Thursday, October 31, 2013

Singapore Eats: Paradise Dynasty

Going to Singapore on a short 4days/3nights trip, I made sure that all shopping and dining itineraries were in order before we even left.  And since we arrived in Singapore pretty early, I dragged Hubby to Ion Orchard before we even had the time to check in at the hotel!  Reason?  Ion Orchard has most of the stores I want to visit and it also houses two of the must-dine restaurants on my list!  First up:  Paradise Dynasty.

As mentioned in my previous post, it's been two long years since I last visited Singapore.  And in those two years, I've come across numerous drool-worthy posts from bloggers and friends based in Singapore, all raving about Paradise Dynasty's multicolored xiao long bao.  Those things looked like tiny nuggets of heaven and all I could do was just stare at my monitor, salivate and wish I was in Singapore every time someone posts a photo of the restaurant's most famous offering.  After that, I vowed never to leave Singapore again without tasting Paradise Dynasty's Signature xiao long bao.  

So... here it is.  We finally got to try Paradise Dynasty!  Scroll on to see what we had!
Baby Bamboo Shoot in Oyster Sauce
Crunchy and highly addicting.  It was a tad too oily though.

Signature Dynasty Xiao Long Bao (8 Flavors)
White (Original), Green (Ginseng), Orange (Crab Roe), Yellow (Cheese), Brown (Foie Gras), Pink (Szechuan), Gray (Garlic), Black (Black Truffle)
Ta-dah!  Signature Dynasty Xiao Long Bao!  Since there were only 8 pieces and each piece comes in a different flavor, Hubby and I decided to order 2 baskets to avoid war.  LOL.  And how did it taste?  Scrumptious!  Each flavor was distinctly different.  We particularly loved the black truffle and the foie gras flavors. (surprise, surprise!)

Sauteed Kai Lan with Ginger Sauce
I'm no veggie lover, but I find this palatable.  I guess it doesn't come as a surprise because vegetables in other countries are generally tasty than our local ones.

Crispy Sweet & Sour Pork
One of the fails.  I jumped on the chance when I saw this on the menu, thinking I'd get extra crispy outsides and tender insides of the sweet and sour pork.  Wrong.  The outside was just a tiny bit crispy because the batter was too thick.  And the insides?  It was a bit tough.

La Mian with Braised Pork Belly in Signature Pork Bone Soup
Another fail.  We thought that Paradise Dynasty's version of the pork bone soup would be comparable to Ippudo's, but there was nothing to compare.  The soup itself lacked the distinct pork bone flavor.

Radish Pastry
I've been a fan of the radish pastry ever since I can remember.  So in my quest for the best radish pastry, I make sure to order it every time I see it on the menu.  

The insides of the Radish Pastry
See the strips of radish?  Kudos to Paradise Dynasty for not coming up with the mashed versions of the radish pastry.  But as good as it looks, sadly, the shell was too thick and not as flaky as I would want it to be.  Lei Garden in Hong Kong still wins as the best radish pastry I've tried.  

Souffle Egg White Balls Stuffed with Red Bean & Banana

Again, this was another disappointment.  Too thick.  I've had better local versions of it.

Overall, I'd say that Paradise Dynasty has some hits and misses.  But if there's one thing you must try, it's definitely the famed multicolored xiao long bao.  3 out of 5 stars!

Paradise Dynasty is at Ion Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, #04-12A ION Orchard, Singapore

Friday, October 25, 2013

V Hotel Lavender

Over the weekend, Hubby and I went to Singapore for a short vacation. It's been quite a while since we last visited the Lion City, two years to be exact!  And since it's not sale season, our main agenda for Singapore is to eat, eat and eat!  But before I share our old and new discoveries, let me share with you where we stayed: V Hotel Lavender.  

View from the door

The bed

Working Area

The main reason why we stayed at V Hotel Lavender is because of it's proximity from the MRT station.  The nearest station was literally just behind the hotel.  This reason aside, I wouldn't exactly recommend this hotel.  Why?  The toiletries were very basic and the room itself is pretty small.  Also, there is a SGD 10/day charge for wifi.  It only lets you use one device, and the internet is slower than a turtle.  Sometimes the pages won't even load at all, which makes it very frustrating.  So book at your own risk.  2 out of 5 stars.

V Hotel Lavender is at 70 Jellicoe Road, Singapore

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight

Early this year, I wrote a review about Crystal Jade Dining IN.  I remembered stressing about the high price points, although I must admit that the food was quite good.  So imagine my surprise when one day, I opened my inbox and found an email from Mr. Kenneth Yu, the Brand/Communications Manager for the Crystal Jade franchise here in the Philippines.  It was a simple email, inviting us (me and Hubby) to try out the new concept called Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight in their existing branch in V-Mall, Greenhills.  A few emails back and forth and we're set for our lunch meeting.

What new concept?  That was the first thought that popped into my mind.  I have dined in the Greenhills branch of Crystal Jade a few years back and have not gone back since.  And a few days before our lunch meeting, I happen to pass by V-Mall and realized that the old Crystal Jade has already gotten a new facelift!  To further fuel my excitement, a poster of different xiao long baos were plastered near the door, making me wish that the lunch meeting would come sooner.  

Fast forward to the meeting day, Hubby and I paid a visit to the newly renovated Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight.  First thought when I entered the restaurant was, whoa, they really did some serious renovation.  Gone was the classic look that I remembered from the past.  In its place was a definitely fresher, hipper look.   There we met Kenneth, who entertained us throughout lunch by explaining the background, concepts and stories about Crystal Jade.  The story was, he came across my blog, read my review of their branch in Fort, and was hoping he could change my impression of Crystal Jade.  Challenge accepted!  LOL.  Kenneth also addressed some of my concerns from my previous blog post.  He mentioned that Crystal Jade Dining IN is a strictly Cantonese restaurant, while the new Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight is a mix of Cantonese and Shanghai flavors.  That was the main reason why the branch in Fort doesn't serve the well-loved xiao long bao.

So you guys might be curious, how about the food?  How was it?  Well, here it is:
Spicy & Sour Soup in Sichuan Style
The very first dish that came out was the soup.  Admittedly, I'm not much of a fan of hot and sour soups, but I find this very authentic.  I like the fact that they did not scrimp on the ingredients -  there were loads of mushrooms and strips of whatnots that make up this classic Chinese favorite.  It was not too spicy either, perfect for people like me who cannot stand extremely spicy dishes.

Multi-flavored Xiao Long Bao
Cheese (yellow), Spicy Beef (red), Shrimp (orange), Vegetable and Dried Bean Curd (green) and Spicy Chicken (dark orange)
Different colored xiao long bao stands for different flavors.  This was the dish that made my mouth water when I saw a photo of it a few days ago.  Being tired from all the normal xiao long bao available in other Chinese restaurants, this was a welcome change.  The wrapper was a bit thick though, but Kenneth assured me that they'd improve on it since the restaurant was barely half a month old and the chefs are still adjusting.

Crispy Eel in "Wu Xi" Style
A few years ago, I remembered having the crispy eel in Crystal Jade and liking it.  It was a familiar sight when this was served to us.  Well, I don't like it anymore.  Now, I love it!  This dish possesses the three main things I love about food in general:  I love eels, I love crunchy stuff, and I like my food on the sweet side.  So yes, in my opinion, this dish can do no wrong.  My only problem is that I wish they serve bigger portions!  That's the glutton in me speaking.  Haha! 

Noodle with Spicy Chicken
Now this dish definitely adds the spicy kick for those who are craving for it.  Since I can't stand anything more than mildly spicy, I found myself guzzling water after a few bites of this.  What I can say is, the noodles are authentic hand pulled, and Hubby, the spicy-monster, happily ate my share.

Sauteed Beancurd with Seafood in Hot Stone Pot
Dishes cooked in stone pots are usually delicious.  And this was no exception.  Again, they did not scrimp on their ingredients, and each ingredient that makes up the dish was fresh and delicious. 

Braised Minced Pork & Mushroom with Cabbage "Lion's Head"
Another dish to rave about.  The braised minced pork was so soft that I initially thought I was eating tofu.  Kenneth mentioned that this was their owner's favorite dish, and I can see why.  That makes two of us now!

Mango Cream with Sago & Pomelo
Not so much to say here, after all, mango sago will be mango sago.  They did try to incorporate something different by adding a bit of pomelo, which gives off a bit of bitter taste to balance the sweetness of the mango cream.

Steamed Red Bean Bun

The insides of the Steamed Red Bean Bun
Soft and fluffy.  One of the best steamed red bean bun I've tasted.  Nuff said.

So the verdict?  I'm a convert!  Kenneth wins!  And no, I did not say nice things just because we were invited to the media lunch.  It really is pretty good.  And as for price points (my previous problem with the CJ Fort branch), I'm happy to say that for the quality of the food, the prices are pretty reasonable.  4 out of 5 stars!    

Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight is at Unit 117-121 V-Mall Greenhills Shopping Center, Greenhills, San Juan City

Monday, October 21, 2013

Outfit of the Week: I'm A Dork

Presenting... the ever famous "DORK"  t-shirt.  If you're a regular blog reader, you might have seen this shirt a couple hundred times in other blogs, together with some of its siblings "GEEK" or "DWEEB".  Well, this is my version of it.  For a casual look, I paired it with floral harem pants and my beloved Jeffrey Campbell spiked flats!  It's weird but I'm loving harem pants in this stage of my life right now.  It's comfy, without being restricting like leggings or skinny jeans.  Still on the lookout for the ultimate harem pants though... the ones that have the crotch about 2 inches above the ground, that is!  So dear readers, if you find one, do let me know!  I'll be eternally grateful!  

Top:  Topshop
Pants:  Bershka
Bag:  Givenchy
Shoes:  Jeffrey Campbell

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Hungry from all the shopping calories that we burned from all the stores in Paseo de Sta. Rosa, Hubby and I were in search for something to devour come dinnertime.  Having tried Zong before, we both decided to go back for their delicious Chicken in Salted Egg Yolk.  

Here's what we had:
Chicken in Salted Egg Yolk
For those that are not familiar with this restaurant, Zong is widely famous for their Chicken in Salted Egg Yolk.  I've tried it two other times in other branches and this dish has been consistently delicious.  The crunch of the skin, paired with the aroma and the creaminess of the salted egg yolk, is purely a match made in heaven.  If you must only order one dish in Zong, then this is it.

Braised Beef Tapa
Of all the dishes we had that night, this one was the one we both liked the least.  Some pieces were tender, but some were also tough.  I didn't like the mix of the spices either.

Singapore Style Prawns
It was a nice surprise when the Singapore Style Prawns arrived at our table.  The prawns were huge!  And there were 5-6 of them too!  After we finished our prawns, we had to resist the urge to order rice just to mop up the remaining sweet, tangy sauce.

Sauteed Spinach with 2 Eggs

The spinach was fresh, and the two eggs (salted and century egg) complemented each other.  I don't normally eat my vegetables (I know, I know, bad kid!) but I find myself fighting Hubby for the last bite!  Hey, if all vegetables are as good as the spinach in Zong, then I'd gladly have my fill of vegetables!

Overall, I'd give Zong 4 out of 5 stars.  Except for the Braised Beef Tapa, all the other dishes we had are highly recommended!  Just thinking about it makes me crave for their Chicken in Salted Egg Yolk.  I have a gut feeling we'll be dining in Zong for all the future shopping trips in Paseo de Sta. Rosa!

Zong is at Paseo de Sta. Rosa Outlet Stores, Sta Rosa Business Park, Balibago, Tagaytay Highway, Sta Rosa, Laguna 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Paseo de Sta. Rosa Outlet Stores

A few weeks ago, Hubby was scheduled to go out of town for a site visit in Cavite on a Saturday.  Since it wouldn't take long, I told him I'd tag along.  Little did he know that I had a hidden agenda on my mind...  I wanted to pass by an d shop atthe Paseo de Sta. Rosa Outlet Stores!  Sneaky, sneaky!  Haha!

The outlet stores in Paseo de Sta. Rosa has been in the business for quite some time, but it was only last year that I discovered the joys of outlet shopping here in the Philippines.  Who doesn't love a good bargain, right?  And with brand names like Nike, Gap, Banana Republic, Timberland, Debenhams, Marks and Spencer and more, I don't think anyone needs any more encouragement to troop over there and shop the day away!    

Some of the stores in Paseo de Sta. Rosa
Apologies for the blurred night photo, I was too focused on shopping that by the time I remembered to take photos, it was already too late!  LOL.

Our loot

And this is what we came home with!  Hubby did some damage by getting three pairs of shoes!  Whoa!  I, on the other hand, went for the clothing.  I got a dress from Marks and Spencer at 70% off.  And can you believe Debenhams had a buy 1 take 1 promo for all items?   Note that the items are already discounted, and you get it at buy 1 take 1!  How's that for a great deal???  

Since it's an outlet, you can expect stores at the Paseo de Sta. Rosa to give huge discounts.  If only they weren't located in Laguna, you can expect me to be there every weekend!  And since Christmas time is approaching, why don't you do your Christmas shopping at the outlets?  Those who are wary of the crowd at the malls or at the bazaars are definitely in for a treat because Paseo de Sta. Rosa is so big, you'd be sure that any crowding can be avoided.  Happy shopping!

Paseo de Sta. Rosa Outlet Stores is aSta. Rosa Business Park, Balibago, Tagaytay Highway, Sta Rosa, Laguna

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fujifilm Instax Mini 8

I've had a Polaroid camera ever since I can remember.  And during my teenage years, when Polaroid came out with the I-Zone (instant film camera that churns out small neo-print sized sticker photos), I got that one too.  Guess you'll have to say that I love my instant cameras.  

Fast forward to last year, I first laid eyes on the Fujifilm's Instax Mini 8 camera in Hong Kong.  My initial reaction was that I wanted it too, but on this day and age of phone cameras that could take way better pictures, I had my reservations so I decided to pass up on it.  It was difficult too - every time I laid eyes on the Instax Mini 8, I wanted to get it!  But the small voice inside my head told me it just wasn't practical.  And during the trip to Osaka last month, things were no different.  Hubby and I were already at the airport waiting for our flight back home.  Since we got there early, there was plenty of time for last minute airport shopping.  Lo and behold, like an ex-boyfriend, the Instax Mini 8 was right in front of me, haunting me, taunting me.  LOL.  Here come the pros and cons running through my mind again, like an angel and a devil in a comic strip.  Hubby, seeing my desperation, suggested that I go ahead and buy it since I've already been eyeing it for more than a year.  And since I didn't shop for anything much in Osaka, I decided to take the plunge!  And the best part?  Hubby surprised me by buying it for me as our anniversary present!  Instax Mini 8, you are finally mine!  Woohoo!!!  
Instax 8 in Black
In addition to the Instax Mini 8 camera, I also got my "starter set" of films.  One box of Plain Twin Pack and another box of Hello Kitty-designed films.  I wanted to get more but the selection of films at the airport were pretty small, so I opted to get just those two.

Loot from Japan
I knew there were a lot more designs available for the films, so right after our Osaka trip, I searched where I can find those here in Manila.  Sadly, I found out that among all the listed stores carrying Instax mini films, the only ones that are available are always the plain ones or the Hello Kitty ones.  Some carry the rainbow ones, but that's about it.  Sad :(  Luckily, fate must be on my side.  Because one day, as I was randomly scrolling through my Instagram feed, I chanced upon Instax Mart, an online seller which sells those hard to find Instax mini films!  What's even better is, they offer the cheapest prices for these films!  Win-win!  Believe me, I compared prices with other online sellers, and they really are the cheapest.  By far too!  How far?  A plain twin pack will set you back by Php 700 or more from other online sellers, but in Instax Mart, you can get it for just Php 580!  How's that for a bargain?  Hurry though, the listed prices are only valid until October 20, 2013, so better grab yourself one, two, or twenty boxes!

Loot from Instax Mart

So what do you think of my loot?  Cute huh?  I got YooHoo & Friends, Toy Story, Garfield and Marvel, and have an upcoming Monster's University film too.  I actually had a difficult time choosing which ones to get because they offer close to 30 designs!  Had to limit myself or else I'd go bananas, not to mention bankrupt!  Oh and by the way, not only do they offer films, they also have various Instax cameras, mini film stickers, pouches, carrying cases and more!  Instax Mart is the ultimate Instax one-stop shop!

So what are you waiting for?  Visit Instax Mart at or message them through sms/viber at 0927-3886368.  Click, click, click!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Outfit of the Week: Cutouts and Chains

Call it a force of habit, but one of my go-to "uniforms" is a cute top and skinny jeans.  My brother once remarked that I wear nothing but top and jeans, but I beg to differ.  There are about a billion (ok, maybe I'm a wee bit exaggerating) kinds of tops and about a hundred types of jeans.  So when you mix and match, you can always come up with a new look!  Fell in love with this top when I first saw it online.  It wasn't available locally then so I went ahead and had it shipped here in Manila.  I guess patience is virtue because a few weeks after, I saw it in our local Forever 21 stores!  So those who like my top, lucky you!  Why?   Because not only can you get it locally, but it is also available in a floral print!  

Ok going back to my outfit, when wearing plain tops, I can never stop stressing the importance of accessorizing.  The more, the merrier.  The bigger, the better!  Always remember that accessories make or break the outfit, so don't be afraid to experiment.  It's a good thing I chanced upon this huge chain necklace at Crossings just the day before - it definitely brightens up the look, don't you think?  

So how do you like my outfit?  Would love to hear your thoughts.  Sound off at the comments section please! :)

Top:  Forever 21
Pants:  Forever 21
Shoes:  Call It Spring
Bag:  Givenchy
Necklace:  Crossings

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tonkatsu by Terazawa

Being a lover of anything and everything tonkatsu, my best friend J messaged me one day that Tonkatsu by Terazawa is already open in Greenbelt 2.  We hurriedly made a shopping/eating date and agreed to meet up one Saturday to try out the newest kid on the tonkatsu block!

Eenie Meenie Miney Moe!  I was at a loss because there were so many things in the menu that I'd like to try.  I think I literally went over the menu for an hour going back and forth between the pages and salivating over each and every photo.  I wanted them all.  Sadly, 4 dishes versus one tummy is an impossibility.  Finally, I decided on the Rosu Katsu with Oysters.  J had the Rosu Katsu as well but without the oysters.

As with other tonkatsu restaurants, Tonkatsu by Terazawa also serves unlimited rice, cabbage and miso soup.  While I may not be such a fan of rice, I do love my cabbage and miso soup.  Hooray for bottomless things, and cheers to bottomless tummies!  LOL.

Here's what we had:
My Rosu + Oysters Plate

The whole set

Frozen Green Tea
The verdict?  Among all the tonkatsu restaurants here in Manila, Tonkatsu by Terazawa was by far my least favorite.  I was expecting to give rave reviews but sadly, this one failed the marks.  The rosu was far too tough and dry.  So tough that after we had our lunch, my jaw and my head hurt for chewing too much.  For a restaurant that has tonkatsu in its signage, that is a major fail.  No complaints with the oysters though, they were plump and juicy.

I do, however, have to give props to the manager/supervisor.  He came to our table and asked about our food.  When he heard that I was not pleased with my tonkatsu, he offered to replace it.  I declined, because I was already halfway through my meal and I doubt it if the pork can be made more tender in such short notice.  The best part of the meal?  The frozen green tea brazo.  Layers upon layers of sweet, creamy goodness.  It was a perfect ending to an otherwise disastrous meal.  1 out of 5 stars.  

Tonkatsu by Terazawa is at Greenbelt 2, Esperanza St cor Paseo de Roxas, Legazpi Village, Makati

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


For all the breakfast lovers out there, Maple is surely a familiar place.  I've heard a ton about Maple in San Antonio Plaza a while back, and was happy when we chanced upon it while strolling in the new East Wing of Shangri-La Plaza one lazy Sunday afternoon.  Was initially hesitant to suggest this place to the family, since they might not be too keen on the breakfast-as-dinner idea, but surprise, surprise!  They were open to it!

New England Clam Chowder

Stuffed French Toast

Look at the blueberry filling oozing out!

Prime Rib Tapa

The Salmon Catch

Truffle Omelette Souffle

Chicken Wings(maple-glazed)

So how was our Maple experience?  It was... so-so.  A bunch of hits and misses, nothing amazingly good, but nothing horribly bad either.  Sort of reminded me of a home cooked meal.  What I particularly liked was the french toast and the chicken wings.  Others dishes like the prime rib tapa was a bit tough.  The truffle omelette souffle lacked the truffle scent and the salmon was a tad overcooked.  2.5 out of 5 stars.

Maple is at LG/F Shangri-la Plaza Mall, East Wing, Shaw Blvd cor EDSA Wack Wack, Mandaluyong City

Monday, October 7, 2013

Osaka Eats: Matsusakagyu Yakiniku

As mentioned in my previous post, I saved the best for last.  And here it is!  But first, a little back story:  The night after we ate in Dotonbori, when we got back to our hotel, I immediately went online to search for good restaurants in Osaka.  We were quite lost amidst all the restaurants we saw, and didn't want to take the chance of trying the wrong ones since we only had a few days to spare.  I wanted something that came highly recommended by all - be it tourists or locals and one restaurant that I came across was Matsusakagyu Yakiniku.  How highly recommended was it?  #1 out of 5806 restaurants in Osaka (according to Tripadvisor)!!!  Need I say more?  Sadly, we had just had our fill of wagyu beef that night so I passed and went on to search for other restaurants to try.  Besides, the address was far too confusing (someone mentioned it was located in some alleyway) and being unable to read Japanese, we definitely had to pass.  Fast forward a few days later, it was our last day in Osaka.  We were running around like headless chickens because of last minute shopping, and we already had one restaurant on our lunch list:  Ichiran.  We haven't had the chance to have any tonkotsu ramen yet and Ichiran was among one of the highly recommended ramen restaurants in Osaka.  As luck would have it, when we arrived in Ichiran, the place was closed!  We couldn't read why, but it was scheduled to reopen a week after.  Boo.  Seemingly lost, we wandered around, until Hubby went into one of the alleys to look for food.  Most of the restaurants were still closed, so we walked on until a familiar signage caught my eye.  At first, I wasn't really sure what made me stop and look at the signage.  It looked strangely familiar and then suddenly, *DING!!!*  Lightbulb moment!  Lo and behold, we were standing right outside Matsusakagyu Yakiniku!

The excitement died down as soon as it started when we realized that a. no one was outside , b. the door was closed thus c. the restaurant might be closed.  Luckily, I married a very persistent husband who, seeing the closed door, went on to open it and marched inside.  We were greeted by a surprised server who thankfully can speak English and informed us that they only accept cash during lunch.  

The extremely small dining "room"
After our agreement to the "cash only" basis, we were ushered into this small yet cozy dining room.  It was cramped; there were only two of us but we felt like we couldn't fit another person in there anymore.  But who cares?  We were there for the food!  So we browsed for a while, debating what to get since everything sounded so good.  Finally, we agreed on 2 combination sets, then got another order a while after *wink* (will explain this a bit later).

Lean Parts

Marbled Parts

Rare Parts


Part Chart

Combination of Marbled and Rare Parts Set

An order of Maboroshi No Misuji

Sizzle, Sizzle

The verdict?  Words cannot express how extremely delicious the beef was!  Orgasmic x 1000000.  Crazily good!  The tenderness of the beef, coupled with the heavenly aroma sent us into a glassy-eyed euphoria.  Yes, it was the best piece of meat we have tasted in our whole life.  EVER.  Hubby and I initially just chose 2 combination sets to try, but we got so overwhelmed with how good one particular part was, the maboroshi no misuji (only one comes from each cow, according to the menu), that we decided to get another order of just that part!  Eating wagyu will never be the same again once you've tried the ones served in Matsusakagyu Yakiniku.  I've never given this rating before but I'll happily give it 10 out of 5 stars!  Matsusakagyu Yakiniku, I will be back.  And that's a promise.

Matsusakagyu Yakiniku is at 1-1-19 Namba, Chuo-kuOsakaOsaka Prefecture 542-0076Japan