Half the year is almost over! I can hardly believe how fast time has flown. As we approach the second half of the year, we know for sure that this will even go faster than we can ever imagine!
So before this month comes to a close, allow me to share with you a few of my favorite things for the month of June.
TIM HO WAN’S BAKED BUNS WITH BBQ PORK
Tim Ho Wan is one of the most anticipated restaurants to have opened this year. There was quite a lot of buzz months leading to the day they finally opened in SM Megamall. Fans have been lining up even before the store opens its doors in the morning. After all, this restaurant chain is known as the cheapest One Michelin-starred restaurant in the world.
Although the restaurant is known to serve some of the most amazing dimsum, its biggest star here is the Baked Bun with BBQ Pork. Much has been written and said about how delicious these buns are, but since I haven’t had the chance to go to there myself due to my crazy schedule lately, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a handful sent to me by one of the owners, who is a friend of mine from way back.
I have always been one of the biggest fans of these precious buns (I used to bring home dozens of these from Hong Kong and give them as “pasalubong” to friends). I must say that these Baked Buns that are now made in Manila, have remained consistent — still possessing the same wonderful texture and delicious taste as that of the original.
The beautifully crisp golden shell was so flavorful I literally ate it on its own. It had the right amount of sweetness that confused me whether I should have it as my dessert instead. The barbecue pork inside was braised and cooked well, that I secretly wished there were more of them inside! I’ve heard from friends that there are other dimsum dishes like their Rice Paper Rolls and Spinach Dumplings with Shrimps that are worth a try too.
If these Baked Buns with BBQ Pork already taste great even when reheated and eaten at home, I am so sure that they will taste even better when eaten fresh and straight from the oven!
As of this writing, since Tim Ho Wan is still on its soft opening, their take-out system is still being fixed. But rest assured that sooner than later, you will soon be able to take home these buns too.
Tim Ho Wan
Ground Floor, SM Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall
TODD ENGLISH FOOD HALL’S OMG CAKE
Another new restaurant opening that created a lot of buzz recently is the Todd English Food Hall in SM Aura. Launched only last March, its opening was one of the most attended and “Instagrammed” event in the Manila dining scene. After all, it is the first and only “celebrity chef restaurant” here in Manila. Unfortunately, even though I was invited to the launch and have been asked by friends to come and visit this newest dining destination, it was only last week that I got myself to go. And I was pleasantly surprised! Having been to the original one in The Plaza Hotel in New York last year, this outlet in Manila has maintained almost the same look and vibe as the one in the Big Apple.
The concept is like that of a food court, but more interactive and trendier than the usual. This is a place that is hip and happening with 9 live cooking stations to boast of – ready to cater to different palates! From fresh pastas to flat bread pizzas to soft tacos and grilled burgers, this place has everything you want to eat. The best part about it is that everything is made fresh upon order. This explains the number of chefs you see manning the different stations and working on your orders only as soon as they receive them.
Although I did enjoy my appetizers of Lobster Guacamole and Asada Steak with Pear Salsa as well as my freshly baked Flatbread Pizza of Truffle Fungi, it was their star dessert, the OMG Cake, that had me squeal “OMG!!!” with delight — much to the embarrassment of my three kids who were with me that Saturday night.
Here’s a warning : this dessert is for serious chocoholics. It is rich and very chocolate-y. It has warm silky chocolate pudding as its base, surrounded by crushed milo cereal crumbles topped with cold chocolate gelato. The combination of the different textures of chocolate here – hot and cold, soft and crunchy, sweet and a bit salty, is what makes this dessert truly wonderful. Yes, it is worth every calorie too. This is one dessert that will make anyone happy — since chocolate does that to everyone doesn’t it? And if you are a big chocoholic like me, I guarantee this dessert will also make you squeal “OMG!!!” with delight too.
Todd English Food Hall
5th floor, Sky Park, SM Aura Premier
This month of June is all about trying out new dishes and new restaurants for me. Third on my list is the newly opened restaurant Sage in Makati Shangri-la Hotel. I’ve been there a few times since it opened but it was always for dinner. It was only a couple of days ago when I visited them and tried their lunch menu. Since my best friend Jeanne and I only wanted something quick and light for the day, we only ordered two appetizers, soup and of course, dessert. But three desserts. Yes, three.
The place alone is gorgeous. It really does not matter whether you come here during the day or at night. Every time I set foot here, I feel instantly transported to a different place. The restaurant is classy and elegant. It has the perfect setting for a private lunch or a romantic dinner. Beautiful silverware and crisp white linen plus natural sunlight coming in from the windows complete the ambience. Quite noteworthy to mention too is the restaurant’s well-stocked wine cellar, which is prominently displayed by the entrance.
The menu is contemporary European made by a French chef, Chef Gilles Galli who has worked in a few Michelin-starred restaurants all over. He has a remarkable team, headed by Daniel Blais, who is the Head Sommelier and Beverage Director of the Makati Shangri-la Hotel. Look for him when you come and visit as he is always ready to give his advice on wine pairing.
Here’s what we ordered :
Edamame and Watercress Soup with King Crab
Japanese Spiced Hamachi Fillet with Pearl Barley Salad
Roasted Scallop with Lentil Salad and Espelette Chili Pepper
Passion Fruit Soup with Mango and Pineapple Ravioli and Coconut Espuma, Milk Chocolate Mille Feuille with Banana and Calamansi Parfait, Hazelnut Paris-Brest with Coffee and Lime Ice Cream
The ingredients used were fresh and top-quality. All the dishes we ordered although simple, were executed very well. I give bonus points to their beautiful presentation too. But the most surprising part about Sage is their price. For a newly opened restaurant in Manila that uses only the most premium ingredients and has first-class service, their prices are very reasonable. Their Business Lunch Set Menu of three courses (Starter – Main Course – Dessert) is P1,650 and their two courses (Starter / Dessert + Main Course) is P1,380.
This is one place I will definitely go back to soon — especially since I found out that they are open for breakfast as well and have just started to offer a special kind of buffet for Saturday lunch. Now those two are really something I am looking forward to.
Makati Shangri-la Hotel
Tel +632 -814-2580
(To see my favorites from last month, click here!)