Tuesday, June 19, 2007


It’s been awhile since I’ve gone into an adventurous food tripping expedition. Most of time, I prefer dining at familiar establishments ordering the same entrees and enjoying the same fare again and again and again. In short, I’m quite a risk averse when it comes to food choices because I don’t want to spend a lot of money on something that I couldn’t even swallow with my eyes closed. Anyway, last Sunday (June 10) and Monday (June11), I finally got tired of it and decided to try a new menu.
Last Sunday, I had lunch with my brother along with his date. We ate AZUL, a Spanish – Filipino culinary restaurant located at the Bayside of the SM Mall of Asia. At a first glance, AZUL looks like a stylish, chic – moderne, upscale bar – like establishment. It exudes an image of “class” and it is probably this “image” that deters people from patronizing the place because people actually think it’s expensive. I mean at noon – time on Sunday, only two tables are filled including ours. Now, that says a lot about AZUL’s “image” and perception. Surprisingly, however, prices aren’t really THAT expensive with price ranging from P200 – P400 per entree. We ordered Fried Squid, AKA Calamares, Pork Loin in Mushroom Sauce, and Lapu – Lapu Escabeche. AZUL serves plain rice for free and allows you to get as much as you wanted. What impresses me the most about AZUL is the presentation itself. The dishes are quite stylish in their presentation and appeared quite appetizing, which goes hand in hand with the stylish appearance of the restaurant itself. If I’m going to rate the “style” of the dish presentation in a scale of 0 – 100 with 50 as so – so, AZUL probably deserves a score of 80 – 85. Taste wise, the food taste great but nothing extraordinary that would make you crave for more. The Calamares though ok is literally “peppered” with black pepper while the Pork Loin in Mushroom Sauce has a tinge of orange in it’s flavor, which is actually good but again nothing extraordinary. To be fair though, I haven’t tried their Tapas or their Paellas yet and would like to taste it sometime in the future. In the meantime, for the fare we had, we paid something around P1300++, which translate to around P400++ per head including drinks. Not that expensive for it’s class (fine dining). Overall, I would recommend AZUL as a place for dating. I mean given the ambience, the reasonable price, the stylish food, the view of the bay……… If you choose well where you are going to sit, the time you’re going to eat, the dishes to order, it would be a perfect place for a date with a lovely lady. Beware though of their Lemongrass Ginger Ice Tea, for it has this after taste, which you’ll regret it the moment you made the first sip. I know that because my brother said so…..

Ambience = 85 – 90
Presentation = 80 – 85
Taste = 75 – 80
Price = P400++ per person.

Sunday dinner. That evening, my brother and I had dinner at Gumbo at The Block at SM North Edsa. Gumbo offers New Orleans recipe with emphasis on Cajun and Creole cuisine that is quite spicy and hot. The prices at Gumbo are typically in the range of P200 – P400 per main entrée and are slightly cheaper than Burgoo, another New Orleans style restaurant. We ate Bayou’s Stuffed Crab with Remoulade Sauce and Seafood Jambalaya. The serving size is big if compared to Burgoo’s offerings. The Seafood Jambalaya actually tastes better than Burgoo. This is because the seafood used by Gumbo are of “choice” selections. The rice is sticky and has a tinge of spiciness. The Stuffed Crab on the other hand tastes good but somewhat “fishy”. I suspect that it would taste even better if it go with a table wine, perhaps red (if I remember right, white wine goes with red meat while red wine goes with seafood). Anyway, I’m no wine expert nor a drinker and so I can’t really say with finality that the Stuffed Crabs would taste better with red wine. For that evening’s fare, we paid P900, which translates to P450 per person including drinks. Not bad, price wise, value wise. Speaking of ambience, Gumbo’s place is a little dark and looks more like a pizza parlor than say a fine dinning restaurant.

Ambience = 70 – 75
Presentation = 75 – 80
Taste = 85 – 90
Price = P450 per person.

Monday Night. On our way to the airport to fetch my mom and sis, my brother and I stop by and tried Fish and Co. at the SM Mall of Asia. We were in for seafood that night and we heard from our sister before that Fish and Co is a great place for seafood. Anyway, we tried it out much to our disappointment. Value wise, Fish and Co doesn’t offer the value for your money. One could spend less and probably enjoyed the same taste. First, the ambience at Fish and Co is quite wholesome but nothing spectacular. The place is decorated with a sea theme complete with a shark replica and everything and it is located along the bay. Looks cute but when compared to the design at Pier One, Fish and Co looks amateurish and consequently, less authentic. Furthermore, Fish and Co wasn’t able to leverage on it’s location by the bay to bring out that “special” ambiance (well, it could be that I didn’t felt it because I dined there during the evening). Price wise, the cheapest menu price for it’s entrée is P300++ and it has an entrée that cost almost P1,000. Pricey, very pricey. We ordered a Prawn Fettris, their house specialty, Fish and Chips, and Grilled Salmon with vegetable. The Prawn Fettris is succulent and taste great. It was served on a champagne glass with 6 pcs of large fried prawn placed on the glass’ lips with the whip mayonnaise and lemon in the middle of the glass. Nice presentation. The prawns are large but not the super size ones you might find in Shangri – La hotel’s restaurant, Heat. Even though there are only 6 pieces of prawns served, the presentation and taste is really worth every penny of it’s P315 price tag. But I can’t say the same thing with Fish and Co’s next offerings, Grilled Salmon and Fish and Chips. To be fair, the fish served are quite fresh, of huge cuts and they’re delicious. In fact, the Grilled Salmon is a thick sliced of salmon’s belly, six inch in diameter. The only downside is that Fish and Co must have overcooked the salmon because it doesn’t taste that succulent. I mean, salmon bellies are the choice cuts and they’re supposed to be fatty and juicy but it isn’t the case with my Grilled Salmon. What is really disappointing about Fish and Co’s offerings are the side dish that goes with the Grilled Salmon and the Fish and Chips, diced vegetables and French fries respectively. I mean for P500++, you would expect a more decent side dish than what is being offered. For P300++, one could get a sizeable Salmon tail steak over a bed of Spinach sauce at Stars and Stripes and it taste equally great. Now, that’s what I call a side dish. For that evening’s less than sumptuous meal, we paid P1700++, which means that we paid close to P900 per person, quite an expensive meal I would say.

Fish and Co
Ambiance = 70 – 75
Presentation = 75 – 80
Taste = 75 – 80
Price = P900 per person.