Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mega Food Tour 2.0 : Experience SM Megamall's Finest Eats

I had never realized how difficult it is to become a food blogger until I've had experienced the Mega Food Tour 2.0 at the SM Megamall organized by Mercato Centrale Food Group with Our Awesome Planet. Can you imagine how belly-bursting it had been for us after we visited 9 restaurants in a single day? Yes, your read that right, NINE! But it truly was a lot of fun and a new experience for us all who participated in the said tour.

Our Mega Food Tour 2 started with a visit to SM Megamall's newest ramen restaurant, Ippudo. The long wait was truly worth it. Slurping on steaming hot ramen will certainly make you full right away on Mega Food Tour 2.0's first stop. Ippudo's Shiromaru Motoaji (Classic Ramen, Php375) served on a white bowl had original tonkatsu broth served with ultra thin noodles, pork loin, bean sprouts, kikurage and spring onions. It's really a comfort food and perfect for the rainy days. We also tried Akaramaru Shinaji (Php390, served on a red bowl), It also had the signature tonkatsu broth, pork loin, kikurage and enhanced with special blended miso paste and fragrant garlic oil. This one's mildly spicy, great for those who aren't into heavily spicy food but would just want to add some kick. Up next, we've had Akaramaru Shinaji (Php390, served on black bowl), also had the same tonkatsu broth, enhanced with the same specially blended miso paste but with an upgrade level of spiciness. Ippudo's rice toppings was also very tasty and delicious. But what surprised us the most was the sidedish called Nikumiso Tofu Salad (Php210). Made from Japanese tofu, nikumiso, avocado, cherry tomatoes, pineapple slices, cashew nuts, cilantro, and white leeks on sesame dressing and fish sauce. The food bloggers all loved this side dish. It cleanses your palate and had that sweet, salty, sour and umami taste that seems to exercise one's palate. The delicate balance of ingredients, the special broth and freshly made ramen noodles makes Ippudo on top of my MUST-VISIT restaurant at SM Megamall's Mega Fashion Hall. Before we left Ipuddo, I've learned that the best way to appreciate and eat ramen was to do a "Zuzutto"! It means to inhale the ramen's fragrant before slurping into a loud sound. It signifies the maximum enjoyment of the ramen. 

Second Stop: Linguini Fini, located at the second level of SM Megamall Fashion Hall. It's an authentic Italian-American resto where everything's made from the scratch--including pizza and pasta along with imported as well as locally produced products. Linguini Fini's menu is well-curated with fresh pasta and porchetta as its signature items. But there's pizza and antipasti for hefty foodies. During our visit, Linguini Fini's Executive Chef Vinny Lauria shared with foodies the philosophy behind the restaurant's best seller, "nose to tail"--that when it comes top pork, nothing goes to waste. 

Parpadelle "Nose to Tail Bolo" (Php430 + 10% service charge) consists of pork testa, veal and oxtail ragu, Parmigiano Reggiano. It was the first time I've tried pasta tat's not al dente, rather it was soft, like something that literally melts in your mouth. With ragu of pork face, veal loin and ox tail, it perfectly epitomizes the Nose to tail concept of Linguini Fini. We were also served with Sliced Porchetta (Php595 + 10% service charge)--slow roasted, fennel rubbed pork belly served sliced with caramelized onion marmalata. The Porchetta can be ordered sliced to see the beef belly with the fennel rubbed and served with crispy lechon-like pork belly skin. As if that's not enough, we were also served Chopped Porchetta (Php595 +10% service charge)--slow roasted, fennel rubbed pork belly chopped with chili mostarda, fennel on top of homemade focaccia bread. This is what I liked the most. The chili mostarda goes well and perfectly complements the said dish. 

We were almost in the brink of turning Japanese since our third stop is another Japanese restaurant called Rosanjin. From the very same people behind successful restaurants like Tajima Yakiniku and Sandaya comes Rosanjin. A hearty sample set was affordably priced at Php450 and it comes with unlimited Japanese rice. We were able to try the awesome appetizers which includes salmon wrapped in ginger and maki wrapped in Chinese cabbage. But we enjoyed eating chirashi the most, its got Japanese rice, and sushi as toppings with pink salt. Chirashi is what RJ Ledesma of Mercato Centrale Group referred to as "deconstructed sushi". 

Then, we made a stop to Cupcakes by Sonja. We were delighted with the presence of Ms. Sonja Ocampo herself. We've learned that Ms. Sonja trained and worked in Magnolia Bakery on New York (made popular in the US TV Series, Sex and the City). We were treated with some of Cupcakes by Sonja's best sellers including their famous Red Velvet Cupcakes. We had also tried their birthday milkshake (vanilla cake with birthday cake frosting and rainbow sprinkles). The said stop was such a treat for those with sweet tooth! 

After that, we made a quick stop at the Michelin star Tim Ho Wan where the lines never cease. Tim Ho Wan's Executive Chef graciously went out of their kitchen to say hello and served us their best selling and freshly baked pork barbecue buns. It was so divine! I loved it! The aroma of freshly baked buns alone brought excitement to my senses. The buns had a somewhat milky and buttery taste and sweet and salty. The bun's filling was pork barbecue at its finest. The taste was just right-not too sweet, not salty nor too bland. Three pieces of Tim Ho Wan's pork buns costs Php150. 

Up next was Eri Curry--which came from a play of the owner's name Erica + Japanese Curry, the said restaurant's specialty. It's Japanese Comfort Food at its finest. Customers are given the chance to customize their dishes to their desired degree of spiciness. We've had Katsu Curry, Shrimp Curry, Katsu Omelette Curry, and thin sliced Beef Curry. We were also served with their signature iced teas and Japanese rolls. 

Then, we made a stop to Canada's favorite burger, Triple O's. Here, we met Ms. Pinky Yee (the marketing genius behind Goldilocks Bakeshop) who brought Triple O's to Manila along with their specialty secret sauce. Generous servings of two best selling burgers from Triple O's made our visit superb: Bacon Cheddar and Monty Mushroom burgers with their specialty dips. I had truly enjoyed the dips: Honey mustard, Triple O's special dipping sauce and Chipotle sauce. Chipotle sauce is best with Triple O's sweet potato fries. And get this, don't forget their Strawberry Milkshake, it's a WINNER! Honest-to-goodness fresh strawberries, milk and water--no ice cubes! They tastes so divine! 

Kool Kids, on the other hand is where they make liquid nitrogen into ice cream in small batches from scratch. We enjoyed their ice cream in assorted flavors as well as their ice cream with 'white chocolate' frosting and FroDo, which was an ice cream sandwich using doughnut-like bun. The place is ideal for kids who'll surely utter 'ooohs and aaahs' as their orders are being made. 

Last Stop: Mochicream Cafe. With wide variety of mochis (Japanese rice cakes), Mochi donuts, loads of Matcha and Almonds. Apparently, their Matcha supplier is the one who also provides for the Emperor. Eating here feels like you're dining with the Japanese Emperor as well. 

Would you like to experience the Mega Food Tour 2.0 and experience SM Megamall's Finest Eats just like me? It's so easy to join! Here's how: 

Be part of the Mega Food Tour 2.0 with Mercato Centrale Food Group and Our Awesome Planet on September 29 and 30. 

Mechanics: Simply take your best foodie pic from any SM Megamall restaurant. Follow, tag @smmegamall, use the hashtag #MegaFoodTour2.0 and post on Instagram from September 19 to 27. 


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