Royal Indian Curry House

In a relatively ordinary work day and in a semi-solo food adventure, our very giddy department leader took us out for a team lunch at the Royal Indian Curry House.

From my past experiences, I never really held high hopes for great and authentic Indian food in the Metro after being disappointed several times (with the exception of Swagat Indian Cuisine), but I decided to suspend disbelief for the time being. After that, I safely attest that I was greatly surprised and satisfied here afterwards.

For this solo adventure, our team had the Chicken Korma, Mutton Rogan Josh, and Palak Paneer, with some Hydearabadi Biryani.

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Chicken Korma

The Chicken Korma, like most Indian cuisine, was a flavorful mix of spices with a slight tang with each bite, plus aromatic to boot. While rather good itself, this had been perhaps my least favorite for this meal, only because I preferred my curry with a little bit more kick to it.

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Mutton Rogan Josh

The Mutton Rogan Josh was, for the lack of a better word, simply heavenly. The clash and complement of spices such as ginger and garam masala left its mark on each tender morsel of mutton, and blended well with the rice and naan. My palate appreciated the balance of intertwined flavors and the heat that came along with it. The mutton was tender, the curry was sublime, and I was rather happy for it because it brought me back to my first forays into Indian cuisine in a foreign land.

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Palak Paneer

The Palak Paneer, a combination of a smooth spinach curry and bite-sized pieces of cottage cheese, was what we needed to temper the strong flavors of the korma and rogan josh. Milder on the meal, but just as flavorful in its own way.

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Top view of an unopened Hydearabadi Biryani

And lastly, the Hydearabadi Biryani was rather deceiving at first glance. It was served on a small clay pot and covered by some bread on top. But like a gift, once we opened the top, the steam from the basmati rice cooked within and the mix of spices, lamb chunks and rib made for a tantalizing call to lunch. It was also rather deceiving because the team of five people was full with only one order of this and a few piece of freshly cooked naan.

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A basket of Cheese Naan

To sum up my entire experience at Royal Indian Curry House and how good my meal here was, I ordered extra naan and took the three leftover curries to school later that night for a hearty dinner.

Food Score: 5/5: Oddly, I may be picky with my Indian food, but Royal Indian Curry House beats most everything I’ve ever eaten before. It’s not easy combining several elements such as flavor, heat, and tender meat in one go, but they’ve really done it well.

Ambiance Score: 4/5: The place was a mix of a typical building set up in Manila with décor, embellishments, and paintings from and inspired by Indian culture and its neighbors.

Service Score: 4.5/5: Even as the only people on the second floor at the time, there was always a server or two ready to take care of our needs and follow up orders.

GERD Score: 4/5: Indian cuisine does have plenty of heat and spices which could set someone with heartburn off if they pick out the wrong choice. However, it is offset with the numerous menu items to choose from. In addition to that, the yogurt does help significantly to ease those problems.

Neurodivergent Score: 4/5: Some spices and seasoning combinations may not be so great for sensitive individuals. However there is rice for those who cannot tolerate gluten, lassi for those who need their probiotic fix, and a plethora of other foods to suit various neurodivergent sensitivities.

Team Glasses Score: 4.5/5: My experience here was great and would say that it should be worth a try with a slight caveat of needing friends to come along because of the nature of Indian Cuisine. But even then, Indian food is meant to be shared amongst friends, family, and loved ones.

Royal Indian Curry House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Mom and Tina’s Bakery Cafe

 

 

On some days when we wish to start off early, but at the same time avoid the lunch crowd, brunch becomes our best solution. A place that has been on our radar for some time thanks to its pastry and confectionery selection is Mom and Tina’s Bakery Cafe, located right in the heart of the Makati CBD. We took advantage of a free morning to head over and put its heartier entrees and breakfast fare to the test.

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For our repast, we had a choice of all-day breakfast sets, pastries and cakes, as well as different entrees. Eventually we decided on the Sundried Tomato Pesto, and the Beef Stew. Since this was a rainy morning, we also asked for hot chocolate on the side.

 

The Sundried Tomato Pesto came with a side of two hefty and well buttered rolls. The still warm bread was fragrant and very light on the tongue, but heavy on the stomach. The pasta itself had an interesting balance between tart and nutty, owing to the rather chunky tomato pesto mix. By itself it would have been a light snack, but with bread it was a complete meal.

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The Beef Stew was as hearty as they come. The beef chunks were tender and the gravy base was lightly seasoned with pepper, which reminded me of shepherd’s pie. It made for a heavy breakfast that was perfect before our day’s adventure.

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As it turned out, the hot chocolate was a great choice. It was both rich and creamy, with a deep chocolate flavor.

 

Were it not for the need to head out and get moving, it would have been wonderful to linger a little longer in the cafe, thanks to its cozy and inviting interior. Perhaps another sleepy morning will lead us back to Mom and Tina’s Bakery Cafe, ready to put more dishes to the test.

 

Food Score: 4/5: The menu is comprised of local and ‘continental’ breakfast and entree selections, with few signature or outstanding dishes. In terms of quality though, the food is very tasty and serving sizes are adequate for one. Platter options exist among the starters, good for sharing.

 

Ambiance Score: 4/5: This is what one would expect from a brunch dining spot: cozy, airy, and with many comfortable seating spots. The feel is like eating in one’s home kitchen, sans the mess and bustle. Very great for meeting with friends,

 

Service Score: 4.5/5: The servers were accommodating and prompt, considering that the place soon filled up for the early lunch crowd. They were very timely and quick to set up tables, and attend to both incoming and outgoing diners.

 

GERD Score: 4/5: The variety of options here at Mom and Tina’s Bakery Cafe leaves any diner, even those with GERD, satiated without the worry of the acid acting up badly. For some dishes though, it’s still best to share with a friend.

 

Neurodivergent Score: 4/5: There are many options with natural, non-processed ingredients, which is a plus for those with sensitivities to additives. The balance between non-caffeinated and caffeinated beverage options is pretty optimal.
Team Glasses Score: 4/5: Mom and Tina’s Bakery Cafe is not only an excellent source of desserts and bakery delights, but it is a great place to consider for leisurely brunches with friends, or even for a solo stop with a good book and some music. This place serves as a haven of calm in the busy metropolis.

Mom & Tina's Bakery Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Triple Header: Tambai Alley

For our latest food adventure, we decided to delve further into the lesser travelled haunts of the Poblacion area. Since Tambai Alley is situated farther from its rambunctious counterparts at the main strip, we thought it was worth a visit for our date before our finals exams and presentations.

At first glance, Tambai Alley doesn’t look much to any passerby during day time as the place blends around its surroundings. At night however, it figuratively puts on its lipstick and comes to life. It is well lit and even has makeshift counters and stools by the walkway. Tambai Alley has three dining spots within. The innermost dining area is EBI 10, at the middle one is Wantusawa, and at the front is Tambai. At the top of the house is an intimate bar named Kampai,  but since we do not drink we had to skip this last place.

 

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We started our night adventure here by dining at EBI 10 first and worked our way outwards. I selected a piece of small Ebi Tempura and an order of Scallop Popcorn with some rice, while Kat decided to test their mettle with some Gyoza and rice.

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While waiting for our food, I glanced around and found the place lively with Japanese-themed murals on the wall, evoking the feel of a cozy ramen and sushi spot.

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Small Ebi Tempura and Scallop Popcorn

If someone were to ask me about my thoughts on 55 pesos on ebi tempura, I normally look at the person in disbelief. In this case, I simply ate my words because the ebi tempura here was a treat. Each bite was crunchy, the dipping sauce was served hot and complemented the tempura perfectly. The rice complemented the other two wonderfully as well. However, I’m not a fan of the scallop popcorn as it was too rubbery for me.

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Gyoza

The gyoza had just the right balance of natural flavors, all enclosed in perfectly cooked wrappers. They were not too crunchy (a sign of being overcooked) or soggy (a sign of being left out too long). These dumplings plus rice were already enough for an early dinner.

Stepping outside, we were again greeted by the neon blue light of an open oyster shell at Wantusawa which caught our attention a little earlier in the evening. The place was set up as a bar, with chalkboard writings of their menu filling the empty space of the walls. Coupled with the dim lighting, one would find the place perfect for unwinding after a long day at work.

The thing that sets Wantusawa apart from most bars in the area is the fresh oysters from Aklan. They serve these oysters fresh, baked, and even as a ceviche. Aside from this, Wantusawa also has other selections like spicy scallop and crab fat pasta and grilled prawn laksa, along with the typical hard liquor, beer, and wine.

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The fiery ceviche

In my haste, I chose the ceviche without asking them to cut back on the heat. Because of this, I unfortunately wasn’t able to enjoy the other ingredients aside from the oysters. That one was a classic case of mea maxima culpa on my part.

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To make up for this, I also ordered a freshly-shucked oyster, served with kalamansi juice and hot sauce. A quick squeeze of the kalamansi and that oyster went down smoothly on my palate from the shell.

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Kat wanted to try the Hiyayako “Cold Tofu” Salad. Much to her delight, this was topped with bonito flakes and drizzled generously with a sweet sauce. It was just the perfect dish to clean the palate after the hearty meal from next door.

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We ended our night at Tambai, Tambai Alley’s take on a yakitori spot. By the way it’s set up, one would eat by the tables and chairs on the pedestrian walkway after ordering some booze, yakitori sticks, and even merchandise at the nearby hole in the wall.

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The Tambai haul

This time around, I ordered a stick of Quail Egg wrapped in Bacon yakitori and US Beef Isaw (intestine) along with a small bowl of their take on Japanese rice (typical fluffy rice with a dash of those instant rice toppings). Kat wanted some cold soba and Japanese Sausage yakitori.

While the Quail Egg and Bacon was a pleasant experience on my palate combined with their fluffy rice, I’m not a fan of their iteration of isaw and peanut sauce put together in one plate.

The soba was rather limp, and the sauce needed a little more flavor. The Japanese sausages though were a treat, with a mild spiciness like no other. These would have been great with a cold drink to wash them all down.

To sum it up, our triple header adventure at Tambai Alley left our tummies full and we had a fun time together with one less item on our bucket list.

 

Food Score: 3.5/5: Even with some stars of the show, the place really is meant as a casual drinking spot with friends than a dining place.

Ambiance Score: 4/5: The place here is really something special, from casual with Tambai, private with EBI 10, and chill with Wantusawa.

Service Score: 4/5: The servers here were attentive and our food came in rather quickly. Overall, these are all good places to unwind, even on a warm summer night.

GERD Score: 3/5: I find the places slightly too limited for people with heartburn / GERD, aside from your typical salad and some exceptions.

Neurodivergent Score: 3.5/5: While some ingredients here may be highly seasoned, there are enough fresh and unseasoned selections for finicky diners. Alcohol though is a main attraction of the alley, and there’s little in the way of non-alcoholic beverages and mixes to quench one’s thirst.

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5: For those with health conditions like ours, we highly recommend the place for a light snack, with several friends who can imbibe to unwind after a long day at work. But if you’re looking for a meal, there are some options which you can still enjoy here, though not many.

Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945 (a book review)

What makes a city? It is more than just the mortar and stone in its buildings, or even the very people populating it. A key aspect of a metropolis is its supply lines for food and resources, which is the very thesis of Daniel F. Doeppers’ book, Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945.

 

Doeppers, a professor of Southeast Asian studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has retold some of the most intriguing chapters of Manila’s history in terms of how its inhabitants regularly (or not so regularly) ate, drank, and sourced their basic needs from nearby provinces. The book goes into interesting details ranging from how the waterways of Bulacan and Malabon were changed to accommodate the rice trade, all the way to the rise of the popularity of chocolate as a beverage, and how it was displaced by coffee. Everything from animal and human diseases, fishing practices, and the potable water supply makes its way into the text.

Apart from these bits of trivia, Doeppers’ text also documents the rise of families and companies involved in the food industry, many of which are still big players in commerce to this day.

 

Although lengthy and at times tedious with its emphasis on economic trends and statistics, Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945 provides a fresh look into life in the city of Manila, especially for the denizens who hardly get a mention in textbooks. One gets a vivid sense of the ingenuity, tenacity and good humor characterizing the residents of this old city, all the way up to the devastation that befell it during the Second World War. It reminds people that much of human history is associated with the realities of existence such as feast and famine, all of which go on despite upheavals and grand events.

 

This book is a recommended read not only for anthropologists and scholars of Philippine History, but even for foodies and culinary enthusiasts. It is well thought out and spaced under easy to follow subject headings, making it suitable for earnest study as well as casual reading. Since we at Team Glasses Food Blog are not only foodies but also history geeks, this book was a particular treat.

 

Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945 is available from the Ateneo de Manila University Press at Bellarmine Hall, Katipunan Avenue. More details may be found at www.ateneopress.org.

(featured image from wikipedia)

Watami

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A quick look at history shows that, Watami has around 700 branches within the Asia Pacific region. According to their facebook page, it actually opened its doors here in the Philippines on 2012. Six years later, they now have four branches in the country. (Mall of Asia, Greenbelt 2, Shangrila Mall, and Uptown Mall)

We decided to try the branch at Shangrila Mall, Mandaluyong with our party (Me, Kat, Hiyas, Gabby, and Francis) before the day’s dungeons and dragons’ session.

For this Team Glasses and D&D partymates trip:

Kat – Cold Soba with Chicken Skin skewers.

Lee – Tonkotsu Ramen

Gabby – Cold Soba with mixed tempura

Francis – Pork Katsudon

Hiyas – Volcano Roll, Pork and Enoki skewers, and Chicken Liver skewers.

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Tonkotsu

Watami only has two selections for their ramen set, the Tonkotsu and the Spicy Miso. Being the ramen-lover of the group, I decided to partake in some Tonkotsu. The noodles were firm and chewy just the way I like it. The  pork slices were just the right amount of tenderness, though my personal preference is to thinner slices. However, the broth didn’t cut it for me since it came out too oily, possibly a combination of the broth base and the fatty pork slice. The egg did soften the blow to the tastebuds a bit with its own milder creaminess.

The great thing about their Mixed Tempura and Soba combination was that it offered a good deal of variety and textures to one’s palate. The portion of noodle to sauce was a bit imbalanced, but that was more of a matter of preference.

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Pork Katsudon

The flavors of the Pork Katsudon were spot on with just the right amount of spice and crunch, but were unfortunately too thick for easy and balanced bites.

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Volcano Roll

I would say that their Volcano Roll was the star of this food trip, since it was well thought out and created. The heat of their mayo’s mixture complemented the subtle creaminess of the raw salmon slices. The Pork and Enoki skewer was a close second because the crisp bacon with enoki was a savory treat all in itself. If one added some rice in, one would consider it a good Pinoy meal for the daily grind.

With the chicken skin and liver skewers, these were as one would expect, typical fare but done rather well.

We ended our meals feeling satiated and ready towards the day’s adventure, dice rolls, role playing, and copious amounts of shenanigans to liven up the day.

Food Score: 3.5/5: Eating Japanese food is both a matter for the palate and eyes. Watami doesn’t hold back with their visually appetizing rolls and tempura but misses the mark with some of the others. Though I would say that the food here is typical fare flavor-wise, good for a casual dine.

Ambiance Score: 4.5/5: Set as a casual Japanese restaurant, Watami’s layout has modern touches to the typical reds and dark red tones set off the vibe of a place to kick back and relax.

Service Score: 5/5: The service here at Watami is top notch to say the least. When our designated server wasn’t immediately available, another took up the mantle and took care of our needs for our stay here from start to finish.

GERD Score: 3.5/5: Even with the Tonkotsu experience, it could be safely stated that Watami is still great for people with GERD because there are different selections

Neurodivergent Score: 3.5/5: Some of the spices used may be less than ideal for people who are sensitive to condiments. However there are many non alcoholic and non caffeinated selections for people with dietary restrictions.

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5: All things considered, Watami is a decent place to hang out with friends and family for a casual meal, provided that ones with health considerations should keep an eye out with their choices.

Watami Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Abuzz with Bumble Brew

We never thought that an unexpected run-in with an old friend at an art gallery would lead to us learning about another source of probiotics, but that’s precisely what happened around a year ago. While discussing various digestive woes such as reflux, our adventurous buddy told us about a special tea called Kombucha.

“Komubu—what??” I asked.

“Kombucha. Fermented tea,” our friend explained before going on about the high probiotic load of this new drink, and how healthy it could be. Later, our research told us more about this unusual concoction. Kombucha, also known as ‘mushroom tea’ is essentially black or green tea that has been fermented with the help of a special bacteria-yeast culture. Think Yakult, but made with tea.

Kombucha is said to have originated in Manchuria, and has been touted as having various health benefits such as boosting metabolism and aiding in digestion. At present, kombucha is still under scientific investigation as to its medical uses and benefits for those with illnesses and chronic conditions. It is loaded with B vitamins and probiotics that can be beneficial to healthy persons and those that need some help with digestion. Generally, properly prepared and stored kombucha is deemed safe for human consumption.

Knowing this, we set off on a search for a good source of kombucha, only to find out that there are as many kombucha recipes as there are brewers! Kombucha can vary in its taste and acidity depending on the type of tea being fermented, the temperatures in the area, and the sorts of sugars or sweeteners added (unsweetened kombucha is probably not something the human palate can withstand!). We were lucky to come across Bumble Brew JUN Kombucha, a kombucha drink that is not only energizing but delicious as well.

Unlike other kombucha brews which utilize black tea, Bumble Brew is fermented from green tea. It also is fermented with raw honey instead of sugar, and flavored with fresh fruit and herb infusions. The result is a kombucha that is less acidic tasting, lighter on the palate, and even refreshing. This is definitely something to consider during this especially hot finals week!

We had the opportunity to try several flavors of Bumble Brew. Our particular favorite is the apple-cinnamon flavor, owing to its slightly spicy yet refreshing taste, with just the right amount of sweetness to it.

However there’s a caveat. Since it’s made from green tea, those highly sensitive to caffeine might find it best be best to go easy on the product. However that aside, it is still a great and affordable source of probiotics and antioxidants, right here in the busy metropolis.

To find out more about Bumble Brew, visit their homepage on FB at Bumble Brew PH.

 

Morganfield’s

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It was a idyllic sunday afternoon and Team Glasses Food Blog wanted to try something new at Mall of Asia, just before the Ed Sheeran concert. In the midst of the groups of people moving to and fro, we saw Morganfield’s and thought, ‘why not give this a shot?’

Stepping inside, the place is reminiscent of a pub by the sea with its wooden chairs and tables, and dim lighting for the mood. These makes the place a good place to hang out with friends for a drink (if we could still drink in the first place).

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Bacon-wrapped meatballs

To whet our appetites (and for our bacon cravings), we started our meal with some bacon-wrapped meatballs. The meat was well seasoned and the bacon added a layer of saltiness.

For our late lunch, I ordered the Seafood Basket and Kat had the Bacon and Egg Aglio Olio, and we had a glass of Ginger Pop each to wash it all down.

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Seafood Basket

The Seafood Basket consists of beer-battered shrimp, fish, and calamari with a bed of french fries, tartar sauce, and coleslaw on the side. Personally, I would have liked a wee bit more pepper or paprika on the batter, but it was alright in itself. The shrimp and calamari are cooked well but the fish wasn’t as impressive. In my opinion it’s better as a snack with four or more people than an actual meal for one.

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Bacon and Egg Aglio Olio

The Bacon and Egg Aglio Olio was generously flavored with toasted garlic, with a little zing from some chili flakes. The egg was a bit too well cooked for our tastes though, and we would have preferred it a bit runny.

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Ginger Pops

The Ginger Pop is a nice balance to clean the palate with the mint subtly toning down the sharpness of the ginger, and the sweetness of the honey and brown sugar mix.

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Just before we left, the scent of their ribs tickled our senses. We dare say that the Carnivore is worth a try sometime, from the Home of the Sticky Bones.

Food Score: 4/5: The meals we had here at Morganfield’s are great for filling up our stomachs for the long night ahead, without making it feel like a chore.

Ambiance Score 4/5: Its overall look from the wooden furniture and walls, hues, and decor gives the place a cozy and warm feel to it, a place to unwind from the daily stress in a casual environment.

Service Score: 4/5: The servers we have are attentive and the food arrived at the right time and temperatures, a sign of a freshly prepared meal.

GERD Score: 3/5. Unfortunately for people with GERD, unless you have company and try their less fried meals, there are barely any options here that one can enjoy by their lonesome, or even in a group.

Neurodivergent Score: 3/5 : Oily options, grilled sausages, and full on fat make for comfort food, but not for a happy brain. This is just the sort of thing to have after a hangover, not to focus! That being said, there are plenty of fruit juices and non-alcoholic options such as the Ginger Pop that are great for health-conscious neurodivergents.

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5. Weighing everything, the place is great for a casual meal for those that don’t have health conditions to worry about. However, for one that deals with neurodivergence or heartburn, the place has fewer options to offer.

Morganfield's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato