, why not order these drinks instead of bottomless house blend iced tea in your restaurant of choice? ;)

Rocked to death!
To be honest, the drink’s concept was weird. Rock Salt and Cheese?! I had no idea then, but sources tell me it is the undisputed best-seller in Hong Kong.

On my second visit, I finally found the guts to order one of its variants (and the recommended one), the Green Tea with Rock Salt and Cheese. More than its weird name, the way of drinking this fabulous variant spells the weird fun out of it. Better be strict with the three rules you need to follow: DON’T MIX, DON’T USE A STRAW and DRINK IT AS IS.

Green Tea with Rock Salt and Cheese
The drink that gave me the biggest dilemma of my life

Its phenomenal taste solicited a highly priceless reaction from me. I was completely speechless and stunned while flashing my widest smile! Thinking if that was just at the initial, I continued sipping the cup. I was more surprised at myself asking for another cup!

Two weeks after, Ed Go (one of the owners) got curious with my experience. When he asked me, I genuinely admitted of encountering ‘withdrawal’ issues after finishing the drink. He and his girlfriend laughed, maybe out of the apparent humour of my honesty.

At the time of writing, I’m longing to gulp the cheesy-creamy-salty-healthy drink.

On the other hand, the remaining Rock Salt and Cheese variants (Coffee and Cocoa) are also excellent choices. The former is best for those who can explore beyond the classic coffee preparation while the latter somehow reminds me of Sustagen with a rich texture.

Happy Every Visit, Happy Everyday
Happy Lemon has the capability to inject a light, refreshing aura to its customers beyond the virtue of its name. More than the attention-seeking ambiance it exhibits in the heart of Greenhills, I can sense tact but aggressive lead to innovate.

Since it’s still having its dry run, expect some glitches in terms of service. The good thing, though, is the open-mindedness of its owners to take criticisms for improvement. My best buddy and I agree that these people are ‘young passionate professionals who see the potential of franchising specialty drinks to the evolving Filipino taste’. Coupled with the radiating passion of its owners, I can see a Happy Lemon happily offering its success to its customers.

P.S. I’m yet to review its milk teas! I will be featuring them in the future. ;)

First Spoon

It took me years before finally deciding to try food blogging.

First, I do not specifically know who the veterans are in this genre, but certainly many people have been blogging about food. Some are reputable enough and honed by the times to evaluate food in a reputable manner. To add, they have tasted wider food varieties in the Philippines and even abroad. I am inclined to think these people possess more critical skills in assessing food.

Second, while blogging is considered a leisure, competition for readership is inevitable. Readership happens to be an important element of blogging which might affect the blogger’s level of activity online. Together with self-expression, I also pay attention to the way people consider my ideas. I fear the lack of followers due to competition, making me hesitant to swim on a new stream.

Third, issues of sustainability worry me. This is partly due to the motivation given by readership but more of time management. There is nothing new with the absence of updates, a normal problem of a blogger. I fear of passing the same legacy to my new blog.

At some point I have to start somewhere. Improvements are realisable and accepted. Skills can be mastered to successfully capture public interest. Moreover, in the advent of mobility, surely there’s time to sustain the updates.

Albeit with a shivering knee, I am pursuing this track.

As a starter, I will be reviewing Happy Lemon, a Hong Kong-based brand now enjoyed in Greenhills. Watch out for the update! :)