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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Kenshin and the Do It Yourself Takoyaki

Kenshin and the Do It Yourself Takoyaki

Jr and I never let a good takoyaki pass by unnoticed. If there was takoyaki on the menu, we would most likely order it. If there was takoyaki in the food court, we’d probably go by the kiosk and get one. We’ve had the best takoyaki of our lives after queuing for it in Dohtonbori. But admittedly, I am still partial to the tako-less takoyaki of Samurai balls. I don’t care if they’re just balled up, overly seasoned pancakes. Those little guys are the bomb.

Japan, 2014
Japan, 2014
Japan, 2014
Japan, 2014
Japan, 2014
Japan, 2014

So when Jr heard that there is a do-it-yourself takoyaki set you can order in Kenshin, a Japanese restaurant in near Maluggay St, we trooped our way to Makati. I mean, friends couldn’t invite me to Makati even after twisting my arm. But strong is the call of food, so we braved the traffic and headed south.

kenshin-int-1kenshin-int-2

Kenshin is a fast casual Japanese restaurant that resides at the ground floor or a residential condominium. They had a Mt Fuji mural on one wall, the other wall is lined up with Japanese whiskey bottle reserves. The tables are full with families out for a saturday dinner and couples out on dates. But most importantly, there are Japanese patrons in the establishment.

Basically, the general rule for dining out in any establishment offering regional cuisine, if there are people from the same country eating in a restaurant boasting their cuisine, then it must be authentic and good.

Jr ordered the Chicken Karaage set, while I ordered the Beef Sukiyaki set. The Chicken Karaage was soft and tender you can cut it with your chopsticks. The Beef Sukiyaki was sweet and meaty. Both sets had generous servings and good enough to share. If you don’t want to share, which I understand, the set comes with unlimited rice.

kenshin-chicken-karaage-setkenshin-beef-sukiyaki-set

Lest we forget, we also ordered what we came here for: The Do It Yourself Takoyaki.

The server placed the butane can powered, single burner on our table and fired it up under the takoyaki plate. She placed all we needed on the table: the cooking oil, the batter, the fillings and the seasonings. And in spite of the many times we’ve seen a takoyaki cooked before our eyes, we still asked for instructions on how to actually do it.

It’s delicious. It’s another take on the table cooking we love doing at those yakiniku/hotpot buffets. And most of all, it’s fun.

kenshin-do-it-yourself-takoyakikenshin-takoyaki-2kenshin-takoyaki


G/F The Linear Makati
Yakal street corner Makapis Street
Makati, Philippines

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Currently Snacking On | Senbei (Japanese Rice Crackers)

Currently Snacking On | Senbei (Japanese Rice Crackers)

It’s typical of us at a grocery run. We come in with the intent of buying just one thing and we come out with a bag load of stuff we thought we didn’t need.

I’m going thru pouches of green tea bags like there’s no tomorrow.  I can only find it in Rustan’s Shangrila and it’s quite pricey. I figured there must be somewhere in Manila I can buy matcha I can steep in hot water. There’s a Japanese grocery 2 blocks from our flat so on Sunday morning I asked J if we can drop by so I can pick up the bag.

Note: I just wanted some green tea powder.

Here’s what we came out with:

Fujimart Green Tea Powder

✔ Green tea powder

This pouch is 415 pesos and comes with a resealable bag. Since I don’t trust myself when it comes to resealable bags and fearing it might clump up on me before I go thru it, I lock it again with this nifty thing you can slide through bag to keep it sealed. Insurance.

Fujimart 004

✔ What I could only assume is fish sauce.

I don’t know if they have fish sauce in Japan, but I highly suspect it’s sushi dipping. It’s 5 pesos and I just wanted one because I’m a sucker for all things miniature. It’s just 5 pesos so J made me grab a lot because he knows I have no regard to my kidneys anymore.

Fujimart 002

✔ Roasted sesame salad dressing.

Because J thinks we have vegetables at home. Lels.

Fujimart 001

✔ Senbei (Japanese rice crackers)

We knew we have tasted some before. Probably it came with the free tasting in a whiskey museum. We don’t remember when and where but we knew we liked it. Since there were a lot of options, we looked for the most kawaii packaging. More kawaii, more authentic right?

We lucked out because the one we got (the one with a giant smiling siopao on the packaging) is both savory with the right amount of sweet. Looks like I found a new addition to my daily baon in case of emergency collection: Hansel Premium crackers in Cheese, bakwa (yes, I carry cured meat all the time) and Senbei. Hangry prevention trifecta.


Fujimart
77 Timog Avenue Corner Panay Avenue
Quezon City, 1103 Metro Manila

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Flashback Friday | KYK at Porta Kyoto Station

Flashback Friday | KYK at Porta Kyoto Station

Sometimes, when traveling to places where you can’t, for the life of you, decipher what’s written on the sign, you just have to trust the line.

Fortunately in Japan — like what they do in Japanese restaurant here — they have the food is displayed in their waxy versions on the store windows so you’d know what they actually offer. You may not be able to read their names, but you know how they’d look like. You may not be able to say to your server exactly what you want, but you can point it to them.

Pointing, big animated gestures — they’ll get you what you want when language is a barrier.

While in Kyoto, you will most likely find yourself in Kyoto Station most of the time. Kyoto has an extensive bus system (one which I am extremely jealous of) and being a tourist, it’s a safe bet you’ll find your bus you need at the Kyoto Station terminal. Yes, you will get lost a lot — it’s Japan, it happens — but everything starts and stops in Kyoto Station. It’s very Cubao, or Divisoria.

All that getting lost finding your bus will get you hungry, but when you find yourself back Kyoto Station, you might as well gather your wits and map out your game plan in the comforts of Japanese food. Underneath Kyoto station is Porto Dining, where you can find a good number of dining options to suit your every Japanese food craving.

And KYK seemed to have the longest line.

Now, in terms of Japanese food, they say we already have everything we want in the Philippines. There’s no need to travel to Japan for a good ramen. Same goes with tonkatsu. There’s a ton of options on where you want your deep fried breaded pork here in Manila. But I will tell you, you will never truly appreciate tonkatsu until you have it in Japan.

When you think about it, tonkatsu is really simple. You get pork, dip in in panko, and then fry it. It’s a very easy concept that Filipinos can comprehend — easier than let’s say Ramen. Katsu places will really fly here in the land of lechon kawali-loving people.  Yabu is practically a staple now in our restaurant rotation, but Yabu is nothing when you have the lucky chance to try out KYK in Japan.

KYK Porta Dining, Kyoto Station, Kyoto, JapanKYK Porta Dining, Kyoto Station, Kyoto, Japan

I don’t know what kind of angels raised the pig that I had for my Katsu meal there, but it really tasted like the pork was lullabied by cherubs to sleep and massaged daily by glorious winged creatures.  The panko tasted fresh, and the meat looked perfect — cooked thru but still pink and juicy. It tasted insane. It is both life changing and life affirming at the same time. When the Japanese can make you something to eat like this on the cheap (well, relatively — everything is expensive in Japan), and in 10 minutes, it’s a good time to be alive.

That. And Japanese white rice. The Japanese — they know their rice.

 


Tonkatsu KYK
Porta, Kyoto Station,
Kyoto, Japan

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Tambai | Food on Sticks and Makati Hipsters.

Tambai | Food on Sticks and Makati Hipsters.

Tambai

Williamsburgos. 

The first time I stumbled upon that in the internet, I was simultaneously amused and in need to punch somebody in the face. The area they were referring to was that of Brgy. Poblacion in Makati, short of Brgy. Bel Air, just about where Soms and this little taco roll up cart is. Williamsburgos is a portmanteau (wow, big word) of this gentrified (stop it) neighborhood, now home to hipsters of Brooklyn and P. Burgos. P Burgos is that seedy street you pass by on the way to Rockwell, also known as the red light district of Makati — home to midget boxing. I was amused because, hats off, that was witty. I was severely annoyed because one, the area they were actually alluding to was a tad off burgos and two, hipsters who appoint themselves hipsters are not actually hipsters.

I cant even.

In the rare times I happen to be in Makati these days, I’d probably geo-tagged myself here. I can endure a couple of hours on the road for food, and this area has good food and for good food, the mantra is (all together now) “yes, willing to wait.”. Miraculously, we’ve never waited for a table in El Chupacabra. Good timing, I suppose, because the moment we grab the last available table, a crowd seems to huddle up in this area of Felipe St. People were starting to build up in front of El Chupacabra as well this one humid Saturday night before the big fight, but as much as the mere idea of sisig tacos makes my mouth water, I must resist. We were warding off cabin fever, and we travelled from QC to here from a day of being cooped up at our little home with the purpose of trying out Tambai.

Tambai is this little storefront restaurant that serves up Japanese style yakitori. There’s nothing much to the place: there are stools and small wooden tables upfront and at the garage they opened up for additional seating space. It’s alfresco, like much of the eating places in Felipe St. It’s basically a place, like the namesake, where you hang out… if you have a nice budget. It’s not cheap, so let me just get that idea out of the way. It’s alfresco, you sit on stools on a sidewalk, and you eat pricey food on sticks.

In my line of work, we call this “Luma-lifestyle.” Visit us as HQ and bring donuts and I’ll explain the concept. Writing it here will not win me friends.

Tambai TambaiTambai 3

Yakitori is a familiar concept to Filipinos, we just call it by a lot of names. Every major city now has Korean barbecue places with unlimited pork belly, and we have our local, street side, drenched in ketchup and cooking oil meat, chicken, and all the innards you can possibly cook barbecue. Yakitori is simple: unlike Korean bbq, the chef cooks it for you, and unlike our street corner bbq, you depend on good ingredients and not on the secret sauce because well, Japanese — the simpler, the more efficient, the better.

I have tried this one Yakitori fast casual place, mostly found in upscale food courts and I didn’t like it. Mostly because it adapted to the Filipino palate: they bathed everything in teriyaki sauce and everything was too sweet. Now Tambai — Tambai has good yakitori. But yeah, get ready to be a little spendy.

Tambai YakitodoTambai Soft Shell Crab

Recommendations: For the big sticks (Laki-Tori, fine, witty) , get the US beef rib finger. It’s tender, cooked to a tee just so it has just enough fight and be filling with your choice of rice (I got the Japanese rice; J, the kimchi rice). Since Makati is far, and we’re not in the area that often, we got the Yakitodo platter, which is basically everything they have on the small sticks menu. But when you visit, do not, and I repeat, do not miss the soft shell crab. You won’t get your money’s worth in size, but expect to get in happiness. And there, my friend, is where it counts.

 

 

Tambai
5779 Felipe Street
Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City

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