Saturday, January 18, 2014

My 10 best foodie finds of 2013

Last week, I wrote about my Top 3 posts for 2013 based on the number of hits or visits by readers. Now I'm sharing with you the Top 10 dishes that I myself loved in my dozens of little foodie trips. The ones I included here were the most memorable to me because they were either exceptionally yummy, unique, or beautifully served. Here they are:

10. Sans rival from Betty's
I discovered Betty's sometime in mid-2013. And I'd say it's one of QC's best-kept secrets, tucked away inside the Sto. Domingo Church area, behind it, to be particular. It's a pretty decent place, where food is surprisingly good at even more surprisingly low prices. They have rice meals, pasta and pizza, the latter being impressively thin and delicious. However, it's the sans rival that's the best seller at Betty's. I tell you, it's sans rival without a rival. Now if that doesn't make myself clear, I don't know what will. Haha! Betty's sans rival is sold by the box but if you dine in, a slice can be ordered for dessert or snack at just P48. Best with brewed coffee! 

9. I.I.B.B.'s Pata Bulalo
I.I.B.B. is what you see written outside this restaurant near the UDMC Hospital in Quezon City. Once inside, you'll know what the acronym means: Ihaw-Ihaw, Balot-Balot. They offer Filipino dishes like crispy crablets, pork and chicken barbecue, dinuguan and many others. For me, the standout dish here is their pata bulalo, which to me was unforgettably delicious! The soup was so divine I still dreamt of it days after. Haha! Looks like the slices (or cuts) of pata (pork leg) were simmered for many hours, resulting in the broth being very flavorful. Sadly, I haven't returned to I.I.B.B. and I hope to do so one of these days if only for their pata bulalo. It's P130 per serving, by the way.

8. Banoffee Panna Cotta at Vanilla Cupcake Bakery
What struck me most about this cutesy dessert was obviously its packaging. Truth be told, I can't, to this day, tell you if this banoffee panna cotta is delish because when I ate it at Vanilla Cupcake Bakery in Trinoma Mall, I was suffering from a bad cold and had little (or no) sense of smell and taste. Fortunately, my friend Pammy was with me and because she said my dessert was delicious, I could say it indeed was. Thank God for trustworthy friends. They help me blog. Haha!

7. Le Coeur de France's ham croissant and coffee duo
This pair is perfect for an afternoon snack. A croissant that's flaky with a crisp on the outside and soft with a filling of delicious ham on the inside. And the coffee? Bold and strong! What's even better? Breads at Le Coeur de France come at Buy One, Take One starting 3 pm. What a deal! This promo, however, is not applicable to the croissant and coffee combo which costs around P130. Individually, croissant costs P88 and this is where the Buy One, Take One promo applies. A cup of brewed coffee, on the other hand, is also P88. We often visit Le Coeur de France inside Times Plaza on Taft corner UN Avenue because it's close to our church, the Cathedral of Praise. Talk about food that's heaven-sent. Hehe.

6. Cafe France's sandwich, soup and drink combo
In my lifetime of four decades and five years as of today, I've never had a sandwich as delicious as the one I had at Cafe France. It was what they call the Premiere Clubhouse Sandwich which they also offer (half of an order if you go for the combo) with pumpkin soup and a glass of soda for just P159. I remember the bread as really soft and all the fillings going very well with each other to make the sandwich uber delicious. Paired with pumpkin soup, it was sooo satisfying. Even more, I'm sure, had I washed it all down with a cup of strong brewed coffee. That was my only regret. I didn't have enough time to slowly sip a cup of joe because we would be late for church. I hope to visit Cafe France again at UN Ave. one of these days for a nice and lovely trio of a sandwich, soup and coffee.

5. Nathaniel's palabok
Nathaniel's was one of the best restaurants I discovered last year. There are many things to enjoy here but foremost is their palabok, which, believe me, is to die for! Haha! The first time I tasted it, it struck me as unforgettable, something I just had to have again. So, since around middle of last year, I was at Nathaniel's three or four times just for their palabok (P70 per order). Apart from palabok, I also loved Nathaniel's pancit sotanghon, the burger steak, siomai and buko pandan. They'd make you coming back for more, promise! At least those are the dishes I've tried. And yes, the mini siopao. How my kids love them! As I write this, I tell my daughter: "We haven't had Nathaniel's siopao in a long while." She chides me, saying, "Better not told. I'm suddenly craving." Haha! It's 10 p.m. No way! 

4. Hainanese chicken at Hainanese Delights
This one's lip-smackin' good: tender steamed chicken dipped in grated ginger and chili, and eaten with delicious Hainanese rice. Oh, how I loved this Hainanese chicken. Delicious, healthy ('coz it's not fried) chicken at a nice price. Only P130 per order. Huge serving too, with unlimited Hainanese rice to boot. Sweet!  

3. Rice at Cafe Mary Grace
Yes, Cafe Mary Grace. No, don't get me wrong. I loved my fried bangus topped with lots of toasted garlic. However, it's the herbed rice that floored me. I'm no expert when it comes to herbs and I can't tell what's added to Cafe Mary Grace's rice but it's completely unique-tasting, not like anything I've had elsewhere. Downright ambrosial. Apart from this, however, I also loved the Carbonara and Mango Bene cake at Cafe Mary Grace. Before 2013 ended, I visited Cafe Mary Grace twice at SM City North Edsa. 

2. Vigan Empanada at Fariñas Ilocos Empanada
The Vigan Empanada was one of the two things that made me an addict last year. For a period, I must not let a week pass without eating one. I was just so happy a branch of Fariñas Ilocos Empanada opened within walking distance from our office. On each visit, I'd order the special empanada (at P50 apiece) that has one egg, one Vigan longganiza and vegetables. Vigan or Ilocos empanada is fried to a crisp and eaten with a pouring of vinegar. Mmmm..delicious!

1. Pancit bihon at Aling Banang
Of all the food I ate for the first time last year and got me hooked, it's definitely the Pancit Bihon at Aling Banang that has not allowed me to forget and move on. Haha! I mean I still crave it almost everyday and thus eat it every so often to this day, about a month and half since I first tasted it. While pancit bihon has long been one of my favorite foods on the face of the earth (since birth. Hehe..) , I'm exceedingly choosy about it. In fact, rarely do I find a delicious plate of it. Even my self-cooked pancit bihon I do not like. Haha! Really, I only rave about pancit bihon made by my mom and Kuya Noli. But that was until I ate pancit bihon at Aling Banang, the carinderia that my friend Pammy and I often visit at lunchtime near our office. It was love at first taste! And what a strong, ardent love it was! Apart from the pancit itself being flavorsome, the fact that it's topped with crispy lechon kawali makes it all the more scrumptious. Quite sinful, yes, but hey, you can always pray after eating. Better still, take your maintenance meds afterwards. Haha! But wait, the taste is not the only thing to love. Aling Banang's pancit bihon comes in a huge serving at just P45 per order. What better offer can you get? Try it to believe, I strongly urge. Haha! There's over a dozen Aling Banang branches metro-wide. Hope you find one near you and try their pancit bihon for yourself. Happy eating!   

This 2014, I'm so looking forward to discovering more yummy dishes to share with you. Cheers!