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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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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California Pizza Kitchen – OpenRice.Com Review

rsz_1mbp_pinkFilipino families like their pizza very much, it is not foreign to hear a pizza party happening or a pizza night or a pizza celebration or to see pizza as part of potluck or a box of pizza as a gift to give.  That is why I am so happy to hear about California Pizza Kitchen’s 18 years celebration in the casual dining industry as the pioneer in offering gourmet pizzas in the country. In line with this, it is again mounting its successful annual campaign which is the National Pizza Day to be held on August 14 and 15 in all nine CPK branches in Metro Manila. It’s a two-day pizza fest with five off the menu premium items that truly highlights the innovative and creative California spirit that the brand has been known for.

caprese angled

farmer's tight

hawaiian pepperoni whole

italian sausage and pepper angled

salami plus bacon tight

traditional cheese angled

On the NPD days, guests can enjoy a free pizza for every order of regular or thin crust pizza. The free pizza can be chosen from the special NPD menu of premium and limited edition pizzas created just for those days. It is valid for dine in, takeout, and walk in transactions. Reservations and delivery will not be accepted and the promo is not valid in conjunction with existing discounts, promos, gift certificates, ENSOGO vouchers, and the Global Privilege Card (Global Resto’s loyalty card). The five free pizza are Salami + Bacon, Hawaiian Pepperoni, Traditional Cheese, Caprese, and Italian Sausage and Pepper (pictured above). Choose one for every order of regular pizza. For example, if you ordered five regular The Original BBQ Chicken pizzas, you get five free pizzas too!

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“This year, we are celebrating CPK’s 18th anniversary with a two-day National Pizza Day wherein we give our guests the gift of free pizza. By simply ordering a regular or thin crust pizza, a guest will get to have one for free from our special pizza menu just for August 14 and 15. As with the past years, these pizzas are about pushing the envelope when it comes to taste profile and having an adventure on the dough,” says Archie Rodriguez, Global Restaurant Concepts’ President and CEO, the first company to franchise CPK outside of the US in 1997.

California Pizza Kitchen is located at Bonifacio Global City, Greenbelt 5, Shangri-La Plaza Mall’s East Wing, Rockwell PowerPlant Mall, Eastwood Mall, Greenhills, SM Mall of Asia, Alabang Town Center. It opened its newest branch with the first island concept design at Century City Mall in Kalayaan Avenue last year.

Read more food reviews at OpenRice.com or click here.

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For more information, visit the official website at www.cpk.com.ph and follow their social media sites via California Pizza Kitchen Philippines on Facebook and @cpkphilippines on both Instagram and Twitter.

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Tong Yang Hot Pot : OpenRice.Com Review

I love both my mom and mom-in-law. Both have become strong mom models for me and have shaped me to be the mom I am now. My mom and mom-in-law are different from each other but we celebrate life milestones the same. So to celebrate my mom-in-law’s birthday, my husband my sisters-in-law trooped to the nearest Tong Yang Hot Pot to enjoy good food and to remember family blessings. We usually seat ourselves strategically around the buffet table. I personally survey all the buffet tables first before I go for a plate. My husband usually picks up salad as appetizer, some of friends would go for fruit, I go for whatever I feel like having as appetizer, can be fruits, canapés or even ice cream! Then if it is Tong Yang Hot Pot, be ready to sit around smoked pots and do your part in grilling and setting up the hot pot (that is part of the food fun). We all helped ourselves to choosing what we want to see in the soup, before we go for our own plates. I am a ‘meat-and-seafood-person’, you can easily tell with my body (wink) and what an odd combo too. So I go for the barbecues and I am the first who would order bacon, shrimp and crabs from the kitchen. Yep, bacon, fresh and big shrimps and crabs are available at Tong Yang only if you ask them to be served from the kitchen. Two other things we do at Tong Yang buffet? We never eat any of the rice or pasta and we never gulp on unlimited drinks until we are done with our plate or at least until we feel we had to drink. After gorging on everything we have cooked and plated, if you still have space in your tummy, you can try their dessert table. Just make sure you ask for a clean ice cream scooper for your turn, it can get so murky with excessive buffet ice cream use.

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