Berde

In our many meetups in the Ayala Triangle area, we have been keeping an eye out for this place named Berde, while it was still being remodeled inside one of the spaces there. And in the first week of October, we finally had the chance to do so.

Berde, which translates to the color Green in Spanish, runs with the concept of choose-your-own-toppings into a salad or rice bowl. And to simplify this, one picks their protein, grains, greens / vegetables, and sauce, or pick a pre-selected bowl combination. However, what sets them differently from Faburrito or Salad Stop is their selection that’s tailored to Filipino tastes. At the same time, they also like a bit of diversity since they display their fish of the day, which for today was tuna.

In our food trip here, I tried to make my own bowl which was composed of a rice and salad combo, fish kinilaw, calamansi singkamas slaw, crispy garlic bits, green sauce (fresh basil, cilantro, and parsley), and ginger and green papaya atchara. Kat on the other hand, picked the Manok-Out signature bowl, which is made out of chicken inasal, berde salad, red rice, malunggay coconut pumpkin mash, calamansi red onion pickle, peanuts, and green sauce.

For our foreign readers, here are some terms to help you familiarize with Filipino cuisine.  Kinilaw is raw fish soaked in vinegar mixed with ginger, and green onions. Calamansi is Philippine lemon, which is size of a marble. Atchara, on the other hand, is pickled green papaya with carrots and annatto for its distinct yellow color. And inasal is a local variant roast chicken marinated in a mixture of lime, pepper, vinegar and annatto, then grilled over hot coals while basted with the marinade.

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The Tuna Kinilaw Bowl

In my bowl, the red rice and greens combination was the perfect subtle base to enjoy the sour notes from the kinilaw and the atchara that comes along with it. Their green sauce and the crispy garlic bits added some texture and sophistication that tied everything together.

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Manok-Out Bowl

The specialty Manok-Out bowl was a mix of delicate flavors, both from the chicken inasal as well as the greens and the vegetable puree. The rice added some body and fullness to the dish, helping round out the lightness of the rest of the bowl.

The entire place had a laid back vibe to it and made it perfectly suited for either a late breakfast, a quiet lunch, or a dinner date.

Food Score: 5/5: The main things we adore about Berde are the fresh ingredients and balanced selection that lend itself to be mixed and matched easily. And their Manok-Out signature bowl is spot on.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4.5/5: The place had a minimalist vibe to it, which made for a soothing feel during our quaint dinner here. And kudos to their staff, who walked us through the menu since it was our first time here and being attentive during our dinner.

GERD Score: 5/5: From selections to the spicy warning icon on the beef adobo, it’s a treat to dine here for anyone dealing with heartburn. And the portions here are enough to leave you full, but not bloated.

Epilepsy Score: 5/5: Fresh ingredients and natural modes of cooking, as well as a wide selection of viands and condiments make this place an option for sensitive diners or those with food restrictions.

Team Glasses Food Blog Score: 5/5: Simply put, we recommend Berde because they give a nod to Filipino tastes and keeping it healthy at the same time, especially for people with our respective conditions.

Berde Bowls Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sarsa Kitchen + Bar: Flavors of Negros—and it’s not just inasal!

Where does one go when rain changes one’s plans for a game night? We had that problem several nights ago, when an early evening rainshower foiled our plans for a stroll into Poblacion and left us and two other good friends stuck in Rockwell. Fortunately for us we had espied some places where we could sit for a quiet evening of conversation and the occasional tabletop game, and we decided that Sarsa Kitchen + Bar would fit the bill.

Until our dinner out, most of our experience with Negrense cooking was limited to inasal thanks to the preponderance of restaurants specializing in inasal chicken in the metropolis. We were then happy to find that the menu at Sarsa offered this favorite, as well as an array of other Negrense inspired dishes such as squid pinangat, or Negrense sizzling beef rendang.

What caught our group’s attention was the sisig selection, which we could not resist trying out as a homage to our college lunchtimes centered around this very greasy, spicy meal. Our friends tried out the inasal sisig and the brainy pork sisig (with sriracha sauce), while I went for the tuna sisig cooked with lambanog onions and achuete aioli. Lee finally got a chance to indulge his seafood craving, and asked for grilled prawn skewers with talangka sauce and coconut milk.

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The best surprise about the tuna sisig was the achuete aioli, which lent a flavorful but not overly spicy touch to the fish. Never again will I look at achuete oil the same way again.

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The prawn skewers were a welcome treat since Lee is a sucker for these types of seafood. While his personal preference is to have the prawn meat to have a sweet to salty taste within it, he realize that the prawns’ soft, juicy, and natural flavors complemented the crab fat sauce underneath. Along with an order of rice and it’s definitely a meal one should try and experience at least once during their stay here.

We also had the opportunity to order dessert (in between board games), and we agreed to try the banana tsokolate turon. The tsokolate sauce was good in the sense that it was not overly sweet, but it fell a little short of the tablea flavor we look for in most chocolate dishes.

With all this good food, great service, a relaxed ambiance and excellent company, we did not quite notice time flying by. Definitely this quality makes Sarsa stand out not only as a place for dinner out, but also quite possibly as a place for brunch, or family affairs. Definitely we can recommend this restaurant for anyone wanting good Negrense food, or just Filipino food cooked with a flair.

The Food Score: 4.5/5: One thing about the dishes here is that the blend of flavors is perfect; not one flavor overpowers the other. It’s a balancing act that is difficult to maintain on a plate. However a lot of the foods are on the greasy side, which may not bode well for other people.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4.5/5: This place is airy, clean, and definitely relaxed for leisurely dining The staff are very polite and accommodating, and service is reasonably fast here.

GERD Score: 4/5. The food portions here are the right amount either to share around or have for yourself. Best part for me is that my little problem did not trigger as badly as I expected it to, if at all.

Epilepsy Score:  4/5: The general problem with Filipino food is that it is heavy on gluten and spices, which may really not agree with some diners. Though this place is advertised as a bar, the selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages is broad enough to cater to all tastes and most medical restrictions.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. This restaurant has become a go-to spot for family lunches and dinners, as well as work meetings, or casual nights out with friends. With the food and the ambiance here, we definitely understand why.

Sarsá Kitchen + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lobo: A culinary delight for one’s inner wolf

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After a long and enlightening journey in Correigdor, we ended our day with a meal that reminds us of home: a Filipino Tavern named Lobo, meaning ‘wolf’ in the Filipino language. Stepping inside the place reminds one of a Filipino living room or a nipa hut, along with some paintings that invoke a native charm. The wooden tables and re-used wood stumps invoke a sense of old world charm in itself.

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Their culinary selection draws inspiration from a fusion of Filipino and Western influences in terms of ingredients and recipes. For this dinner date, Kat ordered a mushroom pasta with truffle oil and kesong puti (roughly translates to white cheese but made from carabao’s milk, salt, and rennet), and I had the lamb adobo with atchara (pickled papaya and carrot) and green mangoes.

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Mushroom and Kesong Puti Pasta

The mushroom pasta had a balanced control of flavors, from the starch of the pasta complementing the slightly salty cheese, to the truffle oil enhancing its companions in a symphony of an unusual combination.

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Lamb Adobo with garlic rice, green mangoes and atchara

Lamb adobo on the other hand still retained its delicate flavor and tenderness after marinating, lending itself to a brilliant meal with an order of garlic rice. Also, the atchara and green mangoes soften the punch of the meat’s saltiness with its sweet-sour flavors.

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Cold beverages after a long day

We also had mango shake for Kat and yogurt with cucumber for me as our drinks for the night. Hers was sweet to serve as a dessert, and mine was just what I needed, something to cool down my palate.

I think it’s worth noting that it’s actually connected and sharing a pathway with Wok By 4900 as neighbors, which is a welcome venue with more options for the discerning palate. I dare say, we enjoyed our time here in Lobo.

Food Score: 4/5. Our food experience here definitely merits some praise for the well-crafted meal we had. While not large, it was still filling and pleasing to the palate.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. The place had a relaxed vibe to it and at the same time, the servers were attentive to our needs. The decor both in the inner seating area as well as the second floor deck have a neo-ethnic yet homey touch, a balance not so easily achieved in a tavern like this

GERD Score: 4/5. Their menu definitely still has a lot to offer someone with heartburn with their selection of heartburn-safe dishes, along with some fruit and yogurt beverages

Epilepsy Score: 4.5/5. The dishes here do not make extensive use of preservatives or artificial seasonings. Though this is a bar, the selection of non alcoholic drinks is rather impressive. The only drawback perhaps may be the location; if one is sitting on the roof deck there is still a view of the overly flashy lights of neighboring establishments.

Team Glasses Food Score: 4/5. Whether one is looking for a casual dining experience as a solo foodie, a date, or as a group, Lobo is a great place to go for great food that caters well even to people with our conditions.

Lobo Filipino Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A taste of home: Dekada

It’s been a long hiatus of sorts from our last write up, but thankfully, TeamGlasses is back for more.

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After buying our tickets for Beauty and the Beast’s  8pm showing, we realized that we had enough time for a nice and relaxed dinner, and we’re long overdue for another review from our own country’s cuisine. Our feet led us to a place called Dekada, that prides itself in Filipino cuisine with their own brand of humor, naming each dish after personalities and groups in certain time periods such as “Murphy” for the crispy Pla Pla fish we had here, “Kempetai” for the gising-gising, or “Quirino” for a daily dose of adobo flakes.

In any case, Kat and I decided to go for a light dinner this time around and split the pla pla fish since the entrée serving sizes here at Dekada are good for two people. While my order of plain rice was a bit drier than my preference, the fish was delectable. The crunch and balanced seasoning play a cheerful ditty in the taste buds, which great enough that I hazard to say that it will definitely go well with any pulutan or perhaps in our case, a movie to catch later. The meat and skin weren’t oily which is the surprising part, compared to the usual story when people fry fish in most of my memories in Philippine cuisine. The pieces of fried talong did go well with the fish but I think it could do without the atchara.

Food Score: 4/5. For a place that serves Filipino food, one can rest easy in the fact that they are able to make their dishes come close to home cooking. Our experience with the Murphy was excellent. Dekada also has a delectable selection of merienda fare and cold drinks (which Kat has sampled on a previous visit), that make this place also ideal for lazy afternoons with family and friends

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. Dekada gives the feel of a cozy 1950s home that thankfully is well lit and the servers are readily available to cater to our concerns.

GERD Score: 4/5. Normally, anything fried gives me burping fits and the occasional acid climbing up my throat, but their crispy fish is one of the few examples that it can be done and sufferers from heartburn can still eat these types of food. While their menu has some of the usual culprits of heartburn triggers, there’s plenty of other options to choose from thankfully.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. The problem though with Filipino cooking as a whole, and thus many of the dishes in this restaurant, is it does tend to lean on the salty and sometimes spicy side, which may be problematic for people who are sensitive to these seasonings. That aside, the diverse menu is friendly for most taste buds and medical contraindications; there’s something for most people.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. Overall, we enjoyed our experience here and found another great place where we can enjoy Filipino meals without having to worry about our respective health conditions. We’ll come back again for the merienda.