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Restaurant Review: Zark’s, Katipunan

The Man and I have been wanting to try this restaurant for some time, but we’ve always been confounded by full parking. We finally had a chance to eat here when we found ourselves in the area at around 10:30am (quite a bit before the lunch rush). Zark’s Burgers is located on the second floor of the building that also houses Flaming Wings, along Katipunan Ave.

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The restaurant (which can seat maybe 20-25 people) had a couple of groups eating when we arrived, so there were lots of seats available. The strangest thing happened: they have this weird seat-and-table arrangement that they refused to adjust when we requested that both of us be seated on the couch. It’s a bit hard to explain, so just take a look at this picture and the one above.

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In the end we just took the table at the very end when the couple who sat there finished eating. That was the only set of tables that would allow both persons to be seated on the couch. This…weird customer service set a bad tone at the start of the meal. Fortunately, the food is quite good.

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Our first order was the Philly Cheesesteak Burger from the Major League Menu, which came with fries and drink, and the drink can be upgraded to bottomless. The burger came with a generous amount of cheesesteak and caramelized onions, and was in fact swimming in cheese-gravy sauce. The whole thing costs Php180 (excluding the drink upgrade). This burger was really good, and we will definitely order this again.

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Our second order was the Deep Fried Bacon Burger, which wasn’t on their regular menu. It also came with fries and drink (which we upgraded as well). This is basically a regular 1/2 pound burger, wrapped in a generous amount of bacon. Yes, the whole burger (including the bun) was wrapped entirely in bacon. It also came with a sweet sauce which was intended to be poured over the bacon (or for the bacon to be dipped into). This costs Php240 I think. This burger was tasty, except it felt really oily as it is deep fried. Even the bun was oily. The bacon was really nice though, and the sweet dipping sauce made it really pop. The oiliness is a huge factor though (it seeped into the bun!), so we probably won’t be ordering this again.

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Summary: The food and value-for-money is excellent here, but there seem to be a huge hurdle in the form of parking. I would definitely want to try their other offerings.

Food: 9
Service: 6.5
Ambiance: 7.5

You can visit their website here.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Restaurants

 

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Restaurant Review: Buffalo Wings N’ Things, Megamall

The Man and I (actually more him) are big fan of chicken wings. We discovered this pretty awesome place in one of our rambles around one of our favorite malls, Megamall. Buffalo Wings and Things is an unassuming restaurant located in Mega A basement, near the events area. Nearby establishments are Sumo Sam, Toy Kingdom, and the north side of the food court.

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It’s a pretty small place, filled with mostly couple-tables that spill out the front of the restaurant. However! The most important feature of this restaurant is those packs of tissue for each table. For a place that will require you to eat with your fingers, this just makes sense! The counter is all the way inside, beside the kitchen.

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They have a big standee of their menu out in front of the tables. If you’re eating brunch to a late lunch/early dinner, you may also want to check out their Fan Faves, which is a selection of their best sellers at a great price.

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Our standard order is as follows. For me, I get a Set A from the Fan Faves menu, which gives me half a pound buffalo wings of my choice of flavor. My favorite is Garlic Parmesan! This set also gives me a side of NY Dirty Rice (which I share with The Man) and a regular sized Downtown Iced Tea, which I would upgrade to a large one. This costs Php199 + Php20 for the tea upgrade.

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The Man’s order is 1 pound buffalo wings of his choice of flavor. We’ve tried different variations but I think he has settled on the Firehouse Classic as his favorite. He gets a large Downtown Iced Tea and a Bleu Cheese add on as well. His order comes up to around Php380.

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Summary: Our new favorite place to get wings! It’s where we would usually eat whenever we find ourselves at Megamall. Pretty great flavors, acceptable ambiance, excellent service, and a good supply of tissue!

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Food: 10
Service: 10
Ambiance: 7.5

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Restaurants

 

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Easy Garlic Fried Rice

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One of our current staples in home cooking is fried rice. Garlic fried rice, to be specific. It’s The Man’s favorite kind of fried rice, and it’s so easy that I never really tire of making it. Here is how I do it.

  1. Prep your old rice by taking it out of the fridge and having it go to almost room temperature. Cooking cold rice will just make the process much longer.
  2. Take a whole bulb of garlic (yes that’s how we roll!). Peel the cloves, wash the cloves briefly, then dice them. It’s your choice if you like finely diced garlic or just roughly diced.
  3. Heat about a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in your nonstick pan.
  4. Fry the garlic in the olive oil until it starts turning brown.
  5. Put in your old rice. For this much garlic I can use about two to three cups of old cooked rice.
  6. Use a spatula (or two, I like to double-wield) to break down the rice until the grains separate and gets coated by oil and garlic. Be generous with your tossing around of the rice and garlic, to make an even mix. If you are using cold rice this can take a while.
  7. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper according to taste. I like to put only a shake or two of each, just to get a bit of flavor in. I don’t want to overwhelm the taste of the garlic.
  8. It’s hard to say when it’s done as I just eyeball it. Basically once the rice grains are separated and looks like it had a turn at the bottom of the pan, I stop cooking.

The whole process shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes, unless you take a long time peeling and dicing the garlic. Take it off the heat and serve immediately. We usually serve this with smoked bangus or tocino, maybe a side of fried egg, and a tomato-and-patis salad.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2013 in Random Cooking

 

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Maggi Magic Meals Chicken Pastel

One of my staple baon viands recently is Chicken Pastel, made so easy because of Maggi Magic Meals. I discovered this when Maggi was giving out samples at my work place. The idea of the Magic Meals is simple: put the required ingredients in the provided plastic bag, tie it shut, place it in the rice cooker along with your prepared rice and water, and cook it for 45 minutes. Let me show you how I did this Chicken Pastel.

This is what the Magic Meal pack looks like. As you can see, I bought it at Hi-Top for Php32.85.

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It has two sections. The top section contains the special food-grade plastic that will hold the ingredients. The bottom section contains the flavoring powder that will transform those ingredients into chicken pastel. At the back you will see very detailed instructions. (Click the images for a larger version.)

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I’ll now show you the steps I took to create my latest batch of chicken pastel.

1. Prepare your ingredients. Here I took a largish carrot and a medium potato, which I peeled and diced. I also have half a kilo of chicken thigh fillets, which I cut into small parts and scored the meat sections three times each to let the flavor in. I chose thigh fillets because it’s boneless (making it easier to eat when I take it to work) and more flavorful than say, breast fillets. This batch is extra fatty, which contributed to a creamier pastel later on.

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2. Open up the provided plastic bag. It has a red sticker that keeps it folded. I take the effort to remove all traces of this sticker to make sure I won’t have sticker bits or glue in my rice. Put all the ingredients in the bag, then add the flavoring powder (bottom section) and 1/4 cup of water.

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3. Seal the bag, making sure that the bag will lie flat and there isn’t much air inside.

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4. Place the bag inside the rice cooker, making sure that most of the bag is submerged in the water. I usually cook two cups of rice here, so there will be enough water to accommodate the magic meal bag. Turn on the rice cooker. Usually the rice will finish cooking faster than the 45 minutes required for the magic meal. What I do is to just set the rice cooker to warm (so as not to burn the rice) to keep the cooking of the magic meal going. I turn off the rice cooker at exactly 45 minutes.

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5. The chicken pastel is ready to serve! Cut open the bag and slide out the cooked pastel. Be careful here because the bag is probably very hot.

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This batch will probably give me about two to three sets of baon. I just spoon it over the rice and seal my bento, and it reheats pretty nicely in the microwave. I will probably keep on using this kind of chicken, because it really made the pastel creamy and decadent.

Maggi has three other kinds of Magic Meals: Lechon Paksiw, Bicol Express, and Afritada. I’ve tried the first two, and Chicken Pastel remains my favorite.

Have you tried Magic Meals? Which one did you like best?

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Random Cooking

 

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Ten Reasons To Try Amici

One of the best places to get gelato is Amici, which is actually an Italian fare restaurant. I had the opportunity to try out their ten (yes ten!) new dishes, and I would like to share them with you.

1. Asian Chicken Salad (Php195)

amici03 amici09One of their two new salad offers is this Asian Chicken Salad. It has breaded chicken slices, oranges, carrots and lettuce with sesame dressing. What makes this interesting is the fried wonton strips that top the salad. I really like the combination of the dressing with the oranges. This is a big salad and can definitely be shared among 2-3 diners.

2. Mediterranean Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad (Php195)

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The second new salad offer is thisĀ Mediterranean Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad. As you can gather, it has crumbled blue cheese, candied walnuts, arugula, and grapes along with some lettuce. It is served with red wine vinaigrette, which is a great contrast with the candied walnuts. I enjoyed the fact that this is a completely different salad than the Asian Chicken Salad, but both are quite good in their own rights.

3. Prosciutto and Artichoke Cream Pizza Roll (Php242)

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Amici introduces a new form of pizza: the pizza roll. Both of these rolls have prosciutto (thinly sliced dry-cured ham). This first roll has artichoke cream, cream cheese, prosciutto, and arugula, with reduced balsamic vinegar. This is an interesting appetizer, and can be a whole meal in itself.

4. Prosciutto Portobello Pizza Roll (Php242)

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This second pizza roll has prosciutto, portobello mushrooms, cream cheese, and arugula served with roasted garlic dip.

5. Truffle Mushroom Pizza (Php430)

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What is Amici without pizza? Their newest flavor is this decadent Truffle Mushroom Pizza, which is a pizza with portobello, shiitake, and porcini mushrooms for toppings. It also has truffle oil, mozzarella cheese, and arugula leaves. As a mushroom lover this is quite a hit for me. The cheese is also generous. This pizza overall is really quite delicious.

6. Smoked Salmon Top-Crust Pizza (Php395)

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What is top-crust, you ask? It is a new style of pizza where the “toppings” are sandwiched between two incredibly thin pizza crusts. This dish has smoked salmon, capers, black olives, tomatoes, bechamel sauce, and mozzarella cheese, sandwiched between crispy crusts.

7. Penne Rosa and Bacon (Php252)

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An Italian restaurant will be no such thing without pasta. The first of Amici’s new pasta dishes is Penne Rosa and Bacon, which is bacon, pomodoro, and bechamel sauce sauteed with mushrooms, garlic, and onions. I really loved this dish, and is my uncontested favorite of the ten. It doesn’t hurt that there is a generous amount of bacon in this dish.

8. Garlic Chorizo Spaghetti (Php250)

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If long noodles are your thing, Amici also has a new offering that might interest you. Garlic Chorizo Spaghetti has a lot (believe me it’s really a lot!) of Spanish chorizo sauteed in garlic and olive oil. Garlic lovers will rejoice that there is a good amount of garlic in this dish.

9. Chicken Parmigiana (Php328)

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Amici is now offering rice meals. The first is this gigantic plate of Chicken Parmigiana, a big slab of breaded chicken topped with tomato meat sauce and mozzarella cheese, served with rice pilaf and some roasted vegetables. My daughter loves parmigiana, and would probably enjoy this dish a lot.

10. Pork Marsala (Php332)

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The second rice meal (and the last of the ten new dishes) is Pork Marsala. It is basically rolled pork filled with ham and cheese, button mushrooms, and cream, all reduced in marsala wine and served with rice pilaf and some roasted vegetables. I particularly enjoyed this dish even though it was one of the last I tried (I was quite full at this point!). This is quite tasty and the fillings are generous.

Have I enticed you yet? Wait, there’s more! (hee hee)

Amici is celebrating its anniversary this Saturday, July 27 2013, and is having a Buy 1 Take 1 Promo! For every pizza you order, you will get a free pizza (either Tutta Carne or Margherita)! This is available in all Amici branches and valid for all dine-in and take-out transactions. Remember, this is a one-day-only promo so don’t forget to catch it!

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Let me also share some scenes from the launch event. [Click the pictures for a bigger size.]

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Thanks to Marcie and Amici for inviting me! For more information about Amici, visit their website at www.amici.ph or interact with them on their Facebook page.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2013 in Restaurants

 

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Restaurant Review: The Buffet, Commonwealth

For the relaunch of my food blog I would like to review one of the newest restaurants along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. The Buffet is, as the name suggests, mainly a buffet restaurant that serves Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Western cuisines, and is headed by Chef Park Gi Won. The Man and I decided to celebrate our anniversary here at The Buffet and we chose a weekday lunch.

It was a sweltering day and high noon at that. The venue wasn’t exactly full, but at that time there were no available parking slots in front of the restaurant. It was a very good thing that The Buffet provides free valet service. Upon entrance we were greeted by the hostess, got seated immediately and was offered a choice of fruit shakes for drinks. While they were preparing the drinks we went exploring the buffet line.

The section that immediately interested us was the Japanese section, specifically the sushi/maki/sashimi. We got ourselves a plate each of these. Unashamed, I even grabbed those last two pieces of inarizushi (sushi rice in a fried tofu pouch). It’s pretty rare! We made several trips to this sushi station.

thebuffet10 thebuffet11We took a look at the other sections. There as a salad area and a fruit area. I had a bit of salad for starters and some fruit for dessert.

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There was a bread section, with a toaster if you wish to toast your bread. There is a bowl of butter, as well as cheese and crackers at the far end. I think we didn’t have any of these, as we really were concentrating on the sushi.

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Near this area there was a section where you could get calamares and vegetable sticks, as well as a pizza area. I got none of these but The Man did. The pizza were thin and crisp and quite good, he said.

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Here is a view of some Chinese dishes (spicy crab and seafood hotpot). Beside it are slices of char siu, century egg, and soy chicken. I tried the char siu and it was good.

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Beyond the Chinese dishes sat the Filipino dishes. I was taken by this huge bowl of ginataang kuhol (snails!). I wanted badly to try it, but I wasn’t very sure if I’m allergic so I erred on the safe side. I couldn’t remember what the dish beside it was, but it looks like steamed fish.

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Let’s go back to some Japanese dishes. There were some nice tonkatsu slices, and curry sauce that you can dip it in. Beside it is roasted ham slices, and beyond is some more sliced meat. There was also a dedicated tempura station, where you can get a variety of stuff dipped in tempura batter and fried to a nice crisp.

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On the Korean side of things, there is an area where you can get the usual Korean side dishes (kimchi, etc). Nearby you can also get some nice pajeon (seafood pancake), and freshly grilled bulgogi. Check out that variety of things you can have grilled.

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Check out one of The Man’s plates. He’s pretty good at presentation, and this plate really looks awesome. From the top going clockwise there’s four assorted sushi, a pizza roll slice (the one with what looks like wheatgrass garnish), tonkatsu slices with curry sauce, two pieces of hakao, and several pieces of pre-dipped tuna and salmon sashimi. In the corner is a tiny cup of fudge dessert.

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I neglected to take a photo of the dessert stations.

We were able to catch their promotional prices, so we each paid only Php599 each which also included the drinks. Weekday dinner is Php799, weekend lunch is Php699, and weekend dinner is Php899. The full prices are Php200 more expensive.

The Buffet is open on weekdays for lunch at 11:30am-2pm and for dinner at 6pm-10pm, and on weekends for lunch at 11am-2:30pm and for dinner at 5:30pm-10pm. They also accept reservations and events. For more information you can check out their website here.

Summary: A great buffet place for northerners, with amazing selections (especially the sushi!). Drinks are also unlimited. Parking is readily available, and they even offer free valet service. They will soon be graduating from their introductory prices so you might want to try them out before that happens.

Food: 9.5
Service: 10
Ambiance: 9.5

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2013 in reviews

 
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Baon Ko Bento is now on Twitter! Follow me as I update you on the latest restaurant reviews and cooking adventures, as well as news and tidbits on anything baon and bento.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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