grub + travels + perspectives

Avida Food Hunt Taft, Manila with Chef JJ Yulo and Thomas Torres

Around the last week of June, I received an e-mail invite to the second leg of the Avida Food Hunt. I was really intrigued with the thought of participating in a "food hunt," with the e-mail containing clues such as sampling a 30-year old authentic Japanese restaurant, a Korean-inspired cafe, a DLSU dining institution and many more. Considering I live in Gil Puyat Avenue, I was really curious of these places. And of course, I couldn't resist joining!

I asked Ian to tag along because he loves gastronomic adventures as much as I do and we thought it would be a nice idea to film the event using his GoPro!

All the invited participants were gathered at Avida Towers Prime Taft where the event started with a tour of the showroom. What's great about Avida Towers Prime Taft is that it is strategically placed in such a way that you are only a few minutes away from top universities. Plus, it is also nearest to three major city centers, namely Manila's Taft Avenue, Makati's central business district and Pasay's commercial centers!

Chef JJ Yulo of Pinoy Eats World headed the event, and we were also joined by Thomas Torres, DLSU Green Archers' point guard, to give us some tips and tricks on eating smart while on a budget around the Taft area.

As a teaser pre-food hunt, we were given this as clue to the places where we're heading for the day:

The clue for our first stop was Fun in a bun. And just right beside the Avida Towers Prime was this restaurant named Black and White Cafeteria.

The place had a 'diner' vibe to it, nothing fancy but not too simple as well. Just straight up how you would imagine a cafeteria would look like. I really liked the wall on the right side with all the drawings of people on it. And of course, the colors black and white were very evident. :)

They offer value meals and combo meals at very affordable prices, and their menu extends from burgers to pasta. If you're a student from around the area, you will surely appreciate this more. Variety at a cheap price is always better!

Burger and Bacon Extra Special (PhP 78) + House Blend Iced Tea (PhP 35)
So, was this Burger and Bacon Extra Special fun in a bun? Uhm. It was okay. The portions of the burger patty, ham and greens were okay for the price, more bacon please though!

We hopped on the coaster, Chef JJ shared some interesting trivia, asked Thomas some ~college life~ topics (haha) while we proceed to our next stop. Chef JJ also asked questions about Black and White Cafeteria and gave away stuff to those who answer it right!

Next food hunt clue: Turning Japanese!

Two things can be said about Nemoto Japanese Restaurant: One, it is one of the longest running Japanese restaurants in the area (30 years), and two, the owner of the place really, really likes Hello Kitty.

I was always curious about this restaurant as I always pass by this everytime I go home to Cavite. The interiors look old but still maintained (I think it adds to the authentic charm of the place), and it is adorned with Japanese memorabilia and collectibles! I saw a cabinet full of manga, red lanterns hanging all over, and of course...
Hello Kitty! :)
There's a separate room for smoking patrons, and in another room you can find the office of the owner's other business: their travel agency.

We were served the Special Mix (PhP 450) to taste. It consists of 3 pieces of tuna sushi, 3 pieces of salmon sushi and 8 pieces of maki. Eventhough I  brought my training chopsticks with me, I was too shy to bring them out and look all n00bz~ hahaha. So I used a fork (was supposed to just use my hand because it's the appropriate way but I was sharing this plate with 4 other people so manners, right?) Ian, of course, wanted to try the salmon sushi right off the bat because salmon. I must say I really enjoyed this as well. I'm actually not a big fan of sushi but this was a great treat!

Chef JJ also taught us the proper way to eat sushi. You can pick up the sushi with, as I said before, your hand or, of course, with chopsticks, turn it over so that you can dip the fish in the sauce, and that's the time you can eat it. Rule: dip the part with the fish only or don't bother dipping at all. You learn something new everyday!

On to the next food joint: Steak on me!

I'm sort of familiar with RAP's Steaks & Cakes because I've researched about them before when looking for restaurants near where we work, and fortunately, RAP's has a branch in Ortigas! :)

We had the Porterhouse Steak (Large - PhP 225) which was good enough for two. We were so ready to have steak that Ian and I finished a serving of this all by ourselves (LOL. Sorry! We noticed other groups of 3 shared on one steak, but no one else was there to share it with us, in fairness to us. Hahaha.)

I had no photo of the extremely delicious and addicting gravy (actually, that's bone marrow gravy) huhu. It really made the steak even more yummy than it already is! But since it's made of bone marrow, better consume it in controlled amounts even though they allow unlimited servings.

They also offer desserts, they have cakes and some other sweets. I saw that they have revel bars and I might just drop by soon just to have that after devouring a steak. Haha.

I already assumed that our next destination had something to do with the clue Snack Attack because desserts will always be last.

Our fourth stop was Agno Food Court which houses a number of concessionaires that offer food and snacks at student-friendly prices. We were given a task to do while in Agno Food Court: we were all given PhP120 to spend on any food we want, and we must buy and consume the food all in 20 minutes, which is mimicking college life where you always had to dine and dash to your next class, right?

To save time, we basically ordered the same stuff. Haha. Ian had the mozzarella balls while I had twister fries, both from the Potato Giant kiosk. We both had fruit shakes from Fruitas as refreshments and Hello Panda for dessert. We had very limited choices since most of the stores were closed that day. This is not the most wise buys (and definitely not the healthiest picks) so long story short, we did not win the challenge. Hehe.

By this time, we were already quite full and I'm so looking forward to a sweet treat. Next clue was Whip it good!

Finally was able to set my foot in Cafe Noriter! I have been wanting to visit this place since 2012 but never had the chance. Chef JJ described this cafe as "the most Instagram-able cafe ever." Hahaha. And he was right about that! The place is just too cute!

Fun fact: The word Noriter actually means "playground" in Korea. :)

I figured I will be making a separate post about Cafe Noriter because I really enjoyed paying them a visit (and I took loads of photos of the place!) And since it was my favorite among all the places we visited, it deserves to be in a separate post. :)

That's it! We had so much fun exploring and discovering new food places in the vicinity of Avida Prime Towers in Taft. It's indeed true to its name, a prime property that can cater all your housing needs!

To end this post, here's a video of that half day of fun!

Video credits to Ian Manzon

Black & White Cafeteria is located at 1941 Taft Avenue, Pasay City 
Contact Nos.:.: 521-2212 / +63 919 603 9158
Official Facebook Page

Nemoto Japanese Restaurant is located at 321 Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Pasay City
Contact Nos.: 831-5128 / 497-4461 / 379-9483

RAP Steaks & Cakes is located at  879 Dagonoy Street, Malate, Manila 
Contact No.: 525-5589
Official Facebook Page

Other branches:
Quezon City: 143 Mother Ignacia Street, Diliman, Quezon City 
Ortigas: Ortigas Home Depot, Dona Julia Vargas Avenue, Ortigas, Pasig City 

Agno Food Court is located at Agno Street (the street near the De La Salle University  Gokongwei Building)