Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Omakase Restaurant, Tomas Morato, Quezon City

My friend Kennie (one of my reliable eating partners) and I had an impromptu get together one night. She called to say we should have dinner, and that she felt like having some Japanese food. I suggested that we eat at Omakase Restaurant, which I’d heard so much about from other friends but never had the chance to visit.

Spider Maki

She was hesitant at first. She told me that she’d eaten there once, and that she was not very happy with what she had. Thankfully, Kennie was willing to give it another chance, saying that maybe she just ordered the wrong thing that one time.

She picked me up after work and off we went to the restaurant. The place was pretty packed, but we managed to get ourselves seated at a booth. We ordered the usual things- ebi tempura, fried tofu, and miso soup. Then we ordered the rolls that were to be the highlight of the meal.

The ubiquitous Ebi Tempura

The tempura, tofu, and miso soup tasted pretty much like they do in similar Japanese restaurants. So, although they were okay, they were not particularly memorable. However, Kennie and I were both very happy with the rolls that we had. She ordered the Dynamite Roll, which had some spicy scallops while I had the Spider Roll, which had soft-shell crab. I liked the slight spicy kick of the Dynamite Roll, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Spider Roll’s soft-shell crab, something I don’t get enough of.

Dynamite Roll

We polished them off in good time (along with the other things we ordered). The rolls were delicious, and Kennie and I congratulated ourselves on the success of our orders. We both repeatedly said that we were happy that we chose to go to Omakase after all.

Omakase Restaurant
Scout Rallo corner Tomas Morato
Quezon City, Philippines
(02) 412-0002

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mocha Mudpie at T.G.I.Friday's

Mocha Mudpie

One other dessert that is guaranteed to give me pleasure is Friday’s Mocha Mudpie. It’s rather pricey as desserts go (then again, almost everything in that restaurant is), but I am willing to shell out the cost of this dessert for the happiness that it consistently gives me. (With a minimal tip, one order would end up costing P300.)

When I was in the US, I would try to order this whenever I found myself at T.G.I.Friday’s. But either it had been discontinued (at least where I tried to ask for it), or it was never part of their menu. So, when I got back to Manila, this dessert was one of the first things I had.

I’ve been having this dessert for years, and I have to say that as satisfying as it’s been, the way it’s been presented is sometimes inconsistent. The dessert consists of a chocolate cookie crust, ice cream, almond slivers, and a thick chocolate fudge topping. The composition of the dessert has been pretty much the same, by which I mean those ingredients are always present. However, the amount of fudge is what has changed from time to time.

The last time I had it, the top was just crisscrossed with the fudge. I am used to having the entire top of the Mudpie covered with it, sometimes even dripping down the sides and covering the bottom of the plate. Whenever I find that the fudge is much less than I’d think to be ideal, I find a way to fix it. That is, I ask for extra “mud”. The servers always graciously give me some more, which is why I always end up satisfied anyway.

The dessert is a little too big for one person to consume after a complete meal (it IS an American franchise after all), so I usually share it with whomever I’m eating with at the time. Sometimes though, if I’m in the mood to have a little more of it, I just forego the meal and have one whole Mudpie to myself. Not the most nutritional lunch or dinner one could have, but the perfect choice for some comfort eating, or that much-needed sugar rush.

Hotel Rembrandt
Tomas Morato Avenue
Quezon City

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gran Caffe Casanova Ristorante Italiano, QC

My friend Angel was telling me to try this Italian restaurant in Quezon City that can be found in a place that I might have a hard time getting to. But considering that I get lost very easily, that's not exactly something that would distinguish one place from another. Actually, my pride was a little piqued when she said this, so I resolved to find my way there without asking for any help. (But only after I got detailed directions, of course.)

We decided to meet up at the restaurant with our other friend Kennie. Angel couldn't really remember the name of the restaurant, but I found it easily enough. (Hah!) It turns out that the name was quite a mouthful- Gran Caffe Casanova Ristorante Italiano. It had very cozy interiors, and looked very much like a date place.

We tried their ricotta-filled spinach ravioli (ravioli verdi ricotta spinaci) and their four-cheese pasta (quattro formaggi). Angel and Kennie also shared a pizza with chicken. I liked both the ricotta and the four-cheese pasta, mostly because of the cheese (of course). I liked the taste of the ravioli better though.

Four cheese pasta

Both dishes were very heavy, as expected; not exactly diet food. Then again, when I'm out with my friends (especially these two), dieting is not exactly on anyone's mind. I would probably go back to this restaurant, because we weren't able to try any of their desserts this time.

Gran Caffe Casanova Ristorante Italiano
The Clubhouse, Corinthian Hills
Temple Drive
Quezon City, Metro Manila
Tel. No. (632)638.2989

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I heart Uno Restaurant (Tomas Morato, Quezon City)

Uno Restaurant (or Restaurant Uno, depending on how you choose to read the sign that hangs outside its quaint glass and dark wood fa├žade) has been one of my favorite restaurants in the Tomas Morato area since I started working for ABS-CBN twelve years ago. It is a favorite among my work friends as well.

There are many things to love about the place. First off, there’s the (free) store-made bread that they serve almost immediately after they seat you. It’s usually freshly baked, and you can ask for basket after basket without being charged an extra centavo. Then there’s the bottomless iced tea and brewed coffee. Sometimes, when I’m having an intense conversation with a friend in the restaurant, I mindlessly eat the bread and drink iced tea until I’m almost too full to eat any more when the main course arrives.

Another thing I like about Uno is that they change their menu every so often (every quarter, if I’m not mistaken). This means a regular customer never gets bored of their dishes. The obvious downside of this is that if there’s a particular dish you love, it might be gone in a few months. Sometimes though, if you ask nicely, and if they have the ingredients on hand, they will whip up the dish for you, even if it’s off the menu already.

Spinach tortellini

I went there a couple of times recently to get together with some old friends from work, and I ended up very happy with my selections. One time, I had the Spinach Tortellini, while my friends ordered two other kinds of pasta. We all had a taste of each other’s food, and the tortellini that I ordered was declared the winner of the bunch (or, as I like to call the winning dish in these informal contests, Ms. Universe).

Another time, I ordered their lunch special, Sashimi-grade Seared Tuna Steak, which came with a salad. I enjoyed this meal as well. The fish was fresh, and the couscous went perfectly with it.

Sashimi-grade tuna steak with couscous

A visit to Uno for me is never complete without ordering dessert, and the choice is usually Fallen cake, their version of the flourless chocolate cake. For some reason though, that time, the cream that usually tops it was liquid, running down the sides of the slice, instead of the whipped version, crowning the cake. No matter. I still loved it. I’ve started ordering their brownie though, and I like this as well. Both go perfectly with coffee.

Fallen flourless chocolate cake

Uno, because of its ambience, its helpful and loyal staff (some of them have been around since my first visit there), and of course the food, is a perfect choice for having an extended lunch with friends. Just make sure you have a LOT of time to linger. If it’s a regular workday, you are highly likely to stay longer than the one hour your company usually allows.

Uno Restaurant
195 Tomas Morato cor. Sct. Fuentebella
Quezon City
Telephone no. (02)374-0774

Monday, September 08, 2008

Molten Chocolate Cake at Chili's

One of the most comforting things in the world in my book (and I know many will agree) is a delicious, sufficiently-calorie-laden dessert, preferably involving chocolate. I have a short list of my favorites, and sometimes when I am having a hard time deciding which restaurant to eat at, I would simply choose one which serves one of my top sweets.

Molten Chocolate Cake

The Molten Chocolate Cake of Chili's Grill and Bar is part of my list. When my girlfriends and I want to meet up after not seeing each other for awhile, we often go to Chili's, so we can have some of this cake while catching up on the latest gossip.

Since this cake is quite big for only one person to consume (especially after a big meal), we just order one, and ask for extra forks. Don't get me wrong, though, it's not as if I'm talking about a big group who will have to divide the cake amongst four or five people. Usually, it's just me and one other friend, two at most. If we had to divide this cake more than three ways, it wouldn't last five minutes.

This cake never fails to satisfy me. I think it's the combination of the coldness of the ice cream and the heat of the gush of chocolate filling. That hot/cold sensation... Bad for the teeth, fantastic for the palate (and sometimes, for the soul).

Chili's Grill and Bar
Tomas Morato Ave.
Quezon City

26 Missouri Street cor. Nevada
Greenhills, San Juan