Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bellissimo Ristorante, Quezon City

I've been asked to work on a new current affairs show for the station, and it's due to premiere in March, so I've been busy meeting with different people from other departments to make sure that the show's launch goes smoothly. I had to meet with some promo people to make sure they truly got the concept of the show.

We agreed to meet over lunch at Bellissimo Restaurant along Tomas Morato. I know this place more as being owned by actor Cesar Montano. I was hoping to get a glimpse of the actor when we went there, but no such luck (Yes, I'm secretly a fan).

I ordered their Pasta Vongole e Gamberetti, although I asked them to use penne instead of spaghetti. The dish had clams, anchovies, tomatoes, red wine and cream parmesan cheese. The serving was generous, and I hardly had any space left to have a slice of my colleague's pizza after finishing my plate of pasta.

Pasta Vongole e Gamberetti

I rather regretted that it was a working lunch, because I wanted to concentrate more on the food. I couldn't savor it as much as I wanted to because we were busy discussing the show. I will have to go back to Bellissimo, because I want to sample more of their pizza, and I didn't even get to try their dessert. (It will also give me another chance to get a glimpse of Mr. Montano.)

Bellissimo Ristorante
105 Unit E & F Sct. Castor cor. Tomas Morato
Quezon City, Metro Manila

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cookbook Kitchen, Mandaluyong

Kennie had long been telling me to try Cookbook Kitchen, so on our next dinner with Angel, that's where we headed. They were both so thoughtful and ordered fish dishes so I could try them too. I ordered the Parmesan Crusted White Fish, while they had the Fish Casserole and the White Fish Sesame.

Fish Casserole

Parmesan Crusted White Fish

I was not very happy with what I ate. I don't know if it was the kind of fish they used, but they all seemed very rich to me. Also, I was expecting the parmesan crusted fish to be a bit drier. I didn't even finish my meal which almost never happens to me.

I guess I was expecting a dish like the one they serve in Italianni's. The one I ended up liking best was the White Fish Sesame.

White Fish Sesame

I had better luck with dessert. We ordered Kittin's Scarlet Cake, which I believe is called Velvet cake in some other places. We also had some chocolate cake. I liked the scarlet cake better than the chocolate one.

Kittin's Scarlet Cake

Helen's Moist Chocolate Cake

I would say that the meal was "all right". Although the desserts were good, I don't think I would particularly want to visit this place again.

Cookbook Kitchen
8 Socorro Fernandez St.
Mandaluyong City

Friday, February 06, 2009

Dining in Palau 3- Carp Japanese Restaurant

My friend Anjou had been to Palau last year, and she told me that there was this Japanese restaurant called Carp, which I had to go to so that I could try their cabbage. I figured that the cabbage must have been really good for someone to remember it so fondly. (Cabbage isn’t usually on someone’s must-eat list.)

Anjou couldn't remember exactly where it was, but after a few inquiries from the locals, we were able to determine its location. And after a few wrong turns, we finally found ourselves in Carp. It’s an unpretentious place, with simple interiors. The food turned out to be very good though, and we ended up going there a couple of times during our stay in Palau.

I once had their Tuna Steak, which came in a rather large portion. Of course, I had the cabbage, or Yasai Itame, and it was as delicious as Anjou had reported. Actually, the specialty of the restaurant (and some say, the whole of Palau), is its fruitbat soup. That of course is off limits to pescetarians, but even my omnivore friends were not brave enough to try it.

Fish Steak

Carp Japanese Restaurant
Koror, Republic of Palau

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Dining in Palau 2- Rock Island Cafe

After three days of diving in the amazing waters of Palau, our group had a free day to rest and see the sights on dry land before we went diving again the next day. We realized that we lucked out on the choice of day off, since the weather was very rainy that day. It was perfect for sleeping in. That was a treat because we’d been waking up at 7am during diving days. Not an easy thing to do, particularly because we were on holiday.

Tuna Steak

It was also good to take a break from diving that day because it would have felt just a wee bit miserable to be off on a day of diving with the rain pounding the boat, and the clouds preventing the sun from giving us the best possible visibility underwater.

The people in our group mostly went their own way for the day. After a late breakfast, my friends and I opted to visit some dive shops to get some diving knickknacks and souvenirs. We then met up with the rest of the group for lunch at Rock Island Café.

The place reminded me of an American diner, both in ambience and serving size. The menu was a jumble of Asian, American, and Italian food (It was an “international restaurant” after all). I usually dislike menus that have a lot of choices, but only because of my own inability to make up my mind as to what to order. After scanning the menu over and over, I finally decided on the Tuna Steak Dinner.

According to the menu, it was a “9 oz. grilled yellow-fin tuna steak, served with a delicious tomato salsa. Comes with rice, vegetable, and a dinner roll. $7.95” I asked if I could have mashed potatoes instead of rice (like I needed the extra calories), and they complied.

When my food arrived, I belatedly realized that nine ounces meant more than half a pound. The slice of tuna was huge, and way too big for me. This of course did not stop me from finishing it.

The tuna was fresh, though a little too well done for my taste. I forgot to ask them to cook it rare. What they called a “delicious tomato salsa” tasted like an unusual concoction of carrots, onions, and A-1 sauce. It wasn’t bad, but I preferred to eat the fish by itself.

I finished the mashed potatoes, but barely touched the roll in a rather lame attempt to limit my calorie consumption. I wanted to have dessert, but there simply was no more space in my stomach for it afterward. It's a good thing we did a little more shopping and walking after lunch, as I was able to burn off that half pound of fish somewhat.

Rock Island Café
The International Restaurant and Pub
Republic of Belau (Palau)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Dining in Palau- Taj Indian Restaurant

Goa Fish Curry

I had been looking forward to scuba diving in Palau with my friends for quite some time, since I’d heard a lot about the abundance of marine life in the area. So when the trip finally materialized through my friend and dive instructor Jan, I was totally psyched for it.

When I got to the tiny country, I realized that while I knew quite a bit about what to expect in terms of diving, I knew nothing about how dining was like in the 14-year-old country. (I did hear that one of their specialties was fruit bat soup, but I wasn’t particularly interested in trying that.)

Well, I found out soon enough that dining out in this diver’s paradise was quite expensive, especially for Filipino pockets. I figured that this was due to the fact that the place lured a lot of tourists (mostly Japanese divers, I'd heard), so a lot of the restaurants featured tourist-y prices. There was, as expected, a lot of seafood available. What I didn’t expect though, were the US-sized portions.

Tandoori Paratha

One of the restaurants I went to was an Indian restaurant called Taj, which was recommended by Bernard, the dive master of our group. Most members of our group (we were 17 divers in all) met up with him there after our second day of diving.

Another thing I quickly learned about dining in Palau, is that the food can take quite some time to be ready. I think we waited around an hour for our orders to arrive.

They served us a lot of spicy Papadum while we waited, which came with three different kinds of dip (hot, hotter, hottest). I ate so much of it because I was already so hungry, then I drank a lot of water to wash away the heat from my mouth. So, by the time my food arrived, I was halfway full already.

I had their Garlic Naan (Indian flatbread), and Goa Fish Curry, which were both good. I tried some cheese-filled Paneer Naan which my friend had, and I thought it was excellent. The restaurant also gave us free Tandoori Paratha (also a kind of flatbread) as a way of appeasing us after waiting so long for the food.

I didn't get to finish my food because, as I said, I didn't have much empty space left in my stomach after munching on the Papadum.

Though I liked the food, I thought the prices were pretty steep, probably in comparison to having a similar meal in the Philippines. I ended up paying around $30 for the meal in Taj. That was probably the most expensive meal I had during the trip though. Most of my other meals in Koror, Palau, probably ranged from $10-$15. Not that bad, but it could be pretty rough on the wallet if you had to shell it out for each and every meal.

Taj Indian Restaurant
Koror, Palau