Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

an enchanting dinner at l’incontro

In eating in manila on October 19, 2011 at 2:09 pm

thanks again to deal grocer, we were able to get a good deal on a 7-course italian dinner at l’incontro. it’s a charming restaurant along reposo, slightly away from the crazier hustle of CBD. and, after tasting their food, we highly recommend it.

they started us off with a glass of prosecco each. it was quite good. nice cold sparkling wine to get the digestion going.

first dish, mussels cooked in white wine with parmesan cheese and bacon

this was good largely due to the freshness and plumpness of the mussel. the natural flavor really came through. i’m not sure the wine did much for it. and maybe a few more sprinkles of bacon wouldn’t hurt. but all in all it was nice and lovely with the prosecco.

next was a squash soup

thick, hearty, and sweet. they used a good piece of squash for this one. it was nicely spiced too. very warming.

the next dish was, according to them, a restaurant bestseller. a thin crepe with ham and a creamy mushroom sauce

now this was really delicious. full, rich mushroom flavor. the crepe just right to stop it from getting overwhelming. totally got our tastebuds a-tingling.

after this was gnocchi with a gorgonzola cheese sauce

finally! good gnocchi! everytime we watch cooking shows, we always hear about gnocchi being soft, fluffy, like a pillow. but all the gnocchis we’ve tried in the philippines have been tough and even a little crumbly. here at l’incontro, it was as it should be. and it is indeed a testament to the skill of a cook to get this texture just right. and the sauce? perfect. our only nitpick was that texturally this dish was too similar to the one previous. but with both being so delicious, it was quite alright.

after a sherbet to cleanse the pallet, out came a slightly deconstructed osso bucco

basically the meat was taken off the bone and stewed separately. very tasty, melt-in-your mouthy. then the bone was roasted. see that bit in the bone? that chunk of marrow? now that is just pure heaven.

last, dessert. a white chocolate panna cotta with chocolate shavings

perhaps the least impressive of the courses. it wasn’t bad, but nothing special either. the flavor was a little weak and it wasn’t as creamy smooth as it could have been. so far, nothing has even come close to the panna cotta at angelina’s in malapascua island.

the wait staff didn’t have to, but they gave us a shot of limoncello each at the end of the meal. the regular price for this would have been P2500 but we got it for half that. and it was truly well worth it. l’incontro is a great restaurant. great food, a decent wine selection, a well-trained staff. a true gem.

dong bei dumplings, a true binondo treat

In eating in manila on October 13, 2011 at 1:55 pm

tucked in some relatively quiet corner of binondo is a hole-in-the-wall place that looks like it needs a lot of fixing up. it has two long white fluorescent lights, the menu is scribbled on cartolina, there is no polished flooring to speak of. but dong bei dumplings is a must-try. everything is delicious, fresh, and light.

order the kutchay and pork dumplings (P80 for 10 pieces)

or xiao long bao (4 pieces for P60)

actually, order any dumpling – they’re all really really good. and, more often than not, when you order, a couple of girls will head to a counter to make the dumpings. they’re that fresh

just let go of aesthetics for a while and you’re in for a really great treat. and at fantastic prices

dong bei is fairly easy to find. take the road to the right of binondo church then turn left on yuchengco street. dong bei is near the end of this road. best to walk. even better, after lunch, walk back along yuchengco to ho-land for what is still, in our opinion, the best hopia fix

there are few places we can think of that are better to start a binondo adventure with.

more tagaytay eats: manos

In places on October 4, 2011 at 11:16 pm

every time i’m in tagaytay, i want to eat at manos, the greek taverna. during this little getaway, we finally did. we didn’t go to the one near the sta rosa road, we went to the one at the hellenic hotel with the ridge view. at the very bottom of the property was the taverna

it was a very pleasant experience for us because, it being a monday night, we had the place all to ourselves. and after reading the menu which contained a term paper on greek cuisine, we were all psyched to eat.

the food at manos is likely what home cooked food in greece is like. which is a good and bad thing.

our first dish was the tzatziki – yogurt with garlic and cucumber – served with pita bread

this was very good – and perhaps the best part of the meal. it was light and flavorful, the yogurt had a fresh tang to it. very nice. it’s easy to imagine how this could be a staple in many a greek home.

we had to have one of the more popular dishes and so we ordered the mousaka (aroundP150)

we enjoyed the flavors of this dish – rich and full. the texture of the potato layers were also remarkable. however, it was something that was obviously reheated. taken from the ref and plunked in the mircowave or something similar. i said that this is how households eat, but in a restaurant setting, it is certainly less than ideal.

we also tried the corfu-style chicken. stewed in cinnamon and cloves with onion leeks and raisins (around P240)

admittedly, we’re not sure how this dish is supposed to taste. it was interesting, but really sweet. should it have been that sweet? maybe. it was just a little… different. but we finished it nonetheless.

for dessert, of course, baklava

this was a bit of a downer. none of the finely layered pastry we were hoping for. what we got was a clump of nuts and weather-worn filo on top. not that it tasted bad, it was ok… but certainly not a dessert to return to.

so i suppose it’s a good thing we got to try manos. at least the mystique has disappeared. i can’t imagine we’d be returning to it soon. maybe for a beer and that tzatziki one day…

tagaytay eats: amoroma

In places on October 3, 2011 at 11:00 pm

nowadays, tagaytay seems to function like an extension of manila. a place for people to go to on weekends that isn’t very far and has pretty much all the same establishments, with slightly cooler climate. but for all the global franchises and branches of manila-based places, there are some tagaytay places that are uniquely its own.

one such place is the italian restaurant amoroma (though this was originally an inhabitant of alabang, it has since transferred – at least, i think). it’s easy enough to find. from the sta rosa exit route, turn right and after a few meters, on your right, you will see this.

the interior is what many expect in an italian restaurant. bright, simple, rustic, lots of pictures or paintings of italian landscapes, and plaid tablecloth

the restaurant is very pleasant, with a small deli inside. other reviews mentioned delayed service, but as only two tables were occupied we were fairly confident. plus, we rushed the staff like crazy because we were actually in tagaytay for a meeting and couldn’t really afford a long leisurely european meal.

so, first up – ravioli

i’m afraid we forgot what this dish contains exactly. but it isn’t stuffed with spinach or seafood, that we remember. what struck us was that despite its rather plain brown appearance, this dish was quite tasty. not served hot enough though – but still quite good.

next we had the pizza with arugula

now this was very very nice. light and fresh with the arugula flavor perfectly intact.

each dish was in the P300 range which isn’t particularly cheap, but the ambience makes the whole experience pleasant enough to be worth paying that amount for. this place isn’t high on our recommendation list, but for a pleasant weekend getaway place it certainly fits the bill.