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Archive for the ‘Lunch’ Category

Phở

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It had been a while since visiting one of the local Vietnamese places in town, the Rau Ram Café, down a side street, a few meters from the Marapara Golf and Country Club in Bacolod City. Ever since the first visit, always ordered a big bowl of phở, a traditional beef noodle soup.

Arriving at the table, the steaming bowl comes with a plate full of fresh herbs, including basil, cilantro, and sawtooth coriander; along with hot sauce and hoisin sauce, in order to customize each individual bowl.

With ever bowl prepared, tore up various herbs and threw them in before adding in the soup. Once the hot broth makes contact with the leaves, the aromatics consume the table and before taking one bite of the soup, the impression the smells leave is already remarkable.

Even though this place does not serve it with the traditional thin slices of beef that cook quickly in the hot soup, instead its small cubes of beef, the dish is still delicious.

A tall order

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Wandering the mall on a random weekend and needed to find a spot for lunch. The same old chain restaurants that occupy entire wings of the mall, all serving the same overpriced meal options – it’s very much, slim pickings. Zark’s, which also happens to be a chain, usually offers up good burger and fries options, always a go-to when there isn’t much of a craving for anything in particular.

Having visited several times before, it has always been good – although, still taken aback by the number of patrons who eat their burger and fries with a fork and knife.

On this occasion, picked the stone-cold stunner, described as “a double bacon cheeseburger on a bed of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, and caramelized onion,” it sounded great.

The plate arrives at the table and, having experienced double cheeseburgers before, this one did not disappoint in height. It took a bit to figure out the mechanics of it, and it was an absolute mouthful.

Zark’s has always been a good fallback when there didn’t appear to be many other options. Plus, the massive “stone-cold stunner” was some good eats to carry through the rest of the day.

Stone-Cold Stunner

A pleasant surprise after a big disappointment

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On the previous visit to Hong Kong, enjoyed dim sum at Maxim’s Palace, an amazing restaurant with those traditional food trolleys rolling around loaded with delicious small plates; on the most recent visit, received a tip on a dim sum place in the Sheung Wan district.

Upon arriving, it was a bit daunting, located on the second floor, it was crowded and was sharing a table with a couple other parties. With no employees making eye contact and unsure of what even to say if one was called over, backed out and scoured the neighborhood for a new spot.

After walking for a couple blocks, even wandering into a food center without anything terribly inviting, found a small restaurant tucked away along a side street. The menu had a variety of choices and, by that time, was very hungry.

Among the selections, ordered some fried noodles, rice, a large beer, and fried shrimp.

Ordering fried shrimp on a menu, had an image of the typical, western-style, shrimp with breading – maybe even something along the lines of popcorn shrimp (living in a place where cutting corners in the food industry is the norm, it has unfortunately now shaped one’s instincts).

As a pleasant surprise, a plate arrived with these large, beautifully-fried shrimp, atop some steamed broccoli (have been told, anything broccoli is not authentic Chinese, but it was a nice presentation). Grabbed one immediately and upon separating the head from the body, the juices that ran out was incredible, lesson learned for the next one. The breading was wonderfully light, the juices were marvelous, and the shrimp was delicious and meaty.

Dad says, finding Crowd Restaurant was probably meant to be, considering the original destination was a bust.

Arrived at the restaurant, unaware they were about to close lunch service, but they didn’t seem bothered too much. They may have turned off the lights in the unoccupied portion of the restaurant, but in no way was there pressure to eat faster and get out – professionals.

Arrived at the restaurant, unaware they were about to close lunch service, but they didn’t seem bothered too much. They may have turned off the lights in the unoccupied portion of the restaurant, but in no way was there pressure to eat faster and get out – professionals.

Written by Paulo Loreto

November 5, 2016 at 10:50 PM

A Decent Burger Spot

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Ever since moving to the Philippines, it’s been a disappointing search for a decent hamburger. Either the bread wasn’t great, the toppings were insufficient, or (the worst) the burger was not all beef – and not a blend of another meat, some kind of filler made it obvious restaurants were not serving a 100% meat patty.

Did have a smidge of hope with the monthly burger pop-up at The District by Ayala, in Talisay, but that went to the wayside after too many occasions having to wait because they opened without having their beef patties or buns ready for service; just unprofessional.

Burger chain Zark’s opened up at SM City and, after visiting twice, it’s a pretty good spot and the price isn’t too bad. Enjoyed the Black Mamba on the first visit, came with a really delicious and sweet barbeque sauce; on the last visit, tried the Shaq, topped with onion rings and bacon.

For something as simple as a sandwich comprised of a bun, burger patty, lettuce, tomato, and any other additional toppings, it’s incredible how many places get it wrong. Zark’s has a huge menu and there are so many more to try – so far, so good.

The Shaq, a cheeseburger topped with onion rings and bacon.

The Shaq, a cheeseburger topped with onion rings and bacon.

There was an incident with the hostess on the last visit. Apparently, some fellow food photographers have taken the rather tacky habit to an all new level. The customer, who ordered takeout, asked to have the food brought out on a place for her to take a photo, to add to that, she asked the seating hostess to hold the plate as she took the photo.

That was some pure idiocy, on the part of the customer, and very bad judgement from the seating hostess.

Written by Paulo Loreto

April 17, 2016 at 12:19 AM

The Fitz

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Wandering somewhere in between where Midtown ends and Lenox Hill begins, as usual, it was a time for scoping out a place for lunch. Had the phone out to geolocate myself and walked passed multitudes of markers showing spots for a meal. Walked by PJ Clarke’s, been there a couple times, and it seemed like the peak of lunch rush – barely able to step inside. Immediately, left and the journey continued. Stumbled across the menu for The Fitz restaurant, housed within The Fitzpatrick Hotel, and they offered an overall decent-looking menu, was a couple blocks over and decided to give it a try.

Walked in (by this time, peak lunch was probably over) and the main seating area was filled with people having tea and coffee. Continued walking towards the back and found a full bar, equipped with bar counter seating along with high-top tables along the other side of the room. Took a seat at the bar and admired the beautifully designed bar area; dark wood, modern-looking taps, with lit-up bottles along the back wall.

By that time, after the search for lunch, needed some kind of burger or sandwich and zeroed in on the New York Steak Sandwich. Upon arrival, the sandwich was one on the beautiful side, a generous size, with plenty of steak making its appearance upon first glance. That first bite, it was on the chewier side, but nonetheless delicious; the combination of a firm steak with hearty bread made it one you had to take a good bite out of. Definitely a satisfying lunch and the steak fries that were paired with the sandwich; hot, fresh, and everything one loves about french fries.

The Fitz

Would probably consider this place for a Happy Hour.

Written by Paulo Loreto

January 13, 2016 at 7:34 AM

The Big Reade

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On an early Sunday afternoon, wandering lower Manhattan to meet a friend for lunch, hoping for some decent pub food. Walked down Reade Street and stopped at the Reade Street Pub, the only customers – probably the first customers, the place likely just opened a few minutes prior. After perusing the healthy beer menu (accompanied with decent prices), looked through the food menu and zeroed in on the burger selections.

The Big Reade, described as two 5oz. patties, American cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, and what grabbed the attention was the addition of a chipotle sauce. Before the burger arrived, imagined a traditional burger, one stacked high with ingredients and two patties; arriving at the table, it was not what was expected. The burger was, essentially, split into two open-faced sandwiches. Not sure the exact way it was supposed to be enjoyed – did attempt to make it one burger and it was difficult.

In the end, went with eating one patty with the lettuce and one patty as a traditional burger – one “Atkins”-esque and the other like a slider. Tasty stuff, very satisfied but it must be said, the chipotle sauce was smoky. Understood, chipotle is known for a smoky flavor, but the abundance piled on top of each patty was breathtaking. Did have to take a bit off after the sauce was having an effect, but, ultimately, it was good pub food.

Big Reade

Written by Paulo Loreto

January 3, 2016 at 10:54 PM

Myrtle Beach Lobster Roll

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Have had lobster rolls in Connecticut and Maine, there are definitely their differences, but on vacation in Myrtle Beach, made a stop by the poolside bar at the Marriott Resort and Spa at Grande Dunes and spotted a lobster roll on the menu and am not usually one to say ‘No.’

Used to the simple set-up of clumped lobster meat on a bun, on this occasion, got a generous helping of lobster, atop some lettuce and sliced tomatoes lining the bun. It was delicious. The sandwich was heartier than the typical lobster roll and it came with a well-prepared French fries.

There are certain expectations when it comes to food from a hotel bar, the Marriott Resort and Spa at Grande Dunes exceeded them on several occasions.

Lobster Roll

Written by Paulo Loreto

December 27, 2015 at 2:32 PM