Monday, July 25, 2016

Surprisingly Good Lunch at Potluckers at BGC Stopover

After almost 15 years with the company I work with... (Yes, I am old enough to work in a company for almost 15 years, though I don't look it!) we finally moved office locations. We are now working at the heart of the new Central Business District in the Fort, coming from our old office beside one of the tributaries of the Pasig River beside our factory in Manila, so it's quite a step-up (standard of living included). 

I was also working in Singapore when we moved office locations, but I must say the experience was a bit different, because from working in the city center - where Clarke Quay was 10 minutes on foot, and Orchard Road was a 15 minute walk (not to mention my home was a 15 minute walk away as well), we moved to the middle of nowhere (where our current office is still located). 

But when change comes, there's really nothing you can do but adapt to it. I think both changes force you to work more flexibly, so you can make the most of the situation to get a better quality of life. In Singapore (and perhaps in Manila too), we started physically going to the office much less, based on when physical presence was absolutely necessary. 

With our new office in Manila, I realized that I could get to work consistently earlier than before, and I also plan to leave much earlier too. Leaving at 4pm means I get home before 5pm, and I actually get to do things when I get home, instead of being too tired to do anything.

Another bright-side are all the restaurant options around us, not too good for the wallet, but once in a while wouldn't break the bank, and just like in Singapore, you need to avoid the 12noon rush, so the best time to eat is at 11:30am, or 1:00pm. Easy to say, not as easy to do, because when you start getting hungry, you just deal with the crowd, or choose a place that is not crowded.

That is exactly what happened to us last Friday, when we went to lunch to surprise Sam for her birthday. We planned to choose a restaurant randomly, but we disqualified all the fast food and unhealthy places, as well as those where we had to wait for a table. We ended up trying Potluckers, one of the higher-end looking places on the second floor of BGC Stopover. We were clearly taking a risk because there was no one else in the restaurant.


The ambiance was nice and cozy, and each table had some sort of Pot Warner... so I guess their specialty was Casseroles in a Pot, thus the name.
The casseroles are around Php500-600 an order but
they say they're good for 2-3 people, especially if you're
ordering something else.

We ordered one starter and two salads (The Goat Cheese - which was refreshing, and the Warm Chorizo - which was bursting with flavor) and both were really good. I wasn't really planning to blog about them, so please excuse my lack of photos, but I will definitely order them again!

Our starter was Red (Salted) Egg Calamari
and this was really good.

For our Main Course, we ordered two casseroles to share among the 6 of us. The short rib, and the crispy pork. Both were surprisingly very good. They give you complimentary bread, which I think would go really well with the hearty meal, but I was really hungry so I ate it with Dirty Rice (Sauteed with Chicken Liver) but since the casseroles were so tasty, white rice would probably go better with it.
Sauce palang - ulam na! Especially for the pork, where
it wasn't as crispy as I expected, but the sauce tasted
like Sinigang broth that met gravy with a spicy kick.
Sounds weird, but believe me, the flavors worked!

The thing that impressed me the most, on top of the food of course, was the service. When we entered the restaurant, I asked the server if they had free dessert because we were celebrating Sam's birthday, and he told me, he would check. After we finished our meal, he signaled to me that there was dessert, and they came out with two dessert platters... and the crew all came out to sing Happy Birthday for Sam! Both of them had Magic Candles too... so I hope Sam got to make a lot of wishes, and may all of them come true. They even came to help us get the candles when we got tired of blowing them out.


I'm such a sucker for a freebie (well, and for good food) that for that alone, I decided they deserved some airtime on my blog, so people can also try them out. Price-wise, our bill was around Php2,500 for 2 salads, 1 starter, 2 casseroles, and a whole lot of rice, good enough for a group of 6. Not too bad, given the ambiance and the standard of living in Fort.

I do hope they maintain that level of service even when they start to get busy. I hope they don't get too busy though, so this can be one of our Go-To Restaurants near the office. just saying.


*Photo Credits to my teammate who has asked not to be named. Hahaha.
Thanks for sharing your photos, and for taking more when I decided that I was going to do a blog post on them!


Potluckers
Second Floor, BGC Stopover Pavillion, 
Rizal Drive Corner 31st Street, 
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The best Salted Egg Croissants in Singapore from Antoinette

Since I only get to satisfy my Salted Egg Cravings when I'm in Singapore, I was totally willing to try a new place and try what has been written up as the best Salted Egg Croissant in Singapore... even if it means having it for dinner!

The Salted Egg Croissant craze has landed in Singapore and Antoinette has consistently topped the best list. Antoinette looks like a french tea salon, with a local twist, especially when it comes to their filled croissant offerings. 
They have a selection that includes Charcoal Kaya, Chili Crabs, Matcha,
Four Cheese, Salted Caramel, Chocolate, in addition to the Salted Egg they
are famous for ranging from SG$6-7.50.

Ambiance-wise, it looks and feels like they are going for the Ladurée peg.


Antoinette Salted Egg Croissant Review
Size wise, I must say the croissants are impressive, as they are even longer
than my hand.
Hi, I'm Coley. I am a Salted Egg Addict.
If there's one thing I can say about this croissant, it's that the croissant
quality is definitely superior. It's light, buttery and flaky, just like a croissant
is supposed to be... then add in the savoury salted egg filling and you
definitely have a winner. I can understand why this tops the Best List.

What separates Antoinette from the rest, is they have tweaked the Salted Egg filling to be more savoury and compliment the croissant.
Other croissants just use the same filling that you can find in the Salted
Egg Bun (which is really good at Changi Airport by the way) that is more
on the sweet side.

I also need to say that the croissants of Antoinette (even the croissant-ends where there is no filling) are definitely a world away, quality-wise to what Tiong Bahru Bakery offers, which ironically is a place famous for their croissants. I'm not sure if Antoinette sells plain croissants, but that would also be something to look forward to.

Since I was crazy enough to have the Salted Egg Croissant for dinner,
our spread was a bit weird. 
We had the Poached Eggs with Red Wine Sauce (SG$17.50) from the all day
breakfast menu. I've been craving this since our Paris trip and I was
very happy to know I don't have to cross continents to get my fix. 
Tim and I ordered steak (SG$36) to share which was pretty good.
Then Tim ordered Blinis (SG$18), or a savoury thick pancake with bacon and
a creamy mushroom sauce. I found it weird, but it tasted so buttery that it kind
of grows on you, but I wouldn't order it again.
Thanks Tim for humoring my food cravings and weird dinner combinations.
Next time I think I want to try their salted egg cheese tarts too!
Antoinette should definitely be the go to place in Singapore for croissants... and not just the Salted Egg filled ones, though they are definitely the best. just saying.


Antoinette
30 Penhas Rd, 
Singapore 208188

Friday, July 22, 2016

Jakarta Food Finds from Remboelan to Potato Head Garage

In the last year or so that I have been doing this role, I've visited Jakarta quite often. Unfortunately, most of those visits are only in transit, so I don't really get a lot of time to see the place... or more importantly, get a chance to explore the food options.

The last time I had to go for work, I attended a workshop for a change, so that meant a few dinners of trying new restaurants.

View from my room
Fairmont Jakarta

Our hotel was connected to Plaza Senayan, one of the high end malls in the city. It was a blessing because it meant that we could walk to dinner, instead of get stuck in the legendary Jakarta traffic especially when it rained. I had dinner with some colleagues from the UK and Australia, so we chose a local restaurant where we all agreed there was something we all could eat (since one of us doesn't eat seafood, and another one doesn't eat fish, and the other one was vegetarian! hahaha).

Remboelan

We stumbled on Remboelan, a cozy circular restaurant on the fourth floor of the mall.
I immediately picked all Indonesian my favorites from the menu.
My type of Indonesian Comfort Food
My picks were: Nasi Liwet (rice cooked in coconut milk, with toppings and broth on the side), Crispy Beef (new to me) which I ordered for the Green Chili topping (my absolute favorite! Green Sambal!), together with fried squid with garlic and some vegetable dish! I was quite surprised that everything was so yummy, since I only normally eat this well when I stick to the locals. What can I say, I think I've learned to order food like a local.

We also had some rice in bamboo (for my friend who doesn't eat seafood) and another vegetable tofu dish (for my friend who doesn't eat meat).

Surprisingly our bill, with dessert, drinks and a few beers included, was only IDR630,000 (Php 2,100 or less that US$50). This place was really good value. I hope I get a chance to visit it again on future trips.


Potato Head Garage

On our last night, my friend based in Indonesia invited us to dinner, so we finally managed to explore places farther than the mall connected to the hotel.

She brought us to Potato Head Garage, which is literally a garage that was converted into a posh restaurant with great ambiance. The outside of the restaurant looked like a warehouse, but once you step inside you enter a totally different world.



Ninety percent of the menu was steak, so I guess they recommend that you have steak for dinner. No arguments from me... hahaha.
Before ordering, they bring out their steak options
with the server explaining the different cuts.
We opted to order the Indonesian Wagyu (Bottom Right) which has
an hook shaped strip of solid fat and some marbling.
It was so yummy! Perfectly charred on the outside...
served with lemon, sea salt and red wine sauce.
Nice and pink on the inside... it was also good with the Chimichurri. 
The steaks are quite big though, so it's a good idea to share. We didn't even have space to try their dessert!

If I'm not mistaken, Potato Head is also the famous place in Bali where people go to catch the sunset. I can't wait to visit that place too, because if it's anything like the Garage... it is definitely a winner. just saying.


Remboelan
Plaza Senayan Lantai 3, 
Jalan Asia Afrika No.8, 
Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta, 
Indonesia

Potato Head Garage
SCBD Lot 14 (Ex Bengkel Kafe), 
Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 52-53, 
Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta, 
Indonesia

Friday, July 15, 2016

Hong Kong Food (only) Trip - Three Days Itinerary for Non-Stop Eating

Hong Kong is a favorite destination of ours, mainly because it's less than 2 hours away from Manila, and the food is always good and there is always something to buy.

We normally go in June, taking advantage of the June 24, Manila Day and San Juan Day holidays, which means Sofia and I can both go on vacation, and the flights aren't that expensive because it's not a holiday for everyone. However, this year I decided to skip it because I had a trip to Vietnam in the same week, and I have decided I am no longer shopping/ buying more crap.

Fortunately or unfortunately, my future sister in law, asked if I was willing to go to Hong Kong with her to help her plan their wedding. Since PAL flights were quite cheap even for next week flights, and because we didn't go in June, we decided it was meant to be for us to go.

I learned 2 new things about Hong Kong.

1. It is totally possible to do nothing but eat for three days. 
At the end of the third day, I felt so sick already, I thought I was coming down with the flu from fatigue and over-eating, if that is even possible.
Looking at the bright side, this means I was able to stick to intention not to shop, especially for overpriced cute looking junk (my weakness...).

2. It is difficult to find a catholic church to get married in, if you a foreigner who isn't a member of the local parish. (But that isn't my story to tell)

This is our three day Hong Kong Food Trip Itinerary.
More details to come in succeeding posts for my favorite places, so treat this as a HK trip guide/ general overview.

THE USUAL FAVORITES:

1. Ebeneezers
This is our Go To Place for our first meal when we arrive on the midnight flight because it has branches that close at 5am.
and they have the Best Lamb Biryani (with extra Green Sauce) EVER!
The Lamb Masala was also good, but if you are only
eating here once, stick with the Biryani!


2. Delicious Kitchen
No trip to Hong Kong is complete without their Pork Rib (or Double Pork Rib) and Pechay Rice!
Happy to see they have a branch in Tsim Sha Tsui, on Ashley Road.
Reena's first time, and she liked it so much she brought
some home for herself and my fat brother.

3. Din Tai Fung
Comfort food in any country. Though the first time I ate at Din Tai Fung in Causeway Bay I thought the quality wasn't as good as Singapore or Taipei. Nice to know that the branch in Mira Mall is okay.
We ended up at DTF because of our DimSum Icon Fail.
We wanted to try the Little Twin Star x Dimsum Icon but it seems they
change their featured partner and we refused to eat hideous Kobitos Dimsum.
You can read Anna's post on LTS x Dimsum Icon here for what we missed.
More Pork Chops and Egg Fried Rice with Xiao Long Bao
But in Hong Kong... You can order the Truffle XLB (HK$188/6)

Since I am already on the topic of truffle Xiao Long Bao... let's move on to the next category... 


NEW MICHELIN GUIDE DISCOVERIES:
...and since I'm kuripot, these belong to the value for money (cheap) Michelin category

4. Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan-fried (Soupy) Buns - Recommended as part of the 2016 Michelin Guide
It's the first time I tried Shanghai pan-fried buns, and it's not exactly like xiao long bao (the dough tastes more like pie crust than dimsum rice flour dough), but I couldn't resist this comparison.
Splurge or Steal
Din Tai Fung Truffle Xiao Long Bao (HK$188++ for 6) vs
Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan Fried Soupy Bun (HK$15/bun - min of 2)
Let me just say that they are both EQUALLY yummy!!!
The Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan-Fried Buns in Tsim Sha Tsui
is just a counter so it's best to come here for a snack.
They have different flavored soupy buns, but we only tried the truffle.
More details soon.

5. Yatlok Roast Goose - 1 Michelin Star 2015 and 2016
This totally unpretentious eatery totally deserves their
Michelin Star for Roast Goose!
This Roast Goose and Roast Pork Plate was another steal at HK$50!
The goose is tasty and not too far so you can eat everything,
while the roast pork with crispy skin complimented the goose really well.

6. One DimSum - 1 Michelin Star 2013
One DimSum only had a star for one year, but it remained famous well after that. It may be because of their really (cheap) affordable dimsum prices while maintaining the good quality of their dimsum. Their prices range from HK$15-25! Seriously... a Michelin Starred Resto with Dimsum for HK$15!!! Even Tim Ho Wan is not that cheap.
Be prepared to line up and share a table with strangers.
The food is worth the wait though.

7. Tim Ho Wan - 1 Michelin Star
The Tim Ho Wan branch in Sham Shui Po has had 1 Michelin Star for several years now and believe me... the food from this branch does taste better than the more accessible IFC branch with no star. The good thing to note is this Tim Ho Wan branch is 8 minutes walking distance from One Dimsum so you can actually hit two cheap michelin dimsum places in one go. Let me give you a tip... they don't have Baked BBQ Pork Buns in One Dimsum, and the Radish Cake in Tim Ho Wan is still miles better. Everything else, you can order from the other place.
Be prepared to line up here as well. One cheat is to say you are only ordering
Tapaw or Take Out (especially if you've already eaten at One Dimsum).
This can still take upto 25-30 mins, but you can shop for toys or gadgets
while you wait. Sham Shui Po is wholesalers heaven. Just remember to bargain.

NEW DISCOVERIES

8. Australia Dairy Company
That is not a typo. It's really not Australian Dairy Company... it's Australia Dairy Company. Anyway, I've been reading and hearing about this place for ages - though it has very polarized reviews online. People either love their scrambled eggs - and they have been described as the best scrambled eggs ever, while some don't seem to understand what's the big deal. We finally had the chance to try it because it was very close to our hotel.
However, no matter what time we passed by for breakfast, there was
always a line like this... which we weren't willing to stand in for eggs
with very polarized reviews.
Good thing the Tapaw hack also works for this place...
We finally got to try the scrambled eggs (you can only order take away in
sandwich form) and the cold steamed milk pudding.
The scrambled eggs were really yummy, when you eat
it hot, and season it with salt, pepper and chili powder.
That's why I never leave home without my mini bottles.
The Steamed Milk with Egg Whites (Cold) were also a refreshing dessert.
Just be warned that it is much heavier, and tastes much richer than it looks.

9. N1 Coffee & Co
If you're looking for a nice hispter place to have good coffee and western brunch in the Tsim Sha Tsui area, N1 Coffeee & Co is a good option.
You should come before 10am to get a table, as the cozy place gets really
busy with the weekend brunch crowd.

10. Yum Cha Dimsum
If it's important for you to visually enjoy your meal on top of how it tastes like, then you should visit Yum Cha Dimsum for cuteness overload. Just note that this was one of the pricier places we ate at (but that's mainly because the other places were really cheap!). Prices of dimsum here ranges from HD$50-60 per order (and some of them were better to look at than to eat).
You won't go wrong if you order the salted egg custard buns, the
spicy pork dumplings, and the pineapple tarts. For the rest, just order what
you want to take a photo of but don't expect a lot. Hahaha

11. Chau Kee 周記點心 Salted Egg French Toast
Before the salted egg croissant was born, there was salted egg french toast, and if you love salted egg like we do, then you definitely need to put this place on your list!
While they are famous for their Salted Egg French Toast, you should
also order their truffle and roe siomai! It was so yummy!
Last orders are taken at 5:30PM so arrive by 5PM to make sure you catch them.

12. Urban Bakery Works
Speaking of Salted Egg... did you know that THE ORIGINAL Salted Egg Croissant was from Urban Bakery? A salted egg aficionado like me couldn't resist trying it of course. I didn't get a chance to visit a real bake shop but since they have a stall at Jason's in Hysan Mall, I bought one to try.
The Croissant was definitely excellent... but after the French Toast we tried
just really raised the bar really high. If you're a fan of Liu Sha Bao, then you
will like this, but I prefer Antoinette's (Singapore) version more as it's more
savory.
THINGS TO SNACK ON 
Seriously, we ate 5 times a day. I felt like I was channeling my French Self (Hoping that French Women Don't Get Fat would hold true for me), eating only small meals but quite often, but then not all our meals were small.

13. 7-11 finds (because we love 7-11)
If you don't always get to eat your veggies, Drink Yakult Hi-Fiber instead.
Some 7-11 stores have a freshly baked bread selection, and the real winner is
what they call Cheese QQ Bread. It is exactly the same consistency as
Pao de Quiejo from Brazil (just a bit sweeter),
they have a chocolate version too.

14. Fresh Lychees
If you come during Lychee Season (normally late June to July) watch out for the fruit stalls you pass along the street. Lychees sold in Hong Kong are really sweet, with an exceptionally small seed. if you're unsure if they are any good, just buy a small bunch first to try, then come back for more if you like them.
This is so yummy, we always bring some home.

15. Portuguese Egg Tarts
If you don't plan on visiting Macau (which has the BEST Portuguese Egg Tarts) there are some places you can get them in Hong Kong as well. You can get them the restaurant from the Hong Kong - Macau Ferry Terminal or from Macau Restaurant on Lock Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. (This place is right across Cheung Hing Kee - so you can again hit two places in one go). 


16. Bake Cheese Tarts (from Japan)
The newest craze in Hong Kong are these Cheese Tarts from Japan that just newly opened in SOGO (Causeway Bay). If you remember how people went crazy bringing home Tim Ho Wan to Manila, this is the same thing all over again. I think half the people on our plane had paper bags of Bake.
Let's put it this way. It wasn't good enough for us to
go through the hassle of bringing some home
(we were on the other half that didn't have any) but
it's good enough to deserve a separate blog post.
So that concludes my 3 Day Food (Only) Hong Kong Itinerary.
We did quite well... the only X is for Dimsum Icon. Hahaha.
Plus we visited a lot of extra places to that were not on our list!

AIRPORT FAVORITES
So what do you do when you are about to drop dead from three days of eating?
Eat some more... The airport is the best place to go for comfort food that you didn't want to spend precious tummy space in Hong Kong on.


Our airport favorites include Saboten (yes, it tastes better in Hong Kong) but I was too full for it on this trip, McDonald's for their McWings and Popeyes for their biscuits with honey, but Ady loves their mashed potatoes and fries... oh and the chicken is good too! It really just depends on how much you can still eat when you get to the airport. 

Thank You very much Hong Kong!

I honestly didn't expect to discover so many more new places to eat on this trip, but I guess that's what happens we you don't want to shop. Can't wait to go back in February!  just saying.

Ebeneezers
3-7A Prat Avenue, 
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. 
Opening hours: 10am - 7am.

Delicious Kitchen
G/F 20-20A Ashley Road, 
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Din Tai Fung
Shop 4F, L4, FoodLoft, 
Miramar Shopping Centre, 
132 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Cheung Hing Kee
48 Lock Rd, 
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Yatlok Roast Goose
34-38 Stanley Street, 
Central, Hong Kong

One Dimsum
Shop 1 & 2, G/F, Kenwood Mansion, 
15 Playing Field Road 
Prince Edward, Hong Kong

Tim Ho Wan
G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, 
Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

Australia Dairy Company
47 Parkes St, 
Jordan, Hong Kong

N1 Coffee and Co.
Shop G, 34 Mody Rd, 
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Yum Cha
3/F, 20-22, Granville Rd, 
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Chau Kee 周記點心
Shop H1, G/F, Tung Lee Mansion, 
Water Street, 
Sai Ying Pun, Western District

Urban Bakery
Jasons‧Food & Living, 
B2/F, Hysan Place 
500 Hennessy Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Macau Restaurant
Shop A & B G/F. Lokville Comm Building 
27, 25 Lock Rd, 
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

BAKE Cheese Tarts
 B2-16,B2, SOGO, 
555 Hennessy Rd, 
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong