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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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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National Museum of Anthropology

Padre Burgos Ave, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila

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One of the national museums here in Manila, formerly named the Museum of Filipino People. The museum is one of the main branches of the National Museum of the Philippines, and is conveniently located near the other branches. The museum is right next to or I think inside Rizal Park, and across from another museum. Just get off the Jollibee store and you’ll find an entrance, just walk straight down and you’ll see the large white 1916-1918 neoclassical buildings.

A few things to note, when we visited the lifts were not working, but there are staircases to keep you moving. There is also very limited seating in the museum, so make sure you have some super comfortable walking shoes. Flash-photography and video recording is prohibited, and make sure you bring only a small bag. The entry was free! There are a few food vendors outside the museum, as there are no cafes and gift shop inside.

There are 4 floors, with each room showcasing exhibitions of the Filipino people, the southern islands culture, ancient artefacts, early trade, textiles, biodiversity, religion, baybayin script and pieces from the San Diego wreckage. Each exhibition room was quite large, with corresponding object labels and some rooms had a video playing demonstrating how a Filipino instrument was played. I’m not sure if they have guided tours, as none was offered at entry. Make sure to check out their website to find out! I would allocate about 2-3 hours in the National Museum of Anthropology.

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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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Manos Nail Lounge

Unit 2-I Crescent Park Residences, 30th St. Cor. 2nd Ave., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines

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Second time visiting Manos Nail Lounge, and I remember my first experience there before went well.

The nail lounge is located in the modern city BGC, Taguig, where you will need to enter Crescent Park Residences (left staircase), past a kindergarten school and down a hallway.  You will then be greeted promptly by the lovely ladies. I highly recommend pre-booking, by calling, messaging to email, ensuring your visit is hassle-free. The interior is lovely with warm tones, comfortable seatings, cool temperature, capturing the Filipino style.

 I recommend their Awakening spa treatment, which helps target tired muscles and encourages blood circulation. Whilst that was happening, I also had the Manos Classic and got myself a daring yellow nail gel. The ladies were great in delivering the service, relaxing, professional and my nails were clean! The nail gel was applied perfectly, you can see the image below.

Unfortunately, both my pedicure and manicure did not dry quickly, so when putting on my slippers, my big toe nail got hit… damaging the nail gel. I got offered the nail drying machine-thing, though it only blew out cool air. So guess what that didn’t work, and so my nails were getting damaged. As I said earlier, the room was cool with not an ounce of dryness, so my nails could not dry.

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Shake Shack

SM Megamall, Mandaluyong CityPhilippines

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Shake Shack has opened his second Filipino branch in SM Megamall, right at the mall’s entrance… deadly. I believe the restaurant had just opened at SM Megamall, and we were blessed with available seats and tables! So no waiting for ages to order and find a seat, though it did get busy by the time we finished. I played it safe, by ordering the classics, a single ShackBurger, Fifty/Fifty and the Cheese Fries. An instant hit, the burger was moist, sweet and extraordinarily soft. The mayo or sauce used in the burger, was quite unique. The cheese fries were great, had its own style and complimented well with the burger. The fries weren’t salty surprisingly. The drink was alright. If you do decide to go and you are mid to super hungry, get large, because small is way too small.

Shake Shack has been on my food bucket list, and when I found out they had one opened in the Philippines, I quickly noted it down. Did not disappoint and would come back for more.

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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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