Amici with your friends

There is an extremely detailed disquisition by The Theoretical Chef on how to quantify value-for-money in a restaurant. Me no understand but it looks nifty.

Anyway, earlier this week accompanied a cousin, his wife and son to Amici along Tomas Morato.

There’s something ironic about a self-service cafeteria-style restaurant that has valet parking.


It’s a large, bright, place, pretty full at the time, but there seemed a bit of confusion on our part as to overdering procedures. And what is it with security guards doubling as waitstaff? There ought to be a law! Between security guards in charge of ashtrays at Starbuck’s, handing out trays at DeliFrance, and handing out menus at Amici, this is not part of their job description and it shouldn’t be condoned.


Asked what the Minestrone was like, and my cousin laconically replied, “filling.”


And I asked my nephew what the Panini was like, and got an equally laconic answer: “Mmmkay.”


Did not venture to try to extract an opinion on the pasta.


This, and the next two dishes, are what I actually got to eat. The (Rosemary) Roast Chicken (170 pesos) was, indeed, “baked to perfection” as the menu promised, the vegetables not mushy, which was all good, but the chicken was rather flavorless. Not bland, but, lacking in flavor, somehow. I personally think it has to do with the chicken being your generic farm-raised Magnolia type, which leads to a predictable but not particularly flavorful, on its own, chicken. The most unremarkable dish of the trio I tried.


The Canneloni Agli Spinaci, on the other hand, was a triumph. No scrimping on either the spinach or the ricotta cheese, not drowning in tomato sauce but not overcooked and leathery, either, not too fatty. A great combination of texture and flavor and at 180 pesos, actually probably a nice dish for one person, but I had to share it and so it served as our appetizer.


Doc Emer on Twitter sang the praises of Amici’s pizza, and he was right. Nice, thin, Italian-style slightly flaky crust, this was the Tutta Carne, Italian Sausage and Cooked, Spicy Ham (not spicy at all, and slightly, it seemed to me, more along the lines of generic cold cuts -read, “Spiced Ham” for baon sandwiches- than a real ham. But, filling, with a good combination of real cheese and an apparently non-canned sauce. Good for two but not more than that.

This is really a place for marauding gangs of friends or large families, but this isn’t a place with big share-with-the-world servings.


Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

I have fond memories of Rufo’s Tapsilog from oh, 20 years ago, when gimmick nights would end early in the morning with a pre-homecoming feed. Rufo’s used to be across the street from I.S. in Makati and I remembered it as the most delicious Tapsilog in town.

So I went to their branch in Pasig last night.

Apparently, memories embalmed in an alcoholic haze aren’t worth diddly squat.


Because it looks like poo on a plate. I’m not very fussy about presentation, but please.

And wasn’t very tasty, either.

I should’ve stuck to my memories.


Going batchoy with Ted’s

So the Bachelor Food Bloggers went to Ali Mall to check on Ted’s Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy last Friday, upon the recommendation of Bachelor Food Blogger-slash-rockstar Fritz. As Fritz was late, Juned and I stayed at Country Style, where I got a Triple Fancy whatever and regular iced tea for Php 41.

After a few hours, the rockstar arrived, and so we went in, and I ordered their Extra Super Batchoy (for Php 85):

Ted's Extra Super Batchoy

Fritz ordered the same, while Juned got Miswa Batchoy with egg, which costs separately. Fritz was disappointed that puto was not available.

The technique in eating batchoy at Ted’s is to ask for another cup of kaldo, or soup. To do that, first finish the soup without eating the noodles and the meat. Then you can ask for another cup of kaldo. That way, you will get distended fully-filled stomach. That’s what the puto is for.

What can I say about Ted’s batchoy? Well, despite eating at Country Style, I almost emptied my bowl, though I did not ask for another kaldo; my two companions did. The contents of the batchoy: the noodles, soup, several strips of pork, several strips of pork liver, chicharon. Heavenly.

The place was no-frills, nondescript. To be honest, it feels like a cafeteria somewhere, but maybe there’s charm on very simple ambiance.

After exchanging gossip while sipping some soup, we retreated to The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at Gateway, for some coffee, vanilla ice blend, and free WiFi. Plus more gossip. =P

Ted’s batchoy is a good but sinful comfort food, specially during cold weather, but again, it is not a day-to-day eat.


Is Oki Oki OK?

Yesterday, I met a friend at TriNoma (it was his birthday yesterday). As he was hungry, we decided to eat, and I thought revisiting Oki Oki would be nice. I had tried that restaurant months ago, and I was craving for ramen yesterday, so Oki Oki we went.

The restaurant is located on Level M1 (TriNoma’s floor configuration is very confusing), near Super Bowl of China. It has two entrances, one at the mall, the other at the garden area. The garden side has glass for a wall, and the mall entrance is quite wide open, with traditional Japanese eatery banners. There were padded seats at three sides of the resto, while there are benches and tables at the middle area. Funny thing was, yesterday, they were playing Filipino music; first time I visited, they were playing enka.

Now, to food.

My friend ordered this Gyudon for Php 185.

If you order this one, you would be asked if you want the egg raw, or scrambled together with the beef. My friend chose it raw; the heat of the food cooked it some. The beef were cut into strips. I couldn’t say anything on the taste since it was not the food I ordered. But he did gave me some beef strips. The beef wasn’t tough, but the texture was like bacon. No, it doesn’t taste like bacon.

I ordered Tonkatsu Ramen for Php 225. The last time, I ordered Oki Oki Chicken Teriyaki Ramen. Maybe I should have ordered it yesterday instead of this one.

If you will notice, the presentation appeared to be disturbed. Because it was. I already ate few pieces of pork, put the egg on the side, and stirred the noodles when I remembered to take a picture. (You see, this is what Juned always says about food blogging: sometimes the food appears so inviting you devour it immediately.) The breading of the pork tasted a bit salty. The vegetables were crisp, not overcooked, which is nice. There were two pieces of what I think was the Japanese version of squid balls, except that these don’t have distinctive tastes, as if they were just pastes. The soup had a hint of shrimp stock, which surprised me, but I think it worked well.

I also ordered Mushi Gyoza for Php 125. Basically, it was just five pieces of steamed dumplings.

I’m not sure what’s in them, but they were tasty, with a hint of vegetables in them. There’s a dipping sauce of soy sauce with a bit of vinegar. The vegetable leaf is edible, but we did not eat it.

If you are a light eater, avoid Oki Oki. Their servings are huge. Otherwise, if you really need to eat large and craving for Japanese food, you may want to try Oki Oki. And no, this is not a good day-to-day eat – it will burn a hole in your pocket, and it will make you obese. Is it a good date place? Depends on your date – if she’s a light eater, avoid Oki Oki, or try their hot pot, which might be good for two. Next time I should try that out with friends.

Maybe next time I will do a Oki Oki v. Teriyaki Boy post. Any sponsors? =P


oKKK lang

(this is posted as a separate entry as apparently recipes are supposed to be separate from restaurant reviews. ktnxbai.)

The other night I took visiting friends from Europe to K.K.K. Pinoy Food Revolution Restaurant at 74 West Avenue (tel. 371-9099), and they liked the Filipino food very much. I think the best thing about the place is the menu, lots of pretty historical pictures.

I discovered that a cellphone camera isn’t exactly ideal as far as taking photos of food in a dimly-lit place is concerned.

Our consumption, for four people:

1 Sinuglaw KKK style 145.00

The peculiar thing is that the Crispy Pata and Kare-Kare were served first, then the rice and Talong, then the Sinuglaw and the Laing. This sort of haphazard delivery of courses isn’t appealing.

Anyway, Sinuglaw is their version of Kilawin, except it’s made of diced tuna chunks, with coconut milk and bits of pork liempo. They use a sweet kind of vinegar which was a bit cloying, but the whole thing was fairly pleasant.

1 Laing 125.00


1 Krisping Krispy Knuckles 440.00


Zero points for presentation, it looked like the pork knuckle was part of a victim of the Glorietta bombing. Tasty though, and for once, this seems to have come from a pig that was actually fat and not suffering from anorexia. Well-cooked skin, evenly crunchy and not oily at all. The sauce was conservative and that’s just to my liking, garlic, onions, vinegar and soy sauce, period.

1 Pinakbet 155.00

I have an irrational horror of Pinakbet so didn’t bother to try it. My European guests are, however, passionately addicted to it and proclaimed it some of the best they’ve ever tasted (this is their third visit to the country).

1 Ensalada Inihaw na Talong 100.00


This time, the sweetish vinegar the restaurant seems to prefer went well with the naked eggplants and the diced vegetables heaped on them: nothing fancy, or nouveau, about the dish, lots of onions and a discreet amount of red chili.

1 Kare-Kare 330.00


Pluses: made with fatty beef. Good sauce, not runny, lots of vegetables and they weren’t cooked to death; good quality tripe, well done and with no suspicious aftertaste. Minuses: the restaurant likes to use the kind of semisweet bagoong that has the consistency of bird poop. This tends to ooze around the plate. But as kare-kare’s go, while modest in serving size, it was obviously a dish made of good, wholesome ingredients and while runny, the bagoong was tasty.

4 Plain Jasmine Rice 120.00

Not the biggest measuring cups were used.

The restaurant has a pleasant outdoor area, and we actually moved there after initially settling in the airconditioned area, which is more brightly lit. However, the airconditioned area was full and the noises being made by the other customers made pleasant conversation impossible. If there’s a near-universal defect of Philippine eating places, it’s that absolutely no thought is given to accoustics.