Sunday, January 8, 2017

Sunday, January 08, 2017
Sunnies Cafe, Chelsea Kitchen, Mighty Quinn's, Taco Vengo, Sarsa and Tenya
Umami Mushroom Pasta by Sunnies Cafe


Gone are the days when I went to the mall to eat. I no longer even visit the mall cinema to watch a movie because there's just so many alternative videos to see online. However, I got stuck one too many times in this one shopping complex -- SM Megamall -- in the whole year of traveling to different provincial destinations for my blog because of the ridiculous traffic situation in Metro Manila. It's where I discovered restaurants that just didn't let me buy time to spend while waiting for the commuter queue to the taxi lane to become short. Since it's just thirty minutes away from my house, the mall became a tasty stopover for me. Good food, after all, is something that can't be substituted by a fast food take-out.

Check Out My List of Favorites

Should you ever get stuck in the same mall for whatever reason, here are six restaurants that I highly recommend you try. My list is varied like my predilection for natural attractions. They're the ones that make the mall experience in the metro worth spending your hard-earned money on:

Pork Cheek Confit Rice Bowl
Braised Pork Belly Rice Bowl
Taco Vengo lair
(left) Pork Cheek Confit Rice Bowl; (right) A glass of Horchata
1. Taco Vengo
Why I Like It: It serves Mexican rice bowls in a nook that's designed like it's a source of contraband goods.
Mall Location: Megamall Building A, upper ground level beside Wendy's

As someone who's always on-the-go, I love the fulfillment that my tummy gets from a delicious rice bowl. It doesn't have to be hefty or dressed up to look like gourmet. It just needs to simply be memorable for me to order again in repeat visits. With Taco Vengo, my satisfaction over such menu option is off the charts. I've already tried its Honey Soy Chicken (twice), Braised Pork Belly, and Pork Cheek Confit. All tasted flavorful and got me perked up for long bus trips.

"With Taco Vengo, my satisfaction over such menu option is off the charts."

For drinks, I recommend its version of Horchata (or-CHA-tah), an infectious Latin beverage that's a blend of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley and tiger nuts. It's a lush complement to my rice bowl order which is usually on the semi-spicy side.

Being there is the epitome of being unseen which is where I will probably be scheduling future meetups with freelance clients for privacy.

Why You Will Like It: The taqueria is popular for its tacos, burritos, and nachos.

Accessible via the Atrium
Honey Garlic Crispy Chicken
Great for meetups
Umami Mushroom Pasta
2. Sunnies Cafe
Why I Like It: Despite the bad rap it's been getting for lousy customer service, I love the food.
Mall Location: Megamall Atrium

Gingerbread Milkshake
I'm the type of customer who, even after being treated badly, will return for the product or service. This is not to mean that I had a bad experience dining at Sunnies Cafe. I just want to point out that I'll still return to this restaurant should that happen because I loved my orders. I had no problem with my orders of Honey Garlic Crispy Chicken and Umami Mushroom (spaghetti, mushrooms, 65-degree egg and garlic). Both dishes were filling and their taste were at par with the price which is incomparable to a standard fast food option.

I also loved my ordered drinks of Gingerbread Milkshake (a seasonal beverage of vanilla bean ice cream, gingerbread cookies, nutmeg, malted milk and whipped cream) and Hot Chocolate.

It's where I also recently rendezvoused with my blog's contributing photographer for a 2017 strategic meeting because it's quite accessible inside the mall.

Why You Will Like It: There's a lot of options, including its All-Day Brunch roster.

Very visible at the Fashion Food Hall
Squid Ink Chorizo Adobo
Crispy Chicken Burger
Pork Binagoongan Bagnet
3. Chelsea Kitchen
Why I Like It: It's finally serving Filipino comfort food!
Mall Location: Megamall Fashion Food Hall, upper ground level

Ube Pancake
Chelsea Kitchen is the first commercial establishment to greet you at the ground floor of the mall from EDSA and the last one to entice you before you brave Mandaluyong City's challenging urban outdoors. Most of its patrons have even come to love it as a hangout spot for cake and coffee.

"Dining under mall lights with headroom that doesn't need any chandelier..."

Dining under mall lights with headroom that doesn't need any chandelier, the ambiance is neither al fresco nor truly indoors. It's literally a kitchen lodged at the wing of the mall where people are always in transit, making it the best place to meet someone for an important meeting over Filipino favorites like Squid Ink Chorizo Adobo, Gising-gising or Pork Bagnet Binagoongan. It also serves the inventive Miso Bulalo Ramen and Crispy Chicken Burger.

Why You Will Like It: If you love a snack with a twist, it has Ube Pancake that's sweet enough to seal the deal.

Read more about Chelsea Kitchen.

Spare Ribs by Mighty Quinn's
(left) Carving station; (right) Chef Hugh Mangum of Mighty Quinn's
The dining area
Enjoying my order of Beef Brisket
4. Mighty Quinn's
Why I Like It: It's about no-nonsense BBQ.
Mall Location: Megamall Fashion Food Hall, 3rd level

Looking like an indoor beer hall, the fast-casual format of Mighty Quinn's is designed to match the type of food that barbecue is about -- smoked on demand for well-kept juice that's not wasted on the cutting board. And you can actually see the whole spectacle upon ordering as you're required to step up to the carving station to commence it, point to a meat of your choice, and order a side or two.

"...step up to the carving station to commence it, point to a meat of your choice, and order a side or two."

This quick-serve setting is something that its pitmaster, Chef Hugh Mangum, envisioned for his slow-smoked barbecue -- high quality food sans the pomp of a full-table service. At the site, the 'cue is the focus.

When you visit, make sure to order the Beef Brisket and Bread Pudding.

Why You Will Like It: Its intimidating Brontosaurus Rib is meant to scare the hell out of your hunger.

Read more about Mighty Quinn's.

Chicken Inasal (pecho) by Sarsa
Chicharong Bulaklak Dinuguan
Danggit Fried Rice
5. Sarsa
Why I Like It: It has its own version of the Bacolod favorite chicken inasal that's unique.
Mall Location: Megamall Building A, 4th level

I've been to Bacolod and was able to taste two different versions of chicken inasal -- Aida's and Chicken House -- which I both loved. Sarsa's take on the popular Visayan chicken barbecue is a little bit of both. It's extremely succulent and smoky in taste at the same time. It's something that I've returned for at the restaurant even after someone I know criticized it for tasting so bland. I was also able to try its version of Chicharong Bulaklak Dinuguan and Danggit Fried Rice.

Just make sure to bring extra patience with you when waiting for a table, giving your order or getting your bill. I've had to bear with such hassles on peak hours just to satiate my chicken inasal craving.

Why You Will Like It: It serves authentic Ilonggo cuisine.

Asakusa Special Tendon

6. Tenya
Why I Like It: It's serious about its tendon.
Mall Location: Megamall Building A, 5th level

Fruity Juicy Pop (strawberry flavor)
Tenya is famous in Japan. As a matter of fact, it already has hundreds of stores scattered in the country enough to make a buzz here in the Philippines. The world-class brand of authentic Japanese food is known for serving delicious tendon flavors.

My order of the three-pronged Asakusa Special Tendon seemed natural as most of the Filipino guests dining that day also ordered the same variety. It’s a big set of succulent black tiger beans that have been battered and deep-fried to perfection. It already has Tenya’s signature Dontare sauce when it was served on top of steamed rice but I still drizzled more of that sauce on my order as a bowl of the sauce was on the table. Eating one was healthy as the Black Tiger prawns are naturally grown (I learned from an insider) and the flour used was specially formulated and imported from Japan.

Why You Will Like It: For its authentic way of producing its menu, Tenya's a better alternative to more affordable Japanese-oriented restaurants in Megamall.

Read more about Tenya.


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