Tapas Xperience

The most amazing thing about going on Spring break is spending a nice afternoon eating out with friends. Tapas Xperience was another discovery through Yelp. True to their meaning, Tapas Xperience offers a variety of small plates prepared by Spanish chef Ibai Torres.

Tapas Xperience (Me, Annie and Frank)

Tapas Xperience (Who’s hungry? Clarence, Justine or Gavin?)

They started us off with a free glass of Sangria. Looking around, I noticed that they also offer wine dispensaries. Wine dispensaries are like vending machines. You buy a card, fill it with credit and use it to get wine usually for tasting purposes. Most wine dispensaries offer 1/4, 1/2 or a full glass. Tapas Xperience is known for their selection of Spanish wines.

Tapas

Our appetizers were Patatas Bravas, Croquetas and Chorizo. This was served with their garlic and potato dip, which was amazing. We couldn’t get enough of it.

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Then we decided to try their Seafood Paella and Shrimp Ceviche. I think everyone loved these dishes because we ordered a second round. And because we can never leave a restaurant without having beef, we also ordered their Filet Mignon.

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Another great food experience in Downtown Miami! Xperience it too! Pun intended.

Contact Information:
900 South Miami Ave. Suite 180
(+1) 786-391-1450
Mondays to Wednesdays – 12NN to 11PM
Thursdays to Saturdays – 12NN to 1AM
Sundays – 1PM – 10PM
tapasxperience.com

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Ristorante Fratelli Milano

On our first day in Miami, we gathered around Annie’s laptop, browsing through Yelp for a place to eat in. I came from the airport not long ago so I wasn’t particularly fussy about what restaurant to go to as long as it’s food. “You guys pick. I’ll take a bath.” I said, shutting the bathroom door behind me. An hour later, I found myself sitting outside a small Italian restaurant, two blocks away from our hotel. Yelp is such a wonderful tool, don’t you think so?

Ristorante Fratelli Milano was an excellent choice for our first Spring break dinner. Most Italian restaurants in the world would say that their cuisine is authentic. Nearly everyone dissatisfies but not Fratelli Milano. Besides their affordable wine list, who better to prepare a true Italian dinner consisting of hearty pasta dishes, pizza and other specialties than twin Italian brothers Chef Roberto and Emanuele Bearzi?

So here is our Italian experience in downtown Miami…

Mushroom Risotto

Sometimes, I am guilty of rating a restaurant solely on their risotto. With just their Porcini Mushroom Risotto, I would have probably given them an A+. One bite and its creamy texture plus delicate flavor brought me to the brink of ecstasy. Rarely does a dish excite a picky eater like myself but it was that good!

Pear Taleggio Cheese Pasta

Annie, on the other hand chose Fiocchi di Pera e Taleggio. It is pear and taleggio cheese pasta in a sage and butter sauce. I was not a big fan of this dish because it was too sweet but my friends loved it.

Filet mignon

Maybe it’s his huge appetite but I’ve always wondered why my friend, Clarence, constantly orders steak. Personally, I do not like the texture of beef so I try to avoid it as much as I can. Nonetheless, their Filet Mignon medallions with baked potatoes and sautéed spinach served with gorgonzola sauce was quite wonderful.

Papardelle Milano

Papardelle Milano is their homemade pasta cooked with Chianti wine and truffle oil. It’s   served with tomato sauce, slices of filet mignon and porcini mushrooms topped with bits of goat cheese. Frank was a bit disappointed with his choice and ranked it as the least favorable among our main dishes. Yet, I thought it was probably the most delicious one.

After cleaning our plates and a few glasses of wine, we decided to order desserts for the four of us to share.

Tiramisu

Chocolate Souffle

We ordered the chocolate soufflé with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and tiramisu. Both were average, nothing special unlike their restaurant’s entrees. All of us decided we should have gone to a different place for dessert. Though one should note that we did not try all their desserts.

Overall, this is a wonderful restaurant with attentive service and tasty food which is perfect for dates or relaxed meetings with family and friends (warning on the extremely dim lighting though).

Contact Information:
213 SE First Street, Downtown Miami
(+1) 305-373-2300
ristorantefratellimilano.com
Mondays to Thursdays – 11 AM to 10 PM
Fridays to Saturdays – 11 AM to 11 PM

Sakaya Kitchen Miami

To fuel our third day in Ultra Miami, we decided to get a huge brunch at Sakaya Kitchen, a quick service Korean restaurant in downtown. They use organic and locally sourced ingredients which was a plus for me. I wish I took the time to take a photo of their interior. It was cute how they used a chalkboard for the menu.

MiamiFood4-5 MiamiFood4-4I started with edamame drizzled with garlic and ginger soy sauce and Sakaya’s signature Korean fried chicken wings.

MiamiFood4-6 Then I had Dirty South pulled pork sandwiches with kimchi slaw and pickle. This was served with tater tots. I should have expected this to be a bit spicy with the kimchi but I didn’t so I was a little surprised with the kick. Nevertheless, it was a good choice and I thoroughly enjoyed munching on these sliders.

MiamiFood4-3 MiamiFood4-1 My friend, Annie, got the soft shelled crab steamed bun with spicy mayo and the Bulgogi bowl served with Angus beef, rice and kimchi. Personally, she said she preferred the steamed bun.

MiamiFood4-2 MiamiFood4-8 Frank, who is the ultimate foodie among all of us, also grabbed the opportunity to try out two dishes. One was the roast pork steamed bun made with sweet chili sauce and the second one was a kalbi beef soft taco served with tater tots.

MiamiFood4-7My other friends decided to take the authentic Korean route and ordered Jigae, a spicy miso stew with kimchi and roasted pork served with rice.

I must say that this is not your ordinary Korean restaurant but Sakaya Kitchen is definitely a restaurant to try out for people planning to visit or are living in Miami. It has a casual and fun vibe that is perfect for friends hanging out (plus they serve alcohol).

Contact Information:
3401 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127
+1 (305) 576-8096
Monday to Sunday – 12NN to 10PM
Twitter or Facebook – @sakayakitchen
sakayakitchen.com

South Beach

We were a bit disappointed that when we went to South Beach in Miami, it was cloudy. However, it was still amazing being in a tropical city. After spending months in Chicago, the change of temperature was a welcomed gift.

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After walking around, we decided to eat in Otentic, a small intimate French restaurant. The meal started with a small glass of Chardonnay then we ordered a Foie Gras to share.

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I chose the seared back of salmon with creamy basil sauce on a bed of potato gratin. This is probably one of the perfectly cooked salmon dishes I have tasted.

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Frank ordered roasted chicken on a bed of ratatouille with porcini sauce.

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Clarence ordered a filet mignon served with a side of potato gratin and mustard sauce while Annie chose the mahi-mahi with scallion sauce on bed of green beans.

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A perfect restaurant to start our Miami adventure.

Contact Information:

+1 (305) 531 1464
710 Washington Avenue,
Miami Beach, Fl, 33139

Wolfgang Puck Express Tokyo

Most people would probably know the notable chef, Wolfgang Puck. He is, after all, a famous celebrity chef with his own restaurants around the world. Among his endeavors include restaurants in Japan, the Wolfgang Puck Express is probably the least expensive and most casual.

The Wolfgang Puck Express is located in Harajuku, Takeshita street, right across the train station. The menu focuses on burgers, pizza, pasta, salads, and other fast foods.

For my starter, I ordered their Caesar salad. It was tasty but the presentation wasn’t that impressive.

The Margherita Pizza was amazing! I can safely say this was the best tomato pizza I have tasted at this moment. The crust was crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. It had the right amount of cheese, tomato and basil.

The seafood pasta is divine. Simple and beautifully presented, it’s perfect if you want a light meal.

Wolfgang Express Puck is not the classiest restaurant in the block but if you want a stylish, fun atmosphere and fast service, this is the place to go.

Location and Contact Details:

1-17-1 Jingumae,
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Telephone: (+813) 5786-4690
Hours: 11:00 – 23:00 Daily
http://www.wp-japan.jp/shop/ex_harajuku.html

Dinner at Hill Station

There’s nothing like warm bread, served with olive oil and Dukkah to start a wonderful dinner at Hill Station in Baguio City. I was reluctant to try it at first. I’m not a big fan of Indian dishes but I was curious because the smell was heavenly.

For those of you who don’t know what Dukkah is, it’s a very special dip that you can only find in this restaurant. It contains a mixture of Indian spices with crushed Cashew nuts. By dipping the bread into the olive oil first, it will help the spices stick to the bread.

Me and Anj aren’t big fans of salads, that’s why we opted to get the spinach dip instead. She didn’t want to try it at first. Vegetables aren’t really her thing but I managed to convince her to have a bite. Surprise, surprise, she loved it! I just had to get the recipe from the chef which they readily gave. I’ll be posting about how to make it soon. Just a hint for everyone, it contains 4 different types of cheese! Sounds yummy!

I ordered potato soup for my appetizer. It was a little bit salty for me.

Anj ordered the mushroom soup. Since this is probably the only type of soup that Anj eats, it was surprising to hear how much she liked it considering that my best friend is a very picky eater.

We both wanted to have the coriander chicken for our main course but we wanted to try as much dishes as we can so I ordered the salmon with orange chutney.

The coriander chicken was marinated overnight. It was juicy and flavorful. Coupled with Benguet red rice, you will not go wrong with ordering this dish. My salmon was perfection (and it’s very hard to come by a restaurant with a perfectly cooked salmon)! Unfortunately, I wasn’t that impressed with the orange chutney and mashed potato.The chutney was too strong and the mashed potato wasn’t smooth as I expected it to be.

We were too full by the end of the third course but I couldn’t help but order the orange oil cake with strawberry syrup. It sounded so intriguing. I wasn’t disappointed. It was very moist. I was afraid that the orange flavor would be too strong but it wasn’t. It could do without the strawberry syrup as it can get a little but sour to the taste. Me and Anj spent about two thousand for this dinner. Not bad for a four course meal.

It was a perfect ending to a perfect day.

Location and Contact Details:

Casa Vallejo
Upper Session Road
Baguio City, 2600
Telephone: (+6374) 424-2734
info@hillstationbaguio.com

Breakfast at Café Sabel

Me and my best friend, Anj, get crazy ideas in our heads. That’s why last Tuesday, we found ourselves on a Victory Liner bus on the way to Baguio. Random and completely spontaneous, we weren’t prepared. It’s been years since I was in Baguio and I had no idea where to go. Thank God I brought my 3G capable iPhone with me. All it took was a few seconds and we found the best place to get breakfast in Baguio, Café Sabel located inside the BenCab Museum.

Since we got there really early, there was nothing like a good cup of hot chocolate to warm our insides and keep us awake. After all, chocolate contains sugar and caffeine. What a wonderful energy booster it was!

For our appetizers, we ordered carrot and pumpkin soup topped with parsley and cheese. Pumpkin soup is my favorite kind of soup so I’m very particular about the taste and consistency of it. I like that it was a little bit thick. It wasn’t my favorite but it was very good.

Anj ordered Adobo rice for her main course. It was served with boiled egg and Benguet rice. I love how they used red rice. It’s healthier and adds flavor to the whole dish. Definitely a must try!

I ordered their best seller for rice dishes and that’s the Pork chop with Rosemary. It came with Benguet rice and Atchara. I thought that the meat was cooked well. It was juicy. However, I found the seasoning a little bit salty. Although, it was still tasty for me. Overall, I preferred the Adobo rice.

It was definitely a yummy and healthy breakfast for the both of us! If you’re planning to visit Baguio, you should visit this little café. The ambiance is light and airy. Plus, the food is good and worth every penny.

Prices:

Hot Chocolate/90.00 | Pumpkin and Carrot Soup/90.00 | Adobo Rice/190.00 | Pork Chop/190.00

Location and Contact Details:

Km. 6 Asin Road, Tadiangan,
Tuba, Benguet, Philippines
Telephone: (+6374) 442-7165
www.BenCabMuseum.Org

Intimate Birthday Dinner at 2nd’s

Following our drunken birthday welcome, I woke up with a headache so I just wanted to relax. I spent the day shopping with Anj and managed to eat in Marciano’s where I filled my self up with their pumpkin soup and 4-cheese risotto. During the evening, I opted for a nice intimate dinner with my siblings and three of my best friends (Anj, Kimmie and Darrel).

We had a couple of appetizers but Kimmie didn’t get to take photos of it. However, here’s the photo of the most amazing pork chop and chocolate cake I have ever tasted.

Doesn’t it look yummy?

After the dinner, we decided to visit Tanya’s house to celebrate with more friends. Overall, I couldn’t ask for more. My twentieth birthday was such a blast thanks to my family and friends!