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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.

CASA VERDE_facade photo casaverdefacade_zps37214809.jpgCasa Verde on a weekday night, which was our first visit. There weren’t a lot of people when we arrived at 6 p.m., but a line was starting to form by 7 p.m.

CASA VERDE_Panama Orange Iced Tea photo panamaorangeicedtea_zpsf8673712.jpgThe 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.

CASA VERDE_John's Mix photo johnsmix_zps57a3cb8f.jpgI 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.

 photo karlamari_zps03a8bfbc.jpgThe 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.

CASA VERDE_Tricia ala Pobre photo Triciaalapobre_zpsaad42362.jpgThis 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.

CASA VERDE_The Big Bang photo TheBigBang_zps7f40d1ce.jpgDuring 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.

CASA VERDE_Fish and Fries photo fishandfries_zps9a34e43c.jpgThe 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.

CASA VERDE_Brian's Ribs photo briansribs_zps63f6d3ae.jpgOf 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. 🙂

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Last Monday, my parents and I had some free time on our hands and we decided to have lunch at the mall. Dad wanted to eat at a place which we’ve never tried before. We had to go through a list of possible restaurants when I suddenly remembered an Instragram photo posted by one of my college friends a few weeks ago. It was a plate of gyoza which I found to be quite intriguing. Good thing the restaurant where she ate that was located inside Trinoma so off we went to try it out.

HANAMARUKEN_logo photo Hanamaruken_zps480b0862.jpgHanamaruken Ramen is said to be a food chain from Osaka, Japan. According to Dianne, our server for that afternoon, they started their operations in Trinoma on November of 2013. Why my parents and I were unable to dine there before is something we don’t quite understand.

HANAMARUKEN_interiors photo interiors_zps4db279e0.jpgWe really loved the restaurant’s interiors. It was uncluttered, peaceful and relaxing. Just the type of place we were looking for.

HANAMARUKEN_drinks photo drinks_zpsdfbd75de.jpgHot tea and cold water are served once we were seated. Mom enjoyed their tea very much.

HANAMARUKEN_ Gyoza photo gyoza_zpsf1b4e57f.jpgFor appetizers, we just had to go with a serving of their gyoza (Php150.00). A serving comprised of 8 pieces of pork gyoza, accompanied by a sweet soy dipping sauce and chili oil. These weren’t as big as I expected them to be, but they were very flavorful. I enjoyed eating them with the chili oil. My Dad also liked it so much that he ordered another serving even before we finished with the first one.

We also wanted to try their karaage, but was informed that it was unavailable during that time. We hope it’s going to be available by our next visit.

HANAMARUKEN_Drunken Man Rice Bowl photo DrunkenManRicebowl_zps922302db.jpgMom wasn’t in the mood for ramen, so she chose the Drunken Man Rice Bowl (approximately Php220.00). This was basically white rice topped with kakuni (braised pork), two fried eggs and spring onions. I was able to try a piece of the kakuni and thought that it was really good. Mom liked it too, but commented that the serving size was a little too small for her.

 photo SignatureHappinessRamen_zpsf4432797.jpgDad ordered Hanamaruken Ramen’s specialty: the Signature Happiness Ramen (Php480.00). Good thing that Dad was really satisfied with his ramen! He couldn’t stop raving about how flavorful the soup base was, the noodles’ texture and how soft the pork rib was. I was really glad to see how much he enjoyed this that he’s already thinking of revisiting the restaurant soon. 🙂

HANAMARUKEN_Chasyu Ramen photo ChasyuRamen_zpsb248ae15.jpg

I was initially thinking of ordering the Signature Happiness Ramen as well, but decided to try something else. I ended up ordering a serving of their Chasyu Ramen (approximately Php280.00), which was also pretty good! I found the tonkotsu shoyu broth to be very light, so it wasn’t difficult to go through one bowl on my own. The braised pork belly was also a treat. 🙂

Apart from the delicious and filling food, another great thing about Hanamaruken Ramen was their level of service. Service was quick and their wait staff were efficient. We’d like to applaud Dianne, who assisted us during our visit, since she was always smiling and obviously knew what she was doing. She answered all of our questions and made sure we were okay with everything throughout our stay. I hope Hanamaruken’s service levels and food quality will remain this high as the months go by. 🙂

**Want to try this place out? Hanamaruken Ramen is located at the 2nd floor garden restaurants of TriNoMa in Quezon City. Visit their official Facebook page here for more information.

Anybody who has experienced gift shopping in Manila during Christmas season will agree that it’s always a big challenge, especially when you’re already late in the game and cannot afford to go shopping online. I usually shop early to avoid this since I dislike big crowds, but had to face it last December when I had very little free time on my hands with the business in full swing.

The Boyfriend and I ended our shopping pretty late one Sunday and didn’t want to keep on going around the mall to look for something to eat. We decided to just try Mango Tree Bistro since there weren’t a lot of people eating inside, thus it wasn’t noisy and crowded.

MTB_facade photo MangoTreeBistro_zps65708554.jpgMango Tree Bistro is located between Powerbooks and an escalator from the lower floors.

MTB_catfish salad photo catfishsalad_zps81bc7b07.jpgMore often than not, the Catfish Salad (Yum Pla Duk Fu, Php380.00) makes an appearance at our table whenever I eat at a Thai place. I first tried this at a small Thai restaurant located along Banawe in Q.C. and have since enjoyed the crunch of the fried catfish meat mixed with the sweet, tangy, spicy mango salad. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too impressed with the version from Mango Tree Bistro since it tasted like old, overused oil. The mango salad itself was pretty okay.

MTB_shrimp pad thai photo shrimppadthai_zpsdf273a2d.jpgIf the catfish salad is my must-have, this Phad Thai Goong (noodles with prawns, Php420.00) is The Boyfriend’s. We both found this to be pretty good.

MTB_pork curry photo curry_zps69dc08e8.jpgWho eats at a Thai restaurant and not order curry? Not us. We decided to try the Spicy Chicken Fillet Curry with Kaffir Lime leaves (Panang Gai, Php420.00). We didn’t get to finish this dish and The Boyfriend took what was left home. He said it tasted better the next day when it was eaten with rice.

MTB_honey ribs photo honeyglazedribs_zps966a1a40.jpgIf there’s one dish that deserved to be highlighted, then that would be the Honey Pork Spareribs (See Krong Moo Yang Na, Php480.00). This dish had a very nice balance of sweetness and saltiness. It was The Boyfriend’s favorite during that meal and he was very happy we decided to try it out despite the hefty price tag.

MTB_thai iced tea photo thaiicedtea_zps66222708.jpgThe Boyfriend was the only one who ordered drinks that night. He said that his Thai Iced Tea (Php80.00) was just okay.

Mango Tree Bistro‘s prices are definitely not cheap, but serving sizes for some items are meant for sharing. The service rendered during our visit was pretty okay. Most of the servers were alert, but never obtrusive. In our opinion, most of the food we tried were pretty ordinary so there’s a slim chance of a repeat visit in the near future.

**If you’re interested to try the stuff they have to offer, this branch of Mango Tree Bistro is located at the 3rd floor of TriNoMa  in Quezon City. Visit their official website here.

I’m still here, guys! I took a few weeks off blogging to focus on our family business and recuperate from a really bad cold. The Christmas season is one of the most exhausting times for people in the food industry, but I’m very happy that we’ve managed to get more satisfied customers through referrals. I have a bit of free time right now so I’ll start working on my backlogs for you. 🙂

Several Sundays ago, The Boyfriend and I were looking for a place which we haven’t tried yet. We agreed on eating something Italian so we scouted the Greenbelt area for possible places and ended up dining at Bistro Ravioli (located at Greenbelt 1). This place isn’t new, by the way. It’s been open for a long time and has already several branches, but we just never thought of giving it a shot until that particular Sunday.

RAVIOLI_logo photo Raviolilogo_zps74b3f4a0.jpg

RAVIOLI_red iced tea photo redicedtea_zps7a12c555.jpgThe Boyfriend ordered a glass of Red Iced Tea for himself.

RAVIOLI_lemon iced tea photo lemonicedtea_zpsf9903a9b.jpgI went with a glass of Lemon Iced Tea since I was in the mood for sweet drinks that day. Very uncharacteristic of me, since I often go for a glass of water or hot tea, if it’s available.

RAVIOLI_diablo wings photo diablowings_zpsc9860737.jpgWe decided to split a serving of Diablo Wings between the two of us.  We happened to like this a lot, especially the dip that came with it.  It kind of reminded me of the ones we enjoy having at Don Henrico’s.

RAVIOLI_salmon ravioli photo salmonravioli_zpsf23dbdda.jpgThe Boyfriend ordered a serving of Salmon Ravioli in Saffron Cream Sauce for his main dish.  I managed to try a bit and we agreed that this dish was just okay. It didn’t taste very special, but it was satisfying. I remember commenting that the salmon inside reminded me of the canned salmon my parents brought back from L.A.

RAVIOLI_seafood garlic pasta photo seafoodgarlicpasta_zps236e5f0d.jpgI was already very hungry but I didn’t feel like eating anything too heavy. After going through the menu several times, I settled with the Garlic Seafood Spaghetti. This dish consisted of clams, squid, shrimp and bacon sauteed in lots of garlic. I enjoyed how flavorful this was but found the seafood broth to be too salty when I’ve already eaten all of the pasta.

Bistro Ravioli’s honestly a pretty decent place to dine at. It’s a no-fuss restaurant which serves satisfying meals without completely breaking the bank. The dining area at the Greenbelt 1 branch is a little too crowded for me since they have very little space, but I guess it wouldn’t be too bothersome if you don’t go there during the peak lunch/dinner hours. The servers were also all courteous during our visit.

***Visit their website or their Facebook page for more information.

On my last day of babysitting the cats at my brother’s place, I decided I wanted to eat something healthy for lunch. I’m not the type to shy away from consuming vegetables so I thought I should pay Chimara Neo-Vegan Café a visit. I went straight to Greenbelt 3‘s cinema level after finishing the things I had to do at home and checked what they had to offer.

Chimara_logo photo DSC_0633_zps24b0cb0b.jpg

I have long known that Chimara was from the same group which handled Taters. According to their website, they got the name for this establishment from the word “Chimera, a.k.a., an impossible dream”.

It took me longer than usual to decide on what I should get for myself. Good thing that it was a Thursday afternoon, post-lunch hour, so nobody was next to me in line. Prior to this visit, the only items I’ve ever tried from their establishment was their tofu chips and wasabi flavored popcorn. I ended up loving both and was tempted to just get those and be on my way. I had to force myself to choose something else from the menu.

Chimara_Chicken 'Slaw' Wrap photo DSC_0634_zps3285a129.jpgStanding there, I contemplated getting myself a pita wrap or a panini instead. In the end, I decided to go with a pita wrap: the Chunky “Chicken” Slaw (Php145.00). This might not look like much in the photo above, but this was actually pretty big. I was surprised when the staff at Chimara handed this to me, since I’m so used to getting tiny pita wraps whenever I eat out. It was very heavy and smelled delicious!

Chimara_inside the wrap photo 2013-10-24_14-40-43_457_zps93c37c8f.jpgSo what does it have inside? There were chunks of tofu (the “chicken”), apples, cucumbers, raisins, peanuts, carrot sticks and lettuce, all wrapped neatly in a whole wheat tortilla. You also get to choose what dressing you want to have with it; I went with creamy yogurt.  I had my pita to-go and ate it back at my brother’s place. It was really, really good! I have no regrets. ♥

I’m happy to have found another item from Chimara that can easily satisfy my craving. I’m pretty sure this would go well with a small bag of their sour cream flavored tofu chips. That’s something I’ll consider for days when I’m REALLY hungry and would need more stuff to keep me going. 🙂

**If you want to learn more about Chimara, click here to visit their official Facebook page. They also have a Twitter account, in case you’re interested (@ChimaraNeovegan).


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