Friday, March 31, 2006

Big Buddha @ Greenbelt 3

Big Buddha at Greenbelt 3, from the makers of Super Bowl. With the rest of the MB Clubbers stuck in a meeting, it was just Ganns, Tina and I for our brunch at Big Buddha.

We ordered the regular-sized Birthday Noodles and a Dimsum Combination Platter. The Birthday Noodles was delish! It didn't stinge on the seafood and meat thrown into the noodles. As far as I could tell, it had chicken, squid, shrimp and scallops (as well as carrots, pepper and the rest of the veggies). With the three of us sharing the serving, we didn't even finish everything. It was very filling.

The Dimsum Combination Platter consisted of 3 peices of siomai, 3 peices of fried wanton, 2 peices of hakaw, 4 peices of lumpia shanghai and 3 peices of another fried dimsum (cannot recall right now). That's a lot for only 220 bucks!

The platter and noodles was enough for the three of us. We were all full and satisfied with the meal. One bad thing to note about Big Buddha though was the very poor service. Although the crew was friendly, they were slow and at times forgetful. I had to ask 3 different people for a refill of my iced tea, same with Ganns. And the bill took 10 minutes to arrive and another 5 minutes for our change to get back to us. Considering it was lunch hour, I would have thought they'd want to get us out of our table quickly.

I'd definitely be back for the food but maybe not during peak hours.
-- Leigh

Bottomless Kropek! Yummy!

Half-eaten or according to Ganns, a ravaged order of
Big Buddha's Birthday Noodles

Big Buddha at Greenbelt 3 is one of my favorite restaurants in Makati. Big Buddha servings are very generous, ambience is quite good, and, of course, the flavors are very, very good. Leigh already mentioned the food we shared, so it doesn't make any sense to repeat what she said. What she didn't mention in her restaurant review for Big Buddha in Greenbelt 3 is that there's bottomless kropek! I love BIG BUDDHA!

I'm speechless... no words to describe it. I'LL ALWAYS LOVE BIG BUDDHA! This place are for ravenous creatures like me! =P -tina

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Fuzion Greenbelt

Fuzion Greenbelt, a famous fruit smoothie cafe slash restaurant in Makati, played host to Leigh, Lean and myself today. One of the more popular restaurants in Greenbelt, Fuzion Greenbelt is famous for its fabulous fruit smoothies, delightful selection of sandwiches and salads, and, most recently, an irresistible choice of alcoholic smoothies that has most of Makati begging for more! Truly a great place to eat in Greenbelt, and probably one of the best restaurants in Makati.

We love Fuzion Greenbelt's interiors! Splasheed in deliciously bright oranges and yellows, the chairs and tables of Fuzion Greenbelt are so uplifting and kitschy, you can't help but feel good in there. A section at the back allows you to Indian-sit or lie on the floor with red and orange pillows to prop you up beside translucent orange tables.

While at Fuzion Greenbelt, I ordered a South Peach Try-It, which is a real sugar rush of mango, peach, and lychee. Refreshing and delicious! Leigh, on the other hand, helped herself to a Show Me the Monkey, which is a mango-banana hybrid of KingKong proportions. Lean didn't get herself a smoothie from Fuzion Greenbelt, choosing to go with a donut from the GoNuts Donuts Greenbelt branch next door.

For me, better than Big Chill Greenbelt, which is ridiculously and mostly artificially sweet, and Fruit Magic, which tends to taste artificial and clumpy when the smoothie's no longer cold. Fuzion Greenbelt, a place to which I will always return, one of my favorite restaurants in Makati! Do try it out, two thumbs up.

Fuzion... as it tagline says. "no ice... no sugar.. pure fruit" is one healthy drink that I'm sure I'm going to keep looking for especially now since I'm battling the summer's heat. Plus the ambiance is really.... colorful... cozy... my kind of chillout place. :) Some pictures here guys.. ;) -tina

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Pancake House @ Greenbelt 1

Lunch yesterday brought the Makati Brunch Club to Pancake House in Greenbelt 1 in Makati, where Leigh, Lean, Ganns, our friend Noel and I had pancakes galore. Who said one cannot have pancakes for lunch? We did!

My ultimate favorite at the Pancake House is the Mix N Match Combo 3, which comprise a taco, spaghetti and iced tea. But this time, I let go of the spaghetti and ordered 2-piece banana walnut pancake.

The taco was as good as it always is and the pancakes looked superb. Two pancakes placed one on top of the other, 5 slices of banana arranged creatively on 'em, topped with a scoop of butter and walnuts mixture and syrup on the side. Yummy noh? Unfortunately for me, pancakes were a bit bland, but with help from the syrup, it tasted ok. I expect my brunchmates would find that hard to believe since I ate every single morsel on my plate. So what? I was hungry! =P

Service was good. The waiting staff were attentive to our requests, but it took them a while to serve our food. Ambience is a big improvement if you compare it to Pancake House's interiors prior to renovation. Movie posters still deck the walls, but it's no longer crowded.

Even with all the changes they've made, Pancake House will always be one of my favorites. Can't wait to go back and have my fave mix n match combo 3, the pan chicken, club sandwich, lasagna if they still have it, chocolate chip pancakes, waffles, and the list goes on and on and on... -- Idj

Pancake House is one of my ever so favorite places to eat. I love everything they have - from breakfast items, to FIlipino and American food, to their heavenly desserts.

Today, I had their Tuna Macaroni Salad and Chocolate Chip pancakes. Very satisfying!!!

Love it, love it, love it!

- Lean

Friday, March 17, 2006

A week of Heartlands: The Healthy Alternative

Heartlands, the healthy food catering service using the recipes of Heny Sison, is going to be our featured food provider from Monday to Friday of next week.

According to their official website, "Heartlands Healthy Alternative Meals are made fresh everyday. Our Salad Greens are harvested fresh from our farm, Hydrent Farms, in Tagaytay and our new products are developed in the kitchens of Heny Sison."

Sounds good to us! So from Monday to Friday of next week, we're going to order the pre-packed meals of Heartlands Healthy Alternative Meals, which will be delivered to our office here in Makati City. You never know what healthy restaurant in Makati you can find, so we're going to have just a health food delivery in Makati service for the meantime.

Here's their menu for next week:

Breaded Chicken & Creamy Strawberry Dip – Just as you love chicken fingers and dip, this salad gives you the same satisfying sensation as we combine breaded chicken, croutons, and cashew nuts with a salad bed of lettuce and fresh corn kernels. We add our Creamy Strawberry Dressing to the mix just as Chicken Fingers go with wonderful dips!

Vegetarian Crock-pot – Seasoned and Diced Tomatoes in a medley of Chopped Onions, Mushrooms, Carrots, and Bell Pepper all in an Italian Herbed Red Sauce over Al' Dente Spaghetti Noodles.

Honey Hungarian – Hungarian Sausage Chunks and Chopped Onions over Mixed Lettuce Greens, freshened with Sliced Grapes & Cucumber, all topped with Grated Cheese and our NATURAL HONEY MUSTARD DRESSING.

Pasta Jambalaya – Stir Fried Chicken and Shrimp Bites in a sautee of mixed Garlic, Tomatoes, Onions, & Bell Pepper. All this, seasoned Jambalaya Style with cayenne pepper, thyme, oregano & paprika making a delicious red sauce to be tossed in Whole Penne Pasta.

The Naked Mexican Taco – Mexican Seasoned Beef and a salsa inspired topping of Chopped Tomatoes, Onions, and Cilantro, with Taco Chips and Cheddar Cheese grated over your Taco Lettuce Mix. A RANCH SALAD SAUCE dresses this taco without a shell!

Southwestern Pasta – Lean Bacon and Zucchini sautéed along with Peeled Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic and topped with Fresh Corn Kernels. All this in a Mexican Inspired Salsa Sauce tossed over Linguine Noodles.

Kiwi Shrimp and Kani Salad - Shrimp and kani with mango cubes for taste and texture topped with chopped almonds, all dressed with a refreshing Kiwi Vinaigrette.

Shrimp Spaghettini Sesame – Shrimp, Mushrooms, & Asparagus in a Sweet Chutney & Sesame Oil Sauce sautéed with Onions & Garlic tossed over Spaghettini Noodles all drizzled in Sesame Seeds.

Creamy Avocado & Peach Platte – Topped in Sliced Peaches, Carrots, and Jicama Strips, this fresh and fruity salad derives its base flavor from our Unique Creamy Avocado Dressing. We throw in an assortment of Chopped Nuts for the crunch over a Fresh and Crisp Lettuce Bed for another trendy fruit-based salad.

Pasta A'la Paolo – A Vegetarian's concoction of Mushrooms, Red and Green Capsicums simmered in a Light Italian Cream Sauce and served with Italian Spaghetti Noodles. Astoundingly satisfying for a dish with absolutely no meat!

Sounds good, eh? Find out what we think of Heartlands Healthy Alternatives Meals!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Kitchen Greenbelt

Kitchen Greenbelt hosted today's brunch for Makati Brunch Club's Leigh, Lean, and Ganns, and this restaurant in Makati lived up to its expectations, serving up a memorable and tasty meal to match its interesting ambience. I wonder if it is owned by the same people who own and operate the Makati restaurant Mangan in Glorietta; the design of the menus remind me of Mangan.

The menu of Kitchen Greenbelt was truly ingenious, with unique, witty names to go with the left-of-center combinations. I ordered the Jack of All Trades, which looked appealing: fried catfish served on pandan rice with nangka (jackfruit) in coconut milk. This Kitchen creation is one of the most creative dishes I've had in a while - truly delicious. The rough, crispy texture of the catfish was the perfect contrast to the smooth, creamy nangka; when you pop a spoonful into your mouth, it's a medley of flavors and textures that is simply delightful. For P110, a steal!
The ambience of Kitchen Greenbelt is also a conversation piece in itself. Oversize plates, forks, and spoons complement the otherwise stark surroundings. A large display shelf at Greenbelt's Kitchen restaurant featured Asian pottery, and the heavy wooden furniture provided an interesting counterplay to the light, breeze feel of the high ceilings. It was unique and refreshing. In fairness, this Makati restaurant has its flaws. Service at Kitchen Greenbelt was a wee bit slower than usual, and the mint water had no essence of mint to it (maybe they dropped the sprigs of mint into the bottle when the water was cold - better chance of getting the minty flavor and essence to steep if they dropped it in hot water). Seats were uncomfortably hard, but other than these, my Kitchen Greenbelt experience was a pleasant and memorable one. I will be returning soon to this restaurant in Greenbelt very soon, as it is one Makati restaurant that deserves my business. -- Ganns This was my first visit to Kitchen Greenbelt. I've heard of them but because of mixed reviews, it was never a place where I just "had to" go.

Kitchen Greenbelt's interiors was nice, different but they might need an update soon. Their furnishings were starting to get worn. Their menu really needs sprucing up (unless that was the look they were going for).

Now for the food, I ordered Breaded
Mahi-mahi with Fettucine in Alfredo Sauce. The fish was really good. Its breading was not too overpowering and thick unlike some other places. It blended well with the fish. The Alfredo sauce was also one of the best I have tasted. Perfect! The only downside for this particular dish was the overcooked pasta. Other than that, I was happy.

Kitchen Greenbelt will definitely be a place I will visit again.
-- Leigh
Whenever I eat at Kitchen, whether it be at Greenbelt or Galleria, it always brings back fun memories with friends. Probably because I always dine with friends there and later on drink the night away.

It's also a good date place, reminiscent of the date nights I had there with my boyfriend (I miss him!).

For that day, I had their Salmon ala Bistek Tagalog. I've always been fond of Kitchen's cuisine. Very exotic looking yet homestyle cooking at its finest. It also does not hurt that the ambience is absolutely wonderful. Huge plates, huge spoons and forks....classic :)

The food was very good. And if you are in a budget, you may opt to diss ordering drinks since they serve their water in minted bottles. Very chic and unique.

Kitchen definitely has a special place in my heart (and tummy!)

- Lean

Friday, March 10, 2006

Sinangag Express @ Makati Cinema Square

Sinangag Express was not the first choice for our brunch trip that day. Lean and I had headed off to Makati Cinema Square or MCS, as it is also known, ahead of Ganns and Tina. We had planned to eat at Lotus (Lot-Us as Ganns calls it). As we were crossing the street to Makati Cinema Square, we saw their red and yellow sign for Sinangag Express and I "squealed" to Lean "Ooooh... Sinangag!" to which she then said "Let's eat there instead!".

So it was goodbye Lot-Us, hello Sinangag Express! We didn't know where it was located in Makati Cinema Square, for all we know, it was on the other side of the building in some seedy corner. We asked the guard at the door where it was... "Sa kaliwa tapos sa Jollibee kumanan kayo". So off we went, we turned right after Jollibee and we walked looking around for Sinangag Express. Nothing! Until we reached an exit (and this time, I was thinking to myself.. uh-oh it's outside!). Good thing that it was just right outside the door in some sort of mini-wing of Makati Cinema Square.

I ordered the Tocino Meal and a large iced tea all for 80+ pesos! Not bad at all. If I weren't that hungry, I could have ordered their Tocilog for 39 pesos. I asked what the difference was between Tocino Meal and Tocilog. Apparently, the Tocino Meal had more tocino and me being an
ulam person, Tocino Meal it is!

I enjoyed the meal. Although I personally like Cebu's version of Sinangag Express better (Cebu's is not the original but I like it) 80 pesos for a cup of garlic rice, tocino, fried egg and iced tea is well worth it.

Verdict? I will return!
-- Leigh

Sinangag Express is one "resto" close to my heart (agen!) My boyfriend actually introduced me to this place. We'd go to their Paranaque branch, inside BF and eat outside the patio.

I've always been a fan of breakfast food. Breakfast items appeal to me the most, specially Filipino ones like the "silog" family.

Just as Leigh has narrated, our trip (just the two of us unfortunately) to Sinangag Express wasn't the original plan. It was a blessing in disguise that we came across their sign/billboard. That day, I had their Longsilog meal for Php39!! Imagine eating a satisfying lunch and paying less than Php50 for it! It was really very yummy!!! And to partner it with is their ever so tasty iced tea (which I've just tried for the first time), mango flavor! I ended up buying packs of that Lipton Mango Iced Tea. A must-try, really.

- Lean

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Piadina @ Greenbelt 1

The Piadina exterior.

This afternoon, The Makati Brunch Club had lunch at Piadina in Greenbelt 1, which specializes in pasta and piadina - a flatbread variety that originated in one of Italy's provinces. I'm crazy about Italian food, but sad to say, this restaurant in Makati didn't quite meet my expectations.

The Piadina Pasta Ria: pasta without any kind of kick.

I ordered Pasta Ria - spaghetti with tomato sauce, smoked cheese and meat, served with piadina on the side. I liked the bread, but I didn't like my pasta. It was a bit bland for my taste, and I had to add lots of parmesan cheese and some sort of chili and garlic oil to taste.

The Piadina Placemat: Colorful and Classy.

On the plus side, service at Piadina Greenbelt was fast. But that's all I've got to say about it. I think my friends would have better reviews to post as it seemed they enjoyed whatever they had.

The garlic-infused chili oil was absolutely delightful.

Btw, thanks Eric for joining us this afternoon at Piadina Greenbelt. It was nice to meet you. :-) -- Idj

It was my first time at Piadina. I never tried the place primarily because nothing seems to appeal to my appetite. Alhtough, of course, with the Brunch Club, there should always be a first.

I had one of their set meals, which include a piadina of choice and fresh salad. It was delicious, although if asked to choose, I'd probably choose elsewhere to eat. Anyway, for my piadina, I chose tomatoes and mozarella. Quite nice since the combination is lethally addictive.

The salad is also very good, given the balsamic dressing that complements it.

Topping it all of as part of the set meal is their panna cotta. Love-ly!

All in all, a so-so lunch experience.

- Lean

Piadina Greenbelt is one of the restaurants in Makati that Cathy (my wife) and I enjoy going to, for a variety of reasons. It's good Italian food - reasonably priced at P135 for the meal I ordered, already with iced tea! - and Cathy likes the chili garlic oil. Mmm.

The Meal of the Day: Puttanesca with fried mozzarella and a mushroom piadina.

I ordered a meal of the day, which was a puttanesca (no choice) with fried mozarella and mushroom piadina (my choice). It was delightful, if but a little bland, which was strange, because their pastas are normally so flavorful. I like the openness of Piadina - it allows for the diner to enjoy the sight of people walking by - and service was reasonably fast, although for the second time in a row (the first being at Oody's), my order was last to arrive.
Panacotta with chocolate sauce. Oh dear Lord, our thighs...

Here's a tip, though: if you want a Piadina calzone, go the Piadina at the Glorietta foodcourt. They serve calzone at the same size for a fraction of the price. WEIRD. Would I return? In a heartbeat. For all its idiosyncracies, Piadina Greenbelt is one of the more affordable true Italian diners in Makati, and I enjoy my Italian food.

Garden salad with tomato piadina.

Leigh's date set her heart on fire.

I intentionally arrived at Piadina at Greenbelt 1 five minutes earlier than our meeting time so that I could make a quick scan of the menu and absorb whatever mood and ambience the place had to offer. One can tell that the place served Italian because of the various kitschy icons of Italia that were either hung or drawn on the walls. What says Italy more than a framed picture of a Ferrari, eh?

Ok, so it isn't as visually attractive as I would have wanted it but we were there for the food. All those tempting pasta choices and various Italian delights offered on the menu were enough to make me forget the surroundings. Given this pleasant development, I was ready to give this place a second chance.

Or, so I thought.

The term "anemic" came to mind when I saw the dishes being served. I've avtually seen more red on the cheeks of a blushing snowman than on any of what we ordered (see pics above). The taste of the meat sauce in my Pasta Ria lacked something. Sure, there was a spicy sting to it but it just wasn't enough. I like it when the flavor of any food doesn't start and end in my mouth. It would be great if it would excite at least a couple of more senses.
The plus side? Service was quick and the servers were pleasant. The meals arrived at an average of ten minutes from the time we ordered. The price was ok, not fair, but just ok.

I have always believed one half of a good meal is the food itself and the other half is the company you have with it. I guess the latter was this occasion's most redeeming factor. Thanks for letting me join you guys and I hope to brunch with you again soon!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Oody's Greenbelt

Last Thursday, the Makati Brunch Club visited the delightful Oody's restaurant in Makati on the 2nd floor of Greenbelt 3. This time around, Idjea, Tina, Leigh, and I were accompanied by a second guest, fellow officemate and Thai food lover Michael Reyes.

This is what I order most of the time... their exquisite bagoong rice! -tina
Oody's, to the uninitiated, is a welcoming Thai fusion restaurant in Makati City, known for a variety of dishes, including a flavorful pad thai, the exotic pandan iced tea, and the show-stopping tom yum goong, 2nd best in all of restaurants in Manila (the best tom yum goong, FYI, is available at Muang Thai, a tiny little Thai restaurant along Banawe Street in Quezon City - the spicy broth will warm your heart and melt your stomach).
I also like the interiors of Oody's, although, admittedly, the table at which we sat left much to be desired, for the height of its chairs made it difficult to climb aboard. Oody's is beautiful in its simplicity - solid blacks and whites, with bold colors in red and green coming from the chilis and other spices, something other restaurants in Makati cannot boast of much.
I ordered an Oody's pork noodle dish with gravy and fried egg. It was sweet, sticky, and delightful! A wee bit too spicy for my taste, but then again, Thai food is expectedly spicy, so I was to expect that from the Makati restaurant that is Oody's.
Service at Oody's was slow but friendly, and Oody's prices were a little too high for what I ate. Considering the fun of the meal, though, I would return. - Ganns

Goody! Oodys! We headed out to Greenbelt 3 not knowing where we wanted to eat. After checking out prices and disregarding a few because of the budget, we settled on Oodys!

My favorite thai iced tea!!! -tina
The interiors and overall ambience of the place was good. Not loud to have to shout during conversations and not too quiet either to feel like you're sneaking food into a place where you're not supposed to. The high chairs were actually pretty cool (not recommended for the vertically-challenged), just be careful not to move around so much unless you want to be flat on your newly aching back.
It took us quite a while to decide on what to order (except for Ganns who ordered his favorite). None of us wanted to be disappointed so we kept changing our minds and telling our very cooperative and friendly waitress to cancel that order and take this order instead. She was a good sport. I settled on a typical Thai dish -- Pad Thai, extra spicy. The food was good... not bad but not the best Pad Thai either. It wasn't that spicy either. Good thing they had chili flakes on demand to satisfy my spicy cravings.
As the lunch crowd poured in, the wait staff were becoming overwhelmed. The customer-waiter ratio was lacking. We had to wait several minutes for our canned sodas (additional order) to arrive which we could very well see sitting on the bar waiting for a wait staffer to pick them up. But still, the waiters there were very accomodating.

My decision? I'd go there again to try out the rest of their offerings particulary those "weird" fried spaghetti with gravy dishes.
-- Leigh
I've only been to Oody's once and the only time I was there, it wasn't a good experience for me. I ordered Pad Thai, and didn't find it exceptionally good, despite a friend's glowing commendation.
This was probably the reason why it took me forever to order -- I wanted my experience to be better than the last. To be on the safe side, I ordered Bagoong Rice, but then I thought, what's the point of ordering the same food I always have whenever I go to a Thai restaurant? So after 5 minutes deliberation (with myself), I decided to try something else -- Stir-fried noodles small something something Singaporean style -- I couldn't remember the exact name... but the food was great!!! I'll definitely have that again when I next visit Oody's.
Service was also very good and the waitress assigned to our table was very accommodating. She waited patiently, pen poised on paper, while we we discussed among ourselves what to order, what dish is better; occasionally turning to her for help on certain menu items. But she answered all our questions and noted down special requests such as to make the food extra spicy or otherwise. When the food was served, we were delighted to know that our requests were granted -- well mine, at least. I asked her to make my noodle dish less spicey, and it was. So, plus points for that!
I thought at first the Pad Thai I had then would prevent me from coming back to Oody's ever again. Turns out it's just one dish. Good thing the Makati Brunch Club decided to eat at Oody's that day, otherwise, I wouldn't have changed my mind about the resto -- I would definitely eat at Oody's again! -- Idj

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Invitation to join

If any of you out there would like to be guests of the Makati Brunch Club and join us for a great lunch in any of the restaurants in Makati, please email either Tina or me. We'll let you know where we'll be going Tuesdays and Thursdays. Come along for fun, food, feisty females and a good-looking guy (that'd be me).

Oh, one more thing: meals are Dutch treats. Budget is P120 thereabouts. :)