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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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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Hawker Chan

Ground Level Entertainment Mall SM Mall of Asia, Pasay, Metro Manila

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Sceptical at first, with its Michelin-star but still insanely super affordable… this all disappeared when our dishes came out! Hawker Chan is a well-known Singaporean quick dine-in restaurant, serving you with popular noodle and rice dishes, but with its own unique flavours. There’s now a number of franchise restaurants around the world, with 6 branches in the Philippines.

Service was quick, the food came out efficiently without loosing any of its flavours. I ordered their season vegetable, freshly steamed and poured with a generous amount of garlic bits and sauce! Our mains was the Char Siew Noodle… I am salivating thinking about this dish. The pork belly was cut proportionally, soaking in the delicious sauce. It was not too oily, just right. I believe they used egg noodle, just because of its fuller and creamier taste. I highly recommend dining in Hawker Chan, the fullness of its flavours, you won’t be disappointed.

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Crispy Crib

16 First Avenue, Blacktown 2148

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Operating just over two weeks now, this little food truck will satisfy your love of Korean chicken and chips! You may miss it, it’s a black food truck, nestled cosily in the Asian Food Market carpark and next to a round-a-bout.

Menu is simple, 5 options at the moment, with their chickens drizzled with the most tastiest sauces. Yesterday, we ordered the homemade teriyaki and onion dressing fried chicken and it was addictive! Who knew these two sauces would mesh so well, both sweet and creamy at the same time. The chicken was in great bite-sized pieces, and I loved how it wasn’t too oily and wasn’t soggy. The fries was clean and I believe it had normal salt on them. They have a promotion at the moment, this meal plus a free drink, comes down to only $10.

Service was quick and friendly, they’ve got a cosy eating area at the front. I’ve got my eye on their soy fried chicken next.

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A-Team’s Kitchen

4/52 Rooty Hill Road North, Rooty Hill NSW

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Located along Weston Lane, you’ll find ample parking and it’s less than a 3 minute walk from Rooty Hill station. I believe A-Team’s Kitchen has been at the current location for 2+ years, however have re-branded and re-named the restaurant. I liked the relaxed feel, simple interior reminiscent of food eateries in the Philippines.

Specialising in authentic Filipino meals, desserts and has a coffee-maker for coffee lovers! I would have loved to taste their own version/creation of taho. The mass-produced taho lacked in sweetness and freshness. Though can’t complain, it melds well after a heavy feed. You will find all the classics here, from rice meals, main dishes and BBQ meat sticks! It was glossing in oil and surprisingly it didn’t taste oily at all, it was sweet and tender. Just scroll through the glorious food below, try not to drool.

Averagely priced, it has positioned itself as an ultimate food stop, when you’re craving for that comfort food! I highly recommend their turon, it was amazing! Sweet whilst being soft inside and it’s a decent size. A-Team’s Kitchen is the type of restaurant you’d come back to again and again.

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