grub + travels + perspectives

Zomato x The Grove Food Hop 2017

I've been working in Ortigas for 5 years now and our go-to food trip favorites have always been in the areas of Kapitolyo, SM Megamall, Emerald Avenue, and sometimes in Katipunan. When I got an invite from Zomato for a food crawl at The Grove along C5, it hit me why we never bothered checking this place out given that it's a few corners away from our office! And when I knew about the variety of restaurants we'll be visiting, I realized, wow, there were plenty of options nearby all along and most of the time, me and my friends can't agree on where we want to eat. LOL.

Anyway, for those not familiar, The Grove (by Rockwell) is a resort-like high-rise residential condominium located in Pasig City. At the ground level, it has what's called a Retail Row, which is a group of restaurants and coffee shops. It's right across Tiendesitas and SM Hypermarket too! It's super, super convenient to live here. (Lol, of course, pricey too~)

Chef Jessie Grill

Jessie Sincioco's a well-known chef/restaurateur that's already got some great places under her name: the elegant Chef Jessie Rockwell Club, 100 Revolving Restaurant in Eastwood, and Top of the Citi by Chef Jessie in Makati. She's also known as the chef who cooked for Pope Francis when he visited Manila back in 2015.

For our first stop in this food hop, we were whisked inside Chef Jessie's latest venture, the Chef Jessie Grill. The interiors had that elegant ambiance but everything is simple and tasteful. As Chef Reo Sincioco (Chef Jessie's brother, who was there to explain the restaurant's concepts and dishes) said, they try to incorporate the bahay kubo theme to their restaurant, which is evident with the bamboo accents all around. The result? A homey but at the same time modern touch.

Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs
Grilled Kesong Puti
Alugbati Salad and Baked Manila Clams
Salmon Fillet
Peach Cobbler and Green Tea Cheesecake
We were served pretty interesting and unique dishes like the Grilled Kesong Puti and Alugbati Salad (with dulong dressing), Sizzling Pork and Lamb Sisig and Baked Manila Clams. My personal favorites were the Grilled Kesong Puti (melted carabao milk cheese FTW!), the Baked Manila Clams (tasted fresh and delicious) and the Salmon Fillet. The Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs was a runner up too (just because I'm craving for seafood lately). It had succulent meat falling off the bone! Out of the 2 desserts, the Peach Cobbler was my pick. One, I'm not a really big fan of anything green tea. Also. it had an appealing mix of layers and textures. Just look at the colors! There were peaches, nuts, chocolates and cream. Not too sweet as well.

I could totally picture my folks dining here (and I might take them soon, whenever they're ready to bravethe city traffic haha). Great food, cozy ambiance and super courteous and friendly staff!

Chef Jessie Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Backyard Kitchen + Brew

As soon as this Margarita Fishbowl hit the table, I was on my phone messaging Terr that we should come back here for drinks. I figured this place is perfect because we could just slip in here after work and it wouldn't be too much hassle to get home. Though it looks like a laid back and chill resto (or maybe it appears that way because we went there early afternoon), I could imagine the place packed for late night drinks and after work grub. (Loved the Margarita Fishbowl by the way, I had 2 glasses and I felt a very light buzz already. Haha. I had to stop because we still had 3 restos to go to!)

Backyard -- maybe that's why the place was designed all-wood -- outdoorsy, simple and comfortable. You know those backyard afternoon grill and drinks with your friends? I think that's what they're aiming for. Backyard Kitchen + Brew is Chef Ed Bugia's (Pino Resto Bar, Pipino Vegetarian, BRGR: The Burger Project, Pi: Breakfast and Pies) latest brainchild and the The Grove branch is one of 4 already.

Nose-to-tail Fettucini
Coffee-crusted Baby Back Ribs
Between these 2 beautiful dishes that were served to us, hands down the Coffee-crusted Baby Back Ribs is my choice. I love how rustic the presentation of food is! I was really excited to try this being the pork lover that I am. The meat was slow cooked to that spot-on tenderness and I loved the light aroma and the bitter undertones because of the smoked coffee spiced rub and the tangy contrast of the coating of barbecue sauce. It came with a hefty serving of potato salad and a grilled corn on the cob.

They told us that the Nose-to-Tail Fettucini was named that way because they were able to utilize some top to bottom parts of chicken, pork and beef like pork cheek, beef brisket, ox tripe and chicken liver -- all combined with tomato sauce and dressed over homemade noodles. I was expecting to be wowed by this dish but it was a bit flat for me.

Definitely, definitely coming back to try more from their alcohol selection as well as other intriguing dishes like Salted Egg Chicken Skin, Sinigang na Batchoy, Mac & Cheese Nachos, Uni Carbonara, Slow Roasted Pork Belly and Bibingka Pancakes!

Backyard Kitchen + Brew Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Asakusa: Home of Tempura

Yes! Our first Japanese restaurant for the day is a tempura house! We were able to try a limited number of dishes only so let me just gauge them based on that. But the first and foremost thing I love about Asakusa (actually pronounced as 'ah-sahk-sah') is the interiors:

From Asakusa's Instagram account
I loved the overall colors, and although they were a Japanese restaurant, they added modernity to it. The place is well-lighted and had an industrial Second is this wonderful, flavorful Tuna Salad:

Tuna Salad
You have the option to make it spicy, but this one served to us was the regular one (will definitely try that in the future). The name Tuna Salad may sound plain and simple but it's actually raw tuna on top of tempura cracklings with vegetables and finished with a special dressing. Can you just imagine the textures in this dish? Smooth, fresh fish contrasted by the crunch of cracklings and vegetables and laced with that special dressing (Is this some kind of ultadelicious secret kewpie?) is a full blown party in your mouth. Everyone on our table agreed that this was our favorite.

Samurai Tempura Set (Black tiger prawn, fish, squid, eggplant, French beans) and Chicken Karaage Teriyaki
The tempura was light, crispy and low on the grease. The coating-meat ratio was okay too. I'm always disappointed when I'm served with a humongouos tempura only to reveal the fact that it had a tiny piece of meat inside after a bite. Totally not the case here at Asakusa! Though I must say nakakabitin! Hehe. The Chicken Karaage Teriyaki had tender meat and bold flavors. Definitely begging to have some rice to go with it.

Just found out that they also serve makis and udons and sobas! Me and my friends looooove Japanese food. Can't wait to take them here to satisfy our very random maki cravings!

Asakusa: Home Of Tempura Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunrise Buckets

I've always wanted to try Sunrise Buckets for as long as I can remember. I love breakfast food and their name has always popped up on some 'top 10' lists and 'must-try' lists. It escaped my mind that there was actually this branch near work so paying them a visit was pushed and pushed to the bottom of my list. This was another reason I was ecstatic about this food hop. I finally had the opportunity to sample Sunrise Buckets' food!

Now contrary to what I know (and as you can see on the photos), Sunrise Buckets offers so much more than all-day breakfast. They have chicken wings in all imaginable sauces and flavors (even has boneless ones, yep!), a wide array of burgers, hotdogs on buns, meat entrees, salad, appetizer favorites like nachos and onion rings, pasta, milkshakes, non-alcoholic drinks, and cocktails and beer! The number of pages of their menu was really overwhelming. Haha.

Pork Salpicao
Sadly, I still wasn't able to try their breakfast food, but I was able to taste their customer favorites. First one is the Pork Salpicao. I don't know how many times I've mentioned here in my blog how I'm not a fan of salpicao (but I've found few ones that I've likes) and SB's pork rendition was a good one. The meat was tender and garlicky. But again, I'd maintain my stand that salpicao's not the first thing I'd look for in a menu.

Chicken Wings and Nachos Overload
These two, the Chicken Wings and Nachos Overload, I enjoyed stuffing myself with very, very much. Hehe. I'm deeply in love with chicken wings and I can eat quantities of it any time of the day, let me just get it out there, so this was a superb treat for me. Even though it took a while for us to dig in (food photo ops are necessary in foodie meet-ups like this LOL), the chicken skin was able to retain its crisp and the smothered BBQ sauce on it was lip-smacking good. Same goes for the nachos, love that the nachos were covered with cheese (I know, sinful!) as opposed to those other restos that just drizzle the melted cheese on the top. There was a substantial amount of meat too! Yum!

Flavored beer shots: Strawberry (or was it raspberry?) and Mango
The beer shots looked really pretty but I skipped on trying it out because I don't like beer and I've already had 2 glasses of margarita earlier at Backyard Kitchen + Brew. Hehe.

At least being able to try their other offerings gave me a whole new perception of this place. It's a nice hangout place with friends on a weekend afternoon over drinks and pica-pica food. But this is not the last you've seen of me, Sunrise Buckets! Operation trying their breakfast food failed, but I'll surely come back for it next time!

Sunrise Buckets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Our final stop was another Japanese restaurant! \(*^▽^*)/ (*confetti*) This time, their specialty is ramen, and they have a popular one named Happiness Ramen, which is also their signature dish. Hanamaruken is actually a popular restaurant in Osaka, Japan (40 branches!) and did you know that their first international branch was here in the Philippines? Yep. It was in Trinoma, opened way back 2013. In total, they have 3 branches already, the other one's located in Alabang.

Plus points for the warm, inviting interiors again! Everything is predominantly wood with touches of iron on the lights and chairs. It feels very comforting.

Tiger Prawn Tempura and Drunk Man Bowl
Now that is what you call a big ass prawn! Hahaha. We were really surprised with how ginormous the tiger prawns were! I always had these experiences in some restaurants where in the menu, it was indicated how the dish is served with prawns (not shrimp, but prawns, stated clearly) but in reality, they were just average-sized shrimps. Glad to know that Hanamaruken and I both use the same dictionary. Hehe. Kidding aside, that tempura serving's already a bang for your buck!

I know the Happiness Ramen is supposed to be the star of the show but the Drunk Man Bowl outshone it for me. No bias here since both are pork dishes. I just fell in love with all the components in this rice bowl: kakuni (that's literally translated to "pork cut square and simmered," and two sunny side up eggs on top of rice. It's garnished with chopped leeks and chili. The perfect rice meal for breakfast (adding egg to anything transforms it to breakfast), lunch or dinner, and a nice bowl to have after a massive hangover. You just can't go wrong with it. The meat just melts in your mouth! If you're not a ramen person and you find yourself in here with friends, order the Drunk Man Bowl!

The Champon and the Curry Tan Tan Mien
We also had a taste of the Champon (a Chinese-inspired ramen that contains stir-friend pork, shrimp and fresh vegetables in shoyu tonkotsu broth), which reminded me very much of chopsuey, and the Curry Tan Tan Mien, which is the one with more heat.

The Happiness Ramen
Here's a closer look.
A big chunk of flavorful and tender, slow-braised soft bone pork rib on top of soft noodles in shoyu tonkotsu broth. I've read some other reviews that this dish seem to be too salty and overrated for other people, but I actually found it good. Hey, I'm no ramen expert here and so far I've managed to completely consume only 1 bowl of ramen ever, but this is not at all salty to me. I was really impressed with the noodles because it just had that right of chewiness to it and that slab of meat had the perfect mouth-feel and it was indeed delicious. Fitting for those rainy, woeful days. Hahaha. The serving's big enough for 2 people, too! So did the Happiness Ramen manage to leave a smile on my lips? Yes, ma'am.

Hanamaruken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So that concludes our food trip in The Grove. Truly, there's something for everyone there. Whether if you have business meetings and appointments, when you want to eat after a late night of booze, when you're craving for something Filipino, or just simply when you just want to indulge yourself with good food, there's always something to try here at The Grove.

And funny, it was just right under our noses all this time! More often than not, me and my friends are craving for something Japanese and we always have a hard time figuring out where to eat because of time and location concerns. LOL. Also, the place is very kid-friendly, so there's no problem having your child run and roam around.

This has been a very long blog post, so I'm cutting it here. Leaving you with the view of Tiendesitas at sunset. So pretty. (。♥‿♥。)

A big thanks again to Zomato Philippines for inviting me!