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October 30, 2015

I love cooking competitions. I always get hungry and I never seem to get enough of seeing the work, the passion, the creativity and the twists of the formula. When I was invited to be a food judge for 2015's Foodgasm goes to Maginhawa, you could say I was honoured to say the least.

So without further ado this is the first fifteen dishes at the event! (Some of the competitors failed to come on the day and were omitted.) Here is the link for Part 2 of 2!

1. Double Bagnet

The Double Bagnet was an interesting entry because essentially it was two well loved ways to cook pork, sisig and bagnet, combined into one. It didn't take a lot of creativity, but sometimes going the simpler route is the best one!

2. Pork and Tofu Sisig

I wanted to love this dish because I love sisig, but because it was soggy and could use better seasoning. A little more and they could have perfected it.

3. Bonnga Hangovurger

Longganisa burger patty with cheese omelette sandwiched by waffles that were topped by maple syrup! It was okay. I just wish the waffles were crunchier! The cheese omelette was an interesting choice, but I would loved it more if they used Bacon strips.

4. Iberian Chicken

It was raining the day of the event and the dishes that were affected most were made from chicken and fish. Even though the meat hardened because of the cold, you could still taste the spices and the flavors from this dish! It's one of those 'Sayang!' dishes. I hope next time to get this fresh!

5. ROAR Blue Raspberry and Fruit Punch 

These are similar to the Pocari sweat products but they taste a lot better. I particularly like the Raspberry than the Fruit Punch. I wish that it was more innovative though, it was imported.

6. Cheesecake in a Jar

They are okay. I don't find anything remarkable about their version of this classic dessert, although it is nice to have this on the go. I've had better in terms of flavor, consistency and texture.

7. Buffalo Wings

They offered two flavors: the sweet and the hot and spicy. Sadly the way they cooked it left it soggy which lost its crispiness.  This is just me, but I prefer my Wings fried at a constant temperature to give that wonderful texture and crunch! The hot and spicy flavor was the type of spiciness that numbs yours tastebuds. So Prepare yourself. The classic sweet sauce wasn't that sweet.

8. Chicken Topokki

The flavor that stood out was the red sauce where it was not quite as authentic as the one I've had in Korea but it was close enough. What I was looking for was the chicken flavor. I couldn't taste it anywhere.

9. Brown Brazo

What is interesting in this iteration of the classic Brazo is the use of Coconut sugar which is said to be healthier than sugar cane. Props for them to try and give us a healthier option. The Brazo itself was a decent make. You won't go wrong with this.

10. Cucumber Lemonade

Cucumber-infused water is gaining popularity, and it was just a matter of time till someone combined it with Lemonade. I am glad someone actually did it. The cucumber adds an interesting contrast to the sweetness of the sugars and sourness of the lemon that brings out each other flavors that is surprisingly refreshing! I love it.

11. Yakitori

Chicken Barbecue is something I hold dear to my heart, and I think it is a common sentiment. Yakitori is basically chicken barbecue on a stick and this iteration of the dish is okay. The chicken is okay but the all the flavors are being overpowered by the seaweed. The sauce needs to be able balance this.

12. Decorative Cakes

I got really excited when I saw these! There was a spaghetti and meatballs cake and a Lechon cake. The attention to detail, the passion and the hardwork on these are what I respect from Empire Cakes. I was just set back by the chiffon inside. It was a little dry and rough for my preference but it did taste chocolatey. The dish isn't bad, it was almost great!

13. Champorado Cupcake

This was an interesting idea but the execution could be refined. I found the rise to be only gripe in it. Probably due to the baking process, the rice hardened. Otherwise, the champorado flavor was good and the cake itself was soft and moist.

14. Yema Cupcake with Pastillas de Leche

Like the last one, it has promising idea but could be refined even further for it to be great. The Yema and pastillas recipes were the problem where they came in dry for my taste. I like my yema and pastillas moist. The cupcake itself is soft and moist as well.

15. Porkloin Ribs

This dish is noteworthy because the pig meat had barely any flavor and tasted and smelled like it was a couple of days old. The sauce that they cover the meat in is just sweet with hints of soy sauce and vinegar.

Click the Link Below to see the last fifteen contestants

Next (Part 2 of 2)

I love cooking competitions. I always get hungry and I never seem to get enough of seeing the work, the passion, the creativity and the twists of the formula. When I was invited to be a food judge for 2015's Foodgasm goes to Maginhawa, you could say I was honoured to say the least.

So without further ado this is the last fifteen dishes at the event! (Some of the competitors failed to come on the day and were omitted.) 

If you missed the first part, here is the link for Part 1 of 2!

Next (Part 1 of 2)

16. Meaty Carbonara

This iteration of the carbonara has an increased portion of ham and bacon. If you love meet then this may be the dish for you. I think the dish is okay, and it isn't bad. I would just recommend to use better cheeses.

17. Honey Bagoong Wings

I loved the idea of this dish and the implementation fell a LITTLE Short. You see they used the honey to sweeten the bagoong (shrimp paste) and it did wonders. The shrimp paste's saltiness was tamed. The chicken itself was cooked well. It was crispy and flavorful.  The thing that fell short was that the honey taste disappeared in the Bagoong. Probably if they glazed the wings with honey with would have been perfect!

18. Chocolate Whoopie Pies

They were advertising this as literally cookies and cream. The cookie itself was okay the cream however could have been thicker and creamier. I found it bland as well. If they improve the cream, it would have been noteworthy.

19. Puto Cake

It didn't really taste like a combination of Puto and Cake. It tasted like an ordinary puto with cheese. With that said it was an okay Puto. You wouldn't regret having it but you won't be raving about it.

20. Beef Kebab

They served this dish with the beef strips and yellow rice. The beef was okay. It could have used more spices while the rice could have been cooked better. I felt it was a little lacking in flavor and it was a little under cooked. I encourage them to refine it.

21. Fish Stix

Fish fillet in more manageable stick shape. I like the idea, it made it like fries, that is easy to pick up and quick to eat. It would have been a good finger food. I like the crispy outer shell and the soft inner fish meat. It just lacked a sauce. The owner herself admitted that they had sauce but decided not to bring it. It would have been better if they had.

22. Bacon Banana Bread

They say bacon goes with everything. I have yet to find a dish that proves otherwise. This iteration though was good. I just wish they picked better bacon and cooked it in a better way. The banana and the bacon couldn't bring out the better from each other. I hope they find will find a way to make them jive better. I also applaud the trial of innovation! Keep going!

23. Treasure Burger

They coloured the buns with bright primary colours. It catches your eye but the burger itself was not that good. The patty and the condiments could use better seasoning to bring the flavors out more.

24. Mister Miswa

This is your ordinary miswa based soup. I didn't find anything innovating but if you were craving for it, then this iteration may be the one for you!

25. Choco Chip Cookies

These soft batch cookies were indeed soft but were a little dry inside. The chips used were okay but the cookie bread itself could use some refinement. Keep going, I can see potential in this dish.

26. Choco Chip Banana Cupcakes

I applaud the trial of innovating but the thing is chocolate in itself is sweet while bananas become even sweeter when baked so as you can see the problem was that the dish was sweeter than sweet. It needed another ingredient to balance the sweetness from the sugar, the chocolate and the banana. I am sure you will come up with something else interesting.

27. Churros con Chocolate

The churros themselves were good. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. My only problem was the chocolate. It was apparent that they used less than better cocao which brought the dish down. I hope they find better chocolate.

28. Sili Chocolate Cupcake

One of the innovative dishes that chose to put chili in chocolate. When I took my bite, I was looking for the spiciness. It was a slow acting type of dish where in it takes a while before it kicks in and when it does the spiciness lingers for a while. The only gripe I had with the dish is the cream should be finer and creamier. The texture was still coarse when I had it. Otherwise it would have been a great idea!

29. Bomba

This is my personal favorite. An oatmeal cookie with a chocolate filling that was made from melting chocolate with cayenne pepper that starts off with sweetness from the cookies mixed with the kick of the cayenne pepper that explodes in your mouth. The sweet and the spicy dancing in your mouth for a while will leave you wanting more.

30. Lechon Bagnet

My two favorite ways to cook Pig, Lechon and Bagnet combined into one is simply the best part of my job at Foodgasm! It was crispy and flavorful! It was a crunchfest! Get this now!

Click the Link Below to see the first fifteen contestants

Next (Part 1 of 2)

October 24, 2015

Waterproof, soundproof, snowproof, rustproof, and shockproof — the Altec Lansing Life Jacket and the Mini H2O are proven to withstand the rigors of the outside world.

MANILA — October 19, 2015 — Altec Lansing Philippines announced its newest series of breakthrough outdoor speakers: the Life Jacket and Mini H2O. Altec Lansing has long been known for its superior expertise in sound quality, and this new line of outdoor speakers takes the brand to the next level. Quality meets unparalleled durability as these speakers are IP67 Waterproof/Dustproof/Shockproof rated, and even float on water. Dubbed “Everything Proof,” the Life Jacket and Mini H2O are surely built to last. 

Life Jacket 

The Life Jacket Bluetooth Wireless Speaker features great sound, voice confirmation, and an onboard microphone for clear, hands-free communication. It is packed with power features such as speaker phone with caller ID, voice confirmation and commands, easy Bluetooth pairing, and NFC compatibility. With 16 hours of battery life and power bank capability, you can remotely charge your smartphone anywhere and rock out all day long. 

Mini H2O

The Mini H2O Bluetooth Wireless Speaker features an ultra compact design, voice confirmation, and an onboard microphone for clear, hands-free communication. With 6 hours of battery life, aux in, and an integrated carabineer, the Mini H2O lets you bring and enjoy music wherever you want to go.

The New Collection

Altec Lansing also unveiled a range of wireless Bluetooth speakers, each designed to perfectly suit your unique lifestyle: 

The Mini Life Jacket features a rugged compact design, voice confirmation, and an onboard microphone for clear, hands-free communication. With 10 hours of battery life, aux in, and an integrated carabineer, the Mini Life Jacket can keep up with your action-packed adventures. It has a suggested retail price of P4,850. 

The Jacket H2O features a sleek, compact design, and comes with voice confirmation and an onboard microphone for clear, hands-free communication. With 8 hours of battery life and an aux in port, the Jacket H2O is perfect for any outdoor fun, even for water activities. It has a suggested retail price of P3,995.

The Orbit is one of the most impressive power packed ultraportable Bluetooth speaker on the market today. This device delivers high quality sound rarely found in such a small, affordably priced speaker. Great audio performance plus an onboard microphone for clear hands free communication, voice confirmation, aux in jack and up to 6 hours of battery life. The Orbit is the compact music companion for travelers. It has a suggested retail price of P1,425. 

Pricing and availability

  • The Life Jacket comes at a suggested retail price of P7,250. 
  • The Mini H20 also comes in 5 color options: black, white, red, orange, and blue at a friendlier SRP of P1,995.
  • All new Altec Lansing models will be available in selected branches of SM Appliance Centers, Astro Vision, Astro Plus, Anson’s, and other gadget retailers nationwide. 

Join our community

We’d highly appreciate if you can help bring more music-lovers to our community:

Facebook — facebook.com/alteclansingphilippines

About Altec Lansing 

For more than 80 years, Altec Lansing has been shaping the history of audio delivery by producing superior speakers for music-loving consumers and audiophiles alike. Throughout generations, Altec Lansing continues to be a first choice for people who seek quality audio without any compromise. In the Philippines, Altec Lansing is exclusively distributed by Banbros Commercial Inc. 

October 20, 2015

I don't know about you but after having fresh pasta, I get cravings now and then. What's worse is that it isn't satiated by those noodles you get from the supermarkets that you dip in boiling water to reconstitute it.

Mama Lou's is one of the restaurants I come back to if I want homemade pasta with simple recipes but become amazing because of the fresh ingredients and are cooked well.

After asking my friend about how to take care of a beagle for a couple of days, I asked her if she had any recommendations for a restaurant to try. She said that the last restaurant she came to where she was 'pleasantly surprised' was Mama Lou's. Apparently, she couldn't get over the Risotto.

You'll feel right at home here!

The Ambiance 

Mama Lous has several branches in the Metro, the one I am nearest to is in UP Town Center along Katipunan Avenue. Once you've arrived, you will notice the decor is inspired by houses from Italian villages like the one in 'the Godfather' where Michael was exiled in. 

Vintage-style chandeliers!

You will feel right at home with its warm and family oriented touches like the green wooden window blinds and the vintage-style chandeliers. It feels like you're going back in time. I love it. Although at around 12 noon, people started to flock the place and got a little too noisy. It was bearable but should be noted if you want a place to stay, relax and talk with your family and/or friends.

Carpaccio Di Manzo!

The Food

We were given the menus and we decided to get a dish from each pasta category. For appetisers we picked the carpaccio. For my main course, I've developed a habit wherein I either pick the best sellers of the establishment or the most unique, eye catching dish I could find. In this case I got the Japaleno of the category Barilla Pasta - Diavalo. (Diablo) From context, I gathered it was spicy which furthered my resolve.

Jalapeno Barilla Diavolo Pasta!

The Jalapeno was interesting because I've never had garlic, Jalapeno and pine nuts in pasta before and they go so well together! The flavors from the Jalapeno blend well with the pine nuts where the spicy kick is balanced by the volume of olive oil. 

The other Olive oil based pasta we had was the spaghetti seafood olio (The banner picture of the article) which is a simple garlic sautéed with assorted seafood but had this saltiness to it that was addicting. 

What really surprised me about the dishes the generous serving of olive oil and yet I never felt overpowered or felt sick of it. I wanted its generous oiliness as oppose to other oils.

This lasagna melts in your mouth like cake!

My brother decided to have the Lasagna, which I argued that we could have anywhere else. He was firm though and I am glad he was. When I took my first bite, I was blown away because during those few seconds the flavors from the red sauce mixing with the flavors of the cheeses and the the pasta itself exploded in my mouth. What surprised me the most is the overall consistency of the Lasagna which was like a cake, the layers quickly melted as it touched my mouth! I had to have another bite!

We also had the Spaghetti Pomodoro Basilico which basically the classic red sauce Spaghetti with Mama Lou's delicious pomodoro with basil! It had the same flavors as the lasagna just with a different experience because of the texture and shape of the pasta. It's good, it's just it isn't anything new.

Creamy Risotto!

The risotto's thick cream reminded me of a strong flavored carbonara's white sauce cooked with full rice grains which is pleasantly tamed by the saltiness of the cheese and the consistency of the mushrooms. It's absolutely wonderful, with the only gripe is how easily you can get 'umay' because of all the starch that comes from the rice and cream. I tried countering this by having some pizza and more pasta. I ended up eating the whole plate!

The Pizza Bianca!

There were dishes that weren't as impressive as the best dishes which means it was decent because it was cooked well but just didn't have anything remarkable. Most of the pizzas are a pretty good example of this. The crust is thin and crunchy while the sticky cheeses have hints of saltiness that go well with the bacon and mushrooms. I couldn't put my finger on it, it just felt that it was missing that X-factor but in any case they are still worth trying!

I never really got to use these because the dishes almost never needed them!

The Service

We arrived and were immediately led to our table and were then given the menus. The Waiter was patient and answered promptly the questions we threw at him about the dishes. Waiting time was around a little over fifteen minutes where all the dishes were given in quick succession. Whenever we would have special requests like extra tissue or to refill our glasses with water was all met quickly and efficiently. Thank you!

The Price

Their dishes start at Php 160.00 for the poutine and get up to Php 495.00 for the big Cheese/Sausage platters! The price to serving ratio is basically what I would expect for the price and quality!

The Verdict

What We LIKED:

  • most dishes are simple recipes but are amazing because they were cooked well!
  • the lasagna that melts in your mouth like cake!
  • jalapeno Pasta is unique and worth the try!
  • the warm and homey ambiance!

What We Almost LIKED:

  • risotto is amazing but can be troubling to eat on its own.
  • pizza is decent but is overshadowed by the great other dishes!
  • can get noisy and crowded at peak hours!

Do you want to Contact 'Mama Lous?'
Address: UP Town Center, Katipunan Ave., Quezon City
Address: B1 Tropical Ave., corner Palace st. BF International Village, Las Pinas
Address: UP Town Center, Katipunan Ave., Quezon City
Telephone number: 

UP Town Center: (02) 958 - 5563
BF International Village Las Pinas: (02) 519 -1977
Instagram: @Mama_Lous
Operating Hours: 
UP Town Center: Mon-Sun: 11AM to 10PM
BF International Village: Mon-Sun: 11AM to 12MN

October 13, 2015

Neil Writes About Oyasumi Ramen

With the rising number of Ramen establishments in the Metro, it is becoming difficult to find a unique experience that captures your own preference. I am aware that each province in Japan has their own style that resulted into thousands of variations which makes it difficult to find time to try them all.

I am fortunate enough to find a Ramen Place that is near to where I reside and is unique enough to warrant a visit every now and then. We write about Oyasumi Ramen in San Juan!

Neil Writes About Oyasumi Ramen
The Signage is a little hard to find when driving from Wilson street.

The Ambiance

I googled the address of Oyasumi and I invited my siblings to come with. When we arrived we were surprised at how simple the modern aesthetics Oyasumi has erected. It's all the details, minimalism at its finest. Brushed concrete Walls and ceiling with steel and wooden made furnishings.

Neil Writes About Oyasumi Ramen Whatneilwritesabout.com
Simple Steel and Wooden Furnishings!

As you open the door to the entrance you get a peak at the kitchen itself which is in front of the bar for those who just want to have ramen and go. There are long tables at the second floor for those looking to be in a group and want to stay a while. To our surprise when we found our seats at the second floor, they were screening via projector a Japanese film. (I'll give you a hint: 'Hiten Mitsurigi-Ryu')

The fusion of two classics from Filipino and Japanese Cuisines, the La Paz Ramen!

The Food

What separates Oyasumi from the rest is their unique Ramen offerings like the Tomato Ramen(the banner picture and the La Paz Ramen above. The tomato added a different depth of flavor combination that I think feels off where sourness of the tomatoes was conflicting with the rest of dish. The La Paz Ramen however was amazing, the natural thick Ramen base blends wonderfully with the saltiness of the pork rinds (chicharon) shavings of the La Paz Batchoy that gives you that satisfying warm feeling in your belly. When eaten with the noodles and liver chops it becomes heavenly as the liver serves to contrast the saltiness and the umami perfectly. What takes the cake is that it never feels oily. I wanted more but I was full.

What I found constant in all their dishes is how perfectly cooked the eggs are. The outside is firm enough to keep it together but soft enough to be opened with a chop stick. When you do open it, you will see how from the firm outer surface, it softens to a fluffy consistency as you get deeper in to the liquid core. Once you've popped the eggs it usually adds another layer of flavor, may it be the pepper ramen, the ikei, the tomato or the La Paz Ramen.

Neil Writes About Oyasumi Ramen Whatneilwritesabout.com
Intense seasoning that pulls out the flavors of each ingredient!

The Pepper Ramen in contrast was intense, the peppers really brought out the flavors of the base, miso, vegetables and the pork slices that explode in your mouth. It was the type of intensity that I had to keep devouring a scoop non stop. My only regret is that oral cavities couldn't take the irritation from the pepper even though I wanted more of it.

I encourage you to come to Oyasumi and take the Ramen strangest to you. They let you pick which noodles you can have like black ink noodles, matcha noodles or even curry noodles.

The Iekei rooted from the classic Yokohama traditional Ramen!

 The Service

When we arrived at the door we were greeted warmly by the signature 'Irasshaimase!' and were asked if we had a reservation. We said that we reserved a table for five and promptly lead to our table. They gave us our menu and recommended their best dishes while serving us tea.

The dishes we ordered came ten (10) minutes afterwards. We dug in and they stood their and did their job to wait and see if we need any special service. They really pay attention whenever our drinks run out and they fill it up again.

Their service is the standard polite and customer centric Japanese signature hospitality. Up until now, I have no complaints.

Downstairs is where the bar and kitchen resides

The Price

Ramen starts at Php 350.00 while the Cha Soba starts at Php 170.00. Additional ingredients like eggs or chashus can go from Php 30.00 up to Php 120.00. They also have an option to turn your left over soup into a cheesy risotto that sets you back Php 60.00. In general the prices for their dishes are on the more affordable side as compared to the Ramen establishments in Malls.

The Verdict

What We LIKED:
  • We can watch Japanese movies while eating!
  • The Eggs are absolutely wonderful!
  • Unique Ramen Variations!
  • Option to turn left over soup into a Cheesy Risotto (It depends on your personal preference)

What We Almost LIKED:
  • Flavored Noodles are a hit or a miss
  • The Pepper from the Pepper ramen brings out wonderful flavors from the dish but can irritate the insides of your mouth
  • Parking can be a problem

Do you want to Contact 'Oyasumi Ramen?'
Address: 308 P. Guevarra st. corner Seaview St. San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines
Telephone number: (02) 275-0309
Facebook: Oyasumi Ramen Facebook Page

Instagram: @OyasumiRamen
Operating Hours: Mon-Sun: 11AM to 10PM

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