Casa Verde : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkThe first thing that greets you when you land in Ayala, Cebu mall is its gigantic H&M hanger right in the middle of its central garden. Apparently, Cebu will see its first H&M shop, its first SM Seaside, and the grand sale at the newly opened Robinsons all on the same day. That’s good news for consumer Cebuanos, it will surely be traffic everywhere as people decide where to troop to with fam and friends.
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20151125_140908But we weren’t in Cebu for shopping, but for work, both good reasons to visit Cebu. Since we only have technically two days and a half to stay in Cebu, we made sure we made all the best food stops while we were there. First stop, its famous homegrown restaurant Casa Verde. I’m not new to Casa Verde, have tried their huge steaks and ribs servings the last time I was in Cebu. For this visit, we tried Brian’s Ribs. Two huge ribs serving plated with rice and corn/carrots on the side. No wonder waiting line at Casa Verde can be too long on peak eating hours, despite the fact that there is The Suite Room on Ayala’s upper floor, a more posh sister restaurant of Casa Verde. Remembered a better version of Brian’s Ribs, though, from my last visit than what was served today, meat was harder to bite/slice than what I can remember.
20151125_14085820151125_135648You can either dine al fresco or dine in the comfort of airconditioning indoors. We opted for the fresh air outside and also tried their French fries and their chocolate milkshake. I definitely thought we ate something that would cost us more than a thousand bucks from Manila but it was just a little over than Php500.00 combined. Good value for money.

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Chika-an Sa Cebu : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkThere are five things I loved about Chika-an sa Cebu. Eversince I have started this food project for OpenRice.com, I didn’t realize I have developed a different taste for food and a different take on the places we visit. Now my mind easily associates flavours and taste with any spot in the Philippines. Today’s food experience is no different.

20151125_180408#5 Unlimited Rice

If you are ready to go for sumptuous dinner with unlimited rice, just like how Pinoys love their dinner, Chika-an sa Cebu gets this correctly. Their initial serving of rice is, I will have to say, a very big serving of rice, it is so surprising to know that unlike all other restos who offer unlimited rice and scoops the rice off a bucket, they leave you a big bowl of rice on your table that they refill unlimited.

20151125_140242#4 Unlimited Drinks

Their unlimited drinks do not taste like they had more water than tea. Also, all servers proactively ask and offer to refill your glass as soon as you drink half of it.

20151125_183412#3 Soups are served Hot

Their Sinigang na Shrimp has the ultimate Pinoy flavour, shrimp size is bigger than usual and count is also generous, says a lot about seafood fare that Cebu can offer.

20151125_183419#2 Baked Oysters are the Best

Served yummier with cheese and special flavour. This dish is certainly rice-friendly, you know how some dishes would unconsciously push you to eat more rice with it? This is that type of baked oysters.

#1 Cebu Food Experience

Cebu food experience is never complete without the flair from everything around you. All servers are clad in Pinoy costumes, makes you think they can do folk dances anytime. Their birthday surprise song is also different from Manila’s, it was really surprising and kinda worked like a mini-flash mob prod.

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Crazy Crab : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkVisiting Cebu always means good news to me. Although with Cebu work assignments, I get to miss my kids and my hubby, I maximize my visits and decide to have meaningful fun the best I can get. This includes planning the best food experience. And so, I realized that at least for the last three Cebu visits, I always made sure I drop by Crazy Crab. So why do I keep going back? Read on.

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I keep going back to Crazy Crab because they have a longer list of crab flavours available. For our last visit, we tried black pepper, sweet and spicy, coconut milk crab and garlic crab. Especially preferred garlic crab, it is your home-made steamed crab flavoured with garlic. Even without sauce or condiments, crabs are tasty.

When we got there, there were no medium sized crabs available, only the large ones, they pick out the live crabs from the kitchen, then weigh them on your table for costing. As soon as you get your pick, they head back to the kitchen to prepare your orders.

We also got to try baked scallops. With our hands clad in plastic gloves, we dove right to our plates and enjoyed them all with rice. The walls around the restaurant are a conversation piece, with crab shells used as notepads for visitors’ personal messages. Deliciously different restaurant in Cebu.

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Gelatissimo : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkSo how can one end the day with a sure smile? Ice Cream! Cebu has the best ice cream to offer. Ayala Terraces in Cebu houses Gelatissimo, you will know right away it is a familiar ice cream destination because there were no available tables, the only way to get one is to wait for your turn. So there are three lines to queue for, the line to pay for the ice cream, the line to get your scoops, and the line to get a table. Since I visited with four other friends, it was easy to do all at the same time.

So in no time, we got our ice cream and we got the best table, too. It is right next to the door where you can see the view from Ayala’s central garden. If you can’t take too much sugar or any sugar for health reasons, you can still visit because they offer sugar-free ice cream! Yep, ice cream that is perfect for everyone!

On our table, we went for two scoop cups: vanilla, mango, original chocolate, American chocolate and chocolate truffle.

We surely ended the night with a smile on our faces. Gobbling down ice cream as a nightcap is divine, just make sure you help yourself to a glass of water right after, though.

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Pepper Lunch : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkSo when you have reviewed almost 40 restaurants and aiming to close the month to get you to 50 restaurants reviewed, how does one keep the enjoyment of food and how does one see different food not using the eyes of a food enthusiast? Listed down today, how to get help ensure you get the best food experience from Pepper Lunch.

20151126_121914Tip1

Trying their Beef Teriyaki Pepper Rice with Egg, make sure you mix everything on your sizzling pepper lunch plate, as instructed. If you end up missing this part, egg can end up fully cooked on the sizzling plate, your rice will not have the full teriyaki flavour or your beef will be too burnt, it will crumple crisp right infront of your face.

20151126_122205Tip2

Tomato Sauce Pasta with Sausage may be served with a generous amount of tomato sauce, make sure you just pour whatever you think you will need for your pasta serving, otherwise, you can find your plate with more sauce than pasta.

20151126_122234Tip3

When sampling Kuromitsu Soft Ice cream, it is best poured or mixed with molten milk chocolate cake. Their ala mode desserts allow customers like us to mix different flavours served on one plate. Outcome? Divine dessert.

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Tsim Sha Tsui : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkWoke up today with a sore throat, realizing that I do not have enough time for breakfast, and needed to rush off to work for an early morning performance review. Just before flying off back to Manila, that’s when I realized I had nothing in my tummy. So off we went to Tsim Sha Tsui (sorry, guys, I do not know how to pronounce this name, I can’t phonetize this in my writing, wink wink). Good thing, most of the restaurant-goers would refer to this resto as TST (that’s easier). The menu looked promising with all of our usual Chinese favourites. So to combat my sore throat, I went for their congee served with hard-boiled egg, paired this with classic pork siomai.

20151127_093150Over conversations with a colleague from work, our chat over food has shifted from the most trivial eyebrow shapes, to Alma Moreno opinions to whether or not we should buy more souvenirs from Cebu.

I originally thought that this restaurant is only in Cebu but was surprised to find out that it is all over Manila, too. If your appetite is up for eat-all-you-can dimsum buffet, head to Cebu Ayala Terraces with your family and friends. Just be ready to sit elbow to elbow with others since tables are placed very near to each other.

20151127_095107They have a pocket restaurant right inside the airport, they provide folding tables to those who are seated at the boarding gate.

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Yoshinoya : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkWhile all the major roads were closed for the APEC week, this working mom headed to the nearest work site for the full week. It was easy to notice that not too many people flocked to the malls for this week, probably because of the government’s public advice not to go to crowded places for security and safety reasons. So even Fairview Terraces is colder with less people in it that me and my workmates opted to go find the best hot meals for an end-of-day-lunch, yep, days when you would not have any other time to have lunch but at end of day.

image-413cae0aab642572d71133adef8e51799e79e61003c921b093409faadb9b825b-VIronically, there were two restaurants that serve hot meals right next to each other, a Japanese/Korean restaurant and a Japanese restaurant. We decided as a group to go for the latter, Yoshinoya.

I went for the classic beef noodles and one tried chicken noodles. These soups were made more interesting and yummy with corn, hard boiled egg and vegetables. Unlike the usual corn on mini-cobs on our nilagang baka, they served corn scraped off the cob. Would have just loved the soups served hotter than they were, we were going for hot meals, afterall. Paired it with gyoza and unlike any other gyoza, these are steamed grilled and not steamed fried. You can even see faint marks of the grill right off your gyoza.

Try it with other classic Japanese favourites, California maki served with wasabi, red tea or green tea drinks (just make sure you don’t commit the same mistake I did, asked them to serve it without ice, quite a scrape off my throat after-meals with its sugary taste). Cap with choco mousse for dessert.

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Wee Nam Kee : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkMy Hainanese Chicken destination restaurant has been different, but for this food experience, we opted to try Wee Nam Kee whose bestsellers include Hainanese Chicken. This restaurant has all the traditional Chinese resto feel and surroundings. It may be missing the lazy suzan on round tables and the speakers may be playing mainstream pop music, but the food will remind you what an authentic Chinese restaurant is all about. Don’t get confused if you have associated Hainanese with other Asian countries, that’s because Hainanese which has been derived from Hainan China can almost always be ordered from other Asian countries. As if this is not confusing enough, Singapore has Hainanese chicken as its national dish, it is like our very own Adobo in the Philippines.

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20151117_12030820151117_11595820151117_115944So what is Hainanese Chicken?  At Wee Nam Kee, you have an option to go with steamed or fried chicken served with rice, chicken bone stock and specially flavoured Hainan chicken sauce. Not known to many, you can actually ask for an extra bowl of Hainan chicken sauce everytime you order Hainanese chicken.

Another must-try is Crispy Mantou Bread with Condensed Milk. Ever look back to using condensed milk as bread spread? This is the real deal, yummy bread dipped in condensed milk. On your next visit, you can go and add in Curry Noodles. It is curry with all the right flavours.

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Marriott Garden Cafe : OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkThe first thing that greets you at Marriott’s Hotel’s breakfast resto Garden Cafe is their varied options for food. I am always thankful for free breakfast from hotel bookings. For sure, Marriott hotel will not be known as the preferred hotel from visitors around the world for nothing. Nearest to the entrance is their salad station, with various greens and toppings to choose from. They also have mixed toppings ready with flavoured sauce.

20151125_154637As soon as you walk in, servers ask for your preferred spot, sit you, and asks you a series of questions anytime they feel you need anything (not in an annoying, bothersome way). So we chose a spot that is quiet and asked for coffee. Tables are automatically served with a good amount of milk. Since the Garden cafe is on the same floor as the lobby/reception, whatever music you have from it is shared with the cafe’s. There was Thanksgiving night with a twist, because the Pinoy choir from the lobby sang right next to the gigantic Christmas tree. It is thanksgiving added with a Pinoy flavour.

20151126_06174720151126_06125920151126_06224420151125_151502marriott2marriott1For our breakfast, I went for the safe fare of crispy bacon, rice, and ham. All my meat favourite dishes are also served on heat, keeping it fresh and refilled until breakfast ends at 10am.

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Lots’ A Pizza : OpenRice.Com Review

Inside Out is just one among many animated movies that I didn’t find suitable for kids. It is probably because of the fact that emotions meant for adults to process were shown on the film as ALL valid responses to our daily lives. The movie actually created excessive times when I had to explain to my kids that responding to a negative emotion the way it was shown on the film is not always the correct way of doing so. I didn’t have to do it with other animated films but with this movie, there are just too many parts of the movie when the characters respond wrongly to negative emotions, it didn’t help that negative emotions themselves (sadness, fear and anger) are primary characters of the story. I didn’t think that Disney Pixar would leave this not sorted all throughout the end of the story.

rsz_1mbp_pinkSo, when the movie was over, it was time to find a place to eat somewhere so we can have the most important conversation with the kids. How the conversation went is an all-together different story. We ended up at Lots’ A Pizza, pocket restaurant right outside the moviehouse. What I appreciate about this pizza house is the fact that they close late, maybe to catch everyone who step out of the cinema from the late screenings. Also, the servers were interactive and kept all the kids busy while waiting for their pizza. In fact, their pizza preparation is for everyone in the resto to see. The downside to doing this though is it surely takes time to wait for the food, after all, servers wait for real time orders before they can prepare your order right infront of you. All pizza flavours Hawaiian Extreme, Hotdog Festiva and Manhattan Deluxe were all a big hit for the kids. After all, you can have any kid order their preferred pizza flavour from their menu.

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