Road-Testing Relik Tapas Bar and Lounge

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Living 10 minutes away from Bonifacio Global City, it's hard to believe that I have yet to explore the nooks and crannies it has in store. It's really cool that amidst the sleek modernized building there are restaurants for workers and yuppies to go to during lunchbreak or after a long day's work. Located at the second floor of CommerCenter Building, Relik Tapas Bar and Lounge takes you away from the busy concrete pavement or neutral-colored office desk you are five days a week to a very chill place that takes inspiration from old-world c

I've always passed by CommerCenter building on my way home from S&R or whenever I need to go to St. Lukes. It's a very modern-looking building actually, complete with a touch-screen elevator which took me like a few minutes in order to figure it out (me and technology - meh). It's quite a different world inside though - warm mood lighting, furniture made from hundred-year-old wood, restored antiques as decor, and brick walls which remind me of home.

When you say lounge, it's not like a place with a floor poked on too much stilettos. Go inside, it's open during lunchtime and it's really a place to chill with good food, good company, and if you do drink, a glass of wine.

Sampling out the dishes is indeed a treat for me. I love food, and everyone knows how much I love to eat. I got there a bit late though, but I was able to take samplings of quesadilla, a very popular treat. That green glob is guacamole, a dip made out of avocado and spices. It's pretty how it maintains its green color, adding the lemon just the right time.

That's the Baked Australian Brie, a very creamy Yarra Valley Brie cheese wrapped in jamon and lightly glazed with honey. Brie is a very creamy kind of cheese, so it's served with bread. But for me, I just sliver some and eat it as it is. I like the combination of sweet and salty here, plus the mellow creamy cheese texture. No bread. heehee. It's quite a lot for one person to eat that much bread and cheese so this is best served for 2-3 (or a bit more, if you're into variety) people.

Soup always warms my tummy and it preps me for a very heavy meal, just like a warm-up before a dance. Since Spanish-Mediterranean food is quite rich, I need a good warming, I guess, or I'll be super overwhelmed. So the soup served to us was Roasted Pumpkin Soup, which tasted very mild, with just a hint of spice. It kinda reminded me of pumpkin pie with that hint of sweetness but it was still acceptable as a soup dish. I finished my serving before Arpee was halfway his.

What's Spanish tapas without paella right? I love rice and pasta, which I find to be a more sensible meal-carbohydrate than bread. Relik's Mixed Paella's overloaded with flavors and fillings like seafood and chorizo and lemon wedge to give it a sprinkle of tartness. Since Relik wants everything fresh with high quality, they request their customers who would want to order their Mixed Paella to order this a day in advance (I'll post their number later). And really, the paella is very afforable. It's around Php870 pesos and it already serves 8-10 people.

Gambas With a Kick. If you love gambas (shrimp) or anything spicy, this has both and a lot of both it will kick you to the next table. The shrimp was tender instead of tough and they weren't kidding with the spiciness. It hits you and then lingers. You love spiciness? You gotta try this.

To mellow down spice would be something sweet namely dessert. It kinda makes sense though. Remember when we were kids and we accidentally bit on something really spicy and we'd have to eat like a spoonful of sugar to relieve the spice burn? A little sugar mellows the spice, and the sugar came in the form of Vanilla and Amaretto Panacotta topped with berry compote (made from real berries, and I can bite the seeds) and ladyfinger.

There are more dishes to try, such as the Relik's Beef Tenderloin Salpicao and the Mother Ann's braised Ox-tail. Relik Tapas Bar and Lounge is located at 2/F CommerCenter Building, 4th Street corner 31st Avenue Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. It's reachable by the Fort Bus, and they do have parking in the building. If you're taking a cab or walking it, it's the building where Chatime is, right behind HSBC.

Operating Hours are as follows: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday (except public holidays). Dinner and Cocktails are from 5:30 p.m. onwards from Monday to Sunday. For Reservations, you may call at +63917-5298333 or +62-6248251. That's the same number to call when ordering the paella.

Trying Out Happy Lemon

Friday, October 14, 2011

Everyone loves Happy Lemon, to the point that I have yet to taste it. My friend told me to get the one with rock salt and cheese, screw lactose intolerance, but with it being a popular brand, I never got the chance to actually taste it. The Greenhills store was perpetually filled during the rare times I visit Greenhills. When I was in Singapore, even the Happy Lemon over there had long lines, so I never bothered lining up.

When I heard that Happy Lemon opened in Rockwell, I decided to go give it a try when a day that I had patience to line up if I'm not in a hurry. On that day, it was a weekend and the lines were horrendously long.

So that's the famous rock salt and cheese. Interesting. And the lemon-shaped smiley is very inviting.

Surprisingly, even if the lines were long, service was fast. I guess these guys are trained to work fast due to the long lines. I'm known to be quite adventurous with my orders, and sometimes I make the mistake of getting a very strong order so I conceded to ordering the bestsellers. For the Rock Salt and cheese, I was recommended the Cocoa with Rock Salt and Cheese (the green tea variant seemed like a no-no for me) and for milk tea, Oreo Milk Tea was the choice.

As our orders were, sumunod na ko sa uso.
I was expecting grated cheese and rock salt bits on the rock salt and cheese drink. I was surprised to find a creamy liquid on top of the chocolate drink with a sprinkling of chocolate powder. Actually, the creamy liquid is the rock salt and cheese part. The rock salt obviously has dissolved into the cream cheese resulting in a mix of sweet-salty-rich flavor. The cocoa part tasted like Chocolait, actually, and I was glad that there was no irritating powder bit. The Oreo milk tea really had Oreo bits rather than powder. I like that I get the real thing though.

My verdict? The Oreo Milk Tea didn't cause me to gag with the sweetness or richness and for some reason for both flavors, I didn't find myself rushing to the bathroom after, or maybe because I'm starting to get immune to the stomach-churning effects of dairy already by taking it in. The Rock Salt and Cheese drinks are supposed to be taken in without stirring straight sipped from the cup instead of a straw poked in. It was mellow in sweetness but very rich, and the saltiness of the rock salt and cheese balanced the sweetness of the chocolate. Flavor was very mild though.

I was expecting a mind-blowing reaction after sipping the drinks though, due to the long lines, but it was just nice and okay for me. I'd go back here on a day where lines aren't long or if I have the sudden crave. In fact, Avy and I were here last Thursday. Her favorite had brown sugar and I think I'll try that soon.

Did Happy Lemon leave me smiling? It did of course, or else I wouldn't come back. It's also pretty affordable too as even the large drinks didn't cost me more than Php 100 (unless I get an add-on). I just get the regular-sized drink due to the richness so I don't get the "cream overload". But otherwise, I like it. And it's organized too.

Food Journey At Singapore

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I was in Singapore last weekend and I loved it! I had my camera, a pink suitcase that's only 7 pounds heavy, and a stomach ready to take in the food, glorious food. Normally when I travel, I really want to take in the food in the city, so I shun away familiar food stalls that I see in Manila, unless, of course, it's very famous there.

It's actually my first time in Singapore so I was really excited. In my weekend stay there, I really loved the city, on how everything's super clean and organized, not hogging escalator space and everything's always on time. The MRT system is super organized, and they have a very complex train system. Took us I think just half a day to master the whole thing.

Anyway, back to food. We've been doing a lot of walking there, since we take the train going to wherever, so we all need energy. We learned when I got really moody from being hungry on the way to Sentosa so whenever the need arises, I should always EAT. and I mean EAT! No restaurants for us though. Food Court and Hawker-style is the way to go.

Vivo City is a mall that reminded me so much of Eastwood City Mall. It's an MRT station (Harbor Point) and it also houses the monorail going to Sentosa. After a day at Universal Studios, we wanted to just eat somewhere at Clark Quay like a fastfood joint before heading back to the hotel. Thankfully, I saw a food court at Vivo City and I was like, "wait! let's check this place out!"

The Food Republic at Vivo City was super aliw. It was very reminiscent of the streets you see in movies, something like old Chinatown, complete with paper lanterns and decorations.

The food's really cheap too, there's so much to choose from and I admit being overwhelmed especially since that was my first day ever in Singapore. So I settled for this place where I get to choose combo meals, depending on the combo you want. I think a dish that's one meat and two veggies cost like 4.50 dollars. I asked if seafood is also meat, and they said yes. The lady at the counter was kind to tell me what dishes were there, and what was good. I settled for chili prawns, kangkong, and string bean.

I was also glad that we were armed with bottled water because the food I ate was really, really spicy. It was a good thing that I love spicy food. The veggies weren't soggy and the shrimp was really fresh and had the texture I wanted. There were ladies too with carts selling dumpling or teas. I wanted a serving of dumpling but I was full already.

Breakfast was another very familiar place. I think I see this place in Manila, but I'm not quite sure. Anyway, malls weren't open yet save for a few food shops at Funan Digital Mall, which is right next to our hotel. This place looked inviting, and well, I've been solely intrigued with soft boiled eggs.

Ya Kun Kaya Toast had a set meal of toast, soft-boiled eggs, and either coffee or tea. I chose cheese toast since I wanted something filling and seeing Horlicks drink as another option, I had that as well. The cheese toast was yummy and cinnamon-ny, with just the right mix of sweet and salty.

The soft boiled eggs are seasoned first with salt, pepper, and soy sauce before spreading it on top of the toast or eaten on its own. It was really, really yummy and now I know why my pole teachers are crazy about it too. The Horlicks tea tasted like Nesvita instead of Ovaltine, but it was okay. :) At least I was fueled for another day of walking.

Union Square Mall's located at Novena Station, where we had lunch. This is one thing I love about SG - a mall is always connected to a train station and malls are always connected to one another. And each mall has a food court, with the same style. The Union Square food court's smaller but it was okay. Here, I had a big bowl of Yong Tao Foo.

Yong Tao Foo is like a mini shabu-shabu. For 3.50 dollars, you get to choose 7 ingredients of your choice and put it in a bowl - veggies, seafood, sausages, dumplings, whatever you want. If you want more, it's 50 cents additional. Then, they put noodles and cook your choice ingredients in a broth. You have a choice whether to make it plain soup or spicy laksa. There's a special dipping sauce where you can dip your food before eating (it also serves to cool it down). It's such a big bowl, would you believe I finished the whole thing? That's what I mean when I say all that walking makes me hungry.

For dessert, we went to another familiar place. Okay, so I vowed to eat local food right? Cut me some slack, because I missed this place because it permanently left Manila shores:

Baskin Robbins!!!!!!!! It used to be in ATC where the Crocs store is now, I think, back in the 90s. They're no longer in ice cream format here, just hard candy inspired from the ice cream flavors but it's not the same. I need dairy too!

We took a train from Novena Station to Ang Mio Ko to get to Singapore Zoo. We decided to make our way na lang to Orchard Road, after we couldn't figure out the bus changes.

After scouring through Ion Orchard, it's back to the food court for us for merienda. I had two spring rolls for I think 2 dollars.

The Kachang is an ice dessert consisting of jelly, red beans, palm seeds, sweet corn, a cone of ice and then topped with colored syrups and condensed milk. It's similar to our native halo-halo. I first saw the Kachang in Asian Food Network. I thought it was really easy but I found out that it's very difficult to make. You have to form and pack the ice just right because if you pack it too tight, it can be too firm and hard. The shaved ice should just flake off delicately and melt in the mouth along with the syrups and milk. This kachang has ice cream but you can choose to have durian instead if you're a durian fan. Obviously, I'm no durian fan.

During our last night in Singapore, I wanted to have a taste of the famous stingray. Good thing my friend Frances told me there was a hawker place 10 minutes away from Raffles City, in a place called Makansutra Glutton's Bay, which is an outdoor eating place with the great view.

Unfortunately, I had to borrow images for this part since it was drizzling but no rain could stop me from eating stingray, just taking pictures so I had my trusty camera tucked in a waterproof bag and I savored an entire stingray all by myself. They cook it super fast too! Only 5 minutes! Stingray is available for 10, 15, or 20 dollars, depending on what size you order. I fell in love with it at first bite. It's super spicy! Thank god for Jasmine Tea to tone down the spice burn.

My last SG lunch was at Raffles City mall. Raffles City is like the Glorietta counterpart, a mall within Singapore's main business center. You can have dessert or have a fancy meal at the restaurants at the basement or rather, go up to the food court.

I had rice, one veggie dish, and chili squid. :)

If you notice, I haven't posted anything beef or pork though, so feast your eyes on black pepper rice, just letting you know that there's food to eat should you not be allowed seafood.

Of course there are other dishes that SG is famous for - like black pepper crab, cereal prawns, chili crab, and carrot cake (which isn't like the carrot cake with the cream cheese frosting, but deep-fried, like okoy). I wasn't able to try those due to lack of time but will do, if I ever go back to SG. Trust me, I will go back and eat the dishes I fell in love with and more.

For refreshments, I suggest to ditch the soda and go for canned teas or bottled teas that aren't in Manila, a famous brand I saw around is Yeo teas, and I giggle all the time because I get reminded of my good friend Yeoh, because of the name.

My friends told me to try Chrysanthemum Tea. It was the first drink I tasted in Singapore when I got in Changi. It's like a stronger iced tea though, I prefer the Wintermelon or Jasmine Tea (same brand, Yeo).

If only I could take the entire foodie place of SG with me back here, in my little pink suitcase I would. It's a place I learned to love - organized train system, spicy food, and literless roads and all. When I posted our SG pictures, it's all food instead of scenery pictures. But hey, that's when I do when I travel. I have fun, eat, and drink (tea!!!).

Vegetable Pasta

Monday, August 8, 2011

I've contemplated going vegetarian for a long time, but only sushi and seafood stop me from going completely vegan. What I do as a compromise is that I have like some days in a week when I go vegetarian and chuck the meat back on the fridge. It really helped me a lot in my fitness routine since I do home yoga exercises and pole dancing. I still need the energy for me to do my stretches and tricks yet somehow eliminating certain foods and replacing them makes me feel lighter both inside and out.

Going vegetarian is not at all boring. In fact, when I googled vegetarian recipes, I really found a lot - from lunches, desserts (yes! vegan desserts!), sandwiches, pasta, main course, appetizers, stuff like that. So I'm not just stuck to raw veggie sticks and dip. Just go to an Indian restaurant and marvel at how many tasty ways veggies can be prepared.

This recipe to me was shared by my good friend and fellow makeup artist Avy. She knows I like quick, healthy, and easy meals that won't make me starve after a few hours, it's pretty easy and the only thing that will take some time is prepping the veggies.

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into small pieces
one small cauliflower bunch
one small broccoli bunch
sliced mushrooms (on can)
one zucchini, sliced. leave the skin on, it's yummy
lemon juice
penne pasta
seasonings (italian seasoning, rosemary, herbs, anything you like)
olive oil
parmesan cheese
garlic cloves (3-6, depending on your garlicky taste) , crushed

1. Prep all the vegetables. cut the broccoli and cauliflower into florets and blanch them.
2. Line the vegetables in a pan (or the pan you use in the toaster oven. Drizzle some lemon juice and bake in toaster oven for 5 minutes. This is where effort comes, depending on your oven size. I have a tiny oven so I do the baking in batches. Effort!
3. Once the veggies are all baked (they're still firm to bite but tender enough). Heat some olive oil on a pan and sautee garlic for a few minutes until fragrant. Toss in the veggies and add mushroom and squeeze in some more lemon juice so it's tangy and tasty, season as desired. You can make a big batch of this and store some on the fridge.
4. To serve, toss in some penne pasta until mixed well. Serve with parmesan cheese and smoked cheese on the side. Yumm!!!!!!

Revisiting Diamond Hotel

Friday, July 15, 2011

Guess where I was last weekend?

Okay, this might give a better clue:

Slices of the most epic Diamond Hotel ube ensaymada as the actual size is bigger than my fist times two. Revisited the Diamond Hotel last weekend and not only did I get to enjoy a lunch buffet and stuff myself to the brim with seafood but also their breakfast buffet. I stuffed myself with so much prawns I had prawns in my breakfast and lunch and would have had so at dinner but I was so full already by lunchtime that all I could afford was a cup of soup at SM MoA. But here are snapshots of what's new from 2 years ago:

Smoked salmon to me is pork. I don't eat pork or allow a sliver of pig meat to enter the house. Salmon is my guilty guilty pleasure.

A bowlful of cereal used to be my foolproof breakfast when I was a kid. I never seem to rid myself of it. <3

I never fail to miss dessert because they have the best dessert buffet EVER! I love chocolate fountains and I'm glad they added one complete with goodies to dip to. The one on the left is mint-flavored marshmallow that's made from scratch and not bought from a candy supply store.
Pastries in the morning too! I'm a sweet tooth and can't help it. :)

Don't forget for buffets to order just water for drinks (juices and soda fill you up with sugar, which occupies space for more food) and not to load up on rice (which you could have everyday!) variety instead of quantity is the key.

Diamond Hotel, I am so seeing you again. Keep those soba noodles too for me!

Thank You Cheriza!

Monday, July 4, 2011

My pole buddy Cheriza is the absolute sweetest. I love her enthusiasm and her fearless disposition. She'd chat with me in Facebook about the latest pole trick she accomplished. As she shares her adventures and enthusiasm to me, I can't help but really gush with happiness too. She's just too happy!

Last Saturday, she gave me a box of French macarons. She loves them and she has been hunting for a shop that sells them. I love them too and she gave me a box with three flavors: strawberry, mocha, and chocolate. Yay!
They're in this little shop in Trinoma, I forgot to ask the name. It's sweet though but it tastes really good. Probably these were my agimats that day because I was able to do nicer inverts.

Thanks Cheriza!

Quiet Rainy Day Lunch at Simply Thai

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Despite having the sniffles and hardly having an easy time getting out of bed, I couldn't miss an opportunity to have a quiet lunch in a Thai restaurant that promises good food that's authentic as bringing the whole of Bangkok right here in Manila. Besides, I'll be having my evaluation for pole dancing that night and I need a hot pot of tom yum soup to rid my owies to put me in top condition.

When I got to Greenbelt, I had to look for the restaurant called Simply Thai. It's actually a sister company of Thai at Silk at Serendra, which I'm personally a fan of. Simply Thai is located at the garden side of Greenbelt 5, it's the side near Greenbelt 1, a very pretty restaurant with clean lines and a very fresh color scheme. I'll post a picture too, so you know how the restaurant looks like, so you won't get lost like I did.

When I got there, a few of my blogger friends who I haven't seen for the longest time were there, already with their drinks and appetizers. With them is Executive Chef Cecile Chang Ysmael, who was there to personally describe each dish, answer our questions, and share several fun tales of her adventures in her second home, which is Bangkok, Thailand.

One of the waiters asked me what drink I wanted. I opted not to have milk tea due to my sniffles (but I swear, when the sniffles are gone, I will go back for milk tea!) and had a tall glass of refreshing lemongrass juice. As requested and as my body needed, I ordered a bowl of Tom Yum Kung, with a very rich and tasty broth and didn't go stingy with shrimps and mushrooms, two of my favorite things in Thai cooking.

I don't know if it's just me, but I like nibbling on the leeks too and lemongrass stalks. I wasn't able to take pictures of the lemongrass drink, but it's got a pretty orchid garnishing to go with it. The green and purple contrasts beautifully.

Spring rolls are both healthy and refreshing to make you think that going pesco-vegan isn't such a bad thing. Oh, if you love carbs, they're stuffed with vermicelli.

Those people with qualms about catfish would be happy to know that their catfish is grown and raised from farms so rest assured that it's super clean and its guts didn't house an entire ecosystem's food web. The meat was sweet and tender and fried super crispy.

Soft-shell crab. A newfound love of everyone that was wiped out in minutes (Arpee: Crab? what soft shell crab?). I'm so happy that I could eat crab and shrimp.

I dedicate the next dish to my pole classmate, Tricia who's a fan of Pad Thai. The prettiest Pad Thai in the universe served in a handmade egg net.

That net is made out of egg, and to make the egg net requires training and practice and a very light hand. The waiter had to demonstrate it to us how to mix the Pad Thai. You break it in the center to make a well to mix all the ingredients then cut through the egg net into small pieces. The egg "strings" have to be cut well so you don't choke on them.

For carnivores, here's their bestseller: Lamb Shank Mussaman. It's got sweet potato, peanuts, and caramelized onions. The lamb meat was tender too and it didn't have that aftertaste that most people don't like about lamb.

Other non-seafood dishes to try are the super spicy Green Chicken Curry, Hainanese Chicken with Jasmine rice, and the Suhkumvit fried chicken with crispy and tasty batter that's not your ordinary everyday fried chicken.

They've got really pretty desserts too! Like the red rubies.

I thought they were candied cherries at first until Cecile said they were actually water chestnuts. Interesting to know that water chestnuts can appear in the dessert course of the meal as I'm so used to having them in stir-fried chicken or salads. I also asked why they're red. "Rubies are actually the national gems of Thailand," she explained. The water chestnuts were coated then dyed red. It's placed in a bed of finely crushed ice with cream. They use water chestnuts in a can because you get a more consistent quality of water chestnuts with them. It's like eating sago then you get the surprise crunch inside. It's not too sweet either, but the cream makes it rich.

Arpee gave me a 101 on how to eat the Sticky Rice with Mangoes. It's like a Thai style of our native suman and mangga. You pour some coconut cream into the sticky rice. A slightly tart mango contrasts well with sticky rice. Since it's kinda heavy, I think it's best having desserts like this to share.

More desserts!
Before it starts melting or be devoured by hungry sweet-tooths, I took a picture of that homemade coconut ice cream on a bed of taro and orange (there's caramel sauce too at the bottom).

Pretty tapiocas all in a row each with a red ruby on top.

Since there's so much pretty and tasty dishes, I think it's best to eat here as a large group so you get to sample out a lot of dishes. The dishes are best to share.