Shari Shari Kakigori House

C127 GF, Serendra, BGC, Taguig Philippines

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What a little treat to stumble across, when I was on a hunt after dinner for some dessert! I’m not really a fan of shaved ice, called kakigori in Japanese, but when I do come across an amazing one like this place, I’m made into a fan.

You’ll find Shari Shari nestled comfortably in a hub of restaurants, not too far away from the ever-popular Bonifacio High Street. There is an array of flavours to choose from and they are separated under ‘premium flavours’, ‘classic flavours’, ‘fruit flavours’ which you then can add additional toppings if you like! We opted for the ‘matcha cream special’, correct me if I’m wrong, which had kuromitsu, matcha cream syrup, cookies (inside) and the irresistible whipped cream. You just have to look at the picture I’ve taken below, to see how beautiful and enticing it looked. Mind you, it is even special when you taste it. The shaved ice was surprisingly fluffy, like super soft! The flavours were captured evenly throughout, there was no awkward spots left unflavoured. The whipped cream added that cherry on top, not too sweet and the kuromitsu gave the shaved ice the needed caramel touch to balance the sweetness. I loved how it didn’t melt quickly, so you can enjoy it a little longer. When you finally break into the middle, it only gets better as the flavours are more intense and you have the cookie crumbles to keep you going.

I could ramble on, oh and how I wish there was one amazing as this place nearby me! The pictures don’t do the kakigori justice, also it was massive. I shared with my partner which was the perfect size and honestly, if I had my own it would have been perfectly fine too.

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Bob Marlin

Magsaysay Ave, Concepcion pequeña, Naga, 4400 Camarines Sur, Philippines

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Going down south from Manila, means getting to try another area’s local cuisines. Bob Marlin is known to cook up Bicolano dishes, which you will definitely be able to see in their extensive menu. The restaurant has got you covered in the sizzler, specials, soup, crispy department and much more!

Bob Marlin is situated in what seems to be the eat street of Naga City. You won’t miss it, they’ve got a massive sign, with a swordfish. Best to pre-book, we came on a weekday and it was filling up slowly during the evening. Service staff was quick on their feet when we came through. Food came out fairly quickly as well. I enjoyed the ambience, it was almost homely, the restaurant had that laid back vibe. From memory we ordered garlic rice (size was perfect for 3 people), crispy pata, bicol express and I forget what type of fish we ordered. I really enjoyed the crispy pata, the meat was soft, juicy and very clean. Like, it wasn’t over-the-top oily, which was a major plus. The skin was crispy and what I appreciated was the it wasn’t extremely chewy. The bicol express was great as well, the coconut taste was slight, bummed that the amount was quite small.

If you’re in the city, I highly recommend this restaurant. You won’t be paying a lot and you definitely have to order their crispy pata. Bob Marlin is a great place to start, in introducing Bicolano dishes!

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Nikkei

G/F Frabelle Business Center, 111 Rada, Legaspi Village, Makati City, Philippines

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Treated at Nikkei for Valentines Day, and my partner knows how much I enjoy Japanese cuisines. There are 3 other branches in other popular cities and this was our closest. When he mentioned the restaurant was serving a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines, I was super excited!

Let us first talk about the interior, which was gorgeously simple, with the wood accents covering both the ceiling and furnitures. The restaurant is quite cozy, fitting a small amount of people, which you are sitting very close to other diners. Wait staffs were attentive in refilling glasses, removing empty plates and was easy to get their attention. Food and drinks came out timely, all presented in an appealing way. From the plates, plating and interior, everything was balanced.

I am no Peruvian food expert, but it is evident from the Japanese cuisines, that there are slight twists to each item. Playfully colourful, each dish had its own unique texture, whilst staying consistent to the combined culture-fusion theme. The highlights would have to be the flamed edamame (surprisingly addictive), house-made ice cream scoop, kurobutoa gyoza and the miso soup! My bowl which had the grilled squid was ok, the grilled squid was comforting but unfortunately everything else in the bowl was bland. There’s a good amount in the bowls, so if you plan to eat small plates, skip the bowls. Cocktails were created beautifully, highlights would have to be their yamazaki umeshu and orange prosecco.

Everything was priced mid-range, a great place to explore fusion dishes, catching up with friends, lovers or for business meetings.

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The Curator Coffee and Cocktails

134 Legaspi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati, Metro Manila

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A popular speakeasy bar in the heart of Makati city! We didn’t book a spot before we arrived and to make sure we did get a seat, we came in early around 6-7pm. The bar is located inside a cafe, there are no signs, so make sure you use your GPS. You go into the cafe and through a sliding door at the back. The Curator is located at the corner of a t-section. Headed to the bar straight after dinning close by, which made getting to the bar a breeze.

The Curator is well-known of their craft cocktails, which are all described inside an insightful and detailed drinks menu. The menu had this little radar section, which would simply identify whether the drink is on the sweet and/or alcoholic side; see image below. I was just fascinated at the very detailed menu. There are only a handful of cocktails to choose from, but don’t be afraid to speak to the bartenders, as they welcome suggestions to create from guests. I believe The Curator had previously been listed in Asia’s 50 Best Bars and rightfully so, as the quality was obviously there in each drink we ordered. There was something unique but also familiar; some cocktails were ridiculously smooth, clean tasting and presentation was on point. Drinks are not surprisingly on the higher side, but it was definitely worth it. A great place for a relaxing catch-up or pre-drinks before a night out.

The bar is quite dim inside, with two long tables in the middle, a bar at the back and small tables near the entrance. It’s also quite cold inside, so if you do decide to stay long, make sure to wear something cosy. You don’t need to dress up, it is very relaxed, with comfortable seating and overall had a casual vibe to the place. Waitstaff was lovely, bartenders were welcoming and gave us an introduction to their menu. There’s no food here, but they do serve peanuts to keep your taste buds going. We also received some cute stickers!

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Chatkazz

Shop 4/14-20 Station Street East, Harris Park NSW, Parramatta, New South Wales

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Chatkazz is located next to the bustling Parramatta CBD, in Harris Park. There is limited parking; I recommend taking a train to Parramatta station, as the walk from the station is only about 2 minutes.

The restaurant specialises in Indian street food, from chapatta chat, south Indian, chatkazz de parathe, pizza, Mumbai roadside specials and Bombay Chinese dishes. I forgot what dishes we purchased that night, but overall the quality was delicious! The sweetness in the dishes were tastefully done right. The texture of the curry was creamy and had so much flavour and fullness to the taste. I really appreciate fresh watermelon juice and the juice I got was perfect. Service was attentive, friendly and the dishes came out in a timely manner. With so many dishes to choose from, definitely pace yourself and try a few! I love seeing the orange, reds, yellows and brown colours of Indian cuisines, it just looks so appetising.

Chatkazz has two branches, the other in Bella Vista. There are plenty of tables, both inside and outside the restaurant, great for families, couples and friends to dine in. On a busy night, the restaurant sure does get loud, but it adds to the almost homeliness ambience of the place. Price is mid-range and serving size of most dishes is perfect for two people.

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Las Flores

One McKinley Place, 25th St, Taguig, 1634 Metro Manila

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Spending Christmas Day indulging in flavoursome Spanish tapas for dinner, was the best finale for the day. The restaurant was not hard to find, as it is located next to a busy road, I suggest getting dropped off and reserving a table.

The staff greeted us quickly and showed us to our seats; I was so glad the chairs were super comfortable! The inside was well lit, low music and had a lot of warm, cool tones reminiscent of Spain. Las Flores is known to serve modern Spanish tapas, that won’t break your bank and leaving you extremely satisfied. My recommended dishes would be trying one of their paellas, and definitely ordering their “conos de tartar de salmon” – not only was this dish presented in a fun way, but the cones exploded with delicious salmon, white truffle oil, hint of wasabi mayo and kimchi mayo… drool. For the night, we ordered the “paella cochinillo” which had big 5 bites suckling pig (sad there wasn’t more); the paella was more on the dry side. The bites of suckling pig had a thin layer of crisp, and the rest was almost lean meat. The paella was sauced in every area, not too sweet and had the right amount of saltiness. The paella is actually not deep at all, so does not have to be shared. Churros were crispy on the outside and smooth in the inside, perfect with the dips – warm chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

Service was professional and the food came out in a timely manner. You can choose to dine outside or inside and the other best thing of Las Flores, was that the room temperature was perfect! Get a bit of everything, and from what my partner said, try their very smooth mango juice!IMG_2062.jpg

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Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen

5972 Alfonso, cor Fermina, Makati, Metro Manila

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Located in the nightlife but quieter scene of Poblacion, Agimat is a food and drink treasure box you sure don’t want to miss out! You’ll be led upstairs of a rustic Filipino home, and be greeted a staircase lined with red candles. There’s a narrow outdoor area for smokers and beside it, are the toilets. I had initially checked out the place, through their instagram and was surprised with their jungle concept. Located behind the bar, is a gorgeous tree with vines flowing down the trunk and its branches reach, almost crawls under the ceiling. There are low as well as high tables, we unfortunately got the unstable high table, but later moved to a low seating table when it was free.

As you can see by my pictures below, we ordered a lot of food! Agimat’s dishes were quirky, in a sense that they presented Filipino food in oddly-shaped plates and with a modern twist. The ingredients are truly special, using local ingredients and delicacies, such as ant eggs and day old chicken. I am a bit biased, but I love tapas food because you get to try a bit of everything, and Agimat wonderfully delivered. The highlight was the balut, there’s no chick inside, so you get to taste it without freaking out haha. It was creamy and with the right amount of salt.

Agimat’s craft cocktails were interestingly categorised by elements. I’m not sure if all ordered cocktails had performances, but when they did, it was super fun watching the mixologist do their thing whilst a drum was played. They had these cute sun masks on! Loved the vibe. The flavour in these drinks were amazing, I could taste little of the alcohol and more of the other ingredients used. If I had a higher tolerance, I would ordered a bit more, but alas after a few drinks these deadly cocktails got me. These cocktails not only had Tagalog names, but were also entertainingly presented.

I highly recommend pre-booking by calling Agimat, as the place is quite small. I did see some walk-ins and they were seated at the bar. They looked more like they were there to drink. But if you decide to check out the place for dinner, make sure to pre-book. Prices are mid-high, and by the time we left (about 9pm) the place was getting crowded.

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StrEAT Maginhawa Food Park

91 Maginhawa Street, UP Village, Quezon City

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A great place to hang, honestly, I was super surprised with its location because the food park is smack in the middle of a very quiet, suburban area. StrEat starts operating at 5pm up until 12am, Tuesdays to Sundays! Great to start eating and drink after a long week of working or studying. The food park is not large, so make sure you come in early.

The parking is limited, so it’s best to either get dropped or take public transport. Once you enter, the place is lit up, you’ll see cute colourful lanterns in the ceiling, plants and quaint looking chairs. The place sure looks inviting! I don’t believe there was any background music from memory, so you won’t need to worry about shouting when talking. There are a small number of food outlets to choose from, conveniently surrounding the seating area. We just walked-in, but I did see some outlets had reservations.

 There was only one food outlet that was closed, a few names of the food/drink outlets include: Epicure, The Lost Bread, Schmidts Hot Dogs, Fujimama Manila and much more! Best to order a bunch of small plates so you can try a variety. The price was low-mid range, very affordable. The highlight for me was the delicious bucket cocktails from Epicure Mixology.

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Little Flour Café

G/F Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall Building D, EDSA, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City, Philippines

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Part of the Wildflour group and a younger sibling of the well-known Wildflour cafe, you know Little Flour cafe will be just as good!

What I love about this cafe is that they offer breakfast all-day everyday, so if you’re like me who loves to eat breakfast for dinner, you’ll enjoy this place. You will find a mixture of continental and Filipino breakfast and brunch dishes. I ordered their Filipino Breakfast item, that came with their homemade longganisa, garlic fried rice, eggs, pan de sal and coconut jam. Everything spelled out Filipino in this one dish, though it did pull back on the oiliness, whilst still keeping its moisture. I was craving chips so I squeezed that in. My partner ordered their Veggie Rice Bowl, since he had wanted to eat a bit cleaner.

The lighting in the cafe was dim, setting the mood for a comfortable and laid-back dinning experience. Waitstaffs were reachable if you wanted their attention, music was not too loud and the price averaged around $15 AUD. For some gentle cleanse, try their Fresh Ginger and Turmeric Tea.

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Gallery By Chele

5/F Clipp Center, 11th Avenue corner, 39th St, Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines

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I had Gallery By Chele down on my food list, when checking out awesome restaurants in the Philippines. Fortunately, I decided this restaurant is where I would be having my pre-dinner birthday celebration! Gallery By Chele did not disappoint.

Located within  Clipp Centre, was a bit hard to find at first because there were no signs, so keep your GPS switched on. You take a life up to the fifth floor, and you are warmly welcomed by their first of house team member. Pre-book if you plan to feast! I believe they have a few private rooms at the back. There interior was stunning, warm with all different tones of wood, lines with hints of grey marble. Screams elegance mixed with South East Asian interior flavour.

What drew me to this restaurant was its mission to source local produce and flavours, unique to the Philippines and South East Asia. As you can see by the images below, we ordered a few colourful dishes. All the dishes were amazing; the highlights for me was the Coquille starter, Tunamansi main and the Single Origin dessert.

Service was amazing, not over bearing and were very attentive. Food timely came out and no dish disappoint. Highly recommend if you have something to celebrate or even have time to get your tastebuds alive and kicking! Almost forgot to mention their impressive drink list and make sure to try a glass of their moscato… it was delish! Hats off to the sommelier and the waitstaffs that night.

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