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.



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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Ziggurat: Going All the Way With Mezze

Appetizers are an important part of a sit-down meal as well as food trips and bar crawls. During a recent night out in the Poblacion area, my companions and I decided to whet our appetites further with a stop at Ziggurat, a cozy casual dining establishment on the corner of Durban Street and Makati Avenue.

During previous visits to Ziggurat, we have always been charmed by its Persian inspired ambience, complete with luxurious low seating arrangements and silver accent pieces. This restaurant’s extensive menu has always been a challenge for us to navigate, owing to the sheer variety of Middle Eastern, Indian, Mediterranean, and African dishes available to adventurous diners. On this particular jaunt we decided to eschew heavier dishes such as curries and kebabs in favor of lighter dishes dubbed as mezzes, a term which originates from the Persian word for ‘taste’ or ‘snack’.

Ziggurat offers its signature mezzes ala carte, or in various mezze combos and platters good for three to five persons. We decided to try a large mezze sampler known as Mezze Forte, a tower of eight different appetizers served with toasted khobiz, a bread that is a little thicker than the usual pita breads utilized for dips.


Our eight mezzes for the evening were as follows:

-Muttabal: chopped grilled eggplant with tahini

-Muhammara: roasted capsicum and walnut puree

-Qeema: ground beef with eggplants

-Jazar: spiced carrot puree with tahini

-Hummus: garbanzos with tahini

-Taramasalata: a Greek recipe for smoked cod’s roe

-Dukkah: a traditional Egyptian nut dip

-Mahroussa: fava beans with tahini

This combination of sweet and savoury mezzes necessitated our ordering extra khobiz for us to fully appreciate and polish off the entire order. In particular, the spicy mezzes such as Muhammara were a delight to the palate. Some like the Dukkah were a little difficult to eat owing to the crumbly textures, but were otherwise excellent in terms of flavor. My personal favorite had to be the Qeema, as its richness would make the perfect prelude to a hearty meal.

Other mezze combinations such as Mezze Vege (an all vegetable combo) and The Great Pyramid of Mezze are available for larger groups or diners with particular tastes. It may take a good number of visits to fully appreciate Ziggurat’s menu, but these appetizers are a good way to begin a round the world food trip, or a night out.

The Food Score:  4/5: The food at Ziggurat, in particular the appetizers, will suit both finicky diners as well as newbies to less known cuisines. While some menu items may not be available on some evenings, there are more than enough dishes to compensate for any gaps.   

Ambiance/Service Score: 4.5/5: The staff here are friendly and are quick to inform diners if there are unavailable foods in the menu. They are also more than happy to help patrons navigate the assortment of appetizers, as well as give recommendations.  The ambience is comfortable, casual, and yet gives one the feel of having stepped out of Makati and into another country.

GERD Score: 4/5: The wonderful thing about Middle eastern cuisine is that, even without chili, you get the heat spikes without ruining your stomach. Of course it depends on one’s tastes and heartburn triggers, but overall, Ziggurat is definitely be a good place to just kick back and dine.

Epilepsy Score:  4/5: While some of the more heavily flavoured items may be problematic for sensitive diners, there are still enough dishes to cater to different tastes and conditions. There are also non caffeinated and non alcoholic drinks available at the bar.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5 : While we acknowledge that mezze or other items on Ziggurat’s menu may not be to everyone’s tastes, we still suggest including this restaurant either as the main star of a casual night out, or as a stop in your Poblacion food crawl.

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

Kanto Freestyle Breakfast

Since we at Team Glasses have taken on the challenge of being working students pretty much six days a week, we have realized that a hearty breakfast has become essential to maintaining our well-being and sanity. Fortunately for us, we have learned of some 24-hour dining places not too far from our usual haunts. One such example is Kanto Freestyle Breakfast, which has become synonymous with delicious yet affordable meals to begin the day (or end a late night).

We stopped by Kanto Freestyle Breakfast’s branch in Poblacion, Makati, one Saturday morning. This branch is literally at a kanto or street corner, evoking the feel of a homestyle diner or eatery. Despite the rather simple ambiance, the menu laid before us was anything but. The fare here encompassed traditional Filipino breakfast food such as tapa (beef jerky), longganisa (sausages), tuyo (dried fish) and champorado (chocolate rice porridge), as well as other cosmopolitan favorites such as pancakes, omelets, and sandwiches. Diners even had the option to ‘freestyle’ breakfast by mixing and matching different viands. For this adventure we decided to try out Kanto Freestyle Breakfast’s rendition of tapsilog: New Zealand Beef Tapa served with garlic fried rice and an egg cooked as per the customer’s preference. We also tried out the hash browns topped with poached egg and tomato pesto.


The tapa was scrumptious but perhaps a prior warning in the menu that the tapa had chili in the marinade would have been appreciated. Along with the rice and fried egg, it balances and spreads the saltiness of the soy sauce marinade around beautifully. However, like most Filipino breakfast choices, it tends to be on the oily side.


The hash browns with poached egg was an interesting experience for us; this was not a combo we normally would have thought of. The egg was cooked to the right degree of runniness, and went well with the crispy hash browns. Although we had been looking forward to having the tomato pesto to round out the dish, the tomato was more of garnishing in this case. Thankfully the dish was flavored with a hint of paprika for a much needed kick.


We also had the Kanto Hot Choco to accompany our meals. Though this drink had much in the way of flavor, and was served with a good helping of hot milk, we found it a little on the thin side for our tastes.

Throughout the meal we wound up musing about the health value of the ‘traditional’ Filipino breakfast, which often consists of rice with a side of some fried or boiled meat or fish, and in some cases accompanied by an egg. Coffee, especially instant coffee, is also a feature of many Filipino morning meals. Admittedly the Filipino breakfast can be improved with the addition of more whole grains as well as fruit and vegetable options, alongside the reduction in the consumption of sugars such as overly sweetened coffee. This will be something we hope to find in our future breakfast excursions.

The Food Score:  4/5: The servings here were hearty, with well cooked and flavorful viands. The menu also caters to a variety of tastes; those who eschew rice for breakfast may choose pancakes, waffles, and bread to fill up on.  

Ambiance/Service Score: 2.5/5: Sad to say this was the major downside of our breakfast. The service at this branch was rather inattentive with small things such as cleaning tables, or bringing the bill to the customers.  

GERD Score: 3/5: The variety does help to find options for people with heartburn. However, it would be helpful for people with GERD if the menu pointed out if a meal had chili peppers or is inherently spicy.

Epilepsy Score:  4/5: Variety saves the day again here, as there is a selection of dishes that are mostly free of preservatives and other possible triggers. Some caution must be exercised with the  meaty breakfast viands, as these often tend to be cured or preserved products.  

Team Glasses Score: 3/5: This place is excellent as far as comfort food and hangover cures are concerned. However we feel we can find other healthy breakfast options in different establishments.

Kanto Freestyle Breakfast Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Il Fiore Earth Café and Gelato Lab

The mention of ‘organic dining’ or ‘farm to table’ restaurants often evokes images of greenery, warm brick red walls and wooden benches, and lengthy menus describing the ingredients and cooking styles of featured dishes. However, Il Fiore Earth Café and Gelato Lab defies this type by combining café-style meals and gelato under one cheery roof.


In keeping with its floral name—as il fiore is translated from Italian as ‘the flower’, this small café on Salamanca Street in Poblacion is decked out in pastel tones that provide a cheery contrast to its steel-and-glass environs. The menu is straightforward and reader-friendly, providing diners with a no-nonsense look at what they will be ordering. On the other hand, the novelty lies in the gelato selection, which features some unusual flavors such as mango-dragon fruit and hazelnut.

During our visit here we sampled the dark chocolate ganache gelato, as well as the portobello mozza burger, and the spinach and squash lasagna. The gelato was thick and luscious on the tongue, with creamy chocolate bits adding to the dessert’s deep flavor. Clearly there were no corners cut in the making of this gelato.


When we got our first sight of the portobello mozza burger, the first thought that popped in our minds was “How are we going to eat this?” Our knives and forks seemed too meagre for this task. After a little consideration, we realized there was no other way but to simply pick up the burger and bite into it, letting the melted mozzarella cheese ooze out along with the juiciness of the mushrooms. The alfalfa sprouts and tomato relish complemented the richness of the burger patty, providing some much needed cleansing to our palates.


The spinach and squash lasagna on the other hand was surprisingly light on the palate, even with the layers of tomato, béchamel sauce and cheese. The dish’s overall mildness made it easy to finish, however we felt that a sharper cheese or combination of cheeses would have brought a bit of a kick to the pasta.


Il Fiore Earth Café and Gelato Lab also features other interesting entrees like mushroom chips and quinoa chili shepherd’s pie, as well as a small array of cakes, pastries, tea, coffee, and yogurt drinks. This is a promising alternative to coffee shops and cafes, especially for patrons who desire healthy yet substantial meals to go with a hot drink or delectable dessert.


The Food Score: 4/5: The dishes here have an excellent balance of flavors, though at times they play a bit too safe on the palate. The gelato though is this place’s biggest strength.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4/5: The ambiance is cheery yet relaxing, good for a casual meetup with friends or holing up for a few hours to read or use a computer. However we noticed that this place uses disposable boxes and cutlery for serving, despite the presence of more environmentally friendly alternatives.

GERD Score: 3/5: Given the selection of meals they have, most of them aren’t heartburn friendly at all, either with the portion size that’s good for sharing, or the amount of cheese put in. But to their credit, they also have selections that are perfect for people dealing with heartburn such as yogurt and their gelato.

Epilepsy Score:  3.5/5: The dishes here are not too strongly seasoned, thus allaying most concerns about artificial seasoning. There are not too many non-caffeinated drink offerings on the menu though, which may be a bit off-putting to some cafégoers.

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5: We feel that this place has some promise in terms of concept a well as a few dishes, but there is still some room for improvement. On the whole though it is a cafe worth stopping in, or even lingering in for an hour or two with good food and excellent gelato.

Il Fiore Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Baker Brothers

The smell of freshly baked bread, for most people, is integral to visions of early morning and a hot breakfast. If one smells the fragrance of a hot loaf at sundown, one just might be in the vicinity of Baker Brothers, a tiny bakery at the front of the Cathouse Bar on Doña Carmen Street in Poblacion, Makati. Unlike other bakeries, Baker Brothers is open only from 5pm onwards, making it perfect for night owls, or those who simply do not want to be up at the crack of dawn just to fetch a fresh loaf or two.

We might have passed up on this place had it not been for a sign pointing us to artisan pizzas and freshly baked bread. As usual, where our curiosity leads, the stomach soon follows. It was just as well that when we got here after work on a weekday, it was not quite time for the dinner rush, thus allowing us to peruse the menu and consider our orders. All the pizza selections seemed enticing (especially the Ultimate pizza with Gorgonzola cheese and anchovies), but we eventually decided on the BB’s Calzone filled with cheese, ham and olives, as well as a steak and kidney pie.


Now our past experiences with calzones had involved middling portions either with a too thick crust, or overstuffed with cheese. This calzone at Baker Brothers was another story altogether: this was a 14 -inch pizza folded in half, served warm with a generous basil garnish. While Lee and I were still wondering how to tackle this delicious behemoth, our steak and kidney pie was brought out. At first glance, it appeared to be just like any other pot pie, comprised of flaky puff pastry. When we cut into it, we were treated to the unmistakable fragrance of gravy and spices, and meat so tender that it easily fell apart. Each bite was a combination of the hearty flavors of the steak and kidneys, as well as the more delicate hints of pepper in the gravy.


The only thing that was missing? A cold pint of beer to wash all of this down (but alas, we have eschewed alcoholic beverages a long time ago).

Despite the bare-bones dining area and occasional distractions from the TV on the porch, our dinner was enjoyable thanks to the good food and accommodating service. This is one place to consider for a meal before a night shift, or at the very beginning of a pub crawl throughout the labyrinth of Poblacion. If one’s bender doesn’t go all that well, then Bakers Brothers has a great selection of comfort foods to cap off the evening (or early morning).

The Food Score: 5/5: We’ve been converted to eating meat pies thanks to this place. The portions are delicious, ample, and yet not overpowering to more delicate palates.


Ambiance/Service Score: 3/5: The dining area is open to the street and rather noisy, thanks to the TV and the adjacent bars, so this may be off-putting to diners wanting a quiet evening. However the service is excellent, and the food is served in a timely fashion and still piping hot from the oven.


GERD Score: 3/5: As things are, the food here is meant to be shared because a single order is too large for a single person. And the presence of cheese on the pizzas can be a trigger for some people with heartburn. That said, as long as one shares the meal and minimizes the trigger intake, the meal here can still be enjoyable.


Epilepsy Score:  3.5/5: The pizza selections are friendly in the sense that one can pick ingredients for pizzas. As for the pies, there is always the caveat of not knowing the exact blend of ingredients and spices used, thus some diners may need to take precautions. Though the place is in cooperation with a bar, there are still fruit juices and water available for hydration.
Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5: This is not a place for healthy eating, or a glamorous night out. However this definitely a place to go for a hearty dish, or if one just ones something fresh out of the oven at late hours.

The Wild Poppy

Gardens and green spaces are rarities in the heart of the metropolis, especially in a busy neighborhood such as Poblacion. This is probably why some restaurants, cafes, and bars make it a point to have more nature-themed touches, if only to provide a respite from the bustling grays of the concrete jungle. One such refuge is The Wild Poppy, a cozy restaurant located on Don Pedro Street. The greenery of the place’s outdoor sign and its fresh green-and-white interior makes it clear that this is a haven, a place to escape the frenetic lights and traffic of this part of the city.


We had the good fortune to drop in twice at The Wild Poppy: first for a quick bite to eat en route home from work, and then eventually for an actual dinner. On our first visit here, we tried out the “Flying Chicks”: chicken wings with hoisin sauce and topped with sesame seeds. The wings were juicy yet crispy, and the hoisin sauce’s sweetness was not too overwhelming on the tongue.


However, the real stars of that trip were the drinks: we had some milky matcha and fresh watermelon shake. The watermelon shake was particularly refreshing, with a perfect consistency that was neither overly coarse or overly mushy. Now with our appetites whetted, we resolved we would soon come back for a proper sit-down dinner wherein we could relish each bite of the food.


For our latest journey here for dinner a few nights ago, we agreed that we’d try another appetizer/starter as well as two entrees. Unfortunately for us, the entrées selection here was rather limited; the true measure of variety here was in the various drinks and tonics, especially the gin mixes we could not drink! After a long debate, we decided to start off with “Tofu and the Gang”: crispy sautéed tofu with Chinese sausage in sesame oil. As incongruous as this pairing seemed at first, it was actually quite a delight: the stronger flavors of the Chinese sausage were set off by the milder ones from the tofu, thus making a dish that would prime the appetite instead of satiating it entirely.


Most of the dishes on the menu happened to be on the spicy side, so Lee found that the only dish he could safely order was the “Hoi Belly! Rice Bowl”. This turned out to be a deliciously braised slab of pork belly served atop this restaurant’s signature fried rice. This rice bowl did more than just fill our bellies; the pork was practically melting in our mouths with each bite! Definitely this is one dish we recommend.

Lee’s “Goin Coco” drink had a soft approach to the palate. Initially we thought it would taste more like tea, but we found the coconut milk with notes of the taste of tea was very welcome, considering the richness of the pork belly rice bowl.

As for me, I was in a rather adventurous mood so I ordered the “Chicken Ren Damn Rice Bowl”: chicken rendang with cucumbers and spices on top of rice. I suspect that the profanity may have to do with diners’ reactions when taking a first bite of this very spicy dish. However once that initial shock was over, I realized that the chicken rendang was well balanced out by the coconut milk used in the sauce. The result? I consumed every bite without much trouble—and without draining the dalandan juice brew I had ordered on the side!

Had we been able to partake of the various gin concoctions offered at The Wild Poppy’s ample bar, we might have tarried way past dinnertime. After all, how often does one get to at least figuratively escape the city? We’d definitely consider this place for another quiet night out, when we need some breathing room in the middle of the urban hustle and bustle.

The Food Score: 4.5/5: Our one gripe here is that the food selections are rather limited, at least in comparison with the drinks selection. However we are definitely not disappointed with the dishes we’ve had here, thanks to the delicate balance of flavors in each and every bite.  

Ambiance/Service Score: 4.5/5: This place is on the small side and can feel cramped on a busy night, however the laid back candlelit ambiance does a great deal to help one relax. The ample terrace is also a good place to sit and dine al fresco. The staff are very polite and accommodating, and service is reasonably fast here.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. Thankfully they have legends on the each food item if the selection is spicy, which unfortunately, makes for a harder choice when there are only two entrées safe for people dealing with heartburn. The portion size of the meal’s just right (at least for Lee) in terms of having a comfortable meal without feeling bloated after.

Epilepsy Score:  4/5: Diners who are sensitive to heavily seasoned foods or ingredients may need to eschew some starters and entrees.  Of course, the preponderance of alcoholic drinks severely limits one’s choices in terms of liquid refreshment if one is taking medications that preclude drinking alcohol.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. The Wild Poppy is really more of a place to gather with friends for a quiet night with drinks, but the food is definitely worth a visit on its own. We definitely recommend this place for a weeknight out.

The Wild Poppy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wokby 4900

Is a rice bowl ever just a rice bowl? Well this is certainly not the case at Wok by 4900. This newcomer to the Poblacion food scene revamps everyday mainstays such as rice toppings and grilled meats by combining them in delicious and inventive rice bowl combinations. Who would have ever thought of doing such a thing to stir fry?

The theme of unusual and fun combinations is evident even from the ambiance of the establishment itself; Wok by 4900 has the features of a casual dining restaurant with its relaxed and cozy seating arrangements on the ground floor, the roof deck and a small private dining area. On the other hand, the well stocked and colorful bar on one side of the room is sure to beckon to diners’ palates, or at least visual interest.

On our visit here, it took us some time to decide on our dinner owing to the intriguing menu offerings, ranging from a duck congee bowl all the way to a ‘breakfast of champions’ bowl featuring breakfast meats such as Spam with egg and fried rice. Eventually Lee ordered a full “Tokyo” bowl which consisted of fried rice with shitake mushrooms and bell pepper, topped with strips of nori and pickled vegetables, as well as beef and chicken skewers. Since I was in a more adventurous mood I opted for the ‘build your own bowl’ menu, and was immediately presented with a checklist of various stir fry bases, meats, toppings, and sauces. Never did I think that a stir fry place would consider adding bacon, chicharron, and kimchi to its dinner-time fare! I eventually picked out a relatively tame combination of stir fried flat noodles with string beans, leeks, tofu and Mongolian sauce, topped with a pork skewer and garlic.

The Tokyo bowl was cooked in the same manner as Chinese stir-fry, but it was also reminiscent of the Japanese fried rice kamameshi. The result was a delicate flavor with a hint of nuttiness combined with spice. The skewers were flavorful and juicy, and far from charred or overcooked. The only thing detracting from the harmony of this dish was the overt sourness of the pickled vegetable topping. As for my attempt at building my own bowl, the effect it had on me was akin to the experience of the critic consuming his first bite of ratatouille in the Pixar film of the same name. One bite brought back vivid memories of a summer night in Bangkok, and sitting down to a hot and delicious plate of freshly stir fried rice noodles while taking in the sights and sounds of a busy marketplace. It has been years since I’ve tasted anything that has helped me recreate that experience.

Although we could not order any of the alcoholic drinks and cocktails, we were still impressed by the beverages selection, which includes house specialties and cocktails named after the various East and Southeast Asian cuisines that have also inspired the rice bowl combinations on the menu. Nevertheless we did enjoy their iced tea, which had just the right amount of lemon sourness combined with sweetness. The bar also serves water in brightly colored glass bottles, an interesting change to the usual glass carafe.

This place left such an impression such that I wound up returning here with a large group of friends the very next evening. This time, in addition to building yet another bowl, this time with rice, adobo gravy, siomai, chicharron and scrambled egg, I also tried one of the dessert offerings: deep fried Cloud 9 chocolate. Like some deep fried concoctions this was served still piping hot with a puffy shell around it. This dish tasted just as one would expect it to: a sticky, sickly sweet gooey Cloud 9 bar. Thankfully there was the option of having ice cream to help balance out the sweetness.

As of now Wok by 4900 is still on soft launch. We look forward to returning here and seeing what other quirky and creative combinations will soon be in store.

The Food Score:  4/5: The set rice bowls here are filling and well balanced both in flavor as well as in terms of ingredients. In addition to stir fry there are other bar chow specialties on the menu for those who are in the mood for something lighter.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4.5/5: As small as this place is, there are still aple arrangements for solo diners as well as small groups. The staff are very accommodating and the food is served quickly and hot. On the whole, the ambiance here is quirky but casual, perfect for a laid back dinner before heading out for a night on the town.

GERD Score: 4/5. One good thing about the place, even if they’re set up as a pub, is that, there are plenty of options and flexibility for people who have to deal with heartburn, especially with the build your own bowl. It’s worth checking the place out to have a good time and not worry about the burps after.

Epilepsy Score:  4.5/5:.The fact that there’s an option to build one’s own bowl here is a boon; diners can mix and match ingredient in accordance to their tastes and health considerations. However the stir fry bases all contain starch or gluten, which may not be feasible for some diners. The non-alcoholic beverage selection is of course limited, but at least there is free flowing water here.
Team Glasses Score: 4/5. While there are some quirks that need to be worked out, as is the case with new restaurants, we are looking forward to having even greater dining experiences during our next visits. This is a place to go for quiet nights out as well as big group gatherings; in short, it’s ready for whatever party one has in store.

Wok by 4900 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

El Chupacabra

For some people, dinner and drinks make a perfect combination to start off a long weekend—-or get through a rough mid-week. So when one of my good friends commented out of the blue that she wanted to have tacos and margaritas—and it was just the beginning of the work week—I suggested we drop in one Wednesday evening at El Chupacabra. This Mexican themed bar located in Poblacion, Makati, has gained a reputation for its potent drinks and cocktails, as well as being a readily accessible place for great Mexican cuisine. Since Mexican food ranks fairly high on my list of favourites, this place was a must-try.

At first it was difficult to find this place; had it not been for the crowded outside seating area I might have missed this establishment entirely. Fortunately the bar’s interior was relatively quiet so this was where we sat down. My friend ordered two of El Chupacabra’s signature street tacos: the carne asada (grilled steak) taco, and the San Francisco style lean pork sisig taco. I got the picadillo (ground beef) burrito filled with meat, beans, cheese and Mexican rice. We also decided to split an order of gringas (quesadillas) filled with garlic and cheese.  For drinks, I simply had iced tea while my buddy had a glass of La Chupadita, the house signature drink.

Unlike other restaurants wherein the tacos are served folded and filled, El Chupacabra presents its street tacos flat, with the toppings heaped up. This allows the diner to eat the taco either like a pancake, or to fold it up according to one’s preference. On the other hand the burrito was served still wrapped in foil, but with a side of plain nachos and salsa. Both the tacos as well as the burrito were rich and heavy on the spices, and the burrito in particular was oozing with cheese.  On the other hand the quesadillas were milder in flavour, with only a little zing provided by the dips. As for La Chupadita, it was just as strong as its reputation has it. Definitely this is a drink to be reckoned with.

One thing is for sure, El Chupacabra is not a place for those with delicate constitutions. The hearty flavours require a robust stomach to digest, while the drinks must be taken with caution unless one is foolhardy. This is definitely a stop in the Poblacion bar crawl, but definitely not for a quiet dinner out!

The Food Score:  4/5: As far as flavours go, this place does it well. El Chupacabra has been touted as a haven for Mexican food aficionados, and my visit here didn’t disappoint. However presentation and plating of the dishes may be improved, if only to add to the dining experience.

Ambiance/Service Score: 3.5/5. The service is fast and friendly, a plus given the many customers who are at this place at any given point. However the ambiance may be off-putting; the graffiti on the walls and the reddish lighting do not exactly make one feel cozy, and instead evoke a feel of crouching in one of those shadowy establishments so often seen in Hollywood films.

GERD Score: 2/5. Considering the place’s menu leans to Tex-Mex and for bar patrons, the cheese or the spicy heat from their different selections doesn’t give much room for anyone who has to deal with heartburn.

Epilepsy Score:  3.5/5: This place is primarily a bar, so non-alcoholic options are understandably limited. However the heavy spice content of the dishes may not sit well with some sensitive diners. Gluten free tortillas are not an option here either.

Team Glasses Score: 3/5. While El Chupacabra is certainly worth a stop for Mexican food afficionados or anyone doing a Poblacion pub crawl, it just isn’t as friendly for diners with dietary issues. Definitely not for the weak stomachs!

El Chupacabra Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kite Kebab

In recent years kebabs, just like shawarmas, have been rising from their reputation as quickly grilled street foods, to more upscale fare in casual dining restaurants. One place that exemplifies this change is a cozy bar known as Kite Kebab Bar, located in Poblacion, Makati City. We might have bypassed this place altogether if not for its charming outdoor dining area with its wide cushy seats and a wide window decorated with small colourful lights. Much to our delight when we finally dined here, the restaurant’s interior was just as artfully decorated as its facade.  The walls were covered with bright murals, which made a great backdrop to the bar’s comfortable seating and well finished tables.

At first we were impressed by the menu, which featured various kinds of beef, chicken, lamb, and seafood kebabs, as well as a selection of salads and side dishes. In fact the menu enjoins customers to make their own platters by mixing and matching kebabs with side dishes, rice, or pita breads. However, we were informed that some of the kebab meats, as well as side dishes such as the smoked eggplant yogurt were not available that evening. Perhaps this had to do with the fact that the long weekend had just finished and the kitchen was not yet fully restocked. After a while we decided on these combinations:

For Lee: chicken kebab, biryani rice, and ox brain

For Kat:  tenderloin chipotle, basmati rice, and mojos.

To wash this all down, we paired our food with calamansi juice sweetened with honey, and a classic yogurt drink.

The chicken kebab was more akin to chicken tandoori in terms of taste, while the biryani rice lacked some of the characteristic aromas and flavour imparted by spices such as star anise; however both these dishes were still rather delicious. The highlight of this plate was the ox brain, which was lightly sautéed and minimally seasoned. The result was a smooth, silky side dish that would be tempting for adventurous diners as well as the more squeamish newcomers. We would definitely recommend this. Likewise, the tenderloin kebab was well seasoned with just enough of the chipotle spice blend to complement the beef’s natural hearty flavour. The mojos were served hot and crisp, with a mild garlic dip. All in all, this was a simple but tasty plate.

Unfortunately most of the desserts were out of stock too this evening, so we simply capped our meal with a small pot of tea to cleanse our palates. At the very least it allowed us to linger and enjoy the bar’s coziness a bit longer before heading out into an unusually cool summer night.


The Food Score:  3.5/5: Aside from the bugaboos with the flavours, we found the servings to be rather small for the price. However the selection is friendly for first-time diners, but also features dishes touted to be for the adventurous or more discerning diner such as kombutsa tea.

Ambiance/Service Score: 3.5/5. As beautiful as the bar’s interior is, one thing that marred it for us was the presence of large beer crates right in the main room. And while it’s definitely sad that many food items are not available, at least the staff are conscientious enough to immediately inform diners if there are any shortages on the menu.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. As far as selection and our experience here is concerned, there’s still some heartburn-friendly items that will still whet one’s appetite, because alongside the spicy and oily are subtle choices like hummus, and with regard to alcoholic and caffeine-filled beverages, there are also fruit juices and yogurt drinks available. We suggest cutting back on the butter a bit.

Epilepsy Score:  4/5: At the very least the foods are not too heavily spiced, thus making them friendly for sensitive diners. The drinks menu features a large non alcoholic beverages list, which is a boon for patrons who may worry about interactions with medications

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5. The Kite Kebab Bar is worth including on one’s itinerary for an evening bar-hopping throughout Poblacion. It may not be the place to get a full meal, but it is certainly a location to stop and catch one’s breath for a little while.

Kite Kebab Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yalla Yalla Express

When the terms “Middle Eastern food” and “to-go” are combined in the same sentence, what often comes to many people’s minds is shawarma in all its pungent pita-wrapped glory, or freshly seared kebabs. One place that is out to challenge this notion is Yalla Yalla Express, which features Lebanese cuisine, located on Don Pedro Street in Poblacion, Makati.


We espied this tiny restaurant during our previous forays in the area, but we only got around to trying it out one late afternoon, thanks to feeling a little peckish after work. From outside we could already smell the rich flavours of roasted beef and chicken shawarma, and just the slightest hint of spices. Inside the simply furnished restaurant, we immediately found the posted menu, which aside from shawarma, also offers beef kebab, falafel, shish taouk (chicken skewers), and sujuk (spicy sausage).  These meat choices can be served up either as wraps, or with rice. Yalla Yalla Express also has sandwiches, brick oven pizzas, and traditional dips such as hummus and moutabal (roasted eggplant)

Since we decided that our meal was to be an early dinner, we opted to try the shish taouk and the sujuk, both served with turmeric rice. Each meal came with Lebanese picked vegetables (cucumber, tomato, and beetroot), as well as onions tossed with pepper and spices. These vegetables provided a welcome contrast to the heady tastes of the meat and turmeric rice. Unlike many pickled vegetables which are tart and sometimes almost acrid, Lebanese pickled vegetables are more sweet-sour, even refreshing in flavor.


The shish taouk was cooked enough to lock in the subtle flavour of the chicken meat, but not too much to the point of drying it out. On the other hand the sujuk’s spiciness was more than the simple, explosive heat of chilis; it was a deep flavour that lingered on the tongue and yet did not overwhelm the palate.  A nice addition was the presence of garlic sauce as well as chilli sauce, allowing for diners to add a little more savor to the food. The only thing missing in our dining experience was a tall glass of yogurt to wash it all down.


At this point Yalla Yalla Express is still in its soft opening phase. We hope that more customers will give this place—and Lebanese cuisine—a try. It is indeed a hidden gem in the labyrinth of Poblacion.


The Food Score:  4.5/5. This is true for both flavour and quality, as well as authenticity. Lee says that the food we had was just almost like the food he enjoyed during his stint in the Middle East. The slight bugaboo we had was finding the turmeric rice to be on the oily side, but this didn’t detract much from our enjoying the meal. The prices are a bit higher than what one would expect for take-out meals, but the quality certainly justifies the cost.


Ambiance/Service Score:   4/5. Our food came in takeout boxes, which we suppose is due to this place being an ‘express’ establishment that can cater to those on-the-go. This, along with the minimalist furnishing of the restaurant, made our experience feel a little less homey. However the service was efficient and friendly, something we definitely appreciated


GERD Score: 4/5. Normally, when one combines the words “meat” and “rice”, one would think that it’s a recipe for heartburn disaster, but in this case, even with the slight oily feel from the rice, the food is pretty good for someone managing it. Again, triggers differ from one person or the other, but as long as you chew slowly and set aside the trigger food, you’ll be fine.


Epilepsy Score:  4/5. Dishes here do not make use of processed meats, which is a relief to those who cannot eat items laden with preservatives. However diners who are sensitive to spices may need to eschew some of the meals like the rice boxes we had.


Team Glasses Score: 4/5. This place is still in its soft opening, but already we can consider dining here to be rather worthwhile. We look forward to coming back for even better Lebanese food next time around.