For those of you who have reading my entries for some time may notice that it’s been several years since I started blogging. Last year, many opportunities came to me through this blog. I decided I’m going to be a lot more active in sharing the things I do. In line with that, I decided to get my own domain and, thus, will be posting my most recent stuff there.
If you’re interested in keeping up with me, please update your bookmarks and follow me at http://www.haveatyou.com. There might be some technical glitches here and there while I’m ironing things out, but I hope you’d still drop by when you have the time. It took me awhile to make the switch and I’m hoping you guys are willing to follow me there. See you at the new site! :)
~ Jam (a.k.a. moxy)
These past few weeks, my parents and I have become regular patrons of UCC Vienna Café along Banawe. I admit that it’s not exactly the most affordable place to dine at, but sometimes when we’re in need of some peace and quiet, it’s one of the places to be. This post will show you some of the items we’ve enjoyed…at least the ones I managed to take a photos of. :p
The Clubhouse Sandwich: one of the most popular types of sandwiches around. I normally don’t order this type of sandwich when eating out, but decided to do so when I last visited UCC. This was worth its price tag of Php200+ because it was huge and was generously filled with bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, chicken, egg mayo spread, etc. I didn’t manage to finish the entire thing and took half of the serving home for breakfast the next day.
Once during a visit, Mom was feeling very hungry and wanted to eat something with rice. UCC Vienna Café in Banawe offer rice bowls, one of which was this Chicken Katsudon. It was served piping hot and managed to satisfy Mom’s hunger.
One other time, Dad decided to order a pasta dish. He got the Salmon and Spinach Pasta in cream sauce. You’re usually given a choice of having your pasta cream or tomato based. I’m a bigger fan of the tomato based ones; Dad always goes for the cream based ones. I remember him enjoying this a lot, telling us that the flavors were all very mellow but still very delicious. Glad it passed Dad’s standards!
Another type of pasta dish which appealed to us was UCC’s Fried Chicken Spaghetti in tomato sauce. I remember really liking this one, since I found the tanginess of the tomato sauce marry nicely with the salty bacon. The chicken chunks on top were also served VERY hot, which is a big plus, especially when one’s starving.
It’s summer here in Manila and the heat has been pretty nasty. Mom saw her favorite dessert on the menu and ordered it without hesitation. UCC Vienna Cafe’s Halo Halo was pretty to look at. Generous scoops of mango and ube (purple yam) ice cream, leche flan, macapuno and more purple yam sitting on top crushed ice with milk and a layer of kaong (sugar palm) at the bottom. It satisfied Mom’s desire for something sweet.
More often that not, I enjoy having my cup of joe with a slice of cake. I’m a big cake fan and would rarely say no to a slice of it. During one of my visits to UCC, I decided to sample their Red Velvet cake. My parents and I thought that the presentation was really good, even if wasn’t the most elaborate of all. What we liked most about the cake was that it was moist and very dense. It was also not too sweet. A slightly sour raspberry syrup, if I’m not mistaken, was also put on the side to add a nice touch. We managed to eat the entire slice in just a few minutes, leaving the plate spotless.
It’s very rare to find a cake made from Splenda here in Manila. When we saw that UCC had a tiramisu cake made from it, Dad was really happy! We order him a slice of it whenever we’re there so that he could enjoy the post-meal sweets with Mom and I. He likes this as much as the Guiltless Chocolate Desire from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
I love ending my meals in UCC with a hot cup of coffee. In the photo above is their hot caramel macchiato, which I found to be way better than the one from a more famous chain of coffee stores. When I don’t feel like having the caramel macchiato, I like enjoying the simple café latté or UCC House Blend.
**UCC has a lot of different branch with different names. If you’re within the Banawe area, try dropping by UCC Vienna Café which is located at 690 Banawe Street, Bgy Sienna, Quezon City. They also have free wifi for those who always want to stay connected.
When things are hectic at the store and the parents and I no longer have the time and energy to cook our own meals, we head to the nearby Banawe area in search of food. Apart from having numerous car repair stores, Banawe is known for being the place where restaurants (mostly serving Chinese food) are found left and right. We’ve visited a lot of these places over the years, but only return to a handful of those which offer quick hot meals to satiate our grumbling tummies. KimPo Tea House 鑫寶茶樓 is one of those places.
KimPo has a pretty long list of drinks and food which you could select from. I normally settle for hot tea when eating at this restaurant, but there was one time when my curiosity got the best of me and I ordered a bottle of Mulberry Juice (Php65.00). It’s supposed to have a lot of health benefits, including treating skin problems, enhancing one’s immune system, controlling cholesterol and blood sugar levels, preventing the common cold, etc. It was a mix of tartness and sweetness, which resulted to my Mom enjoying it more than I did.
One other time, I decided to order a bottle of soya milk. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I can drink soya milk anytime of the day. It doesn’t necessarily have to be for breakfast. This brand was pretty good, but it already has sugar mixed in it. Those who prefer to have them sugar-free would have to pass.
Dad enjoys eating noodles and whenever he’s feeling hungry, a good bowl of hot noodle soup is usually the answer. His favorite at KimPo? The Halo Halo Noodle Soup (Php147.00). Before I go on, just a tidbit for my non-Filipino readers: “halo halo” is the Tagalog term which means “mixed”. This dish has several braised beef brisket slices, pork wantons, vegetables and chicken chunks on top of springy noodles. Dad enjoys everything about this, except the beef brisket since it’s a little on the sweet side. Those usually end up getting eaten by Mom.
KimPo, like most Chinese places here in Manila, offer a wide array of rice toppings. One of my Mom’s go-to items is their Pata Rice. To be honest, we all agreed that ordering this is a hit or miss since there were times when the meat had a very slight foul odor, which affected its taste. The usual explanation I hear about this is the meat probably came from a male pig / boar. I don’t think everyone notices that faint smell, but for those who are sensitive to it (like my Mom), it can be pretty disturbing. To be fair, this doesn’t exclusively happen when dining in KimPo. You may experience the same when eating at other places as long as you’re eating pork.
Another type of popular rice topping is the Spareribs Rice (Php125.00). I know a lot of people which love eating pork steamed with black beans or tausi. I, for one, am a big fan of this and try to order this whenever it’s on the menu. These chunks of pork spareribs are steamed with black beans until they’re very tender. The sauce gets absorbed by the rice once they’re placed on top, resulting to the delightful meal we enjoy. I personally prefer the spareribs rice from another tea house, but my Mom doesn’t seem to notice any differences.
One of my favorite things to order is their White Chicken Rice (Php120.00). It’s a quarter of a chicken, steamed and topped with ginger sauce. It’s not something extraordinary since it’s one of the things we usually serve in our own store, but for a quick fix, this version from KimPo isn’t half bad. I usually end up sharing the chicken with Dad, so it’s really worth its price.
If you don’t feel like ordering any of the rice toppings, there are many other stuff you could order à la carte. One time, I was so tired I wanted us to get home quickly and get some sleep. My parents don’t approve of skipping meals, so I had to order something. I ordered the half serving of their KP Chicken to share with the parents. This was supposed to be their signature fried chicken, which was served with shrimp crackers and banana ketchup. We found parts of the chicken meat too dry from being in the fryer too long. The shrimp crackers were, thankfully, good.
If you’re craving for some carbs, we recommend ordering KimPo’s Yang Chow Fried Rice (Php100.00). A serving of this is good for approximately three persons. We’ve ordered this several times and, most of the time, it turned out to be nicely cooked. Dad can eat this without having anything else with it.
For us, KimPo is really a reliable place for a quick and satisfying meal. In addition, most of the servers here already know my parents and I since we visit this place regularly. I don’t think we have encountered any service issues here. One thing to take note of: they don’t have a very big space, although they still manage to seat a lot of people. Sadly, they don’t have a private function room so if you get seated next to a huge group who’s celebrating an occasion, it can get really noisy.
**If you want to try them out, you can visit Kimpo Tea House at 706 Banawe Street, Barangay Sienna, Quezon City.
Manila doesn’t have a shortage of places to try when you’re looking for something to eat. Apart from all the Filipino-owned businesses, there’s now a lot of foreign franchises coming in and trying their luck in the local food scene. Boon Tong Kee is a well-known Singaporean restaurant which specializes in Cantonese chicken rice. It wasn’t the first Singaporean chicken place to enter the Manila market, but it was met with a lot of positive reviews. My family and I wasn’t able to try their food during their first few months here, but was able to visit just last weekend.
We visited the closest branch which was along Tomas Morato in Q.C. Parking wasn’t a problem since there were several slots available in front of the restaurant and there was also street parking available right across the street.
Boon Tong Kee’s Tomas Morato branch has an Eat-All-You-Can promo from Mondays to Saturdays. The buffet area is available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. It’s priced at Php388.00/person. This area wasn’t open when we were there since it was a Sunday, but you could easily see the staff preparing the chicken behind those chafing dishes.
Dad saw the picture of the Poached Chinese Spinach with Assorted Eggs (Php295.00) in the menu and said that he’d like to try their version. Unfortunately when the actual dish reached our table, we were all quite disappointed with the look and the taste. There was hardly any spinach in the dish and it was also a bit bland.
One of the popular dishes people order from Boon Tong Kee is their Coffee Pork Ribs (Php295.00). I’ve only tried eating something like this during a close friend’s wedding reception at the Crowne Plaza Hotel a couple of years ago. I was curious to see if this version was any better. One bite and my Mom declared it to be overly sweet and rich. I had to stop after eating one piece as well and we decided to just have the rest packed for takeaway. We believe there might be a way to make this taste a little more mellow.
When I visited Kuala Lumpur last year, it was my first time to try the dish called the cereal shrimp. I enjoyed it back then, so I suggested on ordering it when I saw it in Boon Tong Kee’s menu. The Cereal Prawns wasn’t exactly the cheapest thing off their list, with their regular serving of three pieces priced at Php375.00.
The verdict? Dad enjoyed this dish, despite the slight sweetness of the cereal. I found it okay, but I wished it had the slightly spicy kick, similar to the ones in Kuala Lumpur. I’m no expert, but I think that would definitely help balance the flavors better.
Of course, we couldn’t pass the chance to try their Signature Boiled Chicken (Php455.00 for half, shown above). This was the best dish of the night. Slightly sweet light soy sauce was poured on top of the chicken and a bit of preserved vegetables were served on the side.
You also have the option of using any of the three sauces with your chicken. From top to bottom, you have the hoisin sauce, chili sauce and ginger dip. I enjoy combining all three of them, Dad prefers just the chili and Mom likes using only the ginger dip. To each his own!
For our carbohydrates, Dad and I decided to go with their Chicken Rice (Php65.00) while Mom went with the plain white rice (Php45.00, not in photo). It was a pretty small serving, but we enjoyed them.
Just like most of our meals, I wanted this one to end with a dessert which Mom and I could share. I initially ordered the Green Tea Creme Caramel, but was later informed that they ran out of stock. We decided to go with the Choco Almond Jelly (Php75.00) instead. This was basically a round almond jelly, smothered with chocolate syrup, then topped with crushed almonds and a single cherry. There wasn’t anything special to this, but it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good. Mom enjoyed this very much.
While not all the dishes garnered positive reviews, the overall dining experience we had was pretty good. We all liked the feel and the interiors of the restaurant. The girl who waited on our table was very nice and answered most of our questions, although some of the other servers could definitely use a bit of extra training on proper etiquette.
We noticed that there were several Chinese families dining that night and we had no problems understanding them when they used Cantonese to speak with each other. Although we could not say for sure if they all enjoyed their own meals just by watching them, just seeing that much Cantonese people dining there could be a sign that this restaurant may be doing something right. :)
***Boon Tong Kee currently has four branches all over Metro Manila, but the one we visited is located at #310 Tomas Morato Extension, Quezon City. Other branches can be found at Rockwell, SM Mall of Asia and at the U.P. Town Center. Click here for their official Facebook page (Philippines) and here for their Singapore site.
The opening of a Casa Verde branch in Manila seemed to be a very big thing, since The Boyfriend and I have been hearing good things about it from our friends. We both had no idea what that place was, and after doing some research, learned that it’s a very famous restaurant in Cebu. A lot of people are big fans of their Brian’s Ribs and since The Boyfriend is a big ribs fan, we made sure we visited the place before he left for Kuala Lumpur. Our one visit turned into two when his family decided to celebrate a birthday at the same venue, so this post will feature some of the items ordered during those two visits.
The Boyfriend ordered the refillable Panama Orange iced tea (Php75.00) during our first visit. I guess it was just okay, since I didn’t hear any positive or negative comments from him about this drink.
I decided to be a little more experimental and ordered a serving of John’s Mix (Php95.00). This was a mix of orange juice, pineapple juice, Sprite and grenadine. I found it to be too sweet for me to really enjoy it. I think I should have ordered something else instead.
The Boyfriend enjoys ordering starters whenever we eat out. He ordered a serving of Karlamari (Php148.00), which is Casa Verde’s take on the popular deep fried squid dish and is served with their own sweet & sour sauce. The sauce reminded us of the ones from fish and squid balls street vendors, so it was okay for us. Serving size was good for one to two persons, depending on how hungry you are.
This really blurry shot was of their Tricia ala Pobre (Php195.00), which I had during our visit with The Boyfriend’s family. I know this isn’t exactly the best looking photo here, mainly because I was rushing to take a photo of it before anybody notices it. I wasn’t sure if everyone from The Boyfriend’s family is comfortable with the thought of me taking so much food photos. :p
Anyway, this dish consisted of grilled fish (dory, I believe), topped with fried garlic bits. It came with some vegetables on the side and a serving of what they referred to as ‘harvest rice’. Overall, it was a pretty satisfying dish. I found the grilled fish to be a bit too soft but the saltiness blended well with the buttered vegetables and rice.
During the time we were with his family, The Boyfriend was feeling adventurous and decided to order The Big Bang (Php438.00). It was a 9-inch burger bun filled with a generous meat patty, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, cheese, and mayo. It also came with a side of fries. This huge burger was served on top of a wooden chopping board and was greeted by looks of amazement from our table.
The Boyfriend split half of the burger with his older brother, while the other half was sliced into smaller pieces for the other family members to try. Everyone seemed to agree that the patty was deliciously well-seasoned. The burger buns used were soft and airy, thus it was easily flattened by some so that it wasn’t too difficult to eat.
Casa Verde has an even bigger burger called The Mighty Ton (Php888.00). According to their menu, it’s a kilo’s worth of tenderloin stuffed into a 12-inch burger bun along with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and mushrooms. It’s also served with a side of flavored fries. No, we didn’t get that one but noticed several tables order it.
The photo above shows the Fish & Fries (Php228.00), which I decided to try during our first visit. I split this dish with The Boyfriend. There wasn’t anything special about this, just your regular fried dory fillets and fries served with tartar sauce. An order consists of five pieces of battered dory.
Of course, we couldn’t forget to order the main reason why we trooped all the way to UP Town Center: the Brian’s Ribs (Php250.00). This was served with corn and carrots, and your choice of rice or mashed potatoes. The Boyfriend has heard good things about this grilled pork dish that he wanted us to try it out as soon as we could. At only Php250.00, this is already considered cheap in comparison to the other ribs The Boyfriend has devoured before from other establishments. We both found it to be pretty average, with some parts of the meat already dry. The sauce spread on the meat was also very sweet, so we no longer touched the extra which was provided.
Overall, we agreed that Casa Verde was okay, but didn’t exactly live up to all the hype. We haven’t been to the original branch in Cebu, so we couldn’t say if the dishes we had tasted any different from the ones there. We have to give credit to the notably HUGE items offered in the restaurant, like The Big Bang and The Mighty Ton. They even have a very tall glass of chocolate milkshake called the Milky Way (Php345.00), which is definitely meant for sharing. One of The Boyfriend’s nephews ordered that but I wasn’t able to take a photo of it. It was so big, it was even served with five straws. Yep, five. I looked at it, tried to calculate how much sugar was in there and all I can think was how crazy strange it was! A lot of other tables ordered that too, so I guess it’s another one of those popular Casa Verde items.
If you feel like trying their ribs, burgers and/or milkshakes, visit them at the 2nd floor of the UP Town Center, along Katipunan in Q.C. Make sure to arrive early because this restaurant isn’t very big and gets full pretty quickly. There’s also usually a long line of hungry people waiting outside during peak hours. :)