One-nighter


This popular Moroccan and Middle-eastern themed restaurant has chains in Melbourne and Brisbane. Mecca Bah comes highly recommended as one of Canberra ‘s must dine in’ places. The interiors itself is impressive. Richly adorned with cozy ottomans, beautifully draped fabrics, and Tunisian ceramics, Mecca Bah is opulent without being flashy.

Mecca Bah

The menu had an interesting list of mezzes, tagines, grills and turkish pizzas. Searching for dishes that would give a true middle-eastern feel, we ordered two mezzes. The Lebanese sausages and spicy chickpea salad ( AUD$10.80 ) and Kataifi pastry filled with Middle Eastern cheeses ( AUD 11.00 ). A classic moroccan dish would be a tagine and we opted for the Spicy Moroccan Tagines served with couscous – Lamb with preserved lemon, green olive & harissa AUD$21.00

Note :

Harissa is a Tunisian hot red paste made from chilli peppers. It can be used as a condiment or, most commonly, as an ingredient. It’s also found in other North African cuisines like Morocco and Algeria. For less heat, remove seeds from chillies.

Lamb Tagine

Lamb Tagine

I paused after tasting each dish. There was something very wrong. I wasn’t liking the dishes. I found the dishes too bland, lacking in flavor. There weren’t any burst of flavours from the spices. The chickpea salad tasted basically of unflavoured chickpeas. The Kataifi pastry didn’t have any bite to it and same thing with the lamb tagine. We had to ask for extra chili to put some flavor to the dishes. I’ve read countless good reviews about Mecca Bah which made me wonder whether we just ordered the wrong dishes or it was just the chef’s bad day. But at a $60 bill for two, I would opt to try other restaurants than give Mecca Bah another chance.

Summary : The interiors are great. Mecca Bah is definitely a hanging out place but I wasn’t impressed with the food at all. It’s not authentic and there are a lot more better Middle-Eastern/Moroccan restaurants out there.

 Mecca Bah
25-29 Manuka Tce, Flinders Way, Manuka, ACT
Tel :  (02) 6260 6700

Swanston Street in the Melbourne CBD is crammed with Asian restaurants which offer quick and cheap meals. We ducked into Vietnamese Grill Bar which looked rather new with clean and modern interiors. The menu is filled with the usual Pho dishes and rice toppings. We opted for the combos which would let us try a bit of everything.

 Pork Chop Combo
Combo 1 Pork chop, broken rice, spring roll and ice longan drink $12.80

 Grilled Chicken Combo
Combo 2 Grilled chicken on tomato rice and ice longan drink $12.80

Summary : I did say these places offered quick meals, but I didn’t expect food which not only tasted bland but also pre-cooked. The chicken was cold and the pork chop has the toughness which comes from being reheated too many times. My friend and I both agreed this was really bad Asian fast food. The only thing this place had going for it was its interiors.

Rating : One nighter
Food   : None

Vietnamese Grill Bar
305-307 Swanston St Melbourne 3000
Phone : +613 9650 0068

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

Lunch out among three food bloggers can get pretty complicated. It needs to be a place no one has been to so that we could blog about it, somewhere in Makati for a quick lunch out and someplace all three of us agree on. A few names were tossed around, Coco Cafe, Sala Bistro, a few resto’s in Greenbelt 5. Shella, Hiro and I finally agreed to have a food trip at Gaster’s Deli. Lori’s writeup on Gaster’s Deli helped convince Shella and I to try out the place.

Gaster’s Deli had several impressive wine chiller’s to the left of the main door. There are several stands of deli merchandise such as italian pasta, anchovies, olive oil etc… We were here for the food though. As I sat down, I eagerly scanned through the menu. I already knew what I wanted having ‘researched’ before coming to the place. I scanned through again for the second time… and again… Where is the barramundi? Or the Tenderloin fillet with red wine jus, foie gras and truffle butter OR the osso bucco which Lori had declared as the best in Manila. They were not on the menu and the waiter confirmed that they had been taken out. Too expensive perhaps? Not saleable to the lunch crowd? I saw a lot of pastas, sandwiches and steaks. Not really my cup of tea and I guess Shella did not get too excited with the menu either so agreed to split a pumpkin soup and a wagyu foie gras burger.

 Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup Php116 – Bland, no flavor, spices or saltiness. Grabbed for the salt and pepper shakers to fix it up but it was a lost cause.

 Wagyu Burger

Gaster Wagyu Burger Php600 – This is my half of the burger which I had split with Shella. This tasted like an ordinary burger to me. The foie gras tasted livery and had a tofu texture inside. The aioli was old and had a different color to it already.

 Kurobota Pork Belly

Kurobota Pork Belly Php380 Hiro was definitely luckier. He managed to order a better dish. The pork belly was tender and cooked ‘Chinese’ style braised in soy sauce and sugar. Quite good.

It was good that all three of us were busy chatting away so the food was not my main focus.

Summary : Gaster Deli’s menu has changed. Seems to me that they have gone down the road of compromising their food for commercialness sake.

Rating : One Nighter
Food   : Nothing in particular from what we ordered.

Gaster’s Deli
Ground Floor, 6750 Building
Makati
Tel : 632 8136750

The Wyndham Thai website boasts of fusion cuisne of Thai flavours and Oz flair. We were eager to check out what Thai fusion was about.

 Wyndham Thai Centerpiece

The interiors itself was modern and sophisticated with contemporary paintings adorning the walls and a large golden dragon-like piece as the centerpiece.

 Wyndham Thai

The co-proprietor and host Paul Jackson warmly greeted us and helped pick out our selection from the menu.

 Wyndham appetizer plate

We started off with the appetizers :

Grilled scallop with roasted coconut and lemongrass salad on betel nut leaf, Crispy coconut prawns with a peanut and cucumber dipping sauce, Coconut crepes filled with green papaya salad topped with crab meat and a spicy dressing, Pomelo Salad with fresh thai herbs Bht 600 – The pomelo salad was very good. It had a sweetish honey dressing. Finally a pomelo salad better than People’s Palace.

 Northern style soup

Northern style soup of mushroom, crispy noodle in spicy coconut broth BHT 280 – The soup was overly rich and can already be considered as curry and not soup. We were not able to finish the soup because of it’s richness and I had the start of a sore throat.

 Duck in red curry

Duck breast stuffed with lychee, tomato and red curry PHP 590 – We ordered medium cooked duck. This was overcooked. The duck meat was not flavorful.

Summary : Wyndham Thai has been presented as receiving numerous awards and critical acclaim. I would give it five stars for the ambience, impeccable service and very very friendly host. But the food itself, although using fresh and quality ingredients is quite weak. The appetizer was good but it was downhill after that. The soup was too rich and should not be considered soup at all. The duck breast was overdone and the sauce tasted the same with the soup! The pricing is way too expensive for the cooking offered. I wanted to dearly love the place but it is difficult to from the coconut milk overload.

Rating  : One-nighter
Food    : Appetizer plate

Wyndham Thai
Grnd Floor, Somerset Lake Point
41, Sukhumvit 16, Klong Toei Bangkok
Tel : 02 258 1783

Philippine Airlines held a Thai food festival for the month of April. They had consultant’s from People’s Palace help develop their menu. People’s Palace is my favorite Thai place in Manila and I was actually kind of looking forward to seeing what was in store.

 PAL chicken meal

Chicken meal – This seemed to be chicken in pineapple sauce. Didn’t taste Thai at all. The cake was a buttery sponge cake. Like most PAL desserts served in economy, they pile up on the cream and it’s too sweet. The only edible dish was the salad which was Thai vermicelli salad.

 PAL fish meal

Fish meal – Much worse than the chicken. It looks unappetizing just by looking at it! No color, no taste, overcooked. I didn’t touch my fish meal.

Summary : Philippine airlines has never been known for their food in economy class. I don’t understand why they can’t make the food in coach edible. It’s always been bland or overcooked for me. The Thai food festival menu was much worse!!! I couldn’t even touch my fish. Do share with me your best and worst airline meals -=).

Rating     :   One-nighter