Zao

In our many food travels, Pho remained to be our go-to choice when either one or both of us are sick. Unfortunately, this food journey was me coming down with the flu and wanted something hearty but helpful at the same time.

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Since Phat Pho at Serendra was closed, I asked Kat for other options and she recommended that I try Zao, the place where she first had a bite of what Vietnamese cuisine had to offer.

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For my time here, I chose the Zao Pho, a nice warm bowl of flank, brisket, meatballs, tendons and rice noodles, along with herbs, just like how they serve it in the South.

As a matter of preference, I’m partial to steaming hot broth and theirs was warm but not as warm as I would like. However to be fair, the subtle broth brought out the elements of the dish, from the fresh herbs used to the tenderness of the brisket and even the tendons. Tendons tend to be where people normally struggle in cooking it just right. The chefs at Zao nailed it, as the tender bite-sized pieces of tendon melts in the mouth.

 

Aside from the fancy-but-cozy feel of the place, I felt rather welcome at Zao from start to finish. The Zao Pho helped with making me feel slightly better from being sick because of the recent change of weather here in Manila.

Food Score: 4.5/5: I would have to say that their Zao Pho is really good and their other fares are both visually appealing and a treat to the senses.

Ambiance Score: 4/5: Zao’s décor may have looked intimidating at first glance, but I felt rather a home and comfortable here. The place provided a happy medium between elegance with privacy, and a date spot either with your friends or significant other.

Service Score: 4/5: The servers here at Zao were quite attentive to one’s needs and handles, be it my request for warm water to immediately taking care of any requests I have because I felt under the weather that day.

GERD Score: 4.5/5: I appreciated the fact that they provide the list of ingredients in each menu item, which can help people with heartburn or certain food allergies to pick out the food they can eat. At the same time, their menu offered many food options which was also helpful as well.

Neurodivergent Score: 4/5: Some flavorings and seasonings may not go down well with sensitive diners. That aside, the list of ingredients is a great help in picking dishes for those with hypersensitivity or medication interaction issues

Team Glasses Score: 4/5: The great thing about Zao is that Vietnamese food is mostly healthy and freshly served, give or take a few spices that some people have concerns with. The place is definitely a must-try and another great place to have some Pho during the sick days, or even on a lark.

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

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Ted’s Kitchen

Although we spend 95% of our time in the city, there are occasions when work or classes bring us out of the metropolis. Last June, I spent much of my time with some classmates in the municipality of Santa Cruz, Laguna. The locale is known as being a gateway to many of the natural and historical wonders of the province, as well as a source of the creamy cheese known as kesong puti. After asking around a little about the favorite dining spots and food parks in the town, we decided to make an excursion to Ted’s Kitchen in Barangay Duhat, near the border of Santa Cruz and Pila.

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We quickly discovered that Ted’s Kitchen, in addition to its restaurant, also had its own bakeshop as well as bed-and-breakfast facilities. In fact it was the bakeshop and its assortment of cakes and pastries that caught my friends’ attention when we entered the premises. Over the course of two visits, we got to sample several specialty cakes and cheesecakes, among other meals and entrees.

One bestseller is the avocado cheesecake, a rich and hearty concoction with the subtle flavor of avocado. The texture of the fruit also mixes perfectly with that of the cheese, making it a dessert to travel miles for. Another favorite dessert was the chocolate bomb, a ganache cake topped with crunchy Maltesers. This confection is great combined with brewed coffee, some mint tea or earl grey or better yet the affogatto. These were definitely worth our impromptu tasting session after a long day on the field.

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Chocolate Bomb! We ended up bringing home several slices of this to Manila

Other treats worth trying are the blueberry cheesecake, the tiramisu as well as the lava cake. These are also great with coffee, or partnered with the different herbal teas available at the counter. Various breakfast plates, burger and steak dishes, and homemade pastas are also featured on the menu.

 

Food Score: 4.5/5: Many of the dishes at Ted’s Kitchen are homestyle American specialties done well such as burgers and steaks. However the real attractions are the baked goods, which are not overly sweet, and still preserve the rich flavors of nuts and chocolate.

Ambiance Score: 4/5: The atmosphere is very cozy, evocative of toy chests and nooks of plants and rocking chairs. It is perfect for a brunch or lunch catching up with friends, a hearty family dinner, or even just alone time to read a good book.

Service Score: 3.5/5: The service here is best described as leisurely, which is perfect for those stopping by for a long lunch or dinner. Not so much for those on a hurry on the national highway.

GERD Score: 4/5: Their selection of meals and drinks here provides an ample amount of choices for anyone dealing with heartburn, from the pastries, drinks, and meals here.

Neurodivergent Score: 4/5: Some of the dishes rely on preserved meats such as sausages, which may be problematic for sensitive diners. However there is a great selection of herbal teas and fresh fruit shakes and juices that are excellent for neurodivergent diners who need to cut back on sugars and preservatives, or watch their food restrictions.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5: Laguna may be known for a good many delicacies such as kesong puti and buko pie, but the food from Ted’s Kitchen really should also be on the list of ‘foods to try’ for any traveler. But is any distance too far to travel for good food? We at Team Glasses will let you, our readers, be the judge!

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.

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

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