First Class Spanish Dining at Beso Cucina Vinoteka

From the interiors to the food, everything speaks of first class at Beso Cucina Vinoteka.  We were joined at lunch by Celebrity Chef Carlo Miguel in this event I arranged.  Carlo is also the executive chef in 12 other restaurants including all 4 branches of Draft and Black Olive.  It was great to meet this guy as he is so humble despite having 20 years of experience as a chef.





I have to give special mention to the service here in Beso Cucina Vinoteka.  The servers were always looking to make customers feel comfortable during their stay at the restaurant.  When they see a customer getting impatient for his order, they will give him a time frame of the number of minutes left before the dish is served.  The kitchen is also open so you can see what is going on in there.  Carlo told us he properly trained each chef and he complimented all of them for being so eager to learn.
 


 Mushroom Croquetas with Truffled Aioli (P270)


Out came the Tapas (appetizer) and first up was Mushroom Croquetas.  Words can't describe how much I loved this appetizer.  I am glad they let us taste this as this is one dish I would not mind ordering again and again.  It gets very addicting on the first bite as you would want more of it right away.



Cured Meats Platter (P410)


Believe it or not, it was my first time having a bite of cured meats and I loved it.  The platter had chorizo pamplona, lomo iberico, chorizo iberico, jamon reserve and jamon serrano.



Gambas (P480)


By this time, Chef Carlo Miguel told us that it would be best to use our fingers for the Tapas.  I was hesitant at first but I eventually gave in since you had to do that in order to eat the Gambas.  I love shrimps and their version is simply irresistible.



 Crispy Pork Belly Chicharones (P395)


Bagnet lovers will love this dish plus the fact that it has chili lime aioli sauce.  It tastes as good as it looks and the crunchy taste will leave you wanting more.



 Bacon, Blue Cheese and Onion Jam Flat Bread (P285)


The flat bread is a better version of pizza.  I used to be a pizza lover but now I am a flat bread lover as well.  The bacon, blue cheese and onion jam flavor is a great combination since I remember another chef saying that anything with bacon is good.



 Fried Chicken Peri Peri Slider (P275)


I thought these were mini chicken burgers but they are a first class version.  The chicken was fried to perfection and it was sandwiched between two pancake breads along with lettuce as well.


 Braised Lamb Shank (P695)


When I got to taste the braised lamb shank, I quickly felt sorry for my vegetarian friends because they don't know what they are missing.  Who does not like lamb?  This one is a real winner.  It may carry a heavy price tag but it is worth every penny.



Crispy Skin Pork Belly (P435)


The crispy skin pork belly comes with rice pilaf and mojo verde.  My eyes lit up when I got to taste this wonderful dish.  I have to admit it did not take long before we got to finish this one because of how delicious it was.


Squid Ink Paella (P635 for 2-3 people and P1365 for 6-8 people)


The paella is what we came for and we got the Squid Ink paella.  I wonder how it would feel to have too much of this and your teeth would be all black.  It is their specialty paella and it did not disappoint one bit.  It contains prawns, chorizo, bacon and squid.  This is one time when I would not mind being seen with my lips colored black.



 Grilled Salmon Fillet


Salmon lovers would love this dish as it is mixed with cauliflower, pine nuts, sauteed raisins and zucchini spaghetti.  It is one of those dishes where you won't feel guilty after eating it.



 Chocolate Leche Flan (P295)


This is actually the first time I have seen a chocolate leche flan and I got nothing but good things to say about it.  Chocolate lovers will love the fact that it is made out of 70% belgian chocolate.



 Crema Catalana (P195)


This is Chef Carlo Miguel's version of the Creme Brulee.  It is rich and creamy as what you would expect and those with the sweet tooth would love it.



 Dulce de Leche Natillas (P245)


Out of all the desserts that were served, my favorite was the Dulce de Leche Natillas.  I could not stop taking one bite after the other when I got to taste it.  It is actually rich cream on top of Tres Leches cake and it will really make a perfect ending for all the delicious food here at Beso.



 Vanilla Semi Frio


This amazing dessert comes with chocolate soil, strawberry almonds and mint.  Semi Frio actually means half frozen so it is important to eat this one right away instead of waiting for it to melt.  The good news is this dessert dish is such a masterpiece that it is something you are going to crave for in the coming days.  The bad news is it is only available for the whole month of February.



 Beso Sangria (P850 per pitcher)



We were actually served with Sangria even if it is lunch time.  Everyone wondered why were were drinking early so Chef Carlo told us that it must be past 5 somewhere and I got a good laugh out of that.  The Beso Sangria contained cranberry juice and apple juice.  It is a drink that is fit for long conversations.


 Calamansi Sangria (P850 per pitcher)



The Calamansi Sangria is rich in vitamin C and it is perfect for those who has the cough and colds.  It does not contain much alcohol which is good news for those with low tolerance for alcohol.





Thanks to Chris Manansala for the awesome pictures




The Beso experience was an unforgettable one.  I enjoyed it so much that I chose this restaurant as the venue for my Valentine's date.




Beso Cucina Vinoteka
7th ave cor. 29th Street
Bonifacio High Street, Taguig
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Pig Out Sessions with Larry Cortez I: Uncle Cheffy & Kuse

Does the name Larry Cortez ring a bell?

Probably not.

After all, he is just the co-owner of Chef's quarter group which consists of 10 restaurants in its fold so far including Uncle Cheffy, Kuse Traditional Filipino Cuisine and Chef's Quarter Restaurant.  Now, those bells hurt a lot eh?  

The story behind Larry Cortez is an inspiring one as he went from a security guard in a restaurant to what he is now.  I was lucky enough to host his blogger event along with my co-organizer Vanessa Pane and it was a really fun night.  Larry was more than happy to share how he went from rags to riches and it's because hard work and perseverance pays off in more ways than one.

I have to admit I am not really a good listener though especially when in front all these delicious food:




 Uncle Cheffy Salad (P395)


I did not get much of the salad due to the fact that Vanessa told me that the bloggers should not eat lunch since we should expect something heavy for dinner.  The Uncle Cheffy Salad is unlike any other salad as it boasts the combination of crispy pork belly, asparagus, potato and mesclun in dijonaise dressing.



Grilled Prawns and Pomelo Salad (P495)


The name of this salad tells you all you need to know about what is in it.  My companions loved it and the fact that it is in roasted sesame vinaigrette does not hurt either.



Lovely Jenny Salad (P230)


This salad was named after Larry's lovely wife Jenny.  The presence of salmon in french dressing is kind of new to me as it is put in green apple and aragula salad.  This salad sure is lovelier than it looks.



 East meets West (P495)


Uncle Cheffy's panizzas completely stole the show as they were all baked on charcoal brick oven.  All the panizzas come with 3 cheese and East meets West also includes salami, salted eggs, mango, tomatoes, kesong puti and parmaham.  The assortment of toppings make this panizza a must try.



 All Meat Barbequed (P450)


Added to the 3 cheese topping is loads of meat including chicken barbeque, pork and beef terriyaki.  This one will make you full even if it does not look that way.



Uncle Cheffy Favorites (P395)


The mushroom garlic is without a doubt the highlight of this panizza and it also includes anchovy and oven dried tomatoes.  It was my favorite panizza among the three that was served and I would order this again when I get back here.  I immediately became a big fan of panizzas.



Seafood Tom Yang Gang Soup (P410)


This one was mildly spicy and its got a lot of seafood in it like squid and clams. 



Cream Dory Munierre- (295- 500grams / 595- 1,000grams)


I don't eat fish that much but their Dory is a must try.  The sauce made it a real winner.



Roasted Chicken Maurino (250- 500grams/ 495- 1,000grams)


The roasted chicken maurino tastes as good as it looks.  There is a blend of mild Indian spices in it after being marinated in Yogurt.



Asian Fried Rice- 120.00 / 220.00 (Sharing)


There is a mix of Asian flavors in this fried rice.  It certainly goes well with their specialties as people who want to avoid rice would change their mind because of this.



ADOBO RICE- 120.00


I have to admit I wanted to avoid eating rice on this night since I wanted to save my appetite.  However, I just could not resist when the adobo rice came out.  It was a good thing I was able to taste it before it ran out because their version is really good.



Garlic Studded Pork Belly Lechon (95.00 per 100grams)


When I first saw their pork belly lechon, I thought to myself that I should really start my diet on another day.  Oh man! I really dug this dish in more ways than one.



VIGAN BAGNET- 350.00


Larry Cortez himself told us that Vigan Bagnet is the best seller of Kuse and I believe him.  This dish made me forget about the other bagnets I have tasted.



 New England Pot Roast Beef- 495.00


I am a huge fan of roast beef and I like how they cooked their version.  It was indeed a keeper and it was also mixed with numerous veggies for a delightful taste.



BATANGAS BULALO SOUP- 495


Who does not like bulalo soup?  Kuse's version was an instant classic to me.  It was such a shame it came at a time when everyone was already gasping for air because of how full they were.  I enjoyed it a lot though because I prepared for this occasion.



Chocolate Roulade- 150.00



Chocolate lovers will love this dessert.  It is just too bad I was not able to taste it since I am not that fond of chocolate.  My friends told me it was great for those who has the sweet tooth.




 Cheesecake- 150.00





Chocolate Parfait- 125.00


I love the fact that the Chocolate ice cream was wrapped in pandan crepe along with Vanilla ice cream and walnut bits.  This was one of the highlights of the dessert list in my opinion.



Sapin-Sapin Creme Brulee (P195)


This dessert was one of the desserts featured in the Inquirer Lifestyle's Best Desserts of 2013.  When I got to taste it, I quickly understood why it was included in that list.  It was creamy on the inside and tasty on the outside.  


If the food is going to be this good then I can't wait for part 2.



Uncle Cheffy & Kuse
Ground Floor
The Venice Piazza
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Greeky Goodness at Greeka Kouzina

Did you hear about the Greek God Aldous?

He was the one who came into Greeka Kouzina and mercilessly feasted on all that meat.  Only a God with mighty superpowers can finish all those delicious food.  In all seriousness, the food at Greeka Kouzina is to die for.  I am not surprised how their two branches at San Juan and SM Aura are always full of customers.

I was able to have a quick chat with owner Kacy Chua and she told us that she decided on a Greek restaurant because it was more on the healthy side.  They also wanted to concentrate on the food which is why there aren't much drinks on the menu.




Kacy's partner Allan Chan was the one in charge of the kitchen while she was the one in charge outside the kitchen.  The SM Aura branch is fairly new as it opened a couple of months ago while the San Juan branch opened in December of 2012.  Kacy also told me that she wanted Greek food since there is not much competition (which is very true) compared to Japanese and Chinese restaurants.  I have to admit, that was smart thinking.  I guess that is what happens when you come from a Chinese school.

I noticed the staff were trained very well.  Almost all of the menu items were in Greek but the staff were able to explain what they meant and what was in each one of them.  The cozy looking interiors were also a big plus.



 Fig Roka Salata (P420)


First up, we had this amazing salad dish.  It had walnuts, sweet figs and sun dried tomatoes.  I thought at first it did not have any dressing but it was actually mixed already.  It was good for 3 to 4 people and it is indeed a healthy way to start things off.



 Kalamari Tiganito (P290)


Next up, it was salt and pepper fried squid with bright lemon olive oil Greek dressing.  You can tell it was made fresh during the first bite.  It was one of those delectable appetizers that your taste buds won't soon forget.



Paidakia (P595)


This was by far my favorite out of all that was presented to us.  Who does not like Lamb Chops? Exactly. I thought I was in heaven when I took a bite out of this.



 Krasates (P480)


I have never tasted a better version of pork chop as their version really nailed it for me.  Top it all off with blue cheese walnut and their signature gravy and you got a recipe for a winner.



 Beef Souvlaki (P430)


I loved the way the meat in the Souvlaki dish was char-grilled to perfection.  The meat cubes were a delight to munch on and I can't wait to try the other Souvlaki variations.



 Moussaka (P180)


I love eggplants so I ate a lot of this as it was layered with chessy bechamel along with beef tomato sauce.  It can easily be mistaken with eggplant lasagna but it is not which is good because it is a lot healthier than lasagna.



 Watercress Pasta (P180)


This creamy pasta is mixed with watercress and tomatoes which makes it richer than it already is.  Pasta lovers will surely love it and it really makes a good combination with the meat dishes.



 Baklava (P180)


We ended the dinner with a literally nutty dessert as this dish was layered with cashews, walnuts and pistachios.  On top of it is one scoop of Greek yoghurt that toned down any hint of sweetness.  It was a great way to end the meal instead of the usual sweet stuff.





I was actually joined by 3 goddesses: Joyousa (The Goddess of age defying mothers), Hannea (The Goddess of maintaining beauty despite eating lots of rice) and Rochhea (The Goddess of vegetarians who hate the smell of meat).  After the tummy filling dinner, I thought I already ruled Mount Olympus.  

Til we meet again, Greeka Kouzina


Greeka Kouzina
2/F SM Aura Premier
Bonifacio Global City
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Kimukatsu dominates the katsu craze

Since there are so many katsu themed restaurants popping around town, it is hard to keep track of which one is the best.  That is until Kimukatsu came and just made me forget about all the other katsu themed restaurants.  At the front of their menu, you are going to see the number 25.  It is the number of layers the katsu has and that is one creative recipe each one of their customers would love.




When I got inside Kimikatsu, I noticed they had such nice interiors.  Operations Manager David Guevarra and his assistant Rain entertained us and he said that they wanted to make Kimikatsu a traditional Japanese restaurant.  The service here is outstanding as the servers diligently attended to each customer's needs right away.  I can tell they wanted to be like Japanese people who were really fast in working.



 Ebi Mayo (P210)


I'm a huge fan of shrimps so I was glad how Ebi Mayo was one of our appetizers.  The sweet gambas really fit with the mayonnaise sauce along with the lime.



 Negi Shio Tofu (P130)


Since I love tofu, I saved this to go along with what I was waiting for which was the katsu flavors.  It was a good thing it was neither hot nor cold as it was just right.

 

 Red Miso Soup




 White Miso Soup


We got the option to go for either white miso soup or red miso soup when ordering katsu meals.   David told us that the white one is sweet while the red was a little strong.  That meant the white miso soup is good for the young generation while the red miso soup is for the adults.
 


 Japanese Rice


The only people who would hate Kimukatsu's version of Japanese rice is the ones who want to avoid eating too much rice.  Their rice is so good that it makes you want to get another 5 cups.  It was slow cooked so it always tastes fresh.



 Plain (P380)


I really recommend ordering the 7 Flavor Kimukatsu Set (P2400) for first timers so you can try all the flavors and see which one you will get addicted to.  The plain flavor is best for those who don't want the taste of the katsu to be lost because of the additional flavors.  



 Ume Shiso (P430)


This flavor had a strange taste because of the sour plum inside it.  I was not a fan of it but I am sure others would love it.



 Negi Shio (P380)


At first, I thought the Cheese flavor was going to be my favorite but Negi Shio really impressed me in more ways than one.  The spring onions inside the katsu gave it such a unique taste that is worth craving for.



 Garlic (P380)


There was freshly minced garlic inside this flavor and I liked it.  I like it when meat is mixed with garlic which explains why I did not dislike this flavor at all.



 Black Pepper (P390)


A couple of layers in this katsu flavor was mixed with black pepper.  The pepper was kind of strong but not that strong to make you sneeze.  It really provides a nice after taste.



 Yuzu Pepper (P430)


Sad to say, I did not have much of Yuzu Pepper since David told us it was spicy.  I feared that I would end up eating more rice than I originally thought if I munched down a couple of this.



 Cheese (P390)


This flavor is oozing with cheddar cheese and it was the first one I took since I am a big fan of the cheese katsu flavor.  The other people who were with me agreed that this was the best so it was no surprise how it ran out fast.




 Kurogoma Pudding (P110)


I have never seen anything like this dessert as there were hints of sesame seed inside it.  I really enjoyed it though as I kept on taking one after the other.



 Macha Parfait (P230)


As a big fan of Macha ice cream, I was pleased to know this one included rice balls as well.  It was an irresistible combination.



 Kimikatsu Sandwich


Before we went our separate ways, we were give a sample of this Kimikatsu Sandwich that is perfect for those who like to bring "baon" to work or school.  

After sampling their specialties, I am proud to say that I will definitely be back here and I think it will be sooner than I think.  The good news is they are planning to open two more branches by the end of the year so I hope one will be near.




 Kimukatsu
5th floor East Wing
Shangrila Mall, Pasig City
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