Affordable lunches are big at Italianni’s

Spiedo del Pollo e Dei Pesci (Chicken and Fish Skewers)
Spiedo del Pollo e Dei Pesci (Chicken and Fish Skewers)

Right from the start, Italianni’s was among the casual dining restaurants that have become synonymous with big servings. Not to say that the food isn’t good because it really is; it’s just that people with bigger than usual appetites have always been drawn to it because of the very generous servings. The price point is okay for the kind of food and service; however, it is a bit pricey for regular dining. Italianni’s makes amends with five new menu additions just for this summer. The formula is simple: filling weekday lunch entrees and big servings (fit for sharing) complete with pasta and veggies at more affordable prices – how can you go wrong?

Continue reading

Filed under: Gut FeelTagged with: , , , , , , ,

Vietnamese with a fine dining twist at Aquaknox

Cua Rang Moui Toi Chef Dannys Special Crab
Cua Rang Moui Toi Chef Danny's Special Crab

Vietnam may be our Southeast Asian neighbor but our cuisines seem to be poles apart. Pinoy food is typified by very rich flavors, often subscribing to the idea that “if a little is okay, more is better”. On the other hand, Vietnamese food is more about the subtleties of flavors and the prudent use of herbs and spices. This may explain why Vietnamese food is nowhere as popular as say, Chinese or Thai cuisine, over here. Perhaps, the key is to strike a happy balance between subtlety and saturation – the formula that Aquaknox, Manila’s newest Vietnamese Contemporary restaurant, is using to catch the fancy of Pinoy diners. The operative word is: “contemporary” meaning authentic and yet updated. Come with us for a taste of Vietnamese with a fine dining twist.

Continue reading

Filed under: Gut FeelTagged with: , , ,

Something is cooking at Max’s (and it’s not just chicken)

Maxs Crisp Tinapa Dumplings
Max's Crisp Tinapa Dumplings (Php 81 /6pcs)

Long, long before KFC Original Recipe/Hot & Crispy Chicken and Jollibee Chickenjoy, there was Max’s Fried Chicken. This enduring brand has been part of the Pinoy consciousness for generations, many thanks to the superlative taste of its chicken. So much so that diehard loyalists would say fried chicken is Max’s and Max’s is fried chicken. This is well and good but as with any aging food establishment, it is wise to keep offering something new to appeal to the younger, more fickle diners while providing a welcome surprise to diners like us who’ve grown up eating at Max’s.

The Max’s strategy it seems is to come up with dishes to complement its famous fried chicken. Happyfoodies think it’s a swell idea as Max’s will always be about chicken first, other dishes second. We recently paid a visit to this old favorite and see what’s new on the menu that’s worth trying.

Continue reading

Filed under: Gut FeelTagged with: , , , ,

Sumptuous dining at Seryna

Seryna Spicy Tuna Maki (Php 170/ 6pcs)
Seryna Spicy Tuna Maki (Php 170/ 6pcs)

We venture to Mile Long and Makati Cinema Square every now and then and pass the small road leading to Makati Square. We often see the SERYNA signage flanking the side entrance to the Little Tokyo complex and wonder what’s inside. Not that the place has received little media publicity but we always wanted to sample what’s been written about and what the steady stream of diners (evidenced by the endless flow of cars parked on the strip) has been dropping by for. Last weekend, we got a chance to do just that when a trip to another restaurant didn’t go as planned.

Continue reading

Filed under: Gut FeelTagged with: , , , ,

Finding comfort at PenPen

PenPen Crispy Liempo (php 125)
PenPen Crispy Liempo (php 125)

The newspaper headlines. Global recession. Inflation. Times like the present calls for some relief. Now more than ever, we ought to get comfort where we can find it. If it’s spa for the body and music for the weary soul, then it’s comfort food for the weary spirit. So when we heard of PenPen, we took a chance on the Saturday traffic and went to Timog for a late lunch for a serving of comfort food. The place has received some media mileage owing to the fact that it is owned by the wife and son of veteran actor, Pen Medina (hence the name, PenPen), but we want to find out if the comfort food lives up to the publicity.

Continue reading

Filed under: Gut FeelTagged with: , , , , ,

Breakfast in Bongao

Bongao Tawi-tawi breakfast delicacies
Bongao Tawi-tawi breakfast delicacies

Without question, Bongao in Tawi Tawi is pretty remote. It’s not just the physical distance per se that gives one that feeling but also the absence of the usual, ubiquitous fastfood outlets that line up Zamboanga City for example. Not that we miss the Jollibees, Mcdos and Chowkings. Out here in Bongao, it would be interesting to find out what the locals eat. One breakfast time, we decided to take a walk and see where our feet (and noses) will take us. We eventually ended up at Al-Madina-1, one of the coffeeshops that line the main street of Datu Halun.

Continue reading

Filed under: Light & HeartyTagged with: , , ,

A tale of two sattis

Chicken and Beef Satti at Jimmys
Chicken and Beef Satti at Jimmy's

Pardon our take on Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities” for the title but we beg to ask, a satti is a satti is a satti, right? A visit to Zamboanga City and Bongao, Tawi Tawi became a journey of discovery with regards to the answer to this query.

But first things first – what is a satti? A popular breakfast fare in the south, satti is grilled beef or chicken on a stick served with tamuh (rice) in a spicy curry sauce. The description reads like a simple dish to prepare so you might be inclined to say how different can sattis be? We had the opportunity to sample the satti at Jimmy’s, the pride of Zamboanga and Sulu, and at the Bongao Coffee Shop to look for answers.

Continue reading

Filed under: Gut FeelTagged with: , , , ,

Kamayan in Manay

Kamayan ni Manay in Dapitan Zamboanga del Norte
Kamayan ni Manay in Dapitan Zamboanga del Norte

The weather alternated between overcast and rainy when we ventured to Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte. It’s been a long trip, having gone from Tawi-Tawi to Zamboanga City and northwards to Dipolog so instead of letting the rains dampen our spirits, we took it as a sign to slow down on shooting and make the most out of the sleepy weather. Having billeted ourselves at one of the pension houses along the city’s Sunset Boulevard, we had the rare luxury of being steps away from eating places. We consider ourselves very lucky indeed to have stumbled upon Kamayan ni Manay just before the heavy rains came again and obscured the nice view of Dapitan Bay.

Continue reading

Filed under: Gut FeelTagged with: , , , , , ,