If you’re in the mood for Korean food  then Malate is your best bet in finding one. Korean restos sprout out within this area like lechon manok during its heyday. A lot are Korean owned and hopefully this lends to the food a more authentic taste.

 Mr. Moo signboard Mr. Chicken resto

I liked how the Korean restos had such catchy signboards. There is a Mr. Moo and a Mr. Chicken signboard.

 Hoa ro exteriors

We opted for this Korean restaurant along J. Nakpil street just because…

 Hoa Ro interiors

it looked really cool! There were this strange exhaust fans hanging out from the ceilings. You can pull them nearer to the bbq pan while meat is being cooked to absorb more of the smoke.

The place made me feel that I was in Korea actually. The customers coming and going were all Korean and the menu was even in Korean.

One thing we found initially strange about this small Korean restos was that there is a mininum order per table of Php600. The Mr. chicken signboard across the street also offers the same minimum Php600 deal. Quite expensive for 2 people but our curiosities have been piqued enough by these small restos and we decided to give Hoa Ro a try.

 Korean spicy soup Egg soup

I understood why there was a minimum order per table after the free appetizers were served. The appetizers were a *lot*. It’s more than any other Korean resto I’ve been to in Manila. Aside from the standard kimchi, potatoes and spicy pickled vegs, there was also a sweet corn and cabbage dish and two types of soup which were very nice. The appetizers were a meal in itself!

 Hoa Ro BBQ meat

Doi Ji Gal Bi Gui Php300– grilled boneless pork ribs marinated in soy sauce

Gal Bi Sal Php350 – beef marinated in soy sauce

Unfortunately, I think the appetizers were the best part of the meal =). The meat were very very tough and chewy. My jaw actually ached from chewing on the meat after some time.

 Korean clam shell soup

Ba Ji Rak Kal Kuk Su Php250 – Kind of like our halaan (clam shell) soup only with noodles and some veg. Refreshing but not something I would go out of my way to have.

Summary : Our first Korean hole in the wall foray turned out to be a disappointment but there must be a better one in the area with so many Korean restos! So I would continue to eat on…

The trend with these small places is to offer just a few items on the menu. With Hoa Ro, we had actually ordered 90% of their menu already =). It was just around 5-6 items to choose from. There is also a minimum order per table which seems to be in the Php600 area so that they could offer unlimited appetizers which their largely Korean customers are used to.

Rating : One-nighter
Food   : The free appetizers

Hoa Roa 92
640 J. Nakpil St. Malate Manila


We had the pleasant surprise of being able to try out the Black Box menu of Lolo Dad’s for our visit. The MLA Black Box Culinary Challenge is all about

“Teams being given a Black Box filled with mystery ingredients including prime Australian beef, sheepmeat or goatmeat, seafood, spices, fruit and vegetables as well as dairy products and stocks. The teams are given one hour to devise a 4-course menu using all of the ingredients. The meal is prepared the following evening and is judged by a panel of international chefs at a gala dinner. Points are awarded for taste, skill, creativity and artistic merit. ”

The fourth round of the black box challenged has Lolo Dad’s emerging as the overall winner from 9 team. Lolo Dad’s will be representing the Philippines in the Global Black Box Challenge in Dubai this month!!!

Their winning menu :

 Compressed seafood

Compressed seafoods, Fish mousse and Salmon citrus jelly, Micro greens and herb panini

 Seafood broth

Poached lobster and Prawn dumpling, mushrooms and saffron broth

 Roasted Pigeon

Seared duck liver and Roasted pigeon breast with Lavender scented waffle



 Rack of Lamb

Oven-roasted rack of lamb

 Goat\'s cheese

Gratinated goat cheese with honey, Chev’s cheese bar and Tomato marmalade

 White chocolate brulee

Poached white chocolate brulee praline, Macadamia nut meringue tart and Strawberry ice cream

 Chocolate miniatures

Miniature of chocolates


Php 2,800.00 + 10% charge

Lolo Dad’s skill and technique is very much apparent with the Black Box menu. The Compressed Seafood and Fish Mousse were excellent. So much seafood flavors bursting from a small dish. The Seared Duck Liver and Roasted Pigeon Breast was another standout. Each single piece of ingredient on the plate down to the blueberries, mandarin orange and waffle brought together a medley of tastes that just worked. Same goes for the Goat’s Cheese and Chev’s Cheese Bar. Each ingredient complementing each other.  The Rack of Lamb didn’t disappoint, perfectly medium-cooked.

Chef Ariel was not in the kitchen on our night’s visit. He was off in a culinary competition and because of this I think, the kitchen was sadly a bit heavy on the salt on our night’s visit. Our Seafood Broth, Rack of Lamb sauce and Foie Gras appetizer sauce were all a bit salty. Flavors are there, but just with more salt that night which can easily be fixed.

 Lolo Dad\'s

Summary : Lolo Dad’s is not cheap but it is one of those places I would visit again and again. Excellent food that’s not boring. It’s not your traditional steak and potatoes place. The food in Lolo Dad’s explores and plays with ingredients. I also love the ambience, cozy and intimate with just a few tables. And for those who enjoy their wine, corkage is free so bring a good bottle. As said, a good bottle of wine will always enhance the flavors of the food and at Lolo Dad’s you can.

* The Black Box menu is still being offered so try to visit Lolo Dad’s if you can.

Rating : Love it
Food   : A lot… for the mainstays, the rack of lamb.

Lolo Dad’s Cafe
899 Pres. Quirino Ave.
cnr Leonguinto St. Malate
Tel : 522 2941
Closed on Monday lunch and Sunday

Lolo Dad\'s appetizer sampler 

Some things come in small packages, in this case appetizers. We love sampler plates as our greedy little selves could try out a lot of food in one seating. Our visit to Lolo Dad’s was no exception. We ordered their appetizer samplers which were 8 different dishes and served in quadrant dishes.

Seared Duck Foie Gras and Goose liver Terrine – Cranberry compote, Highland greens and Black vinegar reduction

Romaine Caesar salad – Whole anchovies, crispy Pancetta and six minute boiled Egg

Mesclun salad with Salmon Gravlax – Feta cheese, Kalamata olives and warm Garlic-Bacon vinaigrette

Soft shell crab Parmigiana – Mixed salad leaves and horseradish aioli

Lightly seared Ahi Tuna and smoked Prawns – Grilled watermelon and artichoke salad

Double Espresso soup – Individual presentation of creamed tomatoes and mushrooms with fleuron

Seafood Pot-au-feu – Boiling seafood broth flavoured with saffron baby lobster and steamed fish dumpling


Appetizer menu Php 2,440.00 +

 The double espresso soup is still the best. The last time I had eaten in Lolo Dad’s was years back and the espresso soup was the one which stood out in my memory. Right balance of creaminess and flavors from the tomatoes and mushrooms served in small cups to leave you with the taste but wanting more…. for the next visit. The lobster was perfectly seasoned.

We also had to try out their oysters. They were pricey but the oysters with foie gras was worth it. Fresh, plump oysters matched well the rich butter taste of the foie gras.

Baked Oysters with Foie Gras on fresh Angel Hair Pasta Php 145/pc

Garlic and Herb Gratinated Oysters with Parmigiano Regiano Cheese Php 120/pc

Fresh Oysters with Lemon Granite and relish P95/pc


Rating : Love it

Food : Double Espresso Soup, Baked Oysters with Foie Gras on fresh Angel Hair Pasta, Lobster

Read a lot about Dong Bei from various blogs talking about Ivan Dy’s Binondo Tour.

Piqued my interest on how it compared to Lan Zhou which is our favorite noodle shop in Binondo.

Dong Bei

This is a 4-table place. What’s interesting is that dumplings are actually made in one of the tables in the dining area by the staff. Perched on their seats, they stuff pork & chive mixtures into tiny wrappers. Makes the meal an interactive experience.

Dong Bei Dumplings

Dumplings – chives, celery, cabbage, pork Php 80. Specialty of the house. The dumpling wrapper is extremely thin and a bit watery. The staff said that these dumplings are actually placed in boiling water and not steamed as I initially thought. I prefer Lan Zhou’s dumpling though since I like dumplings chewier.

Beef Noodles

Beef soup Php 100 – Pretty difficult to compare the noodles with Lan Zhou but we ended up concluding we liked Lan Zhou’s noodles better. Firmer and chewier. Soup broth was different for both places. Dong Bei broth tasted made of Chinese herbs while Lan Zhou broth tasted of beef or pork bones. Depends what type of soup broth person you are.

Fried Chicken with Sinjian Flavor

Fried chicken with sinjian flavor Php 180 – I liked the way they cooked the chicken. It was crisp and there was mix of subtle flavors.

Summary : Pretty interesting to compare Dong Bei with Lan Zhou. They are both good and deciding on which dumplings or noodle soup is better is a tough choice. On my part, I prefer Lan Zhou. Which one do you prefer?

Rating :  Like It
Food  :  Dumplings

Dong Bei Dumplings
Oriente corner Yuchengco Street
Binondo, Manila

Lan Zhou La Mien 

This noodle house has been shared with us by Chinatown locals. The Binondo area has a lot of small Chinese restaurants right now opened by newly arrived mainland China immigrants. The food they serve is refreshingly authentic to the region they come from with unbelievably cheap prices. 

 Rolling dough

Lan Zhou serves dao shao mian or knife cut noodles. The name daoxiao mian, or knife-shaved noodles, refers to the way the noodles are prepared. The cook holds a large ball of dough in his left hand and, with a knife, deftly and quickly slices shavings of dough into a large pot of boiling water.

 Hand pulled dough

You can watch the cook through the glass window dividing the kitchen from the dining area. The Chinese lady pulls and tosses the lump of dough transforming it into pasta.

 Lan Zhou noodle soup

La Mien noodles – The specialty of the house Php 70. The noodles are fantastic – chewy and doughy. Best d@#n chinese noodles I’ve had in Manila. The broth is flavorful and made from real beef bones.

Bowls of chopped spring onion and coriander, chili garlic sauce and bottles of soy sauce, and black vinegar are on every table to place in your bowl of noodle soup.


Dumplings Steamed – Not-too-thick wrappers enclosing a filling of pork and Chinese chives. Served with shredded ginger in black vinegar. 

Summary : Everyone should have a try of Lan Zhou. The noodles are so fresh, springy and chewy. Beats any other bowl of Chinese noodle soup out there.

Rating   : Love It
Food     : A bowl of noodle soup

Lan Zhou La Mien
819 Benavidez Street
Binondo, Manila
Tel : 2445365