A month or two ago, L, my foodie friend, posted her top ten restaurants on her blog. Back then, I decided that I would do the same. Then, school began, and, caught in the whirlwind of papers, projects and whiny students, the writing of the list was forgotten. With Quezon Day today, and having no classes, I thought I'd try to get it done today.
Below is a list of the restaurants, in no particular order, that I've come to rely on for good food and ambiance.
1. Mann Hann (Basement, Building A, Megamall) - I was first introduced to this place by my parents, and the first order I had was the oyster cake, which is an omelet-like dish. While I much prefer my oysters plain and nicely steamed, the cake had a wonderful flavor. The novelty of the oyster cake has died down, but H and I keep coming back here, mainly for the spicy spareribs and the squid, which comes with bagoong balayan.
2. Luk Yuen (Basement, Building B, Megamall, under renovation) - Beef mami (noodle soup) is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods, and Luk Yuen does it better than most. The restaurant's assortment of dim sum is very good, and I particularly like the asado siopao (very moist dough and flavorfully savory filling), and the steamed shrimp dumplings. Ever since the Megamall branch closed temporarily for renovations, I've been hard-pressed to get my fix of Luk Yuen, but, since H isn't particularly fond of the restaurant, the once-in-a-while trip is worth it.
3. Little Asia (Tomas Morato) - One nice thing about my parents is that they're very open to trying out new restaurants, and this was one of the finds. It's since become one of our favorite dining-out places. Regular orders include the Kung Pao chicken (spicy-sweet), and their Japanese Tofu Steak, topped with black mushroom and pork slices. G likes it because of the spiral staircase winding up to the second floor, and my after-dinner exercise consists of walking with her up and down the stairs.
4. Almon Marina (1st Floor, Building A, Megamall) - What I like about Almon Marina is the versatility of the menu. One can partake of a sandwich (pastrami is my personal favorite; H likes the Sydney Special, a roast beef sandwich), or a salad (H likes the one with walnuts and olives), or a soup (most of them creamy and savory), or something grilled (which I''ve never tried; the sandwiches get me first). All in the warm, comfy surroundings of a cafe-like ambiance.
5. Italianni's (Greenbelt, Makati) - One complaint L had (or still has?) about Italianni's is that the servings appear to be getting smaller and smaller. Since I haven't eaten there for a while, I haven't noticed, but if they have, then it's a crying shame. The restaurant serves really good pasta (Penne Arrabiata, and Angel Hair Pomodoro are my favorites), and their desserts, while pricey, are generally very good. What I like in particular is the bread that they serve at the beginning of the meal. It's best tasted in an olive oil and wine vinegar dip that comes with it. Italianni's seems to be on a major expansion move; there are now branches in Megamall and along Tomas Morato. Still, the cozy family restaurant ambiance of the Greenbelt branch is what I miss.
6. The New Kamameshi House (Quezon Memorial Circle, QC) - This is one of the oldest of my family haunts. Kamameshi is kettle-cooked rice with some sort of flavoring, and it is truly a great dish. What I like is that when the meal is almost over, I get to scrape the bottom of each kettle for the tutong, or the semi-burnt rice. Since a good amount of the flavor has caramelized at the bottom, I find the full burst of the taste there. An added bonus now is that Kamameshi House is one of the few restaurants that G enjoys, since she knows how to manipulate the chopsticks (a little).
7. A Venetto (Visayas Avenue, QC) - Ah, Italian food. Such wonderful memories of Italian Village. While that restaurant is now long gone, other establishments have taken up the slack. A Venetto is one of them. The pasta dishes come burgeoning with sauce and pasta, and for a relatively reasonable price. The A Venetto burger is another good find: a half-pounder burger with veggies, cheese and bacon; I normally wind up eating half in the restaurant, and the other half I take out and eat at home.
8. Chocolate Kiss (UP Bahay ng Alumni, QC) - While L and I tried out the branch along Roces, I find that the original location is still the best. Low lighting provides a cozy atmosphere, and every Wednesday and Friday (?) evening, there's live musical entertainment. The food is pretty good; L pretty much covered the basics in her post about our lunch, but I will say that the hickory smoked spareribs are nicely tender and flavorful. The only problem is that, sometimes, I do get more than a fair share of gristle with the ribs. Still, H and I count this as one of our favorite hang outs.
9. La Piadina (Robinson's Place, Manila) - This was a discovery shared with me by H, B, and Hg, who work in the Supreme Court in Manila. Their normal lunching is spent in Robinson's Place, which is a bit of a walk from the Court. Still, Italian food served freshly made can't be beat. So far, we've tried their Arrabiata (good) and their pizza (wunnerful). Instead of hot sauce, there's a container full of olive oil with hot peppers marinating in it; it packs a good kick. The price is pretty reasonable, so one can get a rich and filling meal for a good price.
10. Alba's (Tomas Morato, QC) - One of the perks of Alba's is that my cousin happens to be married to the son of Don Alba, the restaurant's founder. As a result, a lot of our family gatherings take place in either the Eastwood or the Tomas Morato branch of Alba's. This means that I get to sample quite a bit of their Paella, which is one of the most wonderful foods in the world. I particularly like the Paella Negra (is that what it's called?), which is made with squid ink, and is a great treat. Aside from the paella, Alba's also boasts of good Spanish cuisine, from callos (made with tripe and tomato sauce) to chorizos (sausage) to the very light and fluffy canonigo (a meringue-like cake served with caramel sauce). Of course, the price is also rather high, but the restaurant does serve buffets for lunch and dinner, so one can partake of various Spanish dishes for a reasonable price.