Señor Pollo: Winner, winner, chicken dinner?

Almost a year ago, I went on a month long chicken fast because I was sick and tired of the stuff from working in the Middle East, with a few exceptions here and there because of circumstance. By this time however, that wasn’t the case with our dinner as we further expanded into another food place in Poblacion. For this one, we chose to dine at Señor Pollo, which is close to WokBy4900, Lobo, Kite Kebab and Commune.

 

Stepping inside, the place really resembles more of a typical Filipino watering hole than a casual dining place, which is perfect for bringing your friends along for a brewski and some food with stories to tell. The artistic touches here and there contrast the concrete gray, adding a bit of spice and life into the place.

So for dinner, I chose to go with their trademark roast chicken with some tossed salad and cilantro garlic rice for my sides. Kat, on the other hand, chose the two-piece fried chicken with Colombian beans and Mac-and-Cheese.

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Señor Pollo Roast Chicken – Quarter

I have to say quite frankly that I wasn’t enthused with the salad since it was too wet for my preferences. The roast chicken was juicy for the most part which is a good thing for me, perfect with the chimchurri. And the rice added a subtle but good dimension to the salty-sour taste of the chimchurri and the roast chicken.

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2 piece Fried Chicken

The fried chicken on the other hand was a dream: crisp and flavorful on the outside, juicy and subtle on the inside. The gravy, although seasoned with pepper, didn’t overpower the chicken in the slightest. However the sides were on the rather bland side; perhaps we should have gone with something more adventurous like ‘patatas bravas’.

Summing it all up, you get what you paid for here at Señor Pollo. You’d have a decent-sized serving of food for its price. As to liking it, I’d have to say that it’s really a matter of preferences in this case.

For any restaurant suggestions that you’d like for us to try and rate, feel free to leave a comment below or contact us here.

Food Score: 3/5. As food goes, the roast chicken was good and the accompanying dips were decent and alright for adding flavor into the chicken. Unfortunately we had a bit of a stomach bug after this food trip; definitely a major setback.

Ambiance / Service Score: 3.5/5. The place is really a place to hangout rather than as a casual dining place, so it depends on how one goes about it. However it has to be said that the place has good service to take care of your food needs.

GERD Score: 3/5. Unfortunately, since this is Mexican-inspired cuisine, there are bound to be some uses of chili in some of the meals. Also, in the case of the quarter portion of roast chicken, I’d hazard to say that the meal is meant for sharing unless one is really hungry. Thankfully, there are some food and beverage options that can work out for people who are dealing with heartburn.

Epilepsy Score: 3/5. Once again the problem with very flavorful food is that one has no idea exactly what spices go in it. Diners with sensitive systems may need to go for either the blander food options or eschew this altogether.

Team Glasses Score: 3/5. All things considered, Señor Pollo delivered some hits and some misses in our time there. That said, the place isn’t friendly for people with medical concerns like ours, but is still good for a decent meal.

Señor Pollo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Healthy food for the Filipino Palate: Satinka Naturals

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As a fact of life here in the Philippines, and an inherent irony, is that a good portion of Filipinos don’t consider incorporating vegetables into their diet. Don’t believe me? What are we most known for in terms of food? Some examples are Lechon, Crispy Pata, Sisig, Adobo, and the list piles on and on. Or if one walks to a roadside eatery, we add in pork, beef, or shrimp into the few vegetable viands.

Thankfully there are some exceptions and one of them is Satinka Naturals.

It all started when Kat asked me to surprise her with our dinner pick and the place caught my eye while searching one. Satinka Naturals is found by the corner of Kamagong and Chino Roces / Pasong Tamo in Makati, as both a place to eat, and a place to get organic products for many needs.

The interior reminds one of a rustic home, a mismatched but well-kept and loved Filipino-Spanish home, but with some modern sensibilities to the place. In a word, the place is cosy.

We started our dinner with some Yoga Tea, a mixture of ginger root, cardamom, black pepper, and cloves. While unusual to the Filipino palate, taking a sip of this tea with honey was a delightful experience, especially for me with my discovered preference for adding spices. This also gave me an idea on what to do with the cardamom pods I brought home from Qatar.

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Greek Platter

For the main dinner itself, I ordered a Greek platter and Kat had the Vegan platter. The Greek platter had chicken strips marinated with oregano, paprika and caraway seeds, giving each strip a vibrant flavour with every bite. The spiced beef in tomato sauce and feta cheese helped balance the meal with its bits of acidity from the tomatoes. The accompanying salad and shredded cucumber, as well as the red rice knit these two meat dishes together, creating a memorable meal hands down.

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Vegan Platter

The vegan platter consisted of two types of ‘meatballs’ made with beetroot, carrot, and a mix of other veggies, a marinara dipping sauce, raw ‘zuchinni pasta’ and a garden salad. Now whoever said that vegetables weren’t filling has certainly not encountered this rich meal. The vegan balls were heavy and savory, thus necessitating the other greens to cleanse one’s palate. This meal may be a bit overwhelming for those not used to vegan meals, but it is certainly worth a try.

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Sagada Yogurt with Honey

We ended our night with a small bowl of Sagada yogurt with honey. It was a solid dessert after our hearty dinner here at Satinka Naturals. But if we were to do it again, we would have ordered the pot of tea after the meal to make it an absolutely perfect end to the night.

Food Score: 5/5. Aside from minor nitpicks here and there, we enjoyed the food not only through its taste alone, but also from preparation and presentation to the organic ingredients of our meal. There is a wide selection of entrees and group platters to choose from, all of which use healthy and fresh ingredients. The beverages section can boast of having Sagada Coffee, several types of tea, and craft beer all available. One must never be shy to order.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4.5/5. Throughout our stay, it was surprisingly quiet and the hustle and bustle of the outside world didn’t get inside at all. At the same time, their décor, tables, and cushions speaks well of not only their tastes, but also become a place to rest our minds after a long trip around the Metro. Their service is not only attentive, but also quick on their feet in handling anything we needed.

GERD Score: 4.5/5. Surprisingly, even with the large portion and serving, the food here doesn’t trigger my burping at all, which is remarkable in itself. Also, the food is spiced just the right amount, so as not to make it too spicy for people with heartburn / GERD. While there is some alcohol in the vicinity, there’s plenty of beverage options as well.

Epilepsy Score: 5/5. No MSG and artificial flavors! This is cause enough to celebrate. And the vegan meals have no gluten, thus making this a bonus for people sensitive to this substance. The non-caffeinated teas and fresh fruit shakes are excellent too for diners with restrictions due to either their seizures or their medication

Team Glasses Score: 5/5. Our entire dinner here was a great experience because they create great food for diners with health concerns like us.

Mitsuyado Sei-Men: Travels for Tsukumen

One of the places Kat and I have talked about but had not eaten in ever since I got back is here at Mitsuyado Sei-Men. Located all the way from the other side of Jupiter street, it sure was a walk indeed, but thankfully a fun one at that. Kat had been here before a few years back, so we tried it without knowing (or remembering in Kat’s case) the food besides that it’s a tsukumen place. Tsukumen refers to dipping noodles; instead of being served in a steaming bowl of broth, the noodles and the soup or sauce are served separate.

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Inside, the place’s interior reminded me of Japan in the 1950s from wooden walls to older photos and a bicycle mounted on the wall. There were enough tables to accommodate solo diners, intimate dinners for two, or large groups.

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For this meal, I ordered the Marotoku Tsukumen, and Kat had the Curry Tsukumen. We also added an order of karaage and gyoza, thinking initially that the noodles where the thin ones. Lo and behold, we had thick udon noodles on our bowls.

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Marotoku Tsukumen

The pork slices were nice and tender, complementing well with the sprouts. The dipping sauce was thankfully well balanced and not spicy. However, I had to give that perfectly boiled egg to Kat since it’s one of my triggers. The curry, on the other hand, was a slow burn in itself; instead of a sharp explosion on the tongue, it gave a more mellow, lingering heat at the back of the throat. The gyoza and karaage were cooked to perfection, and not slick and oily. These were perfect complements to the rather lively nature of our main dishes.

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Curry Tsukumen

All things considered, we had a pleasant dinner here at Mitsuyado Sei-Men, and enjoyed our meal.

Food Score: 4/5. While slightly above our usual price range for other restos, the place served good tsukumen as well as excellent side dishes. Although the selection may not be as adventurous as other Japanese noodle establishments, the taste and portions are heartier and worth the while  

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. The placed had a quaint ambiance to it that exudes nostalgia and the servers were attentive to our needs.

GERD Score: 3/5. Portion-wise even their small tsukumen order is for sharing, so anybody dealing with heartburn should find a buddy to share their bowl with. A bit of advice from us is to have a slight adjustment to the menu, adding in a legend or tag if a meal is spicy or not.

Epilepsy Score: 3/5. The problem with such highly flavored and soupy dishes is that one cannot be sure of the sorts of seasonings used there. Some diners may be too sensitive to the seasonings used in the curry and other broths.

Team Glasses Food Score: 3.5/5. While there are rooms for improvement for Mitsuyado Sei-Men with regards to food and a few suggestions here and there, it’s still a decent place to dine with friends if you happen to be on that particular part of Jupiter Street.

Mitsuyado Sei-Men 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

Balkan: A journey to Central European Cuisine (The Alexander the Great Special part 2)

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We’ve eaten different culinary delights of other countries or regions, so for this time, we decided to go into terra incognita with Balkan. After all, Macedonia of Alexander the Great’s time started in the southern part of today’s Balkan region.

Along with Kat’s family, we celebrated her birthday at Balkan, a pub inspired by its namesake within the BGC area in Taguig. While it has some familiar bits and pieces in their menu with things like hummus or pizza, we all decided to order food native to the region.

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After sitting down and giving the place a glance, the ambiance is surprisingly fitting as both a pub and a casual dining place with friends on a late night run. It could make any person unwind from all the stresses of the work day and forget about it for a good while. Or even when one could actually drink, a brewski to watch the next game or match coming up.

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Feta Cheese Dip

Before everyone was complete, we had feta cheese dip and it was a flavorful mix of melted feta cheese, tomatoes, and herbs that helped get our tastebuds energized for more.

Just as we were about finished with the dip and fresh flatbread, everyone else arrived. For this dinner, Lee had the ćevapčići platter and Kat had the stuffed chicken batak. Along with that, everyone shared in the large helping of goulash and two orders of green salad with dried figs.

First thing we all noticed when the food arrived is that, even with one serving, it’s good for sharing, which makes the place great to bring in some friends along instead of turning it into a solo adventure or a date for two.

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Green Salad with Figs and Walnuts

The vegetables from the green salad were fresh and crisp, complementing the slightly sweet and chewy texture of the figs, as well as the crunch of the walnuts. Cleans the palate well from the initial burst of flavor from the dip.

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Goulash

As for the goulash, it was hands down the star of the night. Its rich complex flavors and the slow-cooked tender meat lend itself to an experience that brings back memories of food trips in Europe.

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ćevapčići

The ćevapčići is a skinless sausage that closely resembles its skinless cousin here in the Philippines known as longanisa, but in terms of taste, it does have less of a kick compared to our native counterpart. The meat was tender and flavorful, and the mashed potato was well executed because of its smooth texture and light seasoning.

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Batak

The stuffed chicken batak was actually a chicken thigh fillet rolled and stuffed with meat and covered with cheese. This dish was light on the palate but very filling to the stomach. The melted cheese and baked chicken provided the perfect backdrop to the flavors of the smoked meat stuffing.

The Balkan, as a culinary tavern of Eastern European delights, has plenty to offer anyone curious about the region’s cuisine.

Food Score: 5/5. It’s not everyday that one sees a group of stringent foodies all satisfied with their feast. Specially with that goulash.

Ambiance / Service Score: 2/5. While the ambiance was nicely set, the servers were too inattentive to properly take care of our orders or address our needs for this particular instance, something we hope they can improve on the next time.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. With a place that has a hearty serving of food, one has to take it easy or share the meal with another person, from the salads to the entreés.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Unfortunately the problem with cuisine that relies heavily on preserved meat is that it may not always be friendly for sensitive diners. Although the place is set up as a bistro, there are many non alcoholic and non caffeinated beverages on the menu.

Team Glasses Food Score: 4/5. The Balkan is hands down one of the places best enjoyed with a group of friends who are looking to unwind and enjoy great-tasting food, but we think they have some room for improvement with their service to make their patrons’ experience absolutely perfect.

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

Have a break. Have a… Coffee Break

For the last part of this edition of the two-part Vigan special, I decided to retrace the steps of an adventure four years ago in the city and picked to cool my heels in Coffee Break near Calye Crisologo. Ironically, this is also the same place I tried to cool my heels in when I was caught in a middle of a storm in August of 2013.

Now, it’s almost the same as I remember it from then, a warm and welcoming ambiance with its wooden chairs, neutral hues, and the whirring sound of the espresso machine in the background. Of course, also a usual haunt for groups of students and tourists in the city for a quick cup of coffee.

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Mint Tea

Since I couldn’t have their coffee, I decided to get their pesto and a cup of mint tea. Now, as you readers may have noticed, we at Team Glasses Food Blog take our mint tea seriously and thankfully they have an excellent set there to cleanse the palate during and after the meal.

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Coffee Break’s Pesto Pasta

As for the pesto, it’s a nice blend of natural flavors that run-off-the-mill pesto could never quite capture since they prepare the meal there as you order. My only suggestion is that they should really lay off the cheddar into the pesto and could either go entirely without that or replace it with parmesan, but that’s more a preference than anything else.

Overall, the place has plenty to offer anyone looking for a relatively quiet place to stay and relax in one’s own Vigan tour. On another note, if you’re actually able to drink coffee, Coffee Break sells bags of fresh coffee beans.

Food Score: 3/5. There’s definitely room for improvement food-wise but since this is Vigan, a great stop for an Ilocos gastronomic journey, maybe a fusion of local and coffee shop staples wouldn’t be remiss and can be added or incorporated into the menu.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. Thankfully the place is still as spacious as I remember it to be and in my experience at least, the staff were cordial and polite throughout my stay here.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. Besides tea, there’s also a variety of options one can choose from for food and drinks. Although dependent on one’s trigger, it’s safe to say that one can still enjoy a meal here.

Epilepsy Score: 3.5/5. As far as menus go, this place has a pretty good one in terms of food. However aside from mint tea, what else can one wash this food down with if coffee is a no-no?

Team Glasses Food Score: 3.5/5. Overall, Coffee Break is a good place to rest one’s feet and literally take a break after a long day walking around Vigan. But to dine here, the options are quite limited for people with conditions.

A step back in time at Kusina Felicitas

For part one of the short solo Vigan trip, I decided to take on a suggestion from our good friend Carmel and try out a place she ate in before. A place called, Kusina Felicitas located in Grandpa’s Inn just a pebble’s throw away from the main line of Spanish houses in Calye Crisologo.

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Tapang Ilokano

Native Tsokolate

Tsokolate

An hour or so after landing in Vigan via bus, I went there to try out their breakfast menu, specifically the Tapang Ilokano, Itlog ken Kinirog, a lightly-flavored and soy sauce-marinated strip of beef with a sunny-side up, garlic and spring onion fried rice, atchara (pickled papaya), and a sweetened banana. The meal itself was plain for me, not as flavorful as I expected it to be. Could have skipped the banana though. However, that cup of native tsokolate is pure goodness in a cup.

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Vigan Longanisa

While I was a bit disappointed with my breakfast, I gave it another shot for a spot of late lunch, ordering some Vigan longanisa (sausages stuffed with pork and garlic) and Gamet soup (seaweed soup with clams and vegetables). I think I ate my own words before eating when I said, “I won’t order rice for this one.”

The longanisa is, lightly fried but not oily and the small portion of fresh vegetables balancing the palate. In summary, just the way I like it.

Gamet Soup

Gamet Soup

The star of the lunch on the other hand is the soup. The tomatoes and spring onions liven up the umami taste of seaweed and the small clams. These complex flavors reminded me of a fresh sea breeze in a mid-afternoon stroll by the beach. And the rice is fluffy, and perfect for the two dishes above

My entire stay at the restaurant can be summed up in two words. Cozy and Rustic. The wooden furniture and enclosed living space exuded the visage of an old spanish dining area during a feast, and the meals fitting a prayle.

Food Score: 4.5/5. Besides the slight hiccup of the morning menu, the food is worth coming back to if one wants a taste of what Ilocos cuisine is all about. Illocos cuisine has its fatty side, but there is a strong emphasis on use of local vegetables, which gives it a healthy spin.

Ambiance / Service Score: 3.5/5. The place is a quaint experience and in some ways, a nice step back in time. The attending servers were mostly trainees for that day and not as attentive as I would personally like but get the job done nonetheless. Definitely some room for improvement there in my opinion.

GERD Score: 4/5. While one should stay away from the bagnet for obviously oily reasons, most of the fare here is heartburn friendly, with their wide range of vegetable and seafood options such as the gamet soup I had.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Unfortunately most longanizas, even the famed Illocos longaniza, are made with preservatives such as salitre, thus one should limit intake of these meats. However other fresh foods in this restaurant and the region are rather safe, and very healthy for those with health conditions.

Team Glasses Food Score: 4/5. In its entirety, Kusina Felicitas here in Vigan is one of the best places one can go to for a culinary adventure into Ilokano food. A place on top of our list when Kat and I decide to go to Vigan together for a vacation.