Pappadom-Masala

Swagat Indian Cuisine

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For a change of scenery from our usual haunts, we decided to explore the other side of Ayala Avenue into Legaspi Village for some Indian Cuisine here at Swagat.

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After entering the quaint restaurant, the strong hint of spices permeated through the entire place, a sign of an actual Indian eatery. The pink walls and random portraits added to the simplicity of the facade, and a casual place to dine.

Our dinner started with an appetizer of pappadom masala (a crisp deep fried lentil wafer with spices, onions, and tomatoes on top) each. Kat got some paneer korma (homemade cheese cooked with onions, tomatoes, and spices) and roti, with masala lassi (yogurt drink with masala) to wash it down. On the other hand, I ordered some sangam biryani (lean and tender pieces of chicken and lamb cooked with fresh herbs, spices, and Indian rice and in cream mughalai sauce), along with rose lassi (yogurt drink with rose petals).

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Pappadom Masala

The pappadom masala was a welcome start to our meal and got our palates going. The pappadom was full of flavor and the crispy texture blended well with the fresh tomatoes and onions on top.

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Sangam Biryani

The sangam biryani reminded me of a smaller portion of the ones I ate on a daily basis during my stint in Qatar, with the various South Asian eateries around the country. Choosing the mildest spice levels they had, I would say that it was just a touch above the right amount of heat for an ordinary Filipino tastes. The chunks of chicken and lamb absorbed the spices exceptionally well too. Washing it all down with the inherent sweetness of rose lassi became a nostalgic journey back to two years ago, during my stay in the Middle East.

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Paneer Korma

The paneer korma was the sort of dish that needs to be shared with friends, all equipped with plenty of bread. The spices give a subtle kick to the milder cheese and tomato flavors, which can also be enjoyed alongside other dishes. The masala lassi was more of an acquired taste, with the strong spices competing with the natural sourness of the yogurt in the drink.

Great things are coming up for Swagat, which  will be moving to their new location at The Columns Legaspi Village at Amorsolo St. cor. Arnaiz Ave. Makati City this December. It should be worth a check at their new home.

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Food Score: 4/5. Food wise, Swagat hits right on the mark with Indian home cooking flavors. At the same time, each dish is done well to complement each other.

Ambiance / Service Score: 3.5/5. The service was attentive enough for taking care of our needs. Unfortunately, the place doesn’t look cozy for anyone wanting to have a pleasant dinner.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. While there are plenty of options here at Swagat, it’s not a guarantee the spices don’t include the usual triggers such as chili powder. One saving grace is the fact that there are plenty of lassi and yogurt choices to help counteract the heat and the aftereffects of the heartburn.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. While there are plenty of food selections to suit all kinds of diets and restrictions, the heavily spiced dishes may not agree with some diners. We recommend in particular the non-alcoholic drinks section for a safe night out.

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5. Swagat Indian Cuisine, simply put, is a quaint place for the curious to have a taste of home-cooked Indian food. And with their new spot in Arnaiz Avenue, it should still be worth a look at, if you’re just going out with friends and not too conscious about any health conditions.

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Wild Ginger

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During one of our recent dinner trips, we initially thought about having big and juicy burgers. After a bit of consideration we opted to dine at Wild Ginger, a place that offers something closer to our tastebuds, which is Southeast Asian and South Asian cuisine.

Upon stepping inside, we found that the restaurant has a homey dining room feel to it. With subtle walls, various paintings, comfortable atmosphere and knick knacks adorning the interior, Wild Ginger is perfect for dining in with company or not, particularly for quiet and casual dates.

Their menu encompasses a selection of Southeast Asian entrees such as curries and rice toppings, as well as street food favorites such as Banh Mi, and Adobo Flakes Sandwich. We decided to try out two full on meals, namely the Vegetable Biryani and Indian Butter Chicken.

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Vegetable Biryani

The Vegetable Biryani was superb, with the balance of flavors and textures all encompassed within this one dish of biryani rice with a mix of carrots, peas, potatoes, lentils and other veggies. The crunch from the roasted garlic and peanuts blended in perfectly with the parsley and melded together with the biryani.

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Indian Butter Chicken

In the case of the Indian Butter Chicken, the heat from the spices of the curry was subtly cooled down by the butter without making it seem too creamy for its own good. The chunks of chicken were perfectly seasoned from within, which was enhanced by the curry. The papadom that accompanied it was just the right amount of crisp and ability to hold the curry itself. The only gripe we had was that there was not enough papadom to do justice to the sauce. We actually ordered an extra cup of rice when there was still some curry left.

During our meal here, we also found out that Wild Ginger is involved with Action Against Hunger, a global humanitarian organization that’s committed to ending world hunger. And their restaurant is listed as a Restaurant Against Hunger, wherein proceeds from certain dishes are donated to food aid and assistance efforts especially for refugees. Not only is this restaurant a treat for the tastebuds and the stomach, but it is also doing its part to feed the world.

Food Score: 5/5. Simply put, the food at Wild Ginger is sublime. Each dish is well executed and thought out from the textures to the flavors. This is a good pick for diners still needing initiation into the nuances of Southeast Asian cuisines, as well as culinary diehards.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4.5/5. The place gives a calming home vibe to it, which lends itself to a quaint dining experience. And their servers are attentive to our needs throughout our meal here.

GERD Score: 4/5. The good thing about Wild Ginger is their selection that leaves a lot of options for people who have various triggers on their heartburn.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Hooray for freshly cooked home-style meals with quality ingredients! The food here utilizes all natural flavorings without resorting to powdered or artificial seasonings. The non-alcoholic drinks selection is also a boon.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. Considering all factors, Wild Ginger is lovely restaurant to go be it for lunch or dinner, even with people with existing health concerns to consider.

Wild Ginger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dining at The Farm

The Farm

The wonderful thing about farm-to-table restaurants is their thrust to bring organic food back into the mainstream food choices. As UK’s Department for Environment Food & Rural Areas would define it:

“Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation.”

And The Farm at Rockwell aims to do just that. In our many trips at the Power Plant Mall, we’ve been keeping tabs on when it’s going to open up for business. One of it was The Farm and now, finally got to give it a try.

The first thing we noticed is the rustic feel the restaurant exudes, making for comfortable casual dining in a western-inspired farm. For our dinner here, I picked the vegan mushroom sandwich and Kat had some spaghetti puttanesca. For something cool to wash it down, we went with pandan iced tea for me, and an “energy” smoothie for Kat.

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For the sandwich, I opted to have the sesame bun. I would say that the vegan mushroom was subtly flavored and moist, the microgreens were and good on my own sandwich scale. The sandwich is quite light and good for a snack. However, I have to say that I was underwhelmed by it. Perhaps grilling the buns would give it an added dimension to it, and I also found that the vegan mushroom filling was too malleable for my tastes.

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As for the pasta, it was cooked to an perfect al dente texture, and the sauce had just the right spice and tanginess from the capers, olives, and anchovies. It at least met the bar of what we expect from a good spaghetti puttanesca, which we appreciate very much.

Our drinks were superb. Kat’s energy smoothie, a concoction for various greens laced with chocolate chips, cleaned out the palate quite well. The pandan iced tea was the right level of sweetness that would be perfect on a warm summer day. These made the perfect complements to our simple dinner.

Food Score: 4/5. Snafu with the sandwich aside, The Farm does have some really good selections of meals and drinks for a great casual dining experience.
Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. With its western ranch ambiance, the casual dining feel of the place shines through nicely. Safe to say, it’s perfect for a date or for a quiet meal with family on a sunday evening.
GERD Score: 4/5. Objectively, there’s only a few food options for those dealing with heartburn, if cheese or butter is a trigger point. But on the plus side, they’re conscientious with putting in spice warnings on food that’s on the hot side.
Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Hooray for healthy options, and all-natural bacon as offered on the menu. This restaurant prides itself on serving meals sans preservatives, with lots of greens and other healthy options
Team Glasses Score: 4/5. Overall, The Farm does well with it’s advocacy of farm-to-table dining, and we did enjoy having our dinner here. Another thing of note at the Farm is nitrate-free bacon. That particular product gives people with certain health conditions to finally have that crispy bacon in the morning without the worry.

 The Farm Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tong Keun So

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In our many months of writing down reviews here in the Team Glasses Food Blog, we finally had a chance to eat at a Korean restaurant. And all of this due to a last minute change of plans when my dad arrived from Davao, a day before his birthday.

To celebrate, we ended up at Remedios Circle in Malate and picked a place called Tong Keun So. For the frugal person my dad is, the signage displaying the PHP 990 for the Tong Keun So Hanmari (which consisted of rib finger, prime chuck eye roll, and brisket point) was enough to seal the deal.

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Tong Keun So Hanmari

The wooden tables and bright room, along with the lively crowd dining made for a perfectly casual and cozy place to dine in. Best of all, aside from the usual side dishes like kimchi, the servers were doing the grilling of the meat for us.

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Bulgogi-Jungol

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The Dips

Aside from the grilled meats and side dish staples like kimchi, we also had a medium-sized Bulgogi-Jungol (which is a beef stew with mushrooms and other assortments of vegetables), and Haemul-Gyeran Jien (an egg dish) came with the Hanmari. Accompanying the meat are some crisp lettuce, and three dips, which are a spiced red paste, a sweet soy sauce-onion combination, and a mix of salt, pepper, and sesame seeds.

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Haemul-Gyeran Jien

Even without the three dips, the grilled meat, rice, and lettuce wrapping these all together was amazing and simple. A word of caution, one has to remember to dab lightly when dipping the meat in the salt-pepper-sesame mix. I dabbed a little too much and it overpowered my tastebuds a bit.

The Haemul-Gyeran Jien we had for a side dish were light and fluffy, flavored subtly with vegetables. These made the perfect complement to our more strongly flavored main entrees.

Like with most Korean restaurants here in the Metro, the serving size per order is meant to be shared. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience sharing a meal with loved ones, just like what we had here.

 

 

 

 

Ambiance / Service: 4/5. The entire place has been inviting to dine in, no frills at all. The real star here was the attentive servers who took care of the preparation of our meals here, especially with the grill.

Food Score: 4/5. While simple in appearance and preparation, the dinner was quite hearty, filling, and satisfying without the guilty feeling one normally gets, because these weren’t oily at all.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. Even with the spicy chilli-based selections that’s a staple in Korean cuisine, there’s still enough choices to pick from with anyone dealing with heartburn.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Some of the seasonings may not be amenable to more sensitive persons. However the more subtly flavored dishes may be given a bit of extra kick with one’s choice of condiment, which allows for persons to choose flavorings more suited to their conditions.

Team Glasses Food Score: 4/5. Tong Keun So is a must-try, when craving for Korean food but without the worry of having too much about our own respective conditions, provided however that one’s meals here are experienced as a group.

Tong Keun So Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Social’s Kashmir

To celebrate our recent triumphs in passing our respective applications to the university we both wanted, we decided to go back to something right up Lee’s alley, and that is to dine with Indian cuisine.

After walking through the Poblacion area, we find ourselves in the midst of the colorful hues of the refurbished steel containers that contrasts the LED lights, palm shrubs and artwork, all found in a small food and art place called The Social. The place does not only feel like a place for expats as most places are in this side of Makati, it also feels like a place where young professionals or college students can grab a bite and some brews after a long day at work or school.

Inside its gated compound, we picked Kashmir and ordered up Lamb Curry with salted lassi for Lee and Palak Paneer with sweet lassi for Kat.

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Lamb Curry

The Lamb Curry’s taste is adjusted to the Filipino palate, slightly sweet but with a bit of a kick to it. With its thick consistency, it reminds us of caldereta. At the same time, the lamb is firm and tender which perfectly suits the pita bread that accompanies it.

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Palak Paneer

The Palak Paneer on the other hand is a mix of spinach and cottage cheese thickened into a gravy or curry-like stew. One could say that it was a good idea that we actually ordered some extra pita bread for this dish, which would make a great side dish as well as an appetizer. The Palak Paneer had a full, hearty flavor, but one that was not overwhelmingly spicy. It was the sort of dish that would whet the appetite further, perhaps in preparation for a heavy main course like roasted lamb with rice.

As a matter of preference, since the food is generally either spiced or salty, in hindsight, maybe Lee should have ordered sweet lassi too to pair better with his lamb curry. The sweet lassi that Kat ordered was mild in flavor, with a hint of sourness from the yogurt.

All things considered, we definitely enjoyed our dinner here and as a nice place to hang out and have a relaxed and fun meal with friends.

 

Food Score: 4/5. The balance of flavors was pretty good for the meal itself, but I think the pita bread could be less doughy to better absorb and complement the meal.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. Except for the cigarette smoke here and there since the place is an open space without smoking restrictions, the place is vibrant and neat with attentive servers in and around the area.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. The food was quite good, but at the same time, the spices may throw off people with heartburn, depending on one’s own triggers.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Although the food is not heavily spiced, some seasonings may not be very friendly to a few diners. There is a great selection of non-alcoholic and non caffeinated drinks, both in this stall and throughout the rest of the food park. The dining area, though brightly lit, is still friendly on the eyes and unlikely to trigger seizures.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. Overall, Kashmir is a welcome experience for us and a great venue in celebrating our recent successes together. After all, great food, good ambiance and a selection that suits people with or without our medical conditions.

Sick Day Specials: Phát Phơ

 

If one’s a regular reader of our blog, one would immediately see a trend. Ever since Kat introduced me to Phơ, we’ve been going to Vietnamese spots for a decent bowl of Phơ when one or both of us is sick.

As of this writing, we both have the snuffles and a bit of a cough (not sure if it’s going to go into an actual flu, hopefully not); so we decided to have a change of pace and try Phát Phơ at the Power Plant Mall.

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Seeing that it was only late merienda (afternoon snack) or early dinner, we both ordered the smaller portions of pho. I kid you not, small portions it was not. Kat had the Pho Bo Vien, flat rice noodles with beef balls. I, on the other hand, had the tried-and-tested chicken noodle soup solution by the name of Pho Ga.

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Pho Ga

For the Pho Ga, the broth was mild but still full of flavor, setting the canvas for the crisp vegetables, firm and chewy rice noodles, and tender chicken slices to shine. With each bite, one is able to savor the flavor of all its ingredients. This may look light on the stomach in a smaller serving but incredibly filling.

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Pho Bo Vien

The Pho Bo Vien was not too strongly seasoned, thus allowing the beef and vegetables’ flavors to come through. It was also another filling, hearty dish worth savoring on a not so great day.

And then we ended our early dinner with some hot lemon tea, perfectly suited to cleanse our palate after our meal.

In summary, we definitely needed the pho break and I leave you a picture of the aftermath of our bowls to describe how good it really was.

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Food Score: 4.5/5. The pho bowls we had hit the spot of what we needed for the afternoon and our respective less-than-stellar health.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. While the place feels a little cramped due to space considerations in the mall, it still had the vibe and feel of a chic fusion Vietnamese restaurant with the subtle hues and color combinations. The servers were thankfully attentive to our needs.

GERD Score: 4.5/5. As someone who has to deal with GERD, I’d have to say that if you’re not doing smaller portions of the meals here, it’s best to share a bowl or meal with someone else. Other than that, I appreciate the fresh ingredients and well flavoured meal we had. Phát Phơ also offers plenty of other options which is something I also appreciate. (One more thing, keep your hands off the Sriracha, no matter how tempting or perfect it might be on the pho.)

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. The caveat with most broths is that one does not know all the stock’s ingredients, so some sensitive diners may be upset or thrown off. That being said, Phát Phơ has other dishes that may be more appealing to diners with specific food limitations.

Team Glasses Score: 4.5/5. All things considered, we enjoyed our meal here at Phát Phơ, something one or a group can enjoy on a rainy day even if you have one or both of our conditions. Pho is not just noodle soup; its ingredients are akin to many used in Filipino cooking, and thus can make the soup more of a hearty stew. We do hope that more people will consider and try out this dish.

P.H.A.T. Pho Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gotti’s Ristorante

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Away from our usual haunts in Makati, we found ourselves in Megamall with dad and his business partner for a surprise dinner, and with a challenging budget of 300 per head, we decided to take a chance at Gotti’s Ristorante at the Atrium 4th floor.

The place reminds one of the different modern casual dining areas here in the metro, from sleek designs of solid red mixed with pictures of Italians, to the wooden chairs and cushioned leather seats, as well as the restaurant being lit and pleasant to the eye.

 

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Margherita Pizza

So for dinner, we shared a Margherita pizza. Aside from that, I had the Gambino Gamberi, Kat had the Salisbury Steak with rice, and then dad and his business partner had the Grilled Chicken Pesto and Creamy Basil Bacon pasta.

As we see it, one gets their money’s worth here in terms of volume. The pizza was more or less alright with its crisp thin crust sides, the cheese complements the tomato base and I would say, a guilt-free margherita.

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Creamy Basil Bacon Pasta

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Grilled Chicken Pesto

The grilled chicken pesto and creamy basil bacon pasta had well-cooked pasta for both. As for the taste however, I have to say that it’s a little uninspired and too overdone in either creaminess or the oily feel to the tongue. However, these are things that can be improved on in the future.

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Gambino Gamberi

With the Gambino, it’s quite filling and the stone-baked rice meal concept is actually quite interesting, especially in keeping our meal warm. At the same time, I’m quite a sucker for seafood and they cooked this one well enough.

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Salisbury Steak

The Salisbury steak on rice was served piping hot, with enough cheese on top to make the first bites delectable. However a little sauce coating the rest of the dish would not have been amiss. Nevertheless for a solo dish, this was a pretty tasty deal.

There was actually a lot of food left over from the two pastas that we took some home too. That said, if one wants to be full and hang out with friends at a budget, Gotti’s Ristorante is a good place to dine in.

Food Score: 3.5/5. The food here is a testament to the adage you get what you paid for, with decent taste suited for the Filipino palate and decent serving sizes, but there’s some room for improvement with some hits and some misses here and there.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. Gotti’s ambiance is pleasing to the eye, from clean lines and welcoming appearance, it’s a treat to dine here every now and then. The servers were quite attentive as well, which is always welcome.

GERD Score: 3/5. One could say that each order of food is for sharing, so it can be a task for someone with heartburn to go at it alone. That said, there are thankfully some good options for selections, but again, for sharing.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. This is a case again of not knowing what exactly goes in the seasonings and flavorings. Unlike some other establishments, diners don’t have as much control over any dietary limitations and modifications to menu items. However there are enough food selections to cater to the preferences and needs for most diners.

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5. When one puts everything into consideration, Gotti’s Ristorante is a decent place to dine in on a budget, giving value for money with their serving sizes. The place is certainly great to bring some friends in for a casual dining experience. However, for people who have medical conditions such as ours, we believe they can do better.