Pappadom-Masala

Swagat Indian Cuisine

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For a change of scenery from our usual haunts, we decided to explore the other side of Ayala Avenue into Legaspi Village for some Indian Cuisine here at Swagat.

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After entering the quaint restaurant, the strong hint of spices permeated through the entire place, a sign of an actual Indian eatery. The pink walls and random portraits added to the simplicity of the facade, and a casual place to dine.

Our dinner started with an appetizer of pappadom masala (a crisp deep fried lentil wafer with spices, onions, and tomatoes on top) each. Kat got some paneer korma (homemade cheese cooked with onions, tomatoes, and spices) and roti, with masala lassi (yogurt drink with masala) to wash it down. On the other hand, I ordered some sangam biryani (lean and tender pieces of chicken and lamb cooked with fresh herbs, spices, and Indian rice and in cream mughalai sauce), along with rose lassi (yogurt drink with rose petals).

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Pappadom Masala

The pappadom masala was a welcome start to our meal and got our palates going. The pappadom was full of flavor and the crispy texture blended well with the fresh tomatoes and onions on top.

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Sangam Biryani

The sangam biryani reminded me of a smaller portion of the ones I ate on a daily basis during my stint in Qatar, with the various South Asian eateries around the country. Choosing the mildest spice levels they had, I would say that it was just a touch above the right amount of heat for an ordinary Filipino tastes. The chunks of chicken and lamb absorbed the spices exceptionally well too. Washing it all down with the inherent sweetness of rose lassi became a nostalgic journey back to two years ago, during my stay in the Middle East.

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Paneer Korma

The paneer korma was the sort of dish that needs to be shared with friends, all equipped with plenty of bread. The spices give a subtle kick to the milder cheese and tomato flavors, which can also be enjoyed alongside other dishes. The masala lassi was more of an acquired taste, with the strong spices competing with the natural sourness of the yogurt in the drink.

Great things are coming up for Swagat, which  will be moving to their new location at The Columns Legaspi Village at Amorsolo St. cor. Arnaiz Ave. Makati City this December. It should be worth a check at their new home.

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Food Score: 4/5. Food wise, Swagat hits right on the mark with Indian home cooking flavors. At the same time, each dish is done well to complement each other.

Ambiance / Service Score: 3.5/5. The service was attentive enough for taking care of our needs. Unfortunately, the place doesn’t look cozy for anyone wanting to have a pleasant dinner.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. While there are plenty of options here at Swagat, it’s not a guarantee the spices don’t include the usual triggers such as chili powder. One saving grace is the fact that there are plenty of lassi and yogurt choices to help counteract the heat and the aftereffects of the heartburn.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. While there are plenty of food selections to suit all kinds of diets and restrictions, the heavily spiced dishes may not agree with some diners. We recommend in particular the non-alcoholic drinks section for a safe night out.

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5. Swagat Indian Cuisine, simply put, is a quaint place for the curious to have a taste of home-cooked Indian food. And with their new spot in Arnaiz Avenue, it should still be worth a look at, if you’re just going out with friends and not too conscious about any health conditions.

Swagat Indian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Le Petit Souffle

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French and Japanese fusion has been something not unheard of. What comes to mind for me when this type of fusion is mentioned are the ending scenes of the Japanese movie “Tampopo”, replete with mouthwatering ramen. But as Kat has pointed out on more than one occasions, Le Petit Souffle takes fusion to another level. And on another level it sure was.

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Furikake Pomme Frites

For our date and de-stressing session, we started out with an appetizer, which was the Furikake Pomme Frites. When it arrived, the imagery of a pile of shoestring potatoes was a long step up from that of canned shoestring snacks. The texture was crunchy yet light on the taste buds. We managed to catch the natural flavor of the potatoes as well as the combination of nori, sesame seeds, and other seasonings they’ve mixed in, without the typical oiliness one usually expects from fried appetizer.

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Carbonara Souffle

 

 

 

For our main course, Kat picked the Carbonara Souffle. And it was a treat to be had aesthetically with the egg on top like a cloud ready to be mixed in with the firm pasta, crisp bacon, and grated parmesan. And once mixed together, it transcended all our expectations because the creaminess of the carbonara sauce wasn’t overpowering. The pasta created a platform for each ingredient to shine through.

 

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Japanese Beef Curry Souffle

I, on the other hand, took on the Japanese Beef Curry Souffle. I honestly did not expect myself facing a meal that’s good for two people. At the same time, it was just as inviting to the eyes as to the tastebuds. The fluffy texture of the scrambled egg complemented well the rice and curry underneath it. The beef was thinly cut into strips that absorbed the flavor of the curry, though I felt that the texture would have been better with the meat cut into cubes.

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Valrhona Guanaja Chocolate Souffle

As we were in dire need of stress relief after the rigors of graduate school, we immediately picked to our old stress relief motto of ‘Get chocolate when stressed’.  The one thing that would fit the bill was the luscious Valrhona Guanaja Chocolate Souffle. The dark chocolate caressed our taste buds, while the souffle itself achieved a balance of moist and firm  textures in the same bite. It was the ideal decadent ending to our meal.

After our meal, we took time to glance around the place, which evoked the feel of being in an Parisian garden cafe., with a touch of adorably barmy courtesy the rolling pins hanging out among the leaves and branches. This odd and welcoming charm cinched the deal for us.

Simply put, this was a dinner date to remember.

 

Food Score:5/5. Each item of the menu here is well thought of and combines well with each other. But we personally like the Carbonara Souffle because it is a class of its own, and the Valrhona Guanaja Chocolate Souffle is sublime.

Ambiance / Service Score: 5/5. The entire restaurant gives of the vibe of being in a chic Parisian garden, which makes it a calming and comforting place to dine in. Their servers are also on top of our dining experience, informing us when the souffles will be ready and even assisted us to have the chocolate souffle come out 25 minutes after our main meals come in.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. My only problem with the menu is that since it is French-inspired is that there are plenty of dairy and eggs, which doesn’t help my heartburn. But thankfully they have plenty of options in their menu that can cater to most diets.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Hooray for well sourced ingredients, and rich dishes that do not rely on preservatives. Although coffee is a must-have at Le Petit Souffle, the teas and juices are also very much recommended.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. All things considered, it was an amazing experience dining in Le Petit Souffle’s way of doing Japanese-French fusion cuisine. And we recommend that it should be experienced at least once by any casual gourmet here in the Metro.

 Le Petit Souffle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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

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.

Honey Nutribar: The Future Disaster-Relief Snack

In a country where natural disasters happen often, food that’s both filling and nutritious is a necessity. Unfortunately, most relief packs from donations consist of either crackers and biscuits, canned goods, or things like noodles or rice which require potable water. The last two options have downsides to them, which are the problem of artificially made preservatives, as well as the lack of sustainable potable water or water-filtration systems in evacuation centers and in ground zero.

If my guilty pleasure of watching people who eat military or civilian Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) has taught me anything, ready to eat foods need to meet certain criteria.  Since its purpose is to be ready to eat even after a year of storage or more, an MRE pack should remain edible despite being stored  for a long period of time. It should be easy to transport without crumbling apart readily. And most importantly, these should have a healthy amount of calories and nutrients to make one survive the grueling day or have a substantial meal in a pinch.

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While we don’t have locally-produced MRE packs like in the US or Indonesia, I would have to say that the Honey Nutribar is a step in the right direction.

Created by the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), the Honey NutriBar is made out of pinipig (pounded glutinous rice), honey, rice krispies, dried fruits, and pectin. What sets this bar apart from the commercially available ones is the process that’s involved in preserving it.

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Each bar is vacuum-sealed in laminated aluminum foil, and then irradiated at a dose of 1 kilogray gamma radiation at the PNRI’s Multipurpose Irradiation Facility. Now one asks him or herself, “Irradiated? Isn’t that toxic?”. Unlike what happens in nuclear meltdown and accidents like Chernobyl or Fukushima, the irradiation process does not turn the food radioactive, and in fact makes it safer for consumption.

Now what is irradiation exactly? It is the process wherein the food (in this case, the Honey NutriBar) is exposed to electron beams or gamma radiation. Here are some benefits to the irradiation process.

  1. Preservation by destroying or deactivating the organisms that speed up spoilage and decomposition.
  2. Elimination of disease-causing bacteria such as Salmonella and E.Coli.
  3. Sterilization. Sterilized food last long in storage and a useful source of food for patients with severely-impaired immune systems.
  4. Irradiating does not change the taste or consistency of food.

Currently, the said product is still in development. The team at PNRI has managed to get the Honey Nutribar’s shelf life at nine months, but the staff in the PNRI conference area told us that the team is aiming to make it shelf-stable for two years.

With a bit of help from individuals and groups willing to invest in this research, the Honey Nutribar will soon be able to provide a readily available and tasty source of food during natural disasters and other emergencies. Since these are packed with nutrients and sufficient calories, these snack bars are also great for athletic events and outdoor activities.

 

For more information on the Honey Nutribar, please contact:

Ms. Zenaida M. De Guzman

Head, Biomedical Research Section, Atomic Research Division

Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Nuclear Research Institute

Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City

Tel. No. 929-6010 to 19 loc. 273

Email: zmedguzman@pnri.dost.gov.ph