Monday 17 June 2013

Spices: Agico Vegetarian Cafe

I've dined in vegetarian places before, some I liked, some I didn't. My basis all depends on how flavorful the dishes are. I love my veggies, I eat almost everything but the one thing I don't particularly like is mock meat. When I heard Agico's mock meat tasted like the real thing, it got me curious to try the resto out.

Agico Vegetarian Cafe

On both occasions that I got to visit, I was surprised to find the restaurant packed with people, mostly big families occupied the small quaint resto.

I liked the pan fried Gyoza that I even ordered it the second time we went there. The wrapper was thick and it had that slight crunch browned bottom, just like how pan fried dumplings should be. I'm not sure what exactly the filling was but it sure tasted tasty and hearty.

Gyoza Dumpling - Php158

The Agico Salad Special consists of lettuce, slices of cucumbers, mangoes, grapes, kani, faux prawns and chicken nuggets with light mayonnaise as dressing.

Agico Salad Special - Php196

The salad is one tasty treat, I enjoyed the combination of the flavors and textures of the ingredients. Though the chicken nuggets didn't really taste like the real thing, the texture was dense enough for meat lovers to enjoy.

I enjoyed eating the Spicy Crab Maki, it tasted fresh and clean. This is one of the dishes that one can mistake for the real thing.

Spicy Crab Maki - Php248

From all the vegetarian burgers that I've tried, Agico's Bacon Mushroom Burger tasted the healthiest. A veggie pattie with lettuce topped with mushrooms and faux bacon served with potato wedges on the side. I like the comfort greasy feel of a burger and this doesn't have it, this would be the perfect sandwich for health conscious eaters.

Bacon Mushroom Burger - Php276

I didn't like the faux bacon, I wished it to be crispier so that it can pass for the real thing.

Faux Bacon

The Katsudon looked like the real fried panko crusted pork cutlet. Served on a delicious lightly seasoned fluffy white rice topped with carrots and a fried egg.  Just like the chicken nuggets, the meat was dense enough to taste like meat. We pretty much enjoyed this dish.

Katsudon - Php246

The Ebi Tempura was prepared and made well, the batter had the light and crispy texture that I like in Tempura. The faux shrimp inside had the squid ball-fish ball consistency and texture, it was like eating an overcooked shrimp. Not bad.

Ebi Tempura - Php218

I wasn't a big fan of the Beef Ramen, it didn't taste anything like it. It consist of noodles in what taste like mushroom broth, lettuce and my feared mock meat. The gluten based faux beef doesn't really have any flavor and I really can't appreciate the texture of it.

Beef Ramen - Php209

Served in skewers, the Grilled Butayaki looks really interesting with the grill marks and what look like meat fat. Unfortunately, I didn't like the flavor and texture of the faux meat, it was like eating a piece of cardboard. I can't say enough of this, I'm not a fan of mock meat.

Grilled Butayaki - Php136

From all the dishes we tried, the Fish with Tausi was the ultimate favorite. Based on the flavors and texture, this was the closest to the real thing, it can even pass for the real fish. It was moist, flaky and the flavor was spot on. Not only did it taste like fish, the whole dish was so tasty and delicious. The combination of the savory slightly salty and sweet sauce that doused the fish was divine.

Fish with Tausi - Php246

Agico also serves different kinds of drinks and the Cucumber and Wasabi smoothie caught my attention. I was glad that I ordered and tried this out. The smoothie was refreshing and the Wasabi flavor was evident in the drink, the surprise comes in the end when the spiciness of the Wasabi kicks in. Being a lover of spicy things, I love this drink.

Cucumber and Wasabi Smoothie - Php130

I dined in Agico with my family and an aunt who came from abroad. After our meal, the oldies were all raving about how unique the resto is and how good the food was. To think that it's usually the older people who are hard to please when it comes with food. And though I'm not crazy about mock meat, I can say that Agico is one of the best restos who replicates the flavors and textures of real meat. I already have my favorites and I already know what to stay clear off, I wouldn't mind to go back a third or fourth time around.

Agico Vegetarian Resto
Address: 83 Araullo Street San Juan, MM
Operating Hours: Mon to Sun 10am to 10pm
Tel.No.: 705 1997

Sunday 9 June 2013

Spices: Lulu

Early this year I saw a deal from Deal Grocer about a six course degustation menu from Lulu. Hearing and reading a lot of great things about this reto, I decided to purchase the Php 1,400 coupon and made my way to Lulu to check out and taste the food.

To go with the degustation meal, we ordered a bottle of Soloperto Primitivo di Manduria. An Italian medium bodied wine that was dry and tannic.

Soloperto Primitivo di Manduria - Php 1,100

The meal started with the Chicken Liver Pate, served on a small piece of toast with a cherry tomato and lettuce. This was a nice starter since it provided enough flavors to warm up the palete for the next course. It tasted simple and good, the chicken liver was smooth and seasoned well.

Chicken Liver Pate

The soup course was a big disappointment, the Organic Pumpkin Soup was so watery and moreover it tasted so bland.

Organic Pumpkin Soup

The Cool Caesar Salad tasted OK, nothing really special. Greens were fresh and the flavors were there but I didn't notice any difference with the special sous vide egg compared to a poached egg.

Cool Caesar Salad

The palete cleansing Calamansi-Raspberry Sorbet was awful. It tasted like the concentrated honey-calamansi syrup that can be bought in supermarkets mixed with crushed ice.

Calamansi - Raspberry Sorbet

At this point I already had low expectations on the main course and seeing how small the portions of the Symphony Platter made me even more of a skeptic. My initial impression with the Tenderloin Steak with Foie Gras, Champagne Poached Lobster and Pan Seared Sea Bass with Lemon Herb and Pea Risotto was that this might be scrap or leftover from the regular serving size dishes.

Symphony Platter

But I was so wrong, everything on the platter was of excellent quality and everything tasted divine. The Steak was perfectly cooked to a medium rare and eating it with the rich buttery Foie Gras was bliss.

Tenderloin Steak with Foie Gras

The Champagne Poached Lobster had that succulent sweetness in every bite.

Champagne Poached Lobster

The Sea Bass had that melt in your mouth and feel and the Risotto had the perfect creamy al dente texture.

Pan Seared Sea Bass with Lemon Butter Herb and Pea Risotto

The main courses was an absolute delight, I wished the tasting portions were bigger because I couldn't get enough of it. I wasn't surprise to hear from the server that these three entrees are Lulu's bestsellers.

We also ordered an additional main course, Green Tea Salmon. Sous Vide Salmon with Japanese Green Tea Scent with Spinach and Lemoned Mash Potato. The whole dish was beautifully plated and the scent of green tea was noticeable. Though the salmon needed a dash of salt, it was perfectly flaky and tasty. The mashed potatoes tasted just ok, I wanted it to be smoother and it was a tad under seasoned.

Green Tea Salmon - Php650

The Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake dessert was not to my liking. It was the gelatin type of cheesecake and it didn't have any sour taste in it. I didn't even bother to finish the this.

Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake

Luckily the dessert was served with Lamill Coffee. It was my first time to see and taste this American brand and I was really impressed. We had espresso and the qualities of a good cup was present, thick crema on top, beautiful aroma, robust flavor and no bitter and sour aftertaste.

Lamill Espresso

Overall I was disappointed with Lulu's degustation meal, I felt that some of the courses were made as fillers and was sub-par from the regular dishes. Nonetheless the entrees were extraordinarily good that it made me want to go back again. Next time around I would order from the regular menu and have a full order of their bestsellers instead.

Address: Ground Floor Joya Building, Joya Drive, Rockwell, Makati City 
Tel No.: 403 3991