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31 July 2008

Restaurant Review | Suka't Sili

Suka't Sili
158-E D. Tuazon Street, Lourdes, Quezon City
Type of Cuisine: Filipino
Average cost per person: 200-300 (US$5-8)
Overall Rating: starstarstarnostarnostar

What with school work and conflicting schedules, these Foodistas were particularly thrilled that they were able to sneak away from all the melodrama and stress of everyday life. Rainy seasons are especially perfect for sleeping--pardon the cliche--and stuffing oneself with food.

When Tiffy went to eat on Father's Day last month, she was raving about the place's Halo Halo and, in her words, "yummy food." Planning the outing was tough -- Tiffy had a talk to attend, Bong had an exam, and Mark had a date with Dream.

The place was three jeepney rides away from UP. Bong, by then, was really hungry because he skipped lunch studying for his exam.

Suka't Sili 0riginated from Davao. It's specialty? Grilled seafood. When we asked why it was named Suka't Sili, we were told that it was because masarap isawsaw sa suka't sili (dipping it in vinegar with chili peppers is yummy). Although they didn't know when the original Suka't Sili started, we were told that the D. Tuazon branch started March 9, 2004.

Okra with BagoongSteamed Okra with Bagoong (Php 30, US$0.68)
Tiffy was the only one who ate the steamed okra. Apparently, Bong and Mark don't like it. What's not to like about vegetables? Maybe it's because it's a bit slimy when you eat it. But that might just be its charm! The bagoong accompanying this dish was, however, too salty for Tiffy's taste.

Itlog na MaalatItlog na Maalat at Kamatis (Php 60, US$1.36)
This one's a classic Filipino side dish. The tomatoes were crunchy and the salty egg wasn't that salty. Bong put some bagoong from the okra and according to him, it tasted superb. Simple yet yummy.

Seafood Fried RiceTuna Sisig (Php 110, US$2.50)
This is probably the best dish out of the ones we ordered. It wasn't your typical sisig. It was pretty good, if you like your sisig creamy.

Beef with BroccoliTuna Belly (Php 80, US$1.81)
Supposedly, this was one of their bestsellers. It was good, but not as soft as what the Foodistas expected it to be.

BihodBihod (Tuna Roe) (Php 70, US$1.59)
Out of the Foodistas, Bong would be counted among the less adventurous ones. He'd much rather not eat food that he hasn't tried before. When we asked the waiter what it is, he told us that it was fish eggs. For the three of us who ate it for the first time, it tasted like powdered eggs that taste like fish.

Halo-haloHalo Halo (Php 50, US$1.13)
When you enter Suka't Sili, you'll see boards advertising their halo halo. "Finely crushed ice" and a huge chunk of praises about it. Well it is quite justified because their halo halo really has finely crushed ice. So finely crushed that eating it seemed to Tiffy a bit reminiscent of eating ice cream. It has only a few ingredients -- bananas, langka, and leche flan. But this is one proof of the saying, "Less is more."

Suka't Sili
TiffySuka't SiliSuka't SiliBongSiliMark

Reviewed by Bong, Mark, and Tiffy.
Photography by Mark and Tiffy.
See more photos on Mark's Flickr.

24 July 2008

Restaurant Review | Mr. Choi Kitchen

Mr. Choi Kitchen
Robinson's Galleria, Mandaluyong City
Type of Cuisine: Chinese
Average cost per person: 200-300 (US$5-8)
Overall Rating: starstarstarnostarnostar

Finding authentic Chinese cuisine in Manila is not necessarily a difficult task. With the fairly large population of Chinese Filipinos in the country, there are many places to go for food that is comfortably familiar. Looking for a quick bite to eat, we decided to try this updated looking Chinese restaurant. The clean lines, paneled walls, and warm yellow lighting set the ambiance. The cliched restaurant name aside, this is a good place to go to for a casual dinner, but not somewhere to go to be surprised.

HakawHakaw (Php 105, US$2.50)
Somehow, whether it be in a hole in the wall dimsum shop or at a high end Chinese restaurant, you can never go wrong with ordering Hakaw. This version understandably has less shrimp and more bamboo shoots, but nevertheless these slightly pink translucent dumplings are a great start to dinner.

Hot Prawn SaladHot Prawn Salad (Php 260, US$6.50)
Still steaming, the battered prawns dredged in mayonnaise and fruits that comprise this dish could very well be stomach churning for some, especially if it isn't done well. What was different with this salad was the addition of vegetables, when it is usually made with fruits and shrimp. We would prefer it if they left out the fruits and just left the vegetables as fruit with mayonnaise isn't really our thing.

Seafood Fried RiceSeafood Fried Rice (Php 160, US$4.00)
Yang Chow Fried Rice is a staple in every Chinese restaurant, and the Seafood Fried Rice is not very much different from it. In fact, the only difference seems to be the addition of slightly more seafood, but not enough to change the dish drastically. This is one of those dishes, along with Hakaw, that seems to taste the same everywhere you go.

Beef with BroccoliBeef with Broccoli (Php 195, US$5.00)
Unusually, the star of this dish was the broccoli, which came in generous servings. The beef itself was slightly rubbery, and did not lend itself well in the dish. But for the price it was more than enough to satisfy us.

Mr. Choi's
Mr.Choi's KitchenMr. Choi's KitchenMr. Choi's KitchenMr. Choi's KitchenMr. Choi's KitchenMr. Choi's Kitchen

Reviewed by Bong, Hannah and Mark.
Photography by Mark.
See more photos on Mark's Flickr.

15 July 2008

50 Things You Can Make in Your Microwave: Banoffee Pie

HannahHannah's Dorm Room Banoffee Pie
Preparation time: 30-45 minutes, plus time for chilling

banoffee pie closeupA medley of bananas and caramel, cradled by a graham cracker crust and finished with fresh whipped cream, nothing is more satisfying than coming home to your own individual serving of Banoffee Pie. Created in the seventies at The Hungry Monk restaurant, it has become increasingly popular here in Manila in the past year or two.

I personally love Banoffee Pie, regardless of the warning that comes on most Banoffee Pie recipes that read "milk cans may explode", as the toffee is traditionally made by cooking cans of condensed milk in pots of simmering water. This has pushed me to come up with any and all ways of getting the sweet and sticky caramel without fear of having to wipe down my toffee covered kitchen.

While I found less dangerous methods on the internet, one using an oven to cook the toffee and the other suggesting boiling the condensed milk in a saucepan, these methods were not as inspired as using a microwave to cook the toffee! I'm thinking people in apartments, in dorm rooms, or people who share common kitchens, who only have a fridge and a microwave, could actually make this dessert! In the hopes that I will soon be making this in the dorm room of a certain great medical school campus, I give you:

Hannah's Dorm Room Banoffee Pie

  • 250g graham crackers
  • 125g butter
  • 4 bananas
  • 1 400ml canned condensed milk
  • clotted cream or your favorite whipped topping
  1. Crush the graham crackers. I find that the easiest way to do this is to use a large wooden mortar and pestle, but a blunt heavy object and the graham crackers in a ziplock bag does pretty well.
  2. Place the butter in a microwaveable bowl (i would recommend the biggest bowl you have, you will thank me later) and heat it up in the microwave until it is melted, this should take from 10-15 seconds. Do not worry if there are still some lumps of unmelted butter, just give it a stir and it will eventually melt.
  3. Combine the crushed graham crackers and melted butter to form a sandy biscuit base, and press it in to the container you would like to use. Put it in the refrigerator to firm up.
  4. Using the same microwaveable bowl you used to melt the butter (no need to wash the bowl!) pour the condensed milk into the bowl and place it in the microwave. Be careful not to overfill the bowl, it should be at most only half filled.
  5. Now this is the slightly tricky part, and you can't leave your microwave alone at this point because cooking time varies with the type of microwave you have. Have your setting on either low or medium and start the microwave. When you notice that the milk has begun to expand much like lava would turn off the microwave, take out the bowl and mix the milk until it has flattened out again. Do not allow the expanded milk to collapse by itself, because you will burn the milk. Keep repeating this until you get your preferred shade of caramel. Also be careful not to overcook the milk, you will notice that it is overcooked when the caramel refuses to smoothen out anymore (then you have caramel candy! but that's not really what we want isn't it?)
  6. When the caramel is cooked, pour it into the refrigerated graham cracker crusts and refrigerate again. (You can go off and do whatever now)
  7. When you are ready to eat, cut up the bananas how you like them, place them on top of the graham cracker-toffee base, and finish with either whipped product (the canister you shake and spray) or whipped cream. I like to use clotted cream because its already thick right out of the container.
  8. Enjoy!
    Note: I like to keep the crushed graham cracker, melted butter, and toffee in separate containers in the fridge so I can just assemble it throughout the week for when I have an especially bad day.

banoffee pie

03 July 2008

Restaurant Review | Sa In-Yō

Sa In-Yō
68 E. Abada St. Loyola Heights, QC
Type of Cuisine: French-Japanese Fusion
Average cost per person: Php 400 to Php 600 (US$10.00 to US$15.00)
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

We've been meaning to dine at In-Yō for months now, but we never really pushed through with it. But when we noted that our anniversary as being best friends was drawing near, we decided that there was no better time to have dinner at In-Yō than on our special day.

The place itself was gorgeous. Joey was especially taken by how part of the floor of the entrance was see-through. The service was also brilliant, with our waiter very attentive and accommodating. We had difficulty choosing what to eat, since everything sounded tempting.

While waiting for our meals to arrive, we were served slices of freshly baked cornbread, which Hannah adores, and dollops of butter. We were also each served a small plate of wasabi fried oyster (review below). The meals themselves were also wonderful, pretty much sealing the deal that we'd be making In-Yō our anniversary dinner destination from then on.

It's a wonderful and satisfying experience to dine at In-Yō. Give them a ring at 928-6459 and reserve yourself a table. It's the perfect place for an intimate family dinner or a romantic date -- or even the anniversary of your being best friends ;)

Wasabi fried oysterWasabi Fried Oysters
This was interesting. The oyster's exterior wasn't as "slimy" as it typically is but the interior retained its rather creamy texture. It's not something you can have a whole lot of, but it was a nice surprise. It was a fun play on Japanese Kaki Fry, with a light wasabi batter replacing the traditional breaded batter.

Tuna Salad SandwichShitake Mushroom Udon with Light Soy&Garlic Sauce (Php 240, US$6)
Kat really liked the presentation of the shitake mushroom udon. With every bite, you get the nice crunch of vegetables and the juiciness of the mushrooms, which complemented each other well. The sauce was really good, rich in flavor but not too overpowering.

Honey Glazed Grilled Salmon (Php 440, US$10)
The salmon was cooked just right, just bordering on medium rare to well done. This made the fish a "melt in your mouth" texture. Hannah really loved how the sweet tones of the honey and the sauce complimented the fish. Strangely reminiscent of tare sauce, in how well the salmon was complimented by the honey and citrus miso sauce. The wasabi mashed potato could have been much creamier and smoother.

Mesquite Smoked Fillet of Local Halibut (Php 450, US$10.23)
This was wonderful, from the taste to the textures. The emulsion was light and with hints of sweetness, the watercress fresh and crisp, the pasta al dente and the fish perfectly cooked.

MF @ Sa In-Yō
HJK at Sa In-YōHJK at Sa In-YōHJK at Sa In-YōHJK at Sa In-YōHJK at Sa In-YōHJK at Sa In-Yō

Reviewed by Hannah, Joey and Kat.
Photography by Joey.
See more photos on Joey's flickr.
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