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Posts Tagged ‘Tomas Morato restaurant

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.

BOON TONG KEE_facade photo BoonTongKeefacade_zps18787060.jpgWe 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_buffet area photo buffetarea_zps95026acb.jpgBoon 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.

BOON TONG KEE_shrimp crackers photo shrimpcrackers_zps1fcda918.jpgComplimentary Prawn Crackers were served while we waited for our food to arrive. These were nice and crunchy.

BOON TONG KEE_Poached Chinese Spinach with Assorted Eggs photo spinachwith3kindsofeggs_zps4bffcefc.jpgDad 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.

BOON TONG KEE_coffee spareribs photo CoffeeRibs_zps9357f5b4.jpgOne 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.

 photo CerealPrawns_zps00e245ef.jpgWhen 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.

BOON TONG KEE_signature boiled chicken photo BoiledChickenHalf_zps69ebc5fe.jpgOf 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.

BOON TONG KEE_boiled chicken sauces photo BoiledChickensauces_zpsaae48985.jpgYou 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!

BOON TONG KEE_chicken rice photo chickenrice_zps6dc6b079.jpgFor 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.

BOON TONG KEE_Choco Almond Jelly photo ChocolateGelatin_zpsa1c0833f.jpgJust 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.

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It’s another Sunday and thankfully, my parents and I were able to leave our store early to have lunch outside. We were supposed to dine at one of our favorite Greek restaurants, but couldn’t bear the long queue of cars waiting to get a parking slot. Dad decided we go for some Filipino dishes at Cafe Via Mare along Tomas Morato instead. I haven’t been able to eat there for a looooong time, so I was really excited to check it out again.

Cafe Via Mare_dalandan juice photo CafeViaMare_dalandanjuice_zpsc3479249.jpgMy parents and I ordered a decanter of Dalandan Juice with Splenda(Php310.00). Dad was really happy he could enjoy this cold, fresh fruit juice along with us. It was the perfect drink for the torturous Manila heat we’ve been experiencing these past weeks.

Cafe Via Mare_ensaladang suha photo CafeViaMare_ensaladangsuhaatlabanos_zps90103d74.jpgMom wanted a salad to start our meal. She ordered a serving of Ensaladang Suha at Labanos or Grapefruit and White Radish Salad (Php150.00) for us to share. 

Cafe Via Mare_pancit luglog photo CafeViaMare_pancitluglog_zpsc9bd06dc.jpgDad, on the other hand, wanted to try Cafe Via Mare’s Pancit Luglog (Php195.00). The serving was a bit small for Dad, but he really liked how light and flavorful the sauce was.

Cafe Via Mare_oysters combination photo CafeViaMare_oysterscombination_zpsb0e732a5.jpgDad couldn’t let the chance to order one of his favorite dishes pass this time. This dish, called Oysters Combination (Php430.00), was made up of oyster rockefellers, oysters with wasabi and oysters with Parmesan cheese. Another type, the oysters duxelle (if I remember correctly), was out of stock so it was replaced with more rockefellers (our choice). My favorite one was the one with wasabi. 🙂

Cafe Via Mare_calcag rice photo CafeViaMare_calcagrice_zpsda20ba3a.jpgWe decided to try a serving of Calcag Rice (Php135.00), which was good for 2-3 persons. This was made of sun-dried shrimps, shrimp paste and scrambled eggs. This was very delicious, and was one of our favorites. 🙂

Cafe Via Mare_crispy tapa photo CafeViaMare_tapa_zps22fae189.jpgDad ordered a serving of Crispy Tapa (Php280.00), which arrived at our table really hot. Dad enjoyed munching on this, even without the use of the vinegar.

Cafe Via Mare_bangus asado photo CafeViaMare_bangusbellyasado_zpsec01e026.jpgMom and I ordered a serving of Tiyan ng Bangus Asado (Php285.00) to share. We were surprised with how small the serving was; it was just good enough for one person alone. We asked for the sauce to be separated so that Dad could also give the dish a shot.  Unfortunately, this one was just so-so. It’s pretty plain, and the sweet sauce didn’t really do a lot to elevate the dish.

Cafe Via Mare_shooters photo CafeViaMare_shooters_zpsceb572c7.jpgWe made sure Mom ordered a serving of Cafe Via Mare’s Shooters (Php85.00), a sampler of three famous Filipino desserts. The photo above shows (from left to right) halo-halo, mais con yelo and ginumis. Mom loved these a lot! They all  successfully satisfied her sweet tooth. (Click on the links to learn more about these sweet treats.)

Cafe Via Mare_puto bumbong photo CafeViaMare_putobumbong_zpsf34c1c65.jpgI’ve heard that one of the most famous items from Cafe Via Mare is their version of Puto Bumbong (Php70.00). I added Php15.00 to get the grated cheddar cheese. Puto Bumbong is a type of rice cake which is usually served during Christmas time. Normally, these are served topped with melted butter, brown sugar and grated coconut. The addition of the grated cheddar cheese resulted to a sweet-salty mix, making it extra delicious! 🙂

I’m glad to say that our entire dining experience was pleasant. The service was efficient and everyone in the service team was really nice. Prices are a little steep for such small servings, but it didn’t stop the three of us from having a pretty satisfying lunch. 🙂

**Cafe Via Mare is operated by the Via Mare Group. You can learn more about them by visiting their official website.

**All photos taken with my Motorola Droid Razr.

Dad was looking for Filipino food for our Sunday family dinner. After doing some research and a quick vote with the siblings, we decided to give Mesa a shot. Mesa is owned by the LaMesa Grill Group and I believe one of the partners is a local politician. They have other branches located in Greenbelt and Megamall, but since we live somewhere North, we went to their Tomas Morato branch instead.

MESA door

MESA_chicken binacolOur dinner started off with soup. This was the first time I’ve ever tried a serving of chicken binacol and it was pretty good. Some of the ingredients include the coconut’s juice and meat. It was light and nice to have, but I wish it was served hot instead of just warm.

MESA_hito flakesI was really looking forward to trying the Hito Flakes on Spoon because it looked like a fancier version of the one I love eating at Muang Thai, but I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with the taste. The mango strips weren’t sour or sweet enough to blend with the hito (catfish) flakes, that’s why I thought it wasn’t anything special. It looked really pretty though, so I think it was still okay.

MESA_tofu sisigThe Tofu Sisig is probably something that I wouldn’t order again since it was served pretty cold and tasted really odd. The sauce was also too sweet, kind of like eating tofu tossed with honey mustard dressing.

MESA_sisig with eggThe (Pork) Sisig with Egg came next and this was better than the tofu version. I thought it lacked a bit of flavor, but it’s probably because we didn’t get to mix it with soy sauce. Mom said this was also served warm, instead of sizzling hot; I didn’t notice that since I was too busy taking photos of the other dishes on the table.

MESA_bagoong riceWe ordered two servings of the Bagoong Rice since each serving was good for 2-3 individuals (We were six in the group). It was just okay; not a lot of flavor there either and Mom declared that the Muang Thai version was still her favorite.

MESA_mixed veggiesWe had to order some vegetable dish, and my brother chose Mixed Vegetables. It consisted of slices of button mushrooms, young corn, asparagus, Baguio pechay and carrot slices, sprinkled with toasted garlic bits. It wasn’t anything special and the sauce was sweet, so my Dad couldn’t eat it. We probably won’t be ordering this again.

MESA_boneless tilapiaThe last one to arrive on our table was the Crispy Boneless Tilapia served with four kinds of sauces (shrimp paste, sweet chili sauce, the “special” sauce, and spicy vinegar). I really liked dipping the fried fish meat into the spicy vinegar the most, but the “special” sauce wasn’t all that bad either.

Overall, I think that Mesa’s food isn’t really something I’d refer to as really, really good Filipino cuisine, but it was still okay compared to the other places we’ve visited before.  The best part was definitely the the level of service, which was really nice; definitely one of the best we’ve experienced as of late.

If there was any problem with the place, it’s just that it feels pretty cramped inside because of the high back sofas. It was probably designed that way to promote a sense of privacy when the customers are eating with their own groups, but it also made it difficult for the cool air to circulate well and it got a little too warm for comfort inside the booths. I guess I’d still ask the family to go back and visit Mesa again one of these days, so that I could try their Duck Basil Fried Rice and their crispchon (Crispy Lechon/ suckling pig).

After a month long hiatus from blogging, I’m finally back!  I do have a couple of things to share with you so just hang on.  July was a weird month for me; I was ill for roughly two weeks long and then I had to get myself back in tip top shape and adjust to a night schedule for work.  I’m finally a little more used to working nights again, but I still love my sleep and always enjoy an 8 to 10 hour sleep during the weekends.

Dad was also able to come home from China for a month long vacation and yes, we’re again able to dine out on Sunday evenings!  This makes me incredibly happy!  His first weekend back in Manila had us shopping in Megamall, and then having dinner at iRepublik, a Filipino restaurant serving modern Ilocano dishes.  It was our first time to eat there and we ended up ordering the following:

iRepublik_seafood sinigangSeafood Sinigang (Seafood in Tamarind Soup).  This was pretty good, although the seafood included weren’t a lot. I think I would’ve enjoyed this better if it was pork instead of seafood.

iRepublik_kare kare

Kare kare.  I have always jumped at the chance to eat this type of Filipino stew whenever we found one that didn’t include beef (I loved Beef Kare Kare when I was still allowed to eat it). Unfortunately, this dish was disappointingly bland and I didn’t enjoy it all that much, save for the bagnet (deep fried pork meat) on top.


iRepublik_pinakbet

Pinakbet. This is also another dish that lacked flavor, although I guess this would pass most people’s tastes.


iRepublik_chorizo paella

Chorizo Paella. I enjoyed eating the rice because it was sticky, but I didn’t eat any of the chorizo.  Dad didn’t like this dish, saying he preferred the paella served in Spanish restaurants and said that the chorizo didn’t taste good.

iRepublik_grilled squid

Grilled Squid.  This was a pretty common dish among Filipino restaurants, so I have to admit that this wasn’t very special.  I did enjoy munching on the seaweed, though (the green stuff on the right side of the picture).

iRepublik_bagnet platter

Bagnet Adobo Threesome. This is a dish consisting of bagnet, adobo rice and adobo flakes.  Personally, I think this was the best dish out of all the things we managed to order.  I really enjoyed the bagnet, even if I knew that it wasn’t the healthiest thing in the world.

If I find myself back at iRepublik, I’d probably end up only ordering the Bagnet Adobo Threesome.  Actually, I’d probably order bagnet in any restaurant that I see serving them!  I didn’t know that bagnet could be so addictive…. 🙂

*** iRepublik is located at the ground floor of CKB Centre, Scout Rallos St. cor. Tomas Morato Ave., Quezon City.  It’s located on the lot where Heaven and Eggs previously stood.


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