Dining at The Farm

The Farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

Crepe Amelie

A good many people would consider crepes as desserts or heavy snacks. We at Team Glasses feel that this is oversimplifying such a wonderful creation that has gone far beyond being an unusually thin pancake. After all, if one can eat pancakes (fixings optional) for breakfast, who’s to say that crepes cannot be given the same treatment? With this in mind, we searched for a café or crepe restaurant that would be open on a sleepy Saturday morning—and it so happened that Crepe Amelie would fit the bill.

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We ventured here on a sleepy Saturday morning, when much of Poblacion would still be recovering from a traffic-filled, rainy payday Friday. Even at just past 8am, the café was already open and ready, smelling deliciously of butter and freshly brewed coffee. The ambiance was mellow with soft yet upbeat French music, a perfect contrast to the stark grays of the concrete jungle beyond the windows. After some mulling over the fairly ample menu of crepes, sandwiches, pasta, and all-day breakfasts, we decided to try the Roast Beef crepe, the Breakfast Quesadilla, and hot chocolate.

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The Roast Beef crepe is one among a selection of savoury crepes, filled with meat, vegetables, and seafoods instead of dessert fare such as fruits, creams, and syrups. This particular crepe featured thinly sliced roast beef covered with a dill sauce, with roasted potato wedges on the side. The mildness of the crepe was the perfect backdrop to the flavors of dill and beef. Despite its richness, it was not heavy or overly cloying to the tastebuds, making this perfect for a light meal. The only thing missing was a small serving of fresh green salad to cleanse the palate. Nevertheless, we struck gold on this dish.

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On the other hand, the Breakfast Quesadilla was a crepe filled with bacon bits, egg, cheese, and tomato, and covered with baked beans. This heftier creation was not as spicy as its Tex-Mex name would suggest; on the contrary, it was mild and sweet, and friendlier to the Filipino palate. I never thought that a soft crepe would be a great substitute to a crisp and toasted tortilla, but this meal certainly had me convinced of this interesting alternative.

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As for the hot chocolate, it was exactly what we like in a respectfully made cup of hot choco. One sip brought to mind the words deep, dark, and earthy. There was certainly no skimping of ingredients in the making of this concoction.

Crepe Amelie also offers a selection of salads, pastas, cakes, and even yogurts for diners who may fancy something else besides crepes, or who wish for a main course to go with a dessert creation. It is enough to have diners coming in, regardless of the early or late hour. We definitely will keep this place in mind for those fine dining days in the Poblacion area!

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The Food Score: 4.5/5: The selection of dishes caters to all palates, but some of the flavors are a little on the bland side. That aside, the food is filling, and hefty enough for hungry solo diners but just the right size for diners who wish to share the meal.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4.5/5: The ambiance is a perfect contrast to the busy atmosphere of A.Venue and Poblacion, but the service here could be a little more prompt at times. Nevertheless the staff are very courteous and accommodating.

GERD Score: 4.5/5: While there are selections that are less than GERD-friendly, there’s quite a numerous selection of food choices to go along with one’s own condition, from savory or sweet crepes to some yogurt.

Epilepsy Score:  5/5: There are crepes and other dishes here to serve most dietary restrictions. Can’t have processed meats? There are vegetarian selections available—and we don’t mean just the salads! There are also non-caffeinated drinks for those who cannot stomach coffee.

Team Glasses Score: 4.5/5: Crepe Amelie does a great job at making a chic dish such as crepes accessible and palatable to the Filipino taste. All bugaboos aside, this was a very satisfying breakfast experience.

Crepe Amelie 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

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.

Corner Tree Cafe Vegetarian Food

Amid all the brightly colored establishments on Jupiter Street, one particular restaurant that has caught my attention for some time is a quiet, homey looking nook on the corner of Jupiter and Saturn Streets.  It’s this unassuming facade, as well as a recommendation from a relative, that brought us to the Corner Tree Cafe Vegetarian Food—and one of the best dining experiences that Team Glasses has had so far.

We arrived here just past 6:30pm, eager to avoid the dinner rush. Right away we felt welcome in this cozy cafe, which was lit warmly with candles and old-fashioned lanterns on the tables and the counter.  Old pictures and simple prints added to the establishment’s intimate ambiance. It was enough to have us deciding to have a full course meal there, instead of just ordering one or two entrees and heading elsewhere for dessert.

For starters, we had Spanokopitas, a Greek appetizer consisting of spinach in filo pastry, served with a mint yogurt dip. This dish was served to us still warm, allowing us to appreciate the subtle flavour of the spinach combined with the mild tartness of the mint yogurt dip. It was exactly what we needed to whet our appetites in preparation for the entrees.

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Lee decided to try the Veg Bibimbap, which consisted of a variety of vegetables and mushrooms, served with red rice and a small saucer of kimchi. Although Lee had to remove some of the spicy bean paste that served as seasoning for this dish, we found that this did not detract too much from the taste of the bibimbap as a whole. All in all, this dish was very filling, leaving only a slight tingling on the tastebuds as opposed to a searing spiciness in the throat.

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I chose the North African Vegetable Stew, which was a mix of vegetables cooked in Moroccan spices, served over either red rice or couscous. For adventure’s sake I chose couscous, and I am happy to say that I did not regret this. The couscous was light on the palate yet very filling. As for the vegetables, they were served still warm and crisp, and nowhere near limp or soggy. Although I was warned that this dish contained capsicum, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the hotness of this dish was not overwhelming, but just enough to give some more kick to the food’s light flavours. There was only one thing wrong with this dish: there wasn’t enough of it!

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For dessert we had the Chocolate Mousse with Dark Toblerone. I was half expecting a very thick and rich concoction, but I was delighted to be greeted with a light, delicately flavoured confection topped with almonds. The mousse had just the right amount of sweetness to make its chocolate flavour more appealing even for diners who are not into dark chocolate. This, as well as a pot of hot tea, was the perfect conclusion to our already very filling and satisfying meal.

The Corner Tree Cafe Vegetarian Food may be considered as one of the more hidden gems on Jupiter Street, but it is definitely one worth a visit…or maybe two or more. It’s proof that eating healthy and vegetarian can be fun and delicious, something worthy of gourmets and gourmands alike.

The Food Score:  5/5. The menu is proof that vegetarian food is far more than salad: everything from burgers to Filipino favourites such as adobo and sinigang can be found here.  There are also weekly specials (written on a blackboard) that offer diners new dishes in addition to the already expansive selection here. The quality of the food is excellent and the dishes are reasonably priced. There are even potluck options for those who wish to order in bulk to bring some of this  goodness to events.

Ambiance/Service Score:   5/5. The cafe allows for an intimate dining experience; soft lighting, cozy arrangements of the tables, and relaxing music all add to this atmosphere. The menu here is printed in a very user friendly manner, showing which dishes are gluten free, or which have capsicum. A small glossary also accompanies the menu. The staff members are very welcoming and are more than happy to provide clarifications about the menu

GERD Score: 5/5. Because of the chili-induced heat for that Bimbimbap and other meals, the café / restaurant elaborates and puts out warnings for their diners if a certain dish has capsicum or spices. And even if you can’t get a certain dish, there’s plenty of delectable options still. Other than that, I definitely recommend the place, even if you’re dealing with heartburn.

Epilepsy Score:  5/5.  Finally we found a place that explains the ingredients as well as tries its best to source food from organic sources. Although this is a cafe, there is a wide selection of non caffeinated drinks such as juices and even lassi (a yogurt drink) for diners who are sensitive to caffeine.
Team Glasses Score: 5/5. Yes, we will definitely be back for more. It  is not often we get to dine at a place wherein the food is just as welcoming and healthy as the ambiance, and we consider the Corner Tree Cafe Vegetarian Food as one of those that hit the spot.

Corner Tree Cafe Vegetarian Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

An adventure in Vietnamese Cuisine: Ba Noi’s

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Since I got back here, one particular cuisine always comes up when discussing our culinary adventures. Besides our liking for Japanese, Italian, and Middle Eastern food in no particular order, Vietnamese comes out as third in Kat’s list, because of some previous culinary adventures and the reputation of Vietnamese cuisine as being somewhat healthy, at least compared to some Filipino cooking. Thankfully, we finally found some time to try out the food at Ba Noi’s, on Perea Street in Makati.

After a lot of debate over the rather extensive menu, Kat took the Bun Ga Nuong Xa which is grilled lemongrass chicken over dry rice noodles. I, on the other hand, had Bo Luc Lac which stir-fried beef served with fried basil leaves and a salt and pepper dip with lime. To wash it all down, we ordered some Jasmine Tea.

The Bo Luc Lac is a well-balanced dish with the medium rare beef, fried basil, and dip complementing each other in the tightrope of getting different flavors to jive well together. It’s perfect with the plain rice I ordered, but at the same time, had to set aside the chili and the seeds as much as I could. If medium rare isn’t your thing, one can definitely ask if the chef could meet it to your standards (but whatever you do, don’t butcher it by asking for a well-done). The salt and pepper dip that comes with this dish is a simple but delicious touch.

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On the other hand, the lemongrass chicken came of as more hot and peppery than tart and lemony. This wasn’t entirely a surprise, knowing that Vietnamese cuisine shares some similarities with other Southeast Asian cuisines such as Thai. As it was, the rice noodles made an interesting contrast to the rest of the very savory ingredients.

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And the Jasmine tea is a nice touch to cleanse the palate after a savory meal.

The place had a casual metropolitan chic feel to it, well suited for its casual dining feel. If you’re going for something authentic-looking, this isn’t the place. Otherwise, the place is definitely worth a shot.

Food Score: 5/5. As food goes, Ba Noi’s is spot on and if Kat’s red cheeks after eating all the spicy goodness is concerned, a moment of perfection. This place also serves Vietnam drip coffee, which is reputed to be good (and Kat still mourns the fact that she cannot have any of this drink).

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. The servers are attentive enough and catered to our needs well. And the modernist interior is neat and visually pleasing to dine in.

GERD Score: 2.5/5. Thankfully there are options, but unfortunately, not many for someone dealing with heartburn because Vietnamese cuisine has bird’s eye chili as a staple.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. In general, dishes here do not rely on preserved meats or artificial seasonings, which is a good thing. Unless one is triggered by chilis, this place should be pretty safe.

Team Glasses Food Score: 4/5. Ba Noi’s definitely meets up our expectations of a good Vietnamese restaurant, having both good food and a comfortable place to eat. We enjoyed our experience here and recommend the place for those who want to take a bite of Vietnamese cuisine.

To our readers, if you have any suggestions as to which restaurant or cafe you’d like us to try next, go to our Contact Us page and let us know your thoughts and suggestions.

Ba Noi's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato