Category: Gut Feel

Turning Japanese at Banzai

Banzai Chicken Yakitori Bento (Php 95)
Banzai Chicken Yakitori Bento (Php 95)

The food court of a mall is normally NOT the place to look for decent Japanese food.  Almost always, the “food court pricing” automatically means that the food outlet would scrimp on ingredients or cut corners, ergo less satisfying Japanese fare.  But happily, we found an exception and it was literally right under our noses – Banzai Japanese Kitchen in the food court of Cash & Carry Mall.

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Savoring the flavors of Tasty Dumplings

Tasty Dumpling Noodle Soup
Tasty Dumpling Noodle Soup

Mention Binondo and one immediately conjures up images of crowded streets, Binondo church, Chinese herbal medicine stores, Eng Bee Tin hopia, and of course, the-hole-in-the-wall eateries. I used to live in Manila and Ongpin was a regular haunt but not anymore. Venturing to the Binondo Church one Sunday and the almost mandatory side trip to Eng Bee Tin, I chanced upon this seemingly small restaurant with the signage, “Tasty Dumplings”. And so started food trips to this eating place that yielded tasty surprises.

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Tongue-Thai’d in Thai Sticks ‘n Steaks

Thai Sticks n Steaks Chicken Pandan (Php 45 /pc)
Thai Sticks 'n Steaks Chicken Pandan (Php 45 /pc)

I’ve always had a penchant for Thai food ever since I’ve encountered it a long time ago way back when Flavors and Spices, one of the pioneers of Thai cuisine in the country, was around. Then, there was also the more mainstream but nonetheless delicious offerings of Sukhothai. I had this notion that it’s pretty hard not to like Thai food because for all the differences it had with local fare, there are some striking similarities – the use of a shrimp paste, nam pla, for example bears strong resemblance to our bagoong and patis. Some of the flavors are also familiar – the liberal use of lemongrass or tanglad, lime juice, chilis and coconut milk.

It’s not everyday that I hanker for Thai food but I somehow lament the fact that it’s not as commonly available as before. Until I found out that there’s a Thai restaurant along Pasong Tamo that serves great Thai food – Thai Sticks ‘n Steaks. The blurb outside says its cuisine is inspired by Sukhothai. Don’t let the funky name fool you, the food is really very good. So come inside and let’s taste what it has to offer.

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Goodfood hunting

Hunters Lamb Chops (Php 345)
Hunter's Lamb Chops (Php 345)

22 years is a very long time for any restaurant to be around especially now that restaurants sprout one year and close shop the next.

Hunter’s could be commended for longevity alone if it weren’t for the wonderful food it offers.  Tucked in a rather non-descript part of Mile Long in Makati, Hunter’s carries on a tradition of exotic fare that harkens back to a time when game animals such as wild boar and deer were still plentiful and un-politically correct to serve.

What’s the secret ingredient for Hunter’s?  The good food, for sure.  Another is the impossible-to-not-like presence of its affable owner, Mila Fitz, who regales guests with stories that trace the history of the place back when most of Makati was still grassland.

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Authentic Yakiniku at Urashemi-ya Restaurant

Yakiniku, grilling meat, Japanese Style
Yakiniku, grilling meat, Japanese-Style

Yakiniku is Japanese for “grilled meat”.  Beef, pork and offal (entrails, internal organs) slices are cooked over coal (traditional), gas or electric (modern) grill and served with a soy-sauce-based dip. Yakiniku traces its origins to Korea but is different from Korean fare such as bulgogi as the customers themselves grill the meat.

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