The Halal Guys

There was a lot of excitement when news came out earlier this year that New York’s The Halal Guys is setting up shop here. The opening was pushed back a couple of times, but they finally opened in mid-October at the SM Mega Food Hall in SM Megamall. We decided it wasn’t in our best interest to check it out then because the lines were reportedly long and we have no patience for that sort of thing. So we went earlier this month instead. However, we were still met with a considerable line. We stayed anyway.

The Halal Guys

The Halal Guys

The Halal Guys

We ordered a small chicken over rice (P239), falafel over rice (P199), and hummus (P189) for the pita bread that comes with the rice platters.

The Halal Guys

The Halal Guys, chicken over rice

The Halal Guys, falafel over rice

The Halal Guys

Unfortunately, we weren’t very happy with the food. The chicken was a handful of dry, stringy pieces, and the falafel was just as dry, plucked from a tray of premade falafel. Not that I was expecting everything to be made fresh to order, only that the falafel should be at least warm. The pita bread was unusually thick an, again, not even warm. The Halal Guys is supposed to be beloved in New York City, drawing long lines of people, but given what we ate that day, we weren’t sure why. We hope they were just having an off day when we went.

Gyoza and Ramen House

The first thing that caught our eye was the restaurant’s name. It’s pretty straightforward, leaving you without a doubt as to what they serve. The second thing was the pleasant exterior, which features lanterns and big windows and wooden posts. The inside was also quite nice, with simple decor and pages from a Japanese newspaper plastered all over one wall.

Gyoza and Ramen House, interior

We ordered original gyoza (five pieces, P150) (I make it a point to sample gyoza in every Japanese restaurant I go to), sesame ramen (P330), and gyudon (P200).

Gyoza and Ramen House, original gyoza

Gyoza and Ramen House, sesame ramen

Gyoza and Ramen House, gyudon

The food here is, in a word, solid. The gyoza was lightly fried and the taste of the pork really shone through, though I personally would have loved more ginger in it. The sesame ramen featured a broth with a generous helping of what the menu said was sesame gravy, the noodles were nice and firm, and it contained three pieces of chashu when most ramen places usually just provide two. The gyudon was smaller than we expected, but it was so beefy and filling, making it sufficiently satisfying.

Another good thing about this restaurant? The fact that this is D’ Little Gyoza House with a new name in a new location. I only found out when I was looking up information about Gyoza and Ramen House and was surprised to see that its Facebook page was familiar to me. We loved D’ Little Gyoza House and were sad when the original branch closed. Fortunately, they’re back and better than ever, and will hopefully stay around for much much longer.

Gyoza and Ramen House
3 Malingap Cor. Matahimik Street
Teachers Village Diliman, Quezon City 1101

Blake’s Wings and Steaks, Marikina

Throwback to almost three months ago when we decided to check out Blake’s Wings and Steaks in Marikina. Our original plan was to go to Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse, but it was closed that day, so Blake’s it was. Apologies for the lack of interior shots, but I hope the food makes up for it!

Blake's, fish and chips

Blake's, wings tenders

Complimentary kropek was served as we waited for our food; we ordered fish and chips (P225) and the wings tenders solo (P185). Honestly, we could have just split either one and come out happy and full–the servings are enormous and everything was absolutely tasty. The wings tenders solo is particularly huge and comes with sweet corn, veggies, and rice. I could hardly believe that we paid so little for so much food, but I’m not complaining. We haven’t gone back there yet, and I think it’s about time we did.

Blake’s Wings and Steaks
75 Gil Fernando Avenue, San Roque, Marikina City

La Finca, Tagaytay

As planned, we finally made it to La Finca on a cool, breezy late afternoon. The restaurant is located at the Domicillo Design Hotel, under Aozora, Domicillo’s Japanese restaurant. The place has a very elegant interior, but the main highlight is the stunning view of Taal Lake, which was denied to us because it was pretty foggy when we got there. Still, the weather more than made up for the lack of a view that afternoon.


La Finca Tagaytay

A look at their menu shows that La Finca offers twists on Spanish and Italian dishes, among others, as well as Filipino dishes, as evidenced by our orders. We ordered chicken tocino (nice and basic, but the meat was delightful and the eggs were buttery) and spinach ravioli, which was made up of a nice pile of ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta, topped with longganisa, and garnished with basil.

La Finca Tagaytay, chicken tocino

La Finca Tagaytay, spinach ravioli

Dining was a delightful experience, what with the view, the good food, and the attentive service, making La Finca another nice addition to Tagaytay’s extensive collection of restaurants.

La Finca
Domicillo Design Hotel
Km. 58 Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway
Maharlika East, Tagaytay City

Don Limone Grill, Tagaytay

My mother and I went to Tagaytay a couple of days ago. I was planning for us to have lunch at La Finca, but while driving, I quickly spotted a sign for Don Limone Grill promising cheesecakes and Mediterranean food. I stopped when I had the chance to look up the place and find their number and directions, and then told my mother we were eating there instead.

Don Limone Grill isn’t hard to find at all. You need to drive past Mushroomburger and when you get to the police station on the right, look over and you’ll see the restaurant on the right side. You’ll enter a small compound and the place is just a short distance in; just follow the signs.

Don Limone Grill has its roots in Parañaque and opened in Tagaytay in December 2014. It’s one of those houses that have been converted into restaurants and serves good food in an elegant, quiet setting—a good addition to the flock of restaurants that make Tagaytay a culinary destination. A flourishing garden greets you the moment you step into the gate and makes you feel like you’re stepping away from the world for a while.

Don Limone Grill

Don Limone Grill

Don Limone Grill, Tagaytay

Don Limone Grill, Tagaytay

Mediterranean is the theme, and according to the restaurant’s Facebook page, they use produce grown only 50 feet away from the restaurant.

To tide us over until our food arrived, we were served a complimentary plate of bread with strawberry balsamic vinaigrette dip. We kept our orders simple: chicken espetada (P695) for my mother and tenderloin espetada (P795) for me. Wikipedia describes espetada as “a typical Portuguese dish made usually of large chunks of beef rubbed in garlic and salt, skewered onto a bay leaf stick cooked over hot coals or wood chips.” They both came with Limone potatoes, savory rice, and mixed greens. My mother ordered feta caponata for her first course, and I had amaretto pumpkin potage.

Don Limone Grill, Feta Caponata

Don Limone Grill, chicken and tenderloin espetadas

The food, as expected, was amazing; the meat was savory and tender. Each dish is good for one (they also have for sharing plates that are good for two people and some that are good for four to five people), but a couple of light eaters can easily split one.

They also make their own limoncello. Double shots are available for P175, and a whole bottle is sold for P1,200. It’s too bad I didn’t have any more room in my tummy for cheesecake. They have an extensive list of flavors that go well beyond blueberry, such as pecan, pumpkin, amaretto disaronno, mango, limoncello—and there are so many more of that. I’m definitely having some when we go back there, which is pretty soon, because I ordered a half-tray of their baklava, and they have a vast array of dishes I intend to sample.

Don Limone Grill
4870 Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Mendez Crossing East
Tagaytay City