Sunday, 26 October 2014

Spices: Osaka Ohsho

Earlier this year when we visited the newly constructed fashion hall of SM Megamall, there were only a few restaurants that were open and one of them was Osaka Ohsho. Seeing their signage that they serve the World's Number 1 Gyoza, we decided to give it a try on their soft opening.

While ordering, the server insisted we tried out the Fresh Mango Yakult drink, it's supposed to be the house specialty. The drink didn't taste of fresh mangoes but tasted like a mango puree variety that was mixed with ice and water. The juice tasted too sweet plus the drink didn't taste of Yakult.

Fresh Mango Yajult - Php125

Just like with other Japanese restos that have been opening, they offer set meals to the diners. Sets includes a main dish, fruit plate, miso soup, 3 pieces gyoza and unlimited Koshihikari rice. The first set that we got to try was the Salmon Teriyaki. The slice of salmon that was doused with teriyaki sauce was glistening, it looked really appetizing. Too bad that the salmon was overcooked cause the sauce was rich and really tasty.

Salmon Teriyaki Set - Php550

The next set we tried was the Beef Sukiyaki. The only notable thing about the dish are the tender beef slices. The broth was too sweet for our taste and it  needed more of the umami flavor.

Beef Sukiyaki Set - Php375

The last set that was served was the Chicken Karaage. I expected the fried chicken bites to be crunchy but it wasn't, the breading was actually more  mushy than crispy. It was drowned with too much sauce/broth plus the whole egg that was cooked on top added to the soggy texture of the chicken. The broth was also too salty, the whole dish seems to be in dire need of a tune up.

Chicken Karaage Toji Set - Php375

Now for the main reason why we dined here, we each had three pieces of gyoza in our respective sets. Right off the bat, one thing was noticeable, the doneness of the bottom of the gyoza looked different from one another. The one with the darkest hue had the crunch that we expected, the medium hue had a little crunch while the one with the lightest hue didn't have any crunch at all. There seem to be a problem with the consistency of cooking the dumplings. Moreover, I found the filling too dry. We initially wanted to try out and order more types of gyoza the resto offers but after trying out a few pieces we were glad that we didn't.

Surprisingly the one thing that I enjoyed was the Koshihikari Rice. I'm not much of a rice eater but the Koshihikari was very aromatic and it had a sweet, nutty and grassy flavor to it.

Koshihikari Rice

After a couple of months of dining here, I started to hear and read people saying how good the Gyoza is. The ones we tried weren't, I had better tasting Gyoza in other Japanese restaurants which was really not their main selling point. It made me wonder if should cut them some slack since we dined here during their soft opening. I guess there's no way to find out until I dine here again but as of the moment I strongly disagree with their claim with serving the world's number one Gyoza.

Osaka Ohsho
Address: 3rd Floor, Fashion Hall, SM Megamall
Cell. No: 0917 - 8285011 
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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Spices: Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen

When the weather is nice and cold, the perfect feel good food is a nice bowl of steaming hot ramen. There are so many good ramen restaurants that have sprouted all over the metro. From the number of diners I saw dining here, this place seem to be one of the favorites. Early this year, when the weather was still nice and cool, we decided to have a bowl of ramen at Ikkuoka Fukuoka Ramen.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen

To start off, I ordered Takowasa, raw octopus with wasabi paste. The chopped up pieces of tentecles had the same slimy texture like the sanakjji I tasted in Seoul and it tasted really fresh, it didnt't have any fishy smell or flavor.

Takowasa - Php120

The resto serves and prides itself of their tonkotsu ramen, a noodles dish that uses a pork based broth. We got to try two ramen dishes the frist of which is the Ajitama Tonkotsu Ramen.Upon ordering the server asked us how we wanted our ramen, soft, medium or hard. This was a nice touch because asking for the noodles' doneness should be a standard practice of all ramen restos. The noodle soup dish looked beautiful, it had a marinated half boiled egg on top, some slivers of pork and served with sheet of dried seaweed. We wanted our soup spicy so we ordered an extra side of Tobanjan paste.

Ajitama Tonkotsu - Php380  / Tobanjan Paste - Php60

 Just to see if there was indeed a difference on the texture of the noodles, we intentionally order one hard and one medium. The 'hard' noodles was indeed hard and being someone who wants his noodles with a good bite, I enjoyed every strand of it. The pork broth tasted clean and simple but it wasn't lacking the umami flavors. I savored the delicious broth and I didn't even leave a drop in my bowl. If there is something that I can suggest that they can improve on, it had to be their boiled egg. The egg was bordering on being a hard boiled egg when it's supposed to be on the creamy soft boiled side.

The Vegetable Tonkotsu had the same tasty broth and the 'medium' noodles felt how it's supposed to be. You can really differentiate the doneness between the hard and medium noodles. I also liked how the vegetables still had that nice crunchy texture.

Vegetables Tonkotsu - Php330

We also had a plate of Gyoza, the pork dumplings looked really nice as it had a nice browned bottom. It didn't just looked nice, it tasted really good as well. It had just the right amount of tender and juicy pork filling and the nice browned bottom had a nice crunch.

Gyoza - Php125 / 6 pieces

As I've mentioned there are a number of good ramen places in the metro and after trying out here, I must say that Ikkoryu Fukuoko is one the great ramen places that I'd love to go back to.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen
Address: 5th Floor, Shangri-la Plaza East Wing
Tel No: 477 8333

Friday, 26 September 2014

Spices: Green Pastures

When Green Pastures opened in Shangri-la last year, it always has been jam-packed with so much people every lunch and dinner. Reading great things about the food they serve, I tried to dine here but failed to do so because of the long wait. Early this year I finally got my chance and ever since I've already dined here twice.

Green Pastures

To go with our meal, I was tempted to order the organic wines that the resto carries but decided to play it safe and just ordered a bottle of a Spanish Tempranillo, a 2012 Ramon Roquetta.

2012 Ramon Roqueta Tempranillo - Php1,100

For starters, I would strongly suggest new diners to order the resto's House Made Cheese. There are three types of cheese and I got to try two. The first of which is the Burrata, a type of cheese that is made up of mozzarella and cream. Green Pastures served their burrata with organic strawberries, grape tomatoes and basil oil. Served with thick cut buttered toasts.

Buratta - Php355

I instantly fell in love with this upon taking my first bite. The creamy texture of the rich buttery cheese compliments the sweet tasting strawberries, the hint of sourness from the tomatoes and the peppery flavor of the basil oil. The thick cut toast is something that is also worth mentioning, toast is buttery, crunchy on the outside, soft and moist on the inside. Great thing that you can ask for bread refills.

Tomata, Strawberry, Cheese on Toast

The second cheese dish looks simpler but the Stracciatela is also worth ordering and trying. To those who love the gooey stretchy texture of cheese, you will surely love this. The cheese is served with fresh arugula and doused with evoo. So good!

Stracciatela - Php325

On both occasions we wanted to try the Duck You! but didn't get to because they always ran out. We asked our server  for other specialty starters, he recommended the Pinoy Egg and Chicken Fried Bacon. The Pinoy Egg is obviously a version of the Scottish Egg, a breaded meatball stuffed with a whole boiled egg inside. The Pinoy Egg version uses duck egg and longganisa, served on a bed of fern salad and tomato.

Pinoy Egg - Php125

When I cut the duck egg in the middle, a gooey bright yellow yolk oozed out. The golden yolk was beautifully rich and creamy and it really went well with the super fresh fern salad. My only gripe would be that the dish barely had any longganisa in it.

Luscious Creamy Center of the Duck Egg

Nothing really special about the Chicken Fried Bacon. Even with the cream gravy, we still find it bland plus we wished the breading was crispy.

Chicken Fried Bacon - Php195

We also ran out of the Crab Meat, Sea Urchin Pasta which was among the favorite dishes of diners. On the first occasion we settled for the Bottarga, spaghetti with dry cured tuna roe, garbanzos, garlic oil and lemon. The pasta was al dente but we found the pasta dish too salty and it had a strong fishy smell.

Bottarga - Php285/solo 

On the second occasion we tried the AL Funghi, fettucine, organic mushrooms, garlic, creme fraiche and pecorino. This time around the pasta was overcooked and we felt that it was under seasoned.

AL Funghi - Php485/share

For the mains, we got to try the Sliders, a sampling of the three burgers that they offer. It consists of the 80/20 Burger (80% grass fed beef, 20% smoked pancetta with house made straciattela), the Blue Ribbon Burger (grass fed beef blend with Roquefort cheese) and the Vegetarian Burger That Doesn't Suck (chickpea, mushroom, leeks, celery, eggplant with housemade cheddar). All of the burgers were perfectly cooked to a medium well and the vegetarian burger really didn't suck. But my favorite would be the 80/20 Burger, I loved how the burger has the smokey smell and taste plus I liked how the straciatella cheese stretches with every bite.

Sliders - Php435

The mini burgers were served with a choice of potato fries or sweet potato fries and comes with a cumin mayo dip.We picked the potato fries, it was deliciously crunchy and we loved the cumin mayo dip so much that we didn't leave anything behind.

Fry with Cumin Mayo Dip

The other main that we got to try was the Tequila Joe's Organic Beef Sloppy Cow. The dish is the resto's version of the beef salpicao. Cubes of beef chunks with oyster jus, mushroom glace and garlic bulgur. We loved how tender the organic beef was and we enjoyed the aroma and flavors of garlic that was so evident with every bite. The beef dish came with what we thought was ordinary plain white rice but to our surprise the server told us that it was actually cracked wheat. A healthier alternative to white rice.

Tequila Joe's Organic Beef Sloppy Cow - Php495

For coffee lovers, you'll love the selection of single origin organic local beans that the resto carries. They have a small counter outside where they prepare their pour-over coffee.

Pour Over Coffee

What I really liked was the description or tasting notes written on the menu for each cup. I already got to try out four kinds and I must say each description was accurate. My favorite would be the Hinelebah from Bukidnon, strong, smooth and fragrant.

Coffee from different regions with tasting notes on the menu

Cups of Coffee from different regions - Php105/cup

After eating at Green Pastures, I understood why the resto is always packed with so much diners. The quality of each ingredient is superb and excellent. Dishes were well thought of and prepared really well. Though there were some misses, we enjoyed dining here and I can't wait to go back to try out their bestsellers. Hopefully next time around, they'll be able to save some for me.

Green Pastures
Address: 4th Floor, East Wing, Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City
Tel No: 654 3219