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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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

Salad Stop: Salad’s Up

IMG_4641Hi Readers! Finally, Kat and I are taking our graduate degrees (she in MPH and I’m in Law), but it does mean that Kat and I won’t be able to publish as much as we would like to. But that said, we’re still going to write and find places to eat, as well as health information to share with everyone, just like my recent quick respite at Salad Stop.

After a particularly rough week with the start of classes and moving to a new place, I wandered around BGC High Street to find a decent meal to de-stress. I eventually found Salad Stop at the other end of the mall.

Going inside the restaurant, I noticed the light wooden panels complementing the grey concrete walls, surprisingly giving off the feel of breakfast at a garden with the well-lit ambiance

For this solo adventure, I chose the “Go Geisha” salad instead of its wrap counterpart. Normally, when one says ‘salad’, one expects a plate with leafy greens and carrots, but in this instance, it was much more than I expected.

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Go Geisha! (without the red and white lettuce)

The ‘Go Geisha’ salad has romaine, red, and white lettuce, firm tofu, asparagus, carrot, snow peas, soba noodles, cucumber, sesame seeds, and sweet corn, with their Japanese miso dressing. One could also add on baked salmon or fried garlic, which I unfortunately did not do for this trip. The sesame bread stick was a quaint touch as well.

While the restaurant ran out of red and white lettuce that night, the servers added some more romaine lettuce to address the discrepancy. After a few minutes of waiting, my salad bowl arrived. The lettuce greens and assortment of colors made for an appealing meal in itself, which tasted as good as it looked. The vegetables were crisp and fresh, the tofu soft and firm, and the miso dressing brought out another layer of complexity to the salad, with its slightly sweet and sour flavors.

The salads here are definitely a good start to a meal, or if chosen as a wrap, a vegetarian meal all to itself.

Food Score: 4.5/5. One main draw of the food here is the healthy and varied menu. There are salads to suit various tastes and appetites.
Ambiance / Service Score: 4.5/5. From start to finish, especially with the late hour that I got in, the staff maintained a professional and friendly demeanor to them. This Salad Stop has quick service, and the lovely dining experience is a welcome place to share a meal with friends of a light afternoon snack.
GERD Score: 5/5. While not all their selections are heartburn-friendly, the menu shows warnings as to what are spicy and those that trigger allergies from seafood to gluten.
Epilepsy Score: 5/5. An attraction about salad bars like this place is that one can pick or omit ingredients, thus making it easier for persons to avoid ‘trigger foods’ or ingredients that may interact badly with medications. On the whole, the selections are safe for people with seizure conditions.
Team Glasses Score:4.5/5. All things considered, we’re grateful for Salad Stop for being a great place to dine in for people like us who deal with medical conditions and allergies, and have to deal with limited dining options everytime we go out.

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

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