Food

My Birthday Lunch at Le Petit Soufflé

For my dad’s treat this year for my birthday, I searched on Zomato for highly recommended restaurants that I haven’t tried. I stumbled upon Le Petit Soufflé, a French-Japanese fusion restaurant, and was suitably intrigued. At first, it may seem that merging French and Japanese cuisine is a long shot, but having been to Japan, I think it actually makes sense. Japanese bread and pastries are absolutely to die for. They use the best egg, creamiest milk, and richest butter to create wonderful baked masterpieces. I could just imagine how that passion for patisserie can flawlessly be incorporated in delicate French dishes such as soufflés.

I called to reserve at their Century City Mall branch for July 8, Sunday, which was a day before my actual birthday. Unfortunately, I found out that they do not accept reservations on weekends. We decided to walk in at 11 am, figuring that we could beat the lunch crowd. Indeed, we were the first ones there, and we were able to secure one of the few long tables. The ambience was quite nice, with warm lighting, indoor plants, and comfortable seats.

Le Petit Soufflé

My family loves to eat, and while we normally eat a lot even without an occasion, birthdays are an excuse to eat even more! Haha. We ordered Furikake Pomme Frites, Kinoko Frites, Cheesu and Matcha Puffs, Sesame Crusted Tuna Salad, Classic French Onion Soup, Classic French Toast, Squid-Ink Rice, Porc Bourguignon, Foie Gras Mac and Cheese, Japanese Beef Curry Soufflé, LPS Carbonara Soufflé, Vegetarian Shoyu Soba, Hambagu with Truffled Cream and Mushroom, Kiddie Burger, Vanilla Bean Soufflé, Valrhona Guanaja Soufflé, Cream Cheese Soufflé Pancake, and Valrhona Grand Crux. Whew! I was able to taste all those dishes, and they were all delicious! They also all looked amazing. I have pictures with each dish. While other people have their pictures taken with celebrities, I have pictures with food. Haha.

Le Petit Soufflé foodLe Petit Soufflé food

The thing about fusion cuisine is that if it’s played too safe, nothing new is created, but if it gets too adventurous, disaster abounds. Le Petit Soufflé is neither too safe nor too daring. It is fusion done right. I was really impressed by how they were able to strike the perfect balance between Japanese and French cuisine. For example, the shoyu soba, which in Japan would be served with a light water-based broth, was served with an oil-based drizzle and a variety of greens. It was a whole new dish that was flavorful, elegant, and flawlessly executed. As were all the other dishes. In particular, I found exceptional the Classic French Onion Soup, Classic French Toast, LPS Carbonara Soufflé, Hambagu with Truffled Cream and Mushroom, and Vanilla Bean Soufflé. The drink I ordered, Iced Matcha Latte with Matcha Ice Cream, was also very good.

Le Petit Soufflé shoyu soba
This was the shoyu soba. Nom nom!
Mom and baby
My blue jean baby 💙
Family at Le Petit Soufflé
Happy tummies!

THE VERDICT

Peso Damage: P800 / head (yeah yeah we ordered a lot haha)

Value for Peso: 5.0 / 5.0

Le Petit Soufflé is the first restaurant to get a perfect score from me. I just adore brunch fare, Japanese cuisine, and French cuisine, and this restaurant is a spectacular medley of all three. I have only praises for this gastronomic wonder. Eat here and be merry! Itadakimasu! Bon appetit!

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Food

Me Love Cookie Jar Milkshaaake!

I love cookies, and I love milkshakes, but seldom have I come across a cookie milkshake that’s particularly extraordinary. Most cookie milkshakes I’ve tried are run-of-the-mill oreo milkshakes. But just recently, I discovered a cookie milkshake that had me singing praises at my first sip.

The Lost Bread menu

Casey, Wolf, and I were just wandering around Megamall looking for dessert when we stumbled upon an interesting place — The Lost Bread. We ordered French Toast Cubes and were not that impressed, but I fell in love with their Cookie Jar Milkshake! It struck the perfect balance between cookies and a milkshake, with both desserts taking center stage. It was rich and creamy but not overwhelming, and the cinnamon was a stroke of genius. The cookies that adorned the mug were not the chewy kind, but their crunch complemented the smoothness of the shake quite nicely. The cookie dough that surrounded the mug was a welcome bonus for cookie lovers!

The Lost Bread menu

I got the baby size, because it was my first time to try it. Had I known it would be that awesome, I would have gone all out full size, calories be damned! Haha. I wasted no time taking a decent picture, and so all I have is this badly angled shot that is a far cry from the impressiveness of the real thing!

The Lost Bread Cookie Jar Milkshake

Of course, Wolf really liked it as well, being a cookie monster like his mom. Even Casey, who is not that into sweets, said it was good, and sipped from my shake more often than I would have liked. Haha. Next time, I’m not sharing! Coookiiiie! Milkshaaake! Om nom nom nom nom!

Cookie Monster meme

Food, Parenting, Travel

Our Family Staycation at Hotel Jen

Last Sunday, we kicked off the new year with a staycation at Hotel Jen. My dad and his wife, Tita Josie, gave us a gift certificate for an overnight stay at a Deluxe Room. The funny thing is Hotel Jen is right across Casey’s work place, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). So as we drove to the hotel, he felt like he was on the way to work. Haha.

Although Hotel Jen is under the Shangri-la group, it is just a four-star hotel, unlike the Shangri-la hotels in Edsa, Makati, and BGC, which are five-star establishments. The branding of Hotel Jen is hip and urban. They seem to be targeting yuppies. Given the four-star rating, we were not expecting Hotel Jen to be faultless. We had, for example, to take into account that the building was quite old, as it was formerly Traders Hotel. I hoped that we would not be assigned to one of the refurbished rooms, but alas, that is what we got.

The corridor of our floor smelled musty and was dimly lit. The room itself seemed a bit worn down, but it was clean and spacious. The bed was comfortable and had pristine sheets. Wolf highly enjoyed the crib that they provided, as it was just the right height for him to peep over at us. The bathroom was a bit small but well equipped with basic toiletries, a tub and shower, and hot water. Funnily enough, the toilet was exactly the same model as our toilet at home. The view outside was terrible, in Casey’s opinion, at least. It was a view of CCP. He didn’t look out the window even once. Haha.

hotel jen deluxe roomHotel Jen deluxe roomHotel Jen deluxe room Hotel Jen deluxe room Hotel Jen deluxe room Hotel Jen deluxe room

The food at the breakfast buffet of Hotel Jen was, unfortunately, several notches below the food at Shangri-la group’s five star hotels. The bread was dry, and the bacon was not crispy. The spread of dishes was limited and unremarkable. The only part of breakfast that I enjoyed was my omelette, which was prepared fresh at the egg station. The eggs were perfectly fluffy and creamy.

Hotel Jen has an outdoor pool, and so Wolf was able to swim for the second time in his life. Unfortunately, the water was quite chilly, and so we didn’t stay long.

Hotel Jen outdoor pool

What Hotel Jen lacked in accommodations and food, they made up for in service. All the staff members were cheerful and attentive. Booking a room, checking in, and checking out were a breeze, as the receptionists, guards, and cleaning staff all worked efficiently.

We enjoyed our stay at Hotel Jen, because Wolf liked the new environment, because the bed was quite comfortable, and because service was excellent. However, I don’t think we will go back unless we are assured of better accommodations. I’m not sure if all their rooms are merely refurbished or if they actually have newly built rooms. This is something you should definitely ask if you plan to stay at this hotel. It’s ironic that Hotel Jen’s branding is youthful and fun, but their building and rooms are old and worn down.

Although we may not return to Hotel Jen, we are excited to try other hotels soon. The staycation was a great way for us to relax and enjoy some family time (aka time away from Casey’s computer and PS4). Haha! Here’s to more staycations this 2018!

Mom and babyMom, dad, and baby

Food

Our Breakfast Date at Refinery

Now that I have a baby, one thing that I miss sorely is mobility. I used to be able to do whatever I want and go wherever I pleased. Spontaneous road trips were something that Casey and I used to do a lot as a couple, but now, I need to consider whether places are baby-friendly, and activities need to be spaced out so that Wolf doesn’t get exhausted.

I used to go to great lengths to come up with surprises for Casey during all the special occasions. I remember that even when I was six months pregnant, I charged through a heavy downpour to buy him a gift for his birthday.

However, for his birthday this year, which was last August 26, I could no longer prepare extensively, because with Wolf, I had less time to sneak around. I had to go back to the basics, scale down, and think simple. What would Casey enjoy that would be easy to plan? The answer was glaringly obvious–breakfast! We both adore breakfast food. So I searched online for nearby restaurants that serve great breakfast fare. Thanks to the Zomato app, I stumbled upon Refinery. As soon as I saw their menu, I placed a reservation without a second thought. Bacon? Pancakes? Coffee? Check!

We went to the branch in Promenade, Greenhills. We ordered Pancakes and Bacon, Angry Pasta (sausage, bacon, mushrooms, and tomatoes), and Bacon French Toast. Yes, all dishes had bacon. Bacon is life. Haha.

The pancakes took long to come out, because they had run out of batter. The waiter said that their stocks are low because demand is not that high for pancakes. This was a red flag, but we ordered pancakes anyway because they are a favorite of the birthday boy. As predicted, the pancakes were nothing to write home about. The waiter also informed us that they had run out of portobello mushrooms for the pasta, and so we opted to add more bacon instead. And since Casey doesn’t eat mushrooms, he had no complaints. The pasta was pretty good, al dente and tasty with just the right amount of spice. It was a tad too rich, but most likely that was due to the absence of mushrooms. But the star of our brunch was the Bacon French Toast. Served as a sandwich, it was the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Highly recommended!

We also enjoyed our drinks, a cappuccino for him and a matcha latte for myself. And of course, Wolf was happy with his bacon milk!

THE VERDICT

Peso Damage: P650 / head

Value for Peso: 4.5 / 5.0

Refinery is a relaxing place with great breakfast food and good coffee. We visited at 10 am on a Saturday, and the place was half full but not noisy. A bit more affordable than Wildflour and less crowded than mainstream coffee shops, Refinery is perfect for leisurely breakfast dates. With an impressive selection of alcohol, Refinery also seems like a nice option for nights out with friends.

Food

Quality over Quantity: Unlimited Steak, Lamb, and More at Impressions

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, and so as usual, we celebrated with a feast. For the first time, Casey received a birthday dinner treat from my dad! As I mentioned in my post about my birthday last month, this special privilege was previously reserved just for us daughters three. Now that Casey has been accorded the same treatment, I can say with confidence that he is a member of the circle of trust. Haha.

The birthday boy loves his steak, and so we went for BBQ Madness from the Grill, an unlimited selection of grilled items offered by Impressions in Maxims Hotel, Resorts World Manila. For P888 per head, one can indulge in endless servings of ribeye steak, lamb chops, duck breast, salmon fillet, tuna steak, and tiger prawns. While Casey had eyes only for the ribeye (See what I did there? 😂), I was looking forward to the lamb and prawns.

We were ready to feast as soon as the restaurant opened for dinner at 6 pm. We were given three kinds of bread on the house. While my sisters and niece eagerly partook of the loaves, my dad and I restrained ourselves. We shared a look, and he knew what I was thinking before I said it. Bread! Carbs! Part of the ploy to fill you up so you don’t eat too much of the good stuff! Haha. The bread was quite yummy, according to my sister, Jica. It was only later on in the meal that I confirmed this by pinching off tiny morsels of each type of bread, careful to save my precious stomach space for what really mattered!

While the bread made its rounds, the waitress took our first orders. You can choose to order each item one by one, or you can order several at once. Casey immediately ordered his steak, while I ordered a sampler plate of all the items, so that I could decide which ones I would get more of later on. My dad did the same. Casey requested a medium rare for his steak, even though he really prefers a medium. He told me it’s because he expects the steak to be overdone. I requested medium for my steak, lamb, and duck breast.

After all orders were taken, we were served pumpkin soup (all part of the ploy). The serving was just enough though to whet our appetites, and so I ate my share.

When our first orders arrived, I noticed that the steak cut was very thin. I also saw that Casey’s assumption was correct. His steak was cooked to a medium, while mine was terribly overcooked, with burnt edges. My lamb and duck breast were well done. I pointed this out to the waitress, yet still ordered a medium throughout the evening, hoping to get exactly what I requested. Alas, my steaks were always medium well to well done, and so was my duck breast. The lamb, however, came out perfectly medium from my second plate onwards, which was good enough for me since lamb is my favorite meat. Meanwhile, Casey kept requesting medium rare and kept getting the medium steaks he really wanted. He also requested for thicker cuts, as ribeye was the only thing he was ordering. Only on his last order was a medium rare given. It was unfortunate that Casey didn’t enjoy the last steak that much (because he really prefers medium), but it was not a big deal as he was already stuffed by then.

One major downside of our dinner was the tuna steak and salmon fillet. They were both not fresh at all, and they made my dad’s lips itch. I did not even taste these items, because I couldn’t risk getting sick, as I have to care for Wolf. We decided not to get more of these items.

However, the ribeye, lamb, and prawns really made up for the fish. The meat was seasoned very well, with the steak so tasty that we did not need to add the sauce that they provided. I did pair my lamb with the mint jelly, not for lack of taste, but simply as a matter of preference. The prawns were fresh and plump.

Each plate was served with mashed potatoes and ratatouille, which complemented the mains quite well and added balance to our dinner.

The service was good, with the waiters always ready to attend to our needs. The place was a bit warm, and when we mentioned this, they brought in an evaporative air cooler, which we highly appreciated. When there was a fly, they were quick to bring out candles.

We asked the waitress to sing Casey “Happy Birthday.” She came out with a cake on the house, and sang.. alone. How brave of her, yet how awkward! Haha. So we happily joined her in song, and Casey blew out one candle for his 29 years of life! The cake was chocolate mousse, and it was really good. Even my dad and my sister, Melay, who are normally not fond of cakes, enjoyed this cake. As the cake was being passed around, everyone wanted to get the strawberry but apparently whispered among themselves that it should go to Casey. When he gave me the slice with the strawberry, they all thought it was so sweet.. until I told them that he doesn’t eat strawberries. Haha.

After four servings of succulent ribeye steak and a delicious slice of chocolate mousse, our birthday celebrant declared it a happy birthday indeed. Our sponsor also enjoyed immensely, and the rest of us were only too happy to benefit from the birthday treat.

THE VERDICT

Peso Damage: P888 / head (unlimited grilled items)

Value for Peso: 4.5 / 5.0

The unlimited grill offer of Impressions is definitely worth it. Don’t go in expecting a huge variety. Although the dishes are limited, most of them are excellently seasoned and cooked well. Their chef is not an expert at meat doneness, but you can always send back your order until it is to your liking. The dishes are cooked as you order them and served to your table. The service is excellent. I’m not giving a perfect score because of the fish that was not fresh and because of the issues with meat doneness, but otherwise, it was a great dinner!

The saying “jack of all trades, master of none” can be applied to food. I’ve eaten at many buffets that offer an overwhelming variety, but with most of the food being mediocre, I end up stuffed but not satisfied. In the case of Impressions’ unlimited grill, they focused on just a few items, yet nailed most of them, particularly the ribeye steak, lamb chops, and prawns. It was a pleasurable dining experience that we would definitely want to repeat. We were, without a doubt, impressed!