Foodie Hangout Rundown: SM City East Ortigas
When I'm not cofficing, I hang out with my foodie friends 'cause friends who love food are always the best kind. Best restaurant are mostly found in malls so those are our usual go-to. If not malls, food parks, and if not food parks, foodie neighborhoods. I love malls the most 'cause I can both 'work and play" given that there a lot of establishments. So when I found out SM City East Ortigas was open, I was one of the few people who visited! It's super near my area and it has the essentials: coffices, the department store, bookstore, salons, a cinema, and of course...restaurants! Here's a rundown of all the restaurants my Zomato foodie friends and I visited!
J.CO Donuts & Coffee
Okay, so I'll be honest. I'm a bit biased with this branch because, you've guessed it, it's a coffice! I love that they took that into account because there are only a few cafes in this area, fewer ones you can work at. This branch has a mixture of high tables, comfy sofa type chair, sturdy wood furniture and yellow lighting. It definitely has a cafe vibe but better--cause they have donuts. J.Co's Al Capone is my all-time favorite. (Apparently, it's everyone's favorite?) But I'll tell you a secret, they serve great coffee here too. Order their Hot Americano and you're good for the day. However, if you're on cheat day and craving for something worth the calories and sugar, try their NEW AFFOGATO drinks. I'm a fan of their Iced Chocolate Affogato, the chocolate drink is super creamy and the chocolate ice cream on top is the perfect dollop of sweetness to match the chocolate flavor. If you're on the adventurous, I suggest you try their new Avoconut-flavored donut to match the drink!
I've battled between giving Nino's a 3.5 or 4 but ended up giving them a 4 because of one factor: affordability. For the price, their dishes are definitely something you can savor up. I particularly enjoyed their Picanto Wings 'cause hello...WINGS. I love Chicken wings and for 180, this is a sure winner. The portions are big too, so you can share this with one or two of your friends. Next would be their Chili Beef Supreme. Again, this was ONE BIG BURRITO. Add up a bowl of nachos and you're good to go. My last recommendation would have to be their Sizzling mixed seafood. Not sure if it's Mexican in origin but I'm sure that it was pretty delicious. The seafood was perfectly cooked and the sauce had a kick of vinegar that made it perfect for the Filipino palette. One dish I didn't like that much was the cheese quesadilla--mainly because it had a faint taste of Cheez Whiz. You might like it though, so I think you should still give it a try!
What can I say, Baskin Robbins is ALWAYS a good choice when it comes ice cream. There's a reason why they made a lot of fuss the first time they came to Manila. To be totally honest, though, I'm not hard to please when it comes to ice cream. Anything cold and sweet makes me giddy! More so if its creamy, smooth, and colorful like the flavors Baskin and Robbins have. I particularly like this branch because even if it was just a stall, there were still a few tables and chairs on the side. Also, did you know that they have a flavor of the month? I suggest you ask their servers the month's flavor if you can't decide which one to choose. Last month's flavor was Cotton Candy, which was one of my favorite flavors back when I was a kid ( it was either Vanilla, bubblegum, cotton candy, or strawberry. hahaha!) I love Baskin and Robbins' version because it was that sickly-sweet-cotton-candy type. It was just right, the perfect dessert after devouring heaps of salty, savory food.
I've said this once but I'll mention it again-- I rarely eat at Filipino restaurants. At least, not as a first choice. I know it's bad but I just find that it's so rare to top my mom's cooking! Filipino moms are so good at cooking... EVERYTHING so I think you know what I mean. However, Mesa presents a lot of Filipino dishes that's not usually cooked at home. Their menu is filled with fresh takes on basic Filipino favorites. Another is that they present dishes differently. Overall, I appreciate how innovative they are--taking the Filipino cuisine a notch higher. Despite this, they still manage to keep the prices at an affordable price, so because of that I highly recommend this restaurant already. We were asked to taste a lot of dishes during the #ZomatoXSMCityEastOrtigas foodie meet up so I'll just mention my favorites. Firstly, the Tinapa rice. I swear you cannot pass this up. It has the perfect mixture of "salty" Filipino faves, and the textures blend in so nicely. If I'll be honest, I can eat one bowl on its own. Next favorite among the group would have the be the humble "LAING 2 WAYS". Now, this is something my mom can't make, so I basically fangirl over Laing all the time. I love their version it's sweet but not overpowering. You can eat it as a side dish or as your ulam, it's THAT good. Third, is the Tawilis with manga on spoon. This one is topped with Mango, so you can just imagine the lovely contrast of flavors and textures. sweet, salty, smokey, crunchy and soft. It's a masterpiece on its own. Lastly,(and it's a tie) the Crispichon and the Pintayong Manok. Mesa knows how to cook meat properly and I appreciate that a lot. These were both cooked thoroughly without losing the meats' flavor and juices. All these dishes are the perfect match for me. Order it when you're with family and you'll surely have everyone satisfied and full. I'll definitely come back here for special occasions! ;)
As a #cofficehunter, seeing this cafe made me jump for joy! First of all, sockets--sockets everywhere. If you're planning to go full on work mode this is the place to be. I particularly like that there was a variety of tables and chairs. You have tall "meeting" type tables, single round tables, group tables with sofas, and my personal favorite, the "cubicle" type of table.
Next, the food. I don't even know where to begin! The staff practically served us like... 70% of their menu so this is really hard for me. *Just FYI, this was a "trial project" of the Vikings (yes, the buffet place) food group so you're sure to have good food here.* My personal favorite were the breads. They make their breads fresh--carefully mixed, kneaded, baked, cooled, laminated, and served straight from their open kitchen. All variants are particularly outstanding but I suggest you go for their red velvet, chocolate, and ube breads (sorry forgot the exact name). The fillings/ and toppings of all these 3 breads were spot-on, nothing artificially flavored.
Overall, considering the price, ambiance, food, serving size, size, D'Bread Kitchen definitely gets a 5!
Churreria La Lola
When it comes to churros I prefer the classy pick. I'm not into sweets nowadays but the classic chocolate dip of Churreria La Lola always hits the spot. It's served at the perfect temperature, the consistency is the perfect middle ground of thick but liquidy, and the chocolatey-ness has the right kick of sweetness. It's something you'll love to dip soft, chewy, and perfectly fried churros into. That's why this classic combination never fails. I think what makes Churreria La Lola's churros better than the rest is its humungous size. It's not for the faint of heart. 2 pieces will make you feel full and that's a bang for your buck + you'll have more to share or save for later. I also love that Churreria La Lola serves coffee, and mind you, they're pretty decent. I ordered their Americano and it was the perfect downer for the classic plain churro and chocolate dip combo. For those who want a sugar rush, I suggest you order their frappes, they're super creamy and are topped with a piece of churro!