I’m gonna play amateur food critic and talk about a couple of food trips I had these past couple of days. First, to a popular Filipino restaurant, and second, a pleasant surprise at one unscheduled food trip with some of my Voltes friends.
Barrio Fiesta’s Merienda-All-You-Can Buffet
Last Sunday, my parents suddenly had this craving for a snack, so we headed out to the nearby SM Mall to partake in Barrio Fiesta’s Merienda-All-You-Can buffet (note: merienda= snacks in-between meals. Filipinos love to eat that we – those who can afford, anyway – actually eat a total of 6 times a day: breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon snack [merienda cena], dinner, midnight snack. This doesn’t include munchies while working or watching TV or surfing the ‘net). For a measly sum of php90.00 + tax (or about php100… that’s barely USD2.00 minus the drinks, but in-house drinking water is free), you can eat all the heavy Filipino merienda food you can. In fact, you can skip dinner altogether coz the food on the buffet are really heavy on the stomach.
I only have two rules when partaking on a buffet: (1) Eat only the stuff that you really like; and (2) Eat only the stuff that are usually expensive on normal circumstances (e.g., on a seafood buffet, I usually stuff myself with crabs, prawns and expensive types of fish like salmon and blue marlin). Since the merienda buffet did not serve expensive stuff (why would they when it only costs php90), I only got the stuff that I really like.
For Round 1, I got some Pinoy spaghetti and giniling (ground pork with potatoes and carrots) with toasted bread. The spaghetti is so Pinoy, it could very well be dessert (meaning, it’s too sweet). I got disgusted at the taste so I didn’t even bother to take a photo. On the other hand, the giniling was heavenly. I actually went back to the buffet table and got some more. :p
Round 2: Dinuguan with puto (rice cakes). Click here for an explanation on what dinuguan is. I’m usually very picky when it comes to dinuguan; I only eat it if my mom cooked it. Otherwise, forget about it. Pig’s blood is quite tricky to cook; if you put on water too early, the blood will never get c0oked and it will come out reddish and yucky-looking and tasting; kinda like the one on the photo on the site that I linked (bad choice of pic, if you ask me). Barrio Fiesta’s dinuguan, however, was cooked well (the broth was black instead of reddish-brown). Trust me, it tastes good, especially with puto.
Round 3: Lugaw (rice porridge/congee), tokwa’t baboy (tofu and pork with vinegar, soy sauce, onions and chili). The ultimate merienda during rainy days. I liked it that their vinegar-and-soy-sauce mixture was a bit spicy.
Other treats on their buffet which I didn’t sample were: pansit (birthday noodles), lumpiang sariwa (mixed vegetable wrap) and various kakanin (a collective term for various rice cakes) which I didn’t even touch because I came from a town famous for kakanin and one look at those all too colorful variations of rice cakes makes me wanna throw up. My dad, who’s a big kakanin addict, sampled everything on the table, though.
My verdict: for that price, what more can you expect? Just stuff yourself with whatever you like and you’re good to go until bedtime. Those stuff sure are heavy.
Crazy Roll Japanese Restaurant, Mall of Asia
Last night, Cha, Flor, Thet and I had a pleasant surprise. We were strolling along the humongous place that is Mall of Asia, having an attack of option paralysis for dinner (meaning, there were way too many restaurants to choose from that we didn’t know where to eat). We chanced upon this very J-pop looking resto with a Japanese (at least I think he’s Japanese… he could very well be Korean or Chinese, for all I know) dude in front, encouraging passersby to check out their place. We took one look at the menu, got intrigued, and went in. Boy, we were so glad we did.
This is their free veggie salad as appetizer (btw, check out the table. Very artistic). Very tasty, and very appetizing. We got even hungrier after eating it.
I ordered gyoza (Japanese dumplings) as this is one of my gauges to determine whether a Japanese restaurant is good or not. They passed the gyoza test. Unlike the usual thing they serve at most Japanese restos here, their gyoza is not oily at all. The sauce also complements the dumplings really well.
According to the Japanese dude, their resto is the first in the Philippines to offer various sushi rolls and omuraisu/omelet rice (which I strongly disagree as I have been eating omelet rice at Bunchums in Makati Cinema Square for the longest time). We tried out this gourmet sushi roll which they called Crazy Crazy (or as Charity would rather call it, Psycho Psycho ). Man, it was the BOMB! The spicy tuna on top complemented the kani and mango stuffing. We were all too glad to have sampled it.
This is the omuraisu that I ordered. It tastes much better than it looks, trust me. I wish it was bigger, though. hehehe.
Thet’s dinner, oyakodon (rice toppings with chicken and egg) and miso soup. According to a friend of mine, another test of a good Japanese resto is if the oyakodon is good. Thet finished hers, and since I know her to be quite the food critic herself, I guess the resto also passed the oyakodon test. It certainly passed the miso soup test. Their miso soup is not salty at all, unlike what is served in practically all Japanese restos here in PH.
Tamago sushi, which Charity ordered. Not bad, either.
Charity’s dinner, the assorted sashimi bento. This is another value for money fare. It’s a complete meal, from soup to dessert. Their sashimi is topnotch! Salmon and squid sashimi are very delicate that they leave a very fishy after-taste if mishandled. Their squid sashimi did not have any after-taste at all. Kudos to the sushi chef!
Flor’s dinner, the wanton ramen (I think it’s more like udon instead of ramen coz the noodles were huge). My only gripe about this is that the soup is a bit too salty for my taste. Otherwise, it’s also the bomb. Why? Coz it’s BOTTOMLESS. You can order as many noodles as you want until they come out of your nose.
Verdict: I guess I don’t have to say that this resto passed our very discriminating tastes with flying colors. I’d certainly go back if I get the chance.