grub + travels + perspectives

Zomato Food Crawl at SM Bicutan

And just when the last Zomato foodie meet-up I attended made me swear I'm not getting within a foot from burgers (or food, in general at that time), the awesome peeps from Zomato invited me once again for a foodie meeting, but this time for a food crawl. I kinda had an idea on what a food crawl entails so this time I knew better. Haha. The key to this type of activity: pacing! But it's still a bit overwhelming when I saw on the e-mail that we'll be sampling dishes from 6 food chains!

This food crawl is a tie-up with SM City Bicutan with the aim of promoting the variety of cuisines that can be found inside SM Malls! Food court chow doesn't just mean budget-friendly meals, you'd be surprised with how many different types of noms are available for everyone. After a quick chat with SM Bicutan's food court marketing team, we were whisked away to our first grub for the day:

I remember our college cafeteria having a kiosk of Chansel and we'd order pizza whenever we feel festive or if there's any celebration (#collegebudget). They've been around for a long time so we're definitely no stranger to their pizza.

All Meat and Hawaiian pizzas
Spicy Tuna and Honey Bacon pizzas
We were served 5 different flavors of pizza: the classic Hawaiian, All Meat, Beef and Mushroom, Honey Bacon and Spicy Tuna. One thing I truly applaud with Chansel is their consistency. Their crunchy-chewy type of crust never fails. Sure, it's cheap pizza but it's definitely worth the buck you spent. And it's great that they're exploring new flavors as well! The Spicy Tuna was something unexpected (tuna + corn kernels combi, anyone?) since I can't recall any other pizza chain putting fish on their pizza (seafood, yes, but fish, no). It was surprisingly good too! But of course, Honey Bacon's my favorite because bacon! Haha. Chansel: filed under oldie but goodie!

Another food court staple is Kain Kainan

To be honest, I just expected the usual grilled/sizzling viands to be served. We had their Chicken Barbecue, Chopsuey and Kare-Kare. The prices of their food ranges up to PhP 145, which I think is not bad at all. Kain Kainan also Halal standards since there are Muslim communities around the vicinity of SM Bicutan. My verdict? I actually liked thee Chopsuey more than their meat dishes.

When it comes to traditional Filipino food for the family, Gerry's Grill is a go-to restaurant for majority of Pinoy families. My dad always prefers dining at Gerry's during birthdays or other occasions because, one, their menu's tried and tested and the servings are hefty. And when I learned that they were part of our food crawls' roster, I can't help but look forward to eating their Sizzling Sisig!

Beef Kare-Kare and Crispy Pata
Sizzling Bangus ala Pobre and Seafood Rice
Grilled Squid and Sizzling Oriental Garlic Seafood
Binagoongan Rice and Sizzling Sisig (Photo on the right is from baratako.com, I forget to take a picture of the sisig lol)
I was overwhelmed with the number of dishes they served (when it was supposed to be just 3)! Some observations I had: the Beef Kare-Kare was okay (not a big fan of kare-kare ever since) but I just noticed there were more vegetables than meat. The Crispy Pata meat was tender and savory, perfect when dipped in the soy sauce + vinegar mix. The Grilled Squid's cooked just right as the meat was easy to cut and chew and it's got that smokey grilled taste. My top picks would be their Sizzling Bangus ala Pobre (I love how it's perfectly fried! Yum!), Binagoongan Rice (the contrast of the saltiness of the rice and the tang of the strips of green mango were spot on! Party in your mouth! More chunks of pork, please!), and of course, the Sizzling Sisig (this never fails!)

Gerry's Grill's food consistency throughout the years is something they should be applauded about. Quality food great for sharing with family and friends.

For those that are not familiar with Rodeo Grill like me, they're a resto chain originating from Cebu, and the rodeo theme was a result of, well, the owner's cowboy / anything goes attitude. The restaurant itself was designed to fit the cowboy bill. Even the food attendants are wearing rodeo attires! 

Cebu Lechon and Ranch Bulalo Soup
Arkansas Tender Ribs and Texas Sizzling Chicken
We also had the Sgt. Pepper Steak and Crispy Chow Chicken.
It was my first time trying Cebu Lechon and let me just say that Rodeo Grill didn't disappoint. That Cebu Lechon was soooo good. Crispy and crunchy skin that had minimal fat trimmings and the meat was so tender, it almost melts in your mouth. This makes me all the more excited for my trip to Cebu this July! It was great partnered with the Ranch Bulalo Soup, with an equally flavorful broth, perfect over steaming hot rice. The Arkansas Tender Ribs was true to its name, succulent meat slathered in smokey sauce, I think it's my second favorite to the lechon. I almost forgot about my pacing while we were here at Rodeo Grill because the food was enjoyable, you can't help but dig in.

I've always been a fan of Tapa King because of their Crispy Liempo. When I'm stressed with work (and/or life haha), I usually had it delivered because sometimes, I'm to lazy to go out and eat or fix something up for myself. My favorite combo has always been Crispy Liempo and Wanton Soup. It's affordable and delicious!

Wanton Soup, Tokwa't Baboy, Tapa Lugaw, Garlic Kangkong and Pinakbet
I also swear by their Tokwa't Baboy and Garlic Kangkong. Definitely not bad for the price. Those are my second choices when the Wanton Soup is not available.

My all-time favorite: Crispy Liempo meal
There's something with the way they season and fry their Crispy Liempo that always makes me crave for it. And of course, the serving is another big factor. This meal is in my list of comfort food during a bad day or just whenever I don't want to think of what I would have for lunch or dinner. I always pair the liempo with vinegar with crushed garlic and their atchara. It can never go wrong!

Tapa King meal and their latest variation, the Spicy Tapa meal
Tapa Flakes meal and Boneless Bangus meal
Leche Flan, Champorado and Chocolate Cake
For accessible, budget-friendly and yummy Pinoy food quick fix, Tapa King is always just a stone's throw away! You can also have your meals delivered to your door step! Try their desserts! Their Leche Flan and Chocolate Cake are surprisingly good.

My favorite food discovery that day was Silom Thai. I guess we were all saving a space in our stomachs when we got news that we're having a Thai restaurant in our food crawl. Thai flavors are always a delight to the palate. I've been only to 2 authentic Thai restos: S.R. Thai Cuisine (Dapitan) and Krung Thai (Marikina) and both left a great impression on me. 

First off, I want to mention how beautiful the restaurant is. I've got no photos but I really appreciated all the details and decorations to have that Thai ambiance, definitely elegant and not tacky. Even the silverwares and the lights! It was small but it looked really good that it somehow felt like it doesn't belong there, it should have been in a posh neighborhood or tucked somewhere in the streets of Makati. This one's located right in front of a Jollibee and near the department store, which, I guess, is a strategic way of encouraging and welcoming people to try Thai food after a day of shopping. 

Tom Yum Shrimp Soup (Tom Yum Goong)
What's a Thai foodtrip without Tom Yum? The aroma of the Tom Yum Goong was so enticing, and the taste, even better! The flavors of different herbs and spices (lemon grass? ginger? lime juice? coriander?) definitely had that perfect balance of the distinctive taste of spiciness and sourness with each sip of the hearty broth. The shrimp and veggies were also just right. This is a must-try when you visit Silom Thai!

Fresh Vegetarian Spring Rolls (Poh Pia Pak Ruam) and Chicken Pad Thai 
We also had the Fresh Vegetarian Spring Rolls, which was meant to be an appetizer (but we all can't wait for the Tom Yum haha), and I think this is a great welcome dish for those trying out Thai food for the first time. Don't forget to dip it in the sweet chili sauce with crushed peanuts for great flavors and textures. The Chicken Pad Thai's also a winner! The noodles were not overdone and the chunks of chicken were tender and oozing with flavor. Overall, it was the right kind of salty and sweet.

Bagoong Rice (Kao Kluk Gapi) and Chicken Pandan (Gai Hor Bai Toey)
Mango Sticky Rice (Kao Niew Mamuang)
Finishing this gastronomic delight is sampling their dessert, the Mango Sticky Rice. The glutinous rice is sweet but more on the creamy side because of the coconut milk. Topping it with a slice of mango makes it a refreshing treat after a wonderful feast of Asian flavors, making it a more memorable experience. We also had the Iced Tea with Milk which was authentic tasting and not the types served in the dime a dozen milk tea shops nowadays.

The milk tea craze is still very much on and there's no sign of slowing down soon. Even in my home town, Cavite, milk tea shops have infiltrated the local food scene and are sprouting on every corner putting tough competition against the usual coffee shops. The one that started it all? Serenitea. This pioneering milk tea shop in the Philippines has been around since 2008.

I'm not big on coffee, even more so on tea, how much more milk tea? The idea sounded off to me. But when I first tasted a Wintermelon Tea at some milk tea shop near my house, I realized it wasn't so bad naman pala. But still, I didn't join the bandwagon. It was until a couple of my colleagues from my previous work kept ordering Serenitea like no tomorrow. Hahaha. There was a branch in Jupiter right in front of our building. It was then my love affair with Uji Pyramid started, and it's what I've been having ever since. I don't like matcha but somehow it works when combined with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I can't think of a better way this food crawl to end! It's perfect!

Photo from CatyPerryAlwaysHungry's Zomato

And that concludes this foodventure we had at SM City Bicutan! I was glad to have met other foodies and made discoveries worth sharing to my family and friends! A special shoutout to Trisha Garcia of Zomato for inviting me and the accommodating staff of all the restaurants mentioned as well as of SM Bicutan! Foodies from the south will surely enjoy a day at SM Bicutan, where it's So Much Better Together! #SMBTogether 


For more information about these food chains, please click here.