Dadong: Peking Duck

Hey guys! So I’ve been on another hiatus. I haven’t been updating my blog because I’ve been too busy getting used to such a different life in Beijing, China.
Yup! I’m in China. I started studying Mandarin at Tsinghua University, Beijing last September.
Anyway, this has been such a different experience. It’s my first time in Mainland China and boy did I expect everything wrong.

As many of you might know, Beijing is known (among many other things) for their Peking duck. This dish is so popular and delicious that it is even considered their national dish. Being in Beijing, of course I had to try it. The most popular restaurant that serves Peking Duck or Kǎoyā is Dadong.

My parents were in town so we decided to have dinner in Dadong with some of my schoolmates in Tsinghua. Dadong has several branches across Beijing but we chose the Jinbao Place branch because it was very close to the hotel my parents were staying in.

While waiting to be seated, you can indulge yourself with some complimentary drinks. They had a self-service bar set up at the entrance of the restaurant. They had tea, iced tea, red wine, white wine, champagne, soft drinks and more. All the drinks were free but you cannot bring the drinks to your table. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take a picture of this bar.

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This restaurant had 3 walls full of countless awards! I was pretty impressed. I was only able to take a picture of 2 walls.IMG_2072IMG_2073

 

Of course, we got an order of Peking duck.

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Chef carving the duck

Chef carving the duck

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One order of Peking Duck usually consists of two plates of this

Your duck is carved in front of you. They thinly slice the duck into bite size portions.

If I’m not mistaken, one whole duck is around 300RMB.
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Peking Duck is typically eaten with Chinese pancakes and/or this bun.

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Peking Duck Condiments

On the condiments plate, we have melon, garlic paste, sugar, cucumber, hoisin sauce, not really sure what that is, radish or ginger (sorry, also not sure) and scallions. At first I was surprised how many condiments could go with Peking Duck! I find that sugar + cucumber + garlic paste + hoisin sauce + scallions was the best combination.

The duck was very crisp! At first, I thought it didn’t really taste like much but as I continued to eat it, I appreciated the clean and light taste of the duck.

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Prawn Salad

My dad loves Prawn Salad. Whenever we have dinner in Shang Palace, he always orders this.  This dish was really good! It tasted very similar to the one they serve in Shang Palace.

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Noodles

I don’t remember the name of this dish but the noodles were very good! I know it looks kind of bland and boring but I enjoyed this very much. Here in China, they have a flavor or taste: “qingdan” which literally means not greasy or strongly flavoured; light.

Fried Rice

Fried Rice

I enjoyed the fried rice as well but there was nothing spectacular about this dish.

Duck Broth

Duck Broth

I found this soup very strange. Apparently, it is soup made from the remainder of the duck we ordered. It tasted like tasteless milk with a slight hint of salt and duck fat.

Anyway, when Enzo visited me in Beijing, I took him here.  Of course, we got Peking duck again. We also ordered some dumplings and cod fish.

More Peking Duck

More Peking Duck

Cod Fish

Cod Fish

Beijing is surrounded by dryland. It is not very common to have seafood. I was really craving for seafood so we got this. This tasted like home! It was a bit spicy. I loved the fresh red onions and the calamansi.

Dumplings

Dumplings

Beifangren or the people from northern China typically eat wheat-based food. Some examples are noodles, dumplings, buns and more. Dumplings or jiaozi are one of their staple food. I’ve tried some dumplings in different places in Beijing already and I wasn’t impressed. The wrapper was either too thick, too hard, undercooked, or tasteless. This, however, was good! Inside, there was some soup. I know-the first thing that probably came to your mind was xiao long bao but it’s far from xiao long bao. It was juicy and had that “qingdan” or light taste at the same time. I really liked this! The wrapper was al dente!

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After our meal, they served some sherbet and fruit.

I enjoyed both meals very much. The first time I went to Dadong, 5 people shared one duck. I was satisfied . The second time around, only 2 people shared the duck and I found that was perfect. If you visit this restaurant, I suggest that you share with just 1 other person. 3 persons maximum on one duck.

When in Beijing, I think it’s a must to try their Peking Duck. Afterall, it was born here. Yes, if you don’t already know, Beijing used to be called “Peking”. Just some interesting trivia for you all.:)

Enzo

Enzo
Yours truly

Yours truly

Anyway, I still have a couple of restaurants lined up in case you decide to visit Beijing. I’d give this place an 8.5/10

 

’til next time!:)

 

 

Din Tai Fung

Hi again!

So if you didn’t know, it was mine and Enzo’s 5th anniversary last Sunday. We decided to celebrate it in Din Tai Fung in Yee Woo Street, Causeway Bay. We went there for dinner pretty early as the sun was still up. When we got to the location, the place was filled with all kinds of people already! From Americans, Europeans, locals and more. Image

They have branches all around the world! There are branches in the United States of America, Australia, Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and of course, Taiwan. Imagine our excitement when saw the line and when we found out about its presence worldwide.  Din Tai Fung was founded in Taiwan in the year 1958 by a Chinese man, Bingyi Yang. In Hong Kong, it has earned a Michelin Star along with other local awards.

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Sorry if it’s a bit blurry 

They specialize in steamed dumplings, as depicted by their mascot. Their dumplings are also prepared by an assembly line.Image

 

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Much like Hakata Ippudo, they also have a computerized queuing system. You input how many you are and they will categorize you according to the size of your group. Usually, the category with just 2 persons is the fastest moving one. While waiting, they give you their menu, a checklist of their menu and a ballpen. Image

We waited around 45 minutes before we were able to get a table. Once you are called, you submit the checklist to the waitress. We got around five dishes and thought that we were ordering too much! We got Drunken Chicken, Steamed Pork Dumplings or Xiao Long Bao, Black Truffle Pork Dumplings, Saute’ed Water Spinach and Spicy Peanut Sauce Noodles. When we looked at the table next to ours, they had ordered twice as much as we did! And they were only 2 persons as well. Anyway, before the steamed dumplings arrived, they gave us a guide on how to eat Xiao Long Bao.Image

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Drunken Chicken (HKD 72)

This is around PHP400 in our currency. I’m a big fan of chicken. At first, Enzo was hesitant to order this when he found out that this was a cold dish, but to his surprise, this tasted really good! You can really taste the wine or sherry they added. Yum! I wanted to drink the soup but the waitress got the plate before I could shamelessly devour the empty plate.  :(

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Steamed Pork Dumplings or Xiao Long Bao (HKD50)

This is around PHP270 in our currency. I’m not really a big fan of Xiao Long Bao. I really prefer siomai or hakaw over Taiwanese dumplings. Although I’m not a fan of this type of dumplings, I enjoyed this. The skin was soooo soft and moist but very durable at the same time. None of our dumplings broke! The soup inside was also really good.

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Black Truffle Pork Dumplings (HKD168)

This really appealed to me when I saw this on the menu. Black Truffle. I’m really a big fan of mushrooms and they were serving this in their dumplings! I just hesitated when I saw the price. PHP920 for 6 pieces of dumplings? Seriously? But Enzo convinced me to get this. We were on vacation so why not? Tourist/Spending mode: ON. So fine, we got it. This turned out to be one of my favorite dishes that night simply because of the truffle incorporated into the dumpling. 

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Spicy Peanut Sauce Noodles (HKD 36)

This is around PHP200. We picked this because they said it was a popular choice. I don’t know how we came to picking noodles, but we decided to get noodles instead of fried rice. This was my least favorite dish. The peanut sauce was SO THICK and rich that I couldn’t enjoy the noodles. 

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Saute’ed Water Spinach (HKD45)

This was my other favorite dish for the night. This was around PHP240. This dish tasted so clean and light! I would have enjoyed it more with rice and chili sauce though. We should have gotten noodles AND rice. 

I enjoyed this meal very much but I still left the restaurant not feeling satisfied. I felt like there was something lacking. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not really a fan of Taiwanese Cuisine or if it’s because we didn’t order enough food. The meal was good but it’s not something I would wait in line for. Just a 7/10. 

 

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Enzo

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Yours Truly

 

‘Til next time!:)

 

Hakata Ippudo

Hi guys!

I recently went on a trip with Enzo and my brother, Boris  to Hong Kong. We went there over the weekend hopefully to get some rest and relaxation. It’s been so long since I last went there. I forgot how much I loved walking the busy streets of this city, rushing to the platform to catch the MTR, balancing in a moving bus, and shopping until my feet ached. How wrong was I thinking I’d actually get to relax over there? But don’t get me wrong, it was a really good “vacation” from home.

Anyway, we’ve been hearing about this ramen place for so long already. We got the address from the internet. We walked around 10 minutes to get to Time Square from our hotel. We spent almost an hour going back and forth Russell Street in Causeway Bay just looking for the restaurant. We couldn’t find it! As we were about to give up and settle for some other place, we saw it right next to McDonald’s. It was on the second floor of the building.

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We finally went up and found the restaurant. We had to get a number from an automated queuing system where we inputted how many persons we were. We waited about 30 minutes before we actually got to sit down. They gave seats according to how many seats were available and not according to who came first, which is one of the reasons we waited so long. It was very annoying.

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Now, Hakata Ippudo is a franchise present across the world. It has opened branches in Singapore, New York, Seoul, Taiwan, Sydney, Shanghai and of course, Hong Kong. It first opened in Fukuoka, Japan in 1985. Its founder, Shigemi Kawahara, was named the “Ramen King” in 2005.

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Gyoza Dumplings (HKD38)

We all shared the gyoza dumplings. They were pretty good. I liked how they added fresh garlic on top of the dumplings.

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Special IPPUDO KARAKA (HKD 98)

Boris got the the Special IPPUDO Karaka. This is around PHP550 in our currency. His ramen was a little bit spicy. Who doesn’t like spicy, right? At first, I was really jealous of Boris because I love EVERYTHING spicy.

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Special Shiromaru Motoaji (HKD88)

Enzo got the Special Shiromaru Motoaji which is around PHP495 in our currency. This is the original recipe of the founder. This had a Tonkotsu base. That means that the broth of this ramen was flavored with pork bones! It had a smokey taste that i didn’t understand. It was good but I still preferred mine.

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Special Akamaru Shinaji (HKD88)

I got the Special Akamaru Shinaji. I thought I liked Boris’ spicy ramen but as I continued to eat my bowl of ramen, it became more and more delicious. It was like there were hidden ingredients in the middle of the bowl. The tonkotsu broth was milky and very tasty at the same time. The toppings such as bamboo shoots, mushrooms, seaweed, and chasiu perfectly complemented the noodles and broth. The ramen was cooked to perfection. Not only were they perfectly cooked but they were perfectly made, as well. I am usually hard to impress when it comes noodles but these were heavenly. You could tell that these were not generic noodles that were mass produced.

 

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Enzo and I added fresh garlic into our soup. I tried it with my bowl at first, and when Enzo tasted how much yummier it became, he quickly added garlic to his bowl as well.

When I think of franchises, I usually assume that it won’t be as good as the original branch. Of course, it won’t be run by the founding chef. After that experience, it’s hard to imagine there could be ramen even better than this! I read somewhere that Hakata Ippudo is not even considered the best ramen in the town its first branch was born in Fukuoka, Japan. This makes me so excited to know that there is ramen even more delicious than this!! In spite of my previous statement, I would still consider this the best ramen I’ve ever tasted. I’ve eaten in A LOT of ramen shops in the Philippines. I’ve eaten in Ukokkei Ramen Ron, Kitchitora, NoMama, Ikkoryu Fukuoka, Ramen Bar, Ramen X, and many more and Hakata Ippudo stumps all of those. I am DEFINITELY going back to Ippudo if I go back to any of the countries I mentioned above. It is worth the wait.😉

I hope you get to try it, too! I also hope I get to go to Japan and try more ramen! :p

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‘Til next time!

Akira

I can’t believe it’s been months since I’ve last written in this blog. A lot has happened in the past few months; although, my absence in blogging has not stopped me from eating in new restaurants. It’s just that I wasn’t able to document these meals properly.

Anyway, I was able to take pictures and notes of one of my latest finds. Enzo and I celebrated our 59th monthsary last May 23 in Shangri-la Mall along Edsa. They recently opened a new wing (East Wing) in the mall. It’s full of new restaurants and new shops.

We decided to watch The Great Gatsby and eat dinner in one of the new restaurants in the East Wing. Being the ramen addict that I am, I was immediately attracted to Ikkoryu Fuokoka Ramen. We had already eaten there a few months ago and it wasn’t really a spectacular experience. There are ramen places with the same quality of food but with cheaper prices. It was too expensive.

Enzo, however, was attracted to Akira due to its interesting interior. At first, I wasn’t so interested because the place was empty! But I just let Enzo decide because he was paying for dinner. hehe. Image

Since we were both feeling fat that night, we decided to just share everything. Now, Akira takes pride in their Teppanyaki; however, Enzo and I were in a hurry because we were trying to catch the 6:30pm showing of The Great Gatsby so we just ordered food we thought would be cooked quickly.

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Akira Fried Rice (PHP99)

This is called Akira Fried Rice. We got the single serving. This was actually quite big and filling. It was very tasty. I liked how they added bell peppers and some bits of beef teppanyaki. You could really taste the butter.

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Ebi Tempura-5pcs (PHP348)

We also got Ebi Tempura. This is a classic. Whenever I don’t know what to get in a Japanese restaurant, this is my default order so I’ve had my fair share of ebi tempura. This is the first time I’ve seen tempura served with lemon. I didn’t think it’d be a good combination but it actually tasted good.

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Chicken Teriyaki (PHP216)

This was also a good surprise. Their chicken was tender and tasty. It also had a generous serving of salad.

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Fried Spicy Ikura (PHP298)

I found this dish super sulit. You actually have a choice of tuna or salmon for this roll. And guess what? Same price lang. This was very filling and delicious!

Enzo and I wanted to share our food so that we wouldn’t eat so much but we ended up feeling even fatter afterwards. No regrets though. Lately, we haven’t been eating in good restaurants but in the middle of this meal, we already knew we were going back to Akira.

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We were very happy with our meal! Busog na busog! Definitely going back to try their teppanyaki. Going to bring my parents because it looked quite pricey. Hehe. 8.5/10!

‘Til next time!:)

Ukokkei Ramen Ron

Hi guys! It’s been so long since I’ve written here. I haven’t been taking much photos of the food I’ve been eating. Lately, it’s been more of an effort to take photos and take note of everything I’ve been eating. With everything going on right now, I haven’t had the time to do much anymore.

Ukokkei Ramen Ron

Ukokkei Ramen Ron

Anyway, I’m going to write about one of my favorite ramen places here in Manila. I first tried Ukokkei Ramen Ron over a year ago. I LOVED it! This is located in Arnaiz Road/Pasay Road in Makati City.

Noodle decoration

Noodle decoration

The cranky waitresses

The cranky waitresses

Enzo and I went there during lunch. What I like best about going there midday is the set menu. They only serve this for lunch and until supply lasts.

Higwari Set (PHP380)

Higwari Set (PHP380)

Enzo got the Higwari set. It comes with a salad, mini donburi and your choice of ramen. This may seem like the most “sulit” choice but the donburi wasn’t very tastey.

Set A (PHP380)

Set A (PHP380)

I got set A. It comes with four pieces of gyoza, either one cup of white rice or half a cup of chahan (Japanese fried rice), side salad and a bowl of ramen. I love the noodles. I’m not so sure if they make their own ramen, if they have it made somewhere or if it’s a generic made noodle from Japan or wherever. You can choose what kind of ramen you want. You have a choice of miso based, shio or shoyu. I personally prefer the miso based ramen.

The first time I went to Ukokkei, I was with my sister and my dad. They both thought that the ramen was average. I, on the other hand, had a party in my mouth. They both got shoyu while I got miso. The next time we went there, they both got miso ramen and finally understood why I loved it there. The miso based ramen was a tad bit too oily though. I’ve read a lot of reviews about this place and so many said that the service sucks and that the soup is too oily. I agree with the bloggers but the taste of the ramen totally compensates for those. After eating here for so many times, I went to Ramen Bar and I was so disappointed. I used to love Ramen Bar. Ukkokei beat Ramen Bar by far.

All the times I’ve been here, it was during lunch. There are some items on their menu that’s only served 6pm onwards. I’ve been hearing A LOT of my friends rave about the Tan-Tan Men (spicy ramen). I have yet to try that. I LOVE anything spicy.

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Everytime I go to Ukokkei, I never fail to satisfy my cravings, sometimes even cravings I didn’t know I had. I am definitely making a trip to Makati soon so that I can finally try the spicy ramen. I also want to try other ramen places like Nomama and Mitsuyado Sei-Men.

I’m giving this place a 7/10. The ramen there tastes great but there are other factors I think they need to improve on such as their service and value for money.

‘Til next time!

Cafe Lidia

Hey guys! So I recently tried this cafe in Marikina. Enzo has been telling me about this place that has been doing so well that they expanded almost three times their original space in a span of just two years. At first, I wasn’t so impressed. I didn’t make anything out of it until he actually brought me to the place. It’s in a really shady place. I don’t even remember how to get there. They had an empty lot for parking, though.

Everything on the menu was so cheap! With those prices, I didn’t expect great quality or for them to have reasonablysized servings. The interior was really cute.

House Salad (PHP135)

To start our meal, we got the house salad with dressing on the side. In my photo, the dish doesn’t look so big but the plate was actually quite large.

Mixed Seafood in Marinara Sauce (php170)

I enjoyed this very much. The shrimp and clams were cooked perfectly. Cooking seafood is very tricky. Overcooking it even just for a few seconds can make it chewy and dry. The shrimps and clams were soft but not undercooked.  I’m not usually a fan of tomato sauce but this one was good. It had just the right amount of acidity. It wasn’t too sour or too sweet. Just right. It also had a spicy tang to it.

Parmesan Crusted Fish (PHP220)

I got the Parmesan Crusted fish. They fried cream dory in a parmesan batter. It had tomato-basil sauce, java rice and mixed vegetables. The tomato sauce tasted very similar to the marinara sauce of the pasta. Again, it complemented the fish very well. As did the rice and the buttered vegetables.

Crispy Fried Boneless Chicken (PHP220)

Enzo has this weird obsession with fried chicken. It’s one of his favorite dishes in the world. I found this quite ordinary. Fried chicken is fried chicken.

 

I enjoyed this meal. We left the place very satisfied. This place is also very inspiring. I hope that I can start a cafe or restaurant similar to this in the future. It’s places like this that encourage me to pursue my dreams….One can dream, right? 8/10. I definitely want to go back to Cafe Lidia to try their dessert and coffee.

‘Til next time!!

Stella

Wow, I’ve been on a 3-month hiatus. Well, I went abroad for a month and a half. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to document my meals properly. I was too excited to experience their food and culture. Also, I’ve been eating out A LOT since I got back. Being the forgetful person that I am, I wasn’t able to bring my camera to document my meals.

Anyway, Enzo and I celebrated our 49th monthsary today! Yup! 4 years and 1 month.:) This month, it’s my turn to treat. I wanted to try a new restaurant so I picked Stella in High Street Central, Taguig City. It’s in between Cue and Rocket Room. I’ve always been intrigued by this place. It seems really interesting because of its wood fired oven and its very inviting interior. Enzo and I both agree that it reminds us of the Jetsons.

Stella

They gave us complimentary starters. We had a choice of brioche, rye, baguette or focaccia bread. Enzo got brioche while I got focaccia. These were accompanied by tomato in olive oil seasoned with chili. I’m not quite sure but I think the tomato was oven-dried.

Tomato in Olive Oil

Focaccia and Brioche bread

I wanted to try their iced tea. I got the most interesting sounding one. Enzo didn’t like this but I think it was just fine.

Passion Fruit, Mango&Orange Housemade Real Iced Tea (PHP95)

We started with salad, of course. We got the Stella Salad which was composed of butter lettuce, crispy bacon, sundried tomato bits, candied rosemary pistachios, buttermilk chive-ranch dressing, Malagos pecorin. I found the dressing very interesting. I also liked the candied pistachios. I think it complemented the greens very well. My only concern about this dish is the bacon. It wasn’t really crispy.

The Stella Salad (PHP295)

Because they showcase their restaurant to be a wood fired bistro, we had to try something out of the oven. We got their Fired Roasted Truffled Mushroom Pizza. I think that this was the highlight of the meal. I liked the chewiness and texture of the pizza dough and the toppings were to die for. It had porcini “dust”, fresh herbs and Malagos ricotta. The only thing that bothered me was how everything fell apart when I ate it. It didn’t hold together on its own. I loved their chili oil though. To those who know me well, I approve of their chili oil.:)

Fire Roasted Truffled Mushroom Pizza (PHP395)

Chili Oil

Lastly, we got the Whole Rosemary Butter and Bacon Butterfly Chicken. This was a huge disappointment. The meat was tasteless, the bacon wasn’t crispy (again) and the chicken needed more time in the oven. I wish that we had gotten something else. We were actually supposed to get another dish but the waitress said that we had ordered a lot already. I guess there will be a next time. I’m very curious about their other dishes.

Whole Rosemary Butter and Bacon Butterfly Chicken (PHP495)

Despite the big disappointment with the chicken, I’d still want to go back to Stella. Their menu is very interesting and different. I want to try the other flavors of their pizza as well. Also, I liked the ambiance and the service. I’d give this place an 8/10.

After our very filling meal, we walked all the way to the other side of the strip, all the way to Serendra. I’ve been craving for the hot chocolate in Mary Grace. Now, Enzo said that he didn’t want hot chocolate anymore. He just wanted to take a sip or two from mine. Uhmm…. No way. I convinced him to get a cup of his own.

Mary Grace

Enzo got the Valencia hot chocolate while I got their premium hot chocolate. Enzo’s had milk or cream and orange zest. Personally, I didn’t like it. My cup of hot chocolate, however, was really good. It reminded me of the chocolate in Spain I used to drink in Valor. It was very thick and rich. Although it wasn’t as good compared to the one in Spain, it’s the next best thing here in the Philippines. I actually want to try more hot chocolates from all over.

Mary Grace Hot Chocolate -green (PHP110) and Valencia Hot Chocolate (PHP105)

Enzo

Yours truly

That’s all for now! ‘Til next time!