Wednesday, February 27, 2013

IHOP, IFAIL (warning: long rant ahead)

IHOP, or International House of Pancakes, has finally reached our shores!  It had its grand opening on Valentine's Day, and news was that the crowds flocked over like there was no tomorrow.  It was hard but I purposely waited for a week before going there in the hopes that the crowds have already disintegrated.  I WAS WRONG.  Well at least, it was wrong to go on a weekend during lunchtime.  Can you blame me?  I had a dermatologist appointment at St. Luke's Global City and not going to IHOP would simply be impossible.  When we got there at 12 noon, we were told that our number's 99 and they were serving #19 at the moment.  WHATTT???  Yup.  Crowds were THAT crazy.  There were people wherever you turn.  Inside, outside, people, people, people.  So Mom and I decided to go for takeout because there was no way on earth that we were going to have lunch at maybe...4pm?  Takeout it is.  Ordering was smooth.  The server took our orders and went ahead to process it while Mom and I waited outside.  When our orders didn't arrive 30 minutes later, we got anxious so I went in and asked.  It appears that the order is already there, it's just that no one called us (BOOBOO #1).  Since it's already there, we got our takeouts and just waited for the bill, which came 15 minutes later (BOOBOO #2).  When we checked, they billed us service charge for the takeout.  I asked why and the server said that it was the packaging charge.  Huh?  A hundred something for styro packaging?  Maybe I should bring my own box next time I order takeout (BOOBOO #3).  After checking, we handed the server my mom's senior citizen card for processing.  She took it and we had to wait another 15 minutes, with constant follow-ups that were answered with "Wait lang po, Ma'am" (BOOBOO #4).  She came back after that and when we checked again, the order she deducted the senior discount was my order of omelette (Php290) (BOOBOO #5).  I told the server that my mom's order is the sirloin tips (Php500+) and not the omelette, thus, they should have discounted the sirloin tips.  She replied by saying that it's their standard operating procedure that the highest amount in the receipt would be the one to avail the senior discount.  HUH?  Php 290 is higher than Php 500+? (BOOBOO #6)  So I asked her to just redo our receipt so that we can already go.  Guess what?  Another 15 or so minutes came and went (BOOBOO #7).  My Mom was already a bit irritated at that time so she went in to find out what the fuss is all about.  She came back out a few minutes later, receipt in hand and gave it to me.  When I checked it for the nth time, it appears that NOTHING was changed and it's the exact same bill given to us a while ago.  I asked the server again as to why and she said "Ma'am if we do the changes, the total is still going to come up the same" (BOOBOO #8).  HUH?!?  My patience was already running very thin and I simply told her that my order of omelette, if discounted, will only get a Php50+ discount while my Mom's order of sirloin tips, if discounted, will amount to around Php100+ discount.  So how on earth is that the same?  And so she went back again, this time with my Mom following her and asking for the manager.  5 minutes later, she came out and was done with the transaction.  Whew!!  Oh before I forget, my order of omelette came with 2 pieces of buttermilk pancakes and I had the option to upgrade the pancakes so I went for the New York Cheesecake pancake.  Upon checking, they gave us buttermilk pancakes (BOOBOO #9).  Good thing I went through every box before leaving.  And yes, they still billed us service charge on the final bill.  Oh well.   

So anyway, after all those booboos, we (together with our hungry tummies) came back home with these babies:

Here's Mom's order of the Sirloin Tips with mashed potatoes and shredded corn.

 ...and here's my Steak Omelette with New York Cheesecake Pancakes.

And the verdict?  The omelette was ok, nothing to rave about since the steak was barely noticeable, with a lot shredded potatoes taking its place.  And the mashed potatoes were the pre-mixed powdered ones.  But the stars of the meal would be the sirloin tips itself and what else?  The pancakes.  I was surprised that even after 2 hours, the beef remained soft and very, very flavorful.  The New York Cheesecake Pancakes, on the other hand, were also soft and fluffy.  You can even taste the cheesecake bits inside.  Sadly, as with the previous comment I've read from a food blogger, the strawberries that came with the pancakes are the frozen mushy kind.  But the pancakes itself more than make up for it.  

Overall, I'd give IHOP a 4 out of 5 stars for food.  The service, however, will get a negative 5, if there's such a thing.  I really hope they'll improve their training for their servers.  After all, good food and great service go hand in hand.  It's such a letdown to see a restaurant serve amazing food but pisses off their customers with the kind of service they give.  They really have to do something about that.  That being said, I'm not closing my doors on IHOP.  I mean, I love the food!  Will definitely be back as soon as I save enough patience to deal with the crappy service again.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lotus Biscoff Cookies

If you've read my post last week on how I love Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter, this week I've got another treat for you (or me!).  Drumroll please........ Lotus Biscoff cookies!  On my previous post, I mentioned having to wait a long time for my Lotus Biscoff Spread, but other bloggers have been raving about the Biscoff cookies too, so I figured I might as well try them out.  I thought that the waiting time would also be long, but surprise, surprise, Loren messaged me 2 weeks after I placed my order that the cookies are already available!  What's a girl to do?  Run to the bank, pay my deposit and wait!  After less than 24 hours, my Biscoff cookies are here!  Talk about fast and efficient service!  It was also wrapped with cardboard to ensure that the cookies won't get murdered halfway through delivery.  Great thinking!

My cookies arrived in perfect shape!  Not even one was cracked.

.....and the moment I've been waiting for... chomp chomp chomp!  Well what can I say?  It's extra crunchy and tastes just like the Speculoos Cookie Butter, the cookie version!  Oh dear... I might have to order a few more soon because I don't think this one pack will last me a day!

You too can get your Biscoff cookies from LorenaAndLoreta here.  Happy munching!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Outfit of the Week: Hilight-er

Remember this post?  I finally got the chance to take these babies out for a spin!  Was at a loss at first because I really couldn't figure out what outfit to pair up with the wedge sneakers, so when I saw this top in Bleach Catastrophe, my mind went ding-ding-ding!  The entire outfit looks a bit too monochromatic so I added a pop of color with the bag.  How does it look?  A little bit rock and roll don't you think?  And soooo not me LOL.  But I wanted to try new stuff every now and then.  You know, veer away from the norm.  So there you go :)

Top:  Bleach Catastrophe x Heather Miss Grey
Leggings:  H&M
Bag:  Bottega Veneta
Shoes:  Steve Madden
Belt:  Culte Femme

Friday, February 22, 2013

Trader Joe's Speculoos Crunchy Cookie Butter

Finally!  After months and months of seeing it on food blogs and Instagram,  Trader Joe's Speculoos has landed in my hands!  Well, not literally.  I had to pay for it, you know.  Kidding aside, I myself was wondering what the fuss is all about when the cookie butter rage has taken Manila by storm.  Two different brands are neck-in-neck in this so-called cookie butter competition.  One is Trader Joe's Speculoos, and the other one is Lotus' Biscoff Spread.  Cookie whaaaat??  For those who don't have a clue what cookie butter is, it definitely is NOT peanut butter.  It might look like it, but the label says it's made out of crushed biscuits and reminiscent of gingerbread.  Does it live up to the hype?  Let's see...

I got 1/3 of a spoonful and...

Yum!  It tastes familiar, but I couldn't put my finger to it until Hubby exclaimed "tastes like oatmeal cookies!".  Oatmeal cookies it is!  I've heard different versions of what it tastes like ranging from coffee to cinnamon but oatmeal cookie best translates it for us.  I specially love the crunchy bits, it's simple addicting!

For those who want to know, I got my jar of Speculoos at The Blue Kitchen Powerplant Mall, priced at Php525.  Yes, the price is quite steep, but you can order from LorenaAndLoreta for just Php350.  They carry both Trader Joe's and Lotus.  Warning though, the line is looooooooooooooooooooong.  I placed my order 2 weeks ago and my order is due to arrive on the April shipment.  That's why I couldn't resist and went for the pricier one.  But you know what they say, good things come to those who wait.  

Oh, and I also placed an order for Lotus' Biscoff Spread, hehe (hello, glutton)!  Will do a review and a comparison of Trader Joe's Speculoos and Lotus' Biscoff Spread as soon as my orders arrive, but it won't be until April.  Cross fingers that it'll arrive sooner than that! 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Summer Palace

Summer Palace has long been a favorite among the Chinese foodies, but it was only a few weeks ago that we got to try it (I know, I know, where have I been?!).  I've heard great things about this Chinese restaurant before, and even know someone whose family dines there almost every week.  Never really thought much about it until my friend BG's sister had her wedding reception in Edsa Shangri-La Hotel and they served absolutely drool-worthy food from Summer Palace.  So on one random Sunday, I dragged my whole family there.

Clear Bamboo Pith Soup

Softshell Crab with Pork Floss
The most memorable dish I've had from BG's sister's wedding.  Of course, we HAD to have this, and it did not disappoint.  Softshell crab+mango+pork floss.  Three of my favorite things in one dish!  

Pork Humba
Wonderfully fattening, but it's worth the calories!

Rolls accompanying the Pork Humba

Cornflakes Prawn
Another memorable dish from the wedding.  The combination of prawns with the crunchy cornflakes is addicting!

FIsh Fillet with Apple Sauce
Who would've thought of putting fish and apples together?  Different, but a good kind of different.  A huge plus for the super tender fish!

Seafood Noodles

Pepper Beef Steak
One of the softest beef steaks I've ever tried.  'Nuff said.

Homemade Tofu with Mushrooms
Tofu and flavorful is usually not used in the same sentence.  I was expecting the usual bland tofu, but this one surprised me.

Crispy Banana Ball
A bit on the oily side.  I was the only one who ate this!

Hot Almond Cream
Mehh... have tried better ones.

Overall I'd give Summer Palace a 4 out of 5 stars.  Dessert needs improvement, but the main entrees are definitely worth a second, third, fourth....nth visit!

Summer Palace is at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel at 1 Garden Way, Ortigas Centre, Mandaluyong City.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dear Givenchy, I Hate You.

...for coming up with such a nice bag!!!  Why oh why?  And why just now?? Arghhhh first world problems.  When the mini nightingale first popped up from my Facebook feed, I couldn't believe my eyes.  I've just taken the plunge a few months ago and bought the medium sized nightingale after a few years of indecisiveness.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my medium nightingale, but I hate the way it "crumples" and "droops" when I carry it on my shoulder.  Further research told me what I already knew:  no one really carries it on their shoulder, they just hold on to it like a tote.   That would be just fine with most people who are accustomed to carrying totes, and it's also fine with me until a few years ago when I discovered the magic of bags with long straps.  Hey, a girl needs to be hands-free sometimes!  Whether it be for carrying kids, shopping bags or helping out with unloading stuff, we don't want to be bothered with the need of also carring our bags right?  Well, the Givenchy gods must have heard my prayers, because they came out with the mini nightingale!

Weeeeee long straps!!!  Lookie!

Now my problem is, do I get this or should I just be contented with my medium nightingale and my other long-strapped bags?  Decisions, decisions.

Givenchy is available in Adora Greenbelt 5.  It is also available here.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Outfit of the Week: Drink Wine, Don't Whine

Wore this outfit for Chinese New Year last week.  I wanted to veer away from the norm and not don the usual red so I went with this wine colored dress.  Don't you just love how flowy my dress is?  Sometimes I can't resist twirling around and just let the skirt do its wonder.  It's not very visible in this picture but I'm also wearing one of my favorite pair of sandals from Call It Spring.  The T-strap of the sandals are laden with a jumble of tiny little coins and it makes the tinkling sound when I walk around.  For good luck!  Right?  And yes, I finally brought out the Céline trio!  To those who are curious, this bag can pack quite a number of things.  I had 2 phones, towel, tissues, phone charger, coin purse, credit card holder, and long wallet, and it fits all that!  Talk about small but incredible!

Dress:  Cotton On
Vest:  Forever 21
Bag:  Céline
Shoes:  Call It Spring
Belt:  Topshop

Friday, February 15, 2013

Hong Kong Eats: Saboten

Hong Kong Airport is one of the best airports around the world.  At least, for me.  I think it is too for a lot of people.  Why?  Because you've got clean airport +great shopping+good food choices.  One of the best food choices?  Saboten.  I can still remember the first time I tasted Saboten when it first opened a few years ago.  I was looking for a quick snack and this little store caught my eye.  Amidst the steep price (I ordered a mix of pork loin and tenderloin then and it was HKD99), I went for it out of curiosity.  And boy oh boy, they did not disappoint!  Can you say love at first bite?  Crunchy, breaded outside with soft and moist pork inside.  It was a feast for the senses!  It's been a staple ever since.  No going home without Saboten!  Think of it as my last food hurrah whenever I leave Hong Kong.

Overall I'd give Saboten a 4.5 out of 5.  Till next Hong Kong trip, Saboten.  And with that, I round up my posts for the January 2013 Hong Kong trip.  Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing about it!

Saboten is at the Hong Kong International Airport, departure area.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's hearts day!  If you're attached, congratulations!  This is the day to feel all giddy inside and bask in the glow of being loved.  A day where you have the perfect excuse to be your cheesy self and just spread the love, love, love.  For those unattached, you probably hate this day and couldn't help but roll your eyes on how "baduy" people can get; how this so-called day has utterly blown out of proportion.  I myself have been on both sides of the coin, the happy and the sad.  For the attached, enjoy the moment.  Celebrate what needs to be celebrated and most specially, make your partner feel loved.  For the unattached, do not fret.  There was a time in my life when I thought to myself that I was destined to be doomed in the love department.  Dear Hubby came into my life and I've been nothing but happy ever since.  So yes, there is hope.  Live the life and just go where the tide brings you.  You may be surprised that things will eventually come out better than you could ever dream of.   

Just always remember:  EVERYONE is loved by SOMEONE.  It could be your parents, siblings, relatives or friends, but all I know is this:  no one in this world is left unloved.  So go on, spread the love.  Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hong Kong Eats: Shanghai Min

On our last day in Hong Kong, Hubby and I met up with some high school friends BC and JK for lunch in Times Square.  We didn't have a clue but we knew that there were a number of good restaurants on top of the Times Square so we just went there and chose a random one.  Which one won?  Shanghai Min.  I myself was just mesmerized by the huge picture of the Xiao Long Bao outside the restaurant so when JK suggested we go there, I just simple went with his suggestion.  Drool-worthy picture outside=sheer marketing genius!  

Pork Belly with Clamshell Buns.  Pork was tender, and the fat melts in your mouth (now that I'm writing about this, I think I better have my cholesterol levels checked.  Just to be sure!).

Fried Rice with Scallops and Egg

Japanese Tofu with Century Egg

Beef Tendon.  There was no picture when we ordered this, and we thought we were getting the normal beef tendon.  Imagine our surprise when this arrived.  We thought they must have mixed up the orders, but upon closer inspection, it IS beef tendon, gelatin version!  This was the loser of the bunch, it tasted as bad as it looked.  We couldn't get past gelatinized beef tendon.

Drunken Chicken

Roast Duck.  Absolutely soft and flavorful.  One of the best I've tasted!

Pan Fried Crispy Pork Soup Buns.  This one is a winner too.  There's real soup inside those buns!

And finally, the reason for us dining in Shanghai Min:  Hairy Crab Xiao Long Bao.  Do not be fooled by the size of the picture, this xiao long bao is only as big as the regular (bite-sized) ones we are used to.  We initially thought it was a bigger version too, but alas, when it was served to us, all of us were surprised.  Nonetheless, it was gooooood!  I've always been a fan of xiao long bao and hairy crab, so to put two together is an absolute bliss.  

Overall I'd give Shanghai Min a 4 out of 5 stars.  Glad our last lunch in Hong Kong did not disappoint!

Shanghai Min is at Shop 1103, 11/F, Times Square | 1 Matheson street, Causeway BayHong Kong.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hong Kong Eats: Lei Garden

As an old family favorite, a visit to Hong Kong will never be complete without dining in Lei Garden.  Years and years of eating there taught me that it's best to go there on off peak hours as the restaurant is almost always full no matter what time (Saturdays and Sundays?  Forget it.).  So Hubby and I got there at 11am on a weekday and was able to secure a table right away (yay!).    

Fried pastry with radish filling.  This will always be never-miss.  Crunchy pastry and creamy radish with radish slivers inside.  I could eat 10 of this and still not get enough.


Beef ball

Steamed shrimp dumpling

Stir fried noodles

Plain rice roll

Chicken feet with abalone sauce.  This. Is. The. Bomb.  I've tried countless chicken feet in a number of countries and I simply must say that no one does it better than Lei Garden's version.  Soft melt-in-your-mouth chicken feet cooked in rich abalone sauce.  Bonus points:  after devouring all the chicken feet you can put the sauce in plain rice and you're good to go!

Lei Garden never disappoints.  I'll give them a 5 out of 5 stars.  Service was superb too.  The lady who attended to us kept on checking up on us.  Dirty plates were replaced immediately and tea was refilled promptly.

Lei Garden is at City Garden, Block 9North PointHong Kong (across City Garden Hotel).  They also have branches in Central, Causeway Bay and Wan Chai.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Outfit of the Week: Red-dy to Rock!

Happy Chinese New Year!  Today marks the start of the year of the water snake.  According to the feng shui expert of Dra. Vicki Belo (as per her twitter account), lucky signs for this year are dragon, ox, rat, monkey, rooster and sheep.  Roosters will be most lucky.  So if you were born under the year of the rooster, or any of the other signs, lucky you!  

On to my outfit, I wore this to my brother's birthday lunch-dinner a few weeks back.  The top and pants were both amazing sale finds!  Don't you just love the leather look of the pants?  Makes me feel like some sort of a rocker.  To tame down the rocker look, I went with a sweet peplum top and amazing swarovski-encrusted pumps.  You likey?  Sound off at the comments section please!  Will be waiting!

Top:  Mango
Pants:  Dorothy Perkins
Bag:  Céline
Shoes:  Primadonna
Necklace:  Forme

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Introducing... My Céline Trio!

Interrupting all the fooooooood posts with this one shopping post:  does anyone remember this post?  I blogged about lusting after the Céline trio just last month, but without much stocks available here in the Philippines, I figured the best bet would be in Hong Kong.  Amidst all the sale frenzy happening there, I only had one thing on my shopping list:  the trio.  So on the very first day we arrived, I dragged Hubby to the Céline boutique in Landmark Central and came home with this baby.

Any guesses on which color I got?  Here's a sneak peek:

...aaaaaand here it is!

Tadaaaaa!  Céline trio in magenta!  Well, at least that's what the tag says, but it's more of a bright red color.  I was actually torn between this and the burgundy color.  I figured I already have too much red bags so another one will be a big no-no, but when I tried both on at the boutique, I was won over by the magenta.  Don't you just love bags with a pop of color?  It definitely stands out.  Can't wait to use it!  Watch out for my outfit post!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hong Kong Eats: Tim Ho Wan

I first had a taste of Tim Ho Wan last August 2012.  My mom's friend, who lives in Hong Kong, dragged us there on one random lunch.  The simple signage and the fast food-style restaurant seemed casual enough, so I didn't think much about it.  What I didn't anticipate was that that one random lunch would blow me away.     Absolutely, crazily, blown away.  Interested?  Let me show you what we ate first: 

Congee with meat and preserved egg.

Steamed fresh shrimp dumpling.

Vermicelli roll stuffed with shrimp

Steamed sparerib with black bean

Steamed meat ball topping with pig's liver

Deep fried beancurd sheet roll with shrimps

Pan fried turnip cake

Steamed beef ball with beancurd skin

Are you salivating yet?  Everything was delicious, but one order was a standout: 

Baked bun with BBQ pork.  Now THIS is the best of the best.  The cream of the crop.  Almost every table that night (and every time we go there) had this.  Sweet, chewy, crunchy and flaky crust with sweet BBQ pork filling.  Soooo good that you can't help but moan in pleasure.  We had two orders of this.

An inside look of the baked bun with BBQ pork.  Can you say orgasmic?

Whew!  Yes, we ate ALL of them, and spared nothing to take back to the hotel.   Can you guess how much we paid for all of it?  HKD 180!  That's roughly Php 954 for nine items, can you say A-F-F-O-R-D-A-B-L-E?  And guess what?  Tim Ho Wan is a Michelin star restaurant!  What a steal!

Overall I'd give Tim Ho Wan a 5 out of 5 stars!  Do not, I repeat:  DO NOT miss out on this restaurant when you visit Hong Kong or you'll regret it.  Swear.

Tim Ho Wan is at Shop B, C, D, On G/F Sea View Building, No. 2-8 Wharf Road, North Point, Hong Kong.