CHEAP CHOWS | 7-11’s 7 Fresh Grilled Chocolate Pancakes

CHEAP CHOWS | 7-11’s 7 Fresh Grilled Chocolate Pancakes

I have a love-hate relationship with sugar.

Saturday’s breakfast was set in my mind: We were going to have fried fish and egg and rice. Until I discovered that the cooking oil I have in my kitchen cabinet was barely enough to cover the pan. But I did not fret, for I have a trusty good ol’ 7-11 just around the corner. It’s the nearest convenience store and the only one in two blocks of residential houses and condominiums. I’m sure they have cooking oil.

So I put on some decent clothes and rushed out for a quick 7-11 run. I brought just a hundred pesos: One, because I only need cooking oil and two, because I need ONLY cooking oil. I tend to buy chocolate and chips whenever I’m in that 7-11. As I am trying to cut down my sugar intake, I have to be conscientious as to what I am buying so I just take the money I need for cooking oil.

As soon as I saw the glass door leading to 7-11, a new posted grabbed my attention: 7 Fresh Grilled Chocolate Pancakes, with Nutella.

Nutella is the bane of my existence. I love Nutella so much I used to have a fun size version of it in my kikay bag. I love Nutella so much now that I don’t buy it anymore. It used to be a staple in our grocery list. It’s not so much of a spread in the house. It’s something I take a spoonful of after meals. Or before meals. Or whenever. And whenever I hit the bottom of the jar, I’d always be reminded that I ate the entire jar, because the husband never touches it. So I stopped buying it.

Kewpie, Tiparos, Nutella

No. Focus. We just need cooking oil.

I made a beeline towards the back of the store where the grocery shelf is. I scanned it once, and then twice over. I peered towards the back of some items to push my luck but no dice. They’ve got no cooking oil. It was 7 am and the nearest grocery store won’t open until 9. I have a husband who’s expecting to have breakfast before he leaves the house at 8. I’ve only got 100 pesos on me, and the tinapa meal is already 85 pesos for one. Of course, the only logical conclusion my mind ended up with is, ‘this is a sign’ — I guess I’m buying the grilled pancakes.

I grabbed bought both the chocolate and salted caramel pancakes. I was supposed to ditch the place and just microwave it upstairs like I would normally do when I buy 7 Fresh meals when I realized they’re supposed to be grilled. I handed then back to the 7-11 staff who kindly took it out of the packaging, placed it in the panini grill, heated it up, placed it back to its packaging and handed the hot bags back to me.

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711 pancakes 001

I took them up to a very grateful husband. The Chocolate pancakes tasted more like cake than pancakes and I would appreciate a little more Nutella in them. Surprisingly, I liked the Salted Caramel version.

Sugar – 1, Lallie – 0.


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The Titaness of Cafe Dominique

The Titaness of Cafe Dominique

I get overwhelmed when friends ask me where to eat in my neighborhood. I hate to be in a position where what little of my expertise, and one I’m particularly proud of — eating — is tested. There is the fact that there are a million and one options available in Scout area. And then there the effort of trying to align my recommendation to my friend’s preferences: what do they feel like having? That, of course, narrow options down significantly and relieves me slightly of my anxiety.

And then I get shit feedback like: I don’t know. Whatever. You decide.

If you’re going to make me decide, and if your dining choice today depends completely on me, I’m going to send you to that pares place we go to in Sacred Heart, but I don’t think you’d go all the way to QC for low brow al fresco dining, no matter how good the butter chicken there is.

Luckily, I discovered a new place that ticks off most considerations for the category of friends who most frequently ask me where to eat in QC — the titas who lunch, or merienda.

Cafe Dominique 008
Cafe Dominique 010
Cafe Dominique 007

Fresh urban, chic industrial interiors – check.
Wide array of food on the menu to cater to every taste – check.
Good lighting for IG food photos and facebook group photos – check.

There are places where Jr and I entered and we would comment, “I’d like our house to look like this”. One such place is Cafe Dominique in West Triangle. It’s spacious and with glass panels for walls, has generous lighting. The food they offer ranges from salads, to pizza, to all-day breakfast to kare kareng bagnet. Cafe Dominique will have an option for all your tita friends and their various diet levels.

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Cafe Dominique 004
Cafe Dominique 003

Since were passing time before eating dinner by eating merienda — another very tita thing to do — we just ordered two things: their bestseller four cheese pizza and the smores. Their pizza looked like a panizza and came topped with alfalfa and it was good. Their smores was actually why I know of Cafe Dominique. I read it off some random listicle on facebook and pinned it to be tried somewhere in the future. Jr and I have blood sugar issues and we normally don’t have desserts when eating out. Desserts we save when we have company so we can share the sugar with friends.

And Cafe Dominique is definitely a place where you share sugar with friends.


Cafe Dominique
42 Examiner St. West Triangle
Quezon City, Metro Manila

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CHEAP CHOWS | Tapsi Sa Gagalangin

CHEAP CHOWS | Tapsi Sa Gagalangin

There are places you go back to because it’s inexpensive. There are places you go back to because the food is delicious. There are some you go back to out of nostalgia. I consider a person lucky if once in his life he comes across a special place that checks off that sweet trifecta, one he will always go back to everytime he’s in a neighborhood, and brings him back to the good old times.

There is a small restaurant in a tight two way street where my grade school stands. It’s so small I wouldn’t even call it a restaurant. The eatery is a small gated patio in front of an stand alone apartment. There are about 10 monobloc chairs randomly distributed between a one-sided surface which is a plank against a wall and a small foldable square table resting against another wall. At lunch time, when the place gets inevitably full, the home owner, also the eatery’s proprietor opens up her sala, unfolds another table and ups her seating capacity to 16.

The place only serves one type of meal: Silogs — Tapsilog, Tocilog, Longgasilog, Adobosilog. When we hit 4th grade, our school hours extends to the entire day and we finally have a lunch hour. There isn’t as much dining options in Gagalangin, Tondo in the 90’s. So at lunchtime, you’d probably find me and my friends here, ordering a Tapsilog each for 27 pesos. Or maybe two.

As Tapsilog goes, the meal is comprised of fried rice, a fried egg and beef tapa. Mrs. Chavez’ tapa was fried but moist, and the marinade remains a topic of conversation between friends to this day. We have our opinions on it, and we’re highly suspicious that the meat was bathe in milk because it was tender and tastes sweet and ‘milky’. And all these we drown in their secret concoction of soysauce and vinegar. We use their soysauce like how most use KFC’s gravy — almost a substitute for soup.

Forth grade was 22 years ago, and I left my school in Tondo 17 years ago. Once in a while, in a gathering of friends, large takeout orders of the tapsi of the childhood would pop up on the dining table, individual servings packaged in small cellophanes. The last time I was in the neighborhood was in January, when a niece of my highschool friend was baptized at a nearby church. I and a couple of friends decided to drop by, for old time’s sake. The layout didn’t change a bit, but as with everything from your childhood, the place seemed smaller than you remember. I ordered a Tapsilog — now at 45 pesos. I took a small holder of their special soy sauce, drowned my tapa, and took a bite and I was back in highschool. I ordered a couple to go, hoping to bring, and stretch even a tiny bit, some nostalgia home.


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8Cuts and Their Soft Shell Crab’wich

8Cuts and Their Soft Shell Crab’wich

Here’s another one we found on facebook.

Since I once again gave up meat on lent, I am the perfect target market for any restaurant’s lenten offerings — aside from being an easy mark in the first place for the obvious reason that I simply like food.

On a recent scroll thru facebook, I chanced upon this ad from 8cuts — a deep fried soft shell crab stuck between two burger buns. I am a sucker for soft shell crabs. It’s an Ooma and 8Cuts collaboration, and since I like 8Cuts burgers and I have never met an Ooma dish I didn’t love, I figured I would fall in love with their baby. I immediately made a mental — and physical note in my notebook because I have one bad memory — to try the offering before its limited run ends.

A couple of hours later and my husband tags me on the same post. He knows me too well.

So when we found ourselves in Trinoma for a grocery errand, we decided to drop by 8Cuts for dinner. We had the fish and chips, the big bucket of onion rings — did you know they come in buckets now? — and the softshell crab’wich.

The fish in the fish and chips was bland as hell. I would like to think they’re just making you really feel the weight of your lenten sacrifice with every bite. The dish had 4 or 5 pieces of it in it and we doggybagged a couple so I can drown them in a seafood sauce I am making the next morning. The soft shell crab’wich was equally disappointing. Crabs have delicate flavors to begin with, and I have suspicions when seafood is heavily slathered in sauce, especially when it’s not doing the crab’s own flavor any favor. And the sauce wasn’t my only issue. You can hardly taste the softshell crab behind the thick breading. I felt that the logic behind the sandwich was a little overdone on a super short amount of brainstorming time. I was imaging the conversation to be “Okay we need something to offer for lent. Go!” The idea was nice but the execution — not so much. But I’m going to be fair on this. You don’t really go in a burger place which specializes in meat and ask for seafood. But still, I am also asking for fairness. If you’re going to offer it in your menu, please mean it. You’re still asking us to pay for it.

At least we enjoyed the bucket of onion rings — that is our meal’s saving grace.

8Cuts 0038Cuts 0058Cuts 0078Cuts 002


8Cuts Burger Blends
2F TriNoma Mall EDSA cor. North Ave.
Quezon City, Metro Manila

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IS IT WORTH IT? | Pablo Mini Cheesecake

IS IT WORTH IT? | Pablo Mini Cheesecake

I always believe that you have to try it before you knock it. You should try everything once, before you can lay judgement on it. Even if I know I am going to hate it after, if I’m offered something for the first time, I will take a bite of it. This way, if I like it then that will be my lovely discovery for the day. If I was right and it failed me convince me otherwise, I’ll be able to tell you why I don’t like it.

I admit I was a little bit too late to this Pablo cheesecake game. The hype has died down and the lines have already disappeared. The reviews have been mixed but bad reviews never hindered me from trying things. In fact, bad reviews draw me to restaurants. I mean, I love loving the unlovable. I’m sure it’s not all bad. Also, I am a lifelong masochist. It’s not that I don’t like to try Pablo because I know I won’t like it. I just don’t feel like shelling out 599 pesos for a cheesecake. Especially when I know I alone will eat it.

Sometimes, I don’t like buying Nutella or cream cheese, just because if I find myself scraping off the bottom of the jar or tub, I will realize that I alone ATE ALL OF THAT. In what most likely is in a span of a week. Or maybe 3 days, to be honest.

Recently, I went to BGC to have dinner with friends, and there on Bonifacio High Street stands a Pablo Mini kiosk. Along with the big 499 cheesecakes (did they lower the price or it this a smaller portion? I am not sure.), they sold mini cheese tarts at 100 a piece. My friends and I were up for dessert and I guess this would be the time, finally, that I get to try the much hyped cheesecake.

Pablo Mini 001
Pablo Mini 002

My friends went for the chocolate and the matcha while I ordered the original cheesecake. We ordered 6 minis and it came with a well thought out box. Jr and I decided we’re sharing which is a good thing because as soon as I took a bite, I realized it was a little bit too rich for me. It’s good, don’t get me wrong. The thick crust balances out the soft custardy consistency of the cheese cake. The cheese is too soft that it practically oozes out and it could get messy if you weren’t prepared for it. My friend says it’s better chilled — the cheese holds better and there more of a bite to it. But this is the same friend who compared a chilled Pablo cheesecake with the 12 peso eggpie we love from Los Angeles bakery, the nearest bakery to our school in Gagalangin, Tondo.

Pablo cheesecake is good, but my unsophisticated tastebuds like the LA bakery eggpie better.


Pablo Mini
Bonifacio High Street
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

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