Richmonde Hotel Iloilo Turns 2

Richmonde Hotel Iloilo's Deluxe King Room

Richmonde Hotel Iloilo’s Deluxe King Room

RICHMONDE Hotel Iloilo is celebrating its second anniversary, and along with this milestone, it also celebrates its achievements for the past two years—“Excellent” ratings on leading online travel sites such as Agoda, Booking.com and Expedia; and two 2017 Certificate of Excellence awards from TripAdvisor for the hotel itself and for its all-day dining restaurant called The Granary.

As its popularity soars even higher in the Western Visayas region as it marks its second year, Richmonde Hotel Iloilo is offering a special treat—a special rate of Php3,222++ for Deluxe Room bookings. Reserve and stay from July 20 to September 20, 2017, and get spacious and stylish room accommodations, breakfast buffet at The Granary for a maximum of two persons and two children aged 5 or below, complimentary use of the Fitness Center’s gym and swimming pool, and WiFi access.

Richmonde Hotel Iloilo's Twin Room

Richmonde Hotel Iloilo’s Twin Room

For guests who plan to visit Iloilo later this year, Richmonde Hotel Iloilo’s “flash sale” offer allows everyone to still avail of the special rate of Php3,222++ and its inclusions until December 31, 2017, by booking online. To book, log on to the official website, www.richmondehoteliloilo.com.ph and enter the promo code YEAR2. This three-day online promotion is available only from July 20 to 23, 2017.

For inquiries and reservations, call 328-7888, send email to rhireservations@richmondehotel.com.ph, or log on to www.richmondehoteliloilo.com.ph.

 

(Richmonde Hotel Iloilo is located at Megaworld Blvd. corner Enterprise Road, Iloilo Business Park, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.)

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Enjoy Cafe Enye’s Complex Spanish Cuisine

Gambas, Enye Style

Gambas, Enye Style

DUE to the fact that Spanish colonization lasted centuries in the Philippines, Spanish cuisine is perhaps the foreign cuisine that wields the strongest influence on Filipino cuisine. Spanish colonial cuisine—including Cocido and Callos—helped shape Filipino cuisine and develop the palate of the Filipino people and their passion for good food.

This is why Café Enye, which can be found in Eastwood City, has decided to serve Spanish colonial cuisine. Its symbol, “ñ,” is a special letter found in the Spanish alphabet and is a dead giveaway to the kind of food it serves. But since purely Spanish colonial cuisine is looked upon by today’s young generation as old and dated, Café Enye’s dynamic kitchen team has put creative twists into its food.

The dishes on the menu are basically Spanish, with a sprinkling of dishes originating from Northern Morocco, Argentina, Central America and the Philippines—places where Spaniards have settled. But the dishes have evolved into complex ones which offer familiar tastes but at the same time something innovative and new, infused with local flair.

Open from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily, Café Enye starts the day with breakfast fares, offering Paella Brunch Plates (Php215), with a choice of House-cured Beef Tapa, Homemade Daing na Bangus, Handcrafted Garlicky Longganisa, and Homemade Corned Beef. It is served in a paellera with egg and rice, topped with pickled vegetables, salsa, and crispy fried anchovies.

Enye Callos Buns

Enye Callos Buns

It is, however, the main menu that best represents the complex Spanish colonial cuisine that Café Enye offers. Think Enye Callos Buns (Php135 for 3 pieces), which is classic Callos (ox tripes in tomato-based sauce) wrapped in a round bun that’s crispy on the outside but soft and delightfully fresh on the inside.

Callos ala Casa

Callos ala Casa

Café Enye also serves Callos ala Casa (Php440), which is a whole platter of Callos with chickpeas, olives, meat and bell pepper, served with rice. The Callos is slow-cooked for six hours, sous vide style, so when diners take a biteful, it melts in the mouth in tenderness and the flavor bursts free.

Gambas, Enye Style

Gambas, Enye Style

Also think Gambas, Enye Style (Php350), an appetizer loaded with garlic, herbs and condiments and served with roasted garlic.

Bacalao Puttanesca

Bacalao Puttanesca

Bacalao is a key ingredient in Spanish cooking, and it is accounted for at Café Enye, but not in the usual Bacalao ala Vizcaina form but in Bacalao Puttanesca (Php275), a unique pasta dish; Bacalao Mantecado (Php245); and Eggplant & Bacalao Sauté (Php225).

Caesar Salad Mojo Chicken Breast

Caesar Salad Mojo Chicken Breast

Among the salads, Caesar Salad Mojo Chicken Breast (Php250) is a must-try. It is a combination of half a grilled Romaine lettuce and a bed of curly lettuce topped with slices of red radish and carrots, croutons and grilled chicken breast, served with Caesar salad dressing.

Fish Mojo Skewers

Fish Mojo Skewers

The restaurant also offers three kinds of skewers—Fish Mojo Skewers (Php380), Grilled Pork Skewers (Php360), and Chicken Mojo Skewers (Php330).

Enye Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

Enye Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

For diners with a big appetite, a good choice would be Enye Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables (Php490), served with rice and fried root vegetables. The mojo spiced chicken is brined, so that when it is roasted, it ends up crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside.

Mahi-Mahi Cubano

Mahi-Mahi Cubano

Then there are sandwiches for light eaters. The top favorite happens to be Mahi-Mahi Cubano (Php290), a fish and cheese grilled panini sandwich served with thick-cut fries. The bread for this sandwich and for the four other sandwiches on the menu are baked in-house.

Creme Catalana

Creme Catalana

Chouxros with Dulce de Leche Cream

Chouxros with Dulce de Leche Cream

For dessert, Café Enye offers two choices—Crema Catalana (Php185) and Chouxros with Dulce de Leche Cream (Php170). Creme Catalana is the Spanish version of Leche Flan but the surface is torched like Crème Brulee and topped with fresh fruits. As for the Chouxros with Dulce de Leche Crème, it is like Churros but is made with pate choux so it is lighter and fluffier, and is served with red egg dulce de leche and choco peanut butter dips.

Kamias Shake

Kamias Shake

To wash it all down, the hands-down choice of a beverage is Kamias Shake. Yes, kamias! It’s sour, but when you make it into shake, it has a tangy appeal much like green mango and makes an excellent, refreshing drink.

IMG_0396IMG_0394Café Enye serves all these in a casual environment designed by Arch. Alan Casas to provide nooks for power meetings and comfortable casual spaces for gatherings with friends. The interiors have a hint of Spanish with modern touches of a Filipino lifestyle, as the main dining room is accented with thoughtful details such as hand-painted scripts by popular calligraphist Alexis Ventura and the Floral Woman oil painting mural executed by Japanese artist Akane Watanabe.

Aside from the main dining room, Café Enye has a large al fresco area adjacent to the bar and a function room that can accommodate 25 persons. The operable stained glass walls can open up the space to the al fresco and main dining areas.

 

(Café Enye is located at the ground floor of Eastwood Excelsior, 116 Eastwood Ave., Bagumbayan, Quezon City; with telephone number 671-3230.)

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Sambo Kojin Serves Up
Japanese and Korean Favorites

Assorted rolls

Assorted rolls

ONE of the most frequented stations in any full-fledged buffet is the Japanese station, where all-time favorites, such as assorted sushi, sashimi and maki, Miso Soup, Ebi Tempura, Chicken Teriyaki, Tonkatsu, Gyoza and Sukiyaki, are staples. This is why no international buffet—or Asian buffet, for that matter—is ever complete without a Japanese station.

If you are like me, who willingly and happily skips Crispy Pata, Roast Prime Rib and Foie Gras so I will have more space in my tummy for Japanese dishes, then an all-Japanese buffet like Sambo Kojin’s should be perfect indeed.

A concept that the Villavicencios (the family behind such successful restaurants as Kamayan, Saisaki and Dads) turned into a business venture about seven years ago, Sambo Kojin is a Japanese buffet restaurant named after the six-armed fire god in Japanese mythology. It combines everything that diners would look for in a Japanese restaurant.

Each table comes equipped with a yakiniku smokeless grill

Each table comes equipped with a yakiniku smokeless grill

U.S. marbled beef on the yakiniku grill, clockwise from left: marinated in salt and pepper, in teriyaki sauce, and in miso garlic blend

U.S. marbled beef on the yakiniku grill, clockwise from left: marinated in salt and pepper, in teriyaki sauce, and in miso garlic blend

First and foremost, it is a yakiniku restaurant, so every table has a yakiniku or smokeless grill, where diners can get meats and seafood, grill them at their leisurely pace, and enjoy bites in between animated conversations. Sambo Kojin prides itself in offering only high-quality U.S. marbled beef, marinating the thin, chilled slices with salt and pepper, teriyaki sauce, and miso garlic blend. There is also a wide range of fresh fish and seafood that’s perfect for the smokeless grill, including salmon and shrimps. Right beside the yakiniku smokeless grill on each table is a tray of sauces—Ponzu (Japanese soy vinegar), Sesame Oil with Salt and Pepper, Teriyaki (sweet Japanese soy), Takumi (miso teriyaki), Spicy (Korean spicy paste), and Sambo Kojin Sauce (house specialty)—so diners can cook and enjoy their grilled food the way they want to and at their own pace, too.

Sashimi Platter

Sashimi Platter

Sushi Platter

Sushi Platter

Makis or rolls

Makis or rolls

The ingredients for the yakiniku grill are kept in a refrigerated display area so they stay fresh and bacteria-free in their raw form. So is an assortment of sashimis, sushis, makis, temakis and other rolls kept in a wide refrigerated display area so they do not deteriorate in quality and taste.

Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki

For diners who do not wish to cook too much when they dine in, Sambo Kojin’s buffet presents an entire spread of cooked dishes in the different cooking stations. There is Ramen, which can be prepared a la minute for diners who take comfort in a bowl of hot, flavorful soup with noodles and all the works. Then there is Sukiyaki, whose soup is just as flavorful, complemented by the tender, melt-in-the-mouth strips of thinly sliced beef, mushrooms, egg and green vegetables.

Pork Katsu

Pork Katsu

There is Katsu (breaded pork), which spawned a number of Katsu specialty Japanese restaurants in recent years. Sambo Kojin’s version is tender, layered and freshly cooked so that the golden outer layer has a nice crisp to it. Diners can have their Katsu with the works—cabbage salad with sesame dressing, and pounded sesame seeds—for that total Katsu dining experience.

Kamameshi Rice

Kamameshi Rice

Kamameshi Rice is also available just the way they should be served—in traditional kamameshi bowls.

Takoyaki

Takoyaki

Takoyaki balls are cooked in batches, so diners can have as much as they want.

Mixed Tempura

Mixed Tempura

There is also a live station for tempura, so fresh batches of ebi (shrimp), kisu (asohos), ika (squid), eggplant, sweet potato and onion tempura are available all the time. Perfectly done, too, because the Saisaki group has long mastered the art of cooking tempura.

Pork Gyoza

Pork Gyoza

Ebi Gyoza

Ebi Gyoza

KImchi Gyoza

Kimchi Gyoza

Gyoza (Japanese dumplings) is not just the traditional Pork Gyoza at Sambo Kojin. The creative chefs have come up with interesting variations, such as Ebi Gyoza and the Korean-inspired Kimchi Gyoza.

Speaking of Kimchi Gyoza, it is not the only dish that is inspired by Korean cuisine. Sambo Kojin now serves not just Japanese dishes but also the best of Korean cuisine. It is basically a Japanese yakiniku and Korean barbecue place now.

Original Korean Fried Chicken

Original Korean Fried Chicken

Spicy Korean Fried Chicken

Spicy Korean Fried Chicken

Sweet Korean Fried Chicken

Sweet Korean Fried Chicken

Starting with Korean barbecue, the restaurant now carries the most popular Korean dishes on its buffet menu, starting with Yongnyam Dalg Jin (Korean Fried Chicken). Twice fried for the ultimate in crispiness, Korean Fried Chicken comes in three variations at Sambo Kojin—Original Korean Fried Chicken, Spicy Korean Fried Chicken, and Sweet Korean Fried Chicken—in leg, wing and drumette parts. The difference, really, lies in the glaze. The good thing about having all these variations present on the buffet table and positioned side by side is that diners can actually get to try them all in small portions (probably all drumettes or all wings) before deciding which variation they really like and get a more substantial portion of that afterwards or in their next visit.

Bibimbap

Bibimbap

Also worth trying are Bibimbap (Korean rice meal) and Beef Bulgogi, not to mention Pajeon (Korean pancakes) and Chapchae (stir-fried glass noodles). Not to be missed are the Banchan, or appetizers, that Koreans love to have with their main meal.

The Korean component of Sambo Kojin is an offshoot of the huge following that everything Korean, including Korean cuisine, has been commanding in recent years. So the Sambo Kojin team went to Korea to take short courses in Korean cooking to keep the flavors as authentic to traditional Korean cuisine as possible.

Fraizier

Fraizier

S'mores

S’mores

Apple Tart

Apple Tart

Triple Chocolate Mousse

Triple Chocolate Mousse

Green Tea SansRival

Green Tea SansRival

Lime & Mango Cheesecake

Lime & Mango Cheesecake

But just when you think the strength of Sambo Kojin lies just in its Japanese and Korean savory dishes, the desserts start commanding the attention of diners. The dessert spread is an entire buffet by itself, with lots of whole cakes, bars and slices, tarts, verrines, and mousses to go with gelato and soft-serve ice cream. Diners enjoy dessert so much that they have been asking to buy whole cakes from Sambo Kojin lately, the most popular of which are Fraizier, S’mores, Apple Tart, Triple Chocolate Mousse, Green Tea SansRival, Lime & Mango Cheesecake, and Checkered Cake.

Mango Trifle

Mango Trifle

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

Pots de Creme

Pots de Creme

Make a little more room in your tummy for the Mango Trifle, Key Lime Pie, and Pots de Crème (vanilla flan topped with granola crumble and glazed fruits).

The No Leftover Buffet price at Sambo Kojin is Php499 for Lunch from Mondays to Fridays, Php599 for Dinner from Mondays to Fridays, and Php649 both for Lunch and Dinner on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

 

(Sambo Kojin has branches at EDSA Greenhills-Mandaluyong City, Eastwood Citywalk, West Avenue-Quezon City, SM Megamall, SM Southmall and SM Fairview.)

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Enjoy Rainy Day Staycation
at Diamond Hotel Philippines

Diamond Executive Suite

Diamond Executive Suite

THERE’S nothing more comforting than curling up in bed under a cozy blanket on a rainy afternoon. So, Diamond Hotel Philippines thought up exceptional room offers that are meant to keep guests cocooned under the warmth and comfort of relaxing accommodations.

For the months of July and August, the hotel offers four Rainy Urban Escape Room Packages—the Rainy Day Escape, the Warm Under the Sheets room package, the Family Lifestyle room package, and the Suite Life.

The Rainy Day Escape is a two-night staycation package in a Deluxe room, with rates starting at Php5,300 nett per day, and includes buffet breakfast for two at Corniche and unlimited WiFi access in the room and public areas. Room-only rate is also available, starting at Php4,800 nett for an overnight stay.

The Warm Under the Sheets room package starts at Php7,700 nett for an overnight stay inclusive of buffet breakfast and lunch for two at Corniche, unlimited WiFi access, and 20% off on massage services, reflexology, laundry, food and beverage. Booking may also be done online through www.diamondhotel.com, using the promo code RAINYDAY.

The Family Lifestyle room package is an overnight stay with rates that start at Php7,000. Accommodations come with a Php2,000 credit in room service per stay, buffet breakfast for two at Corniche, unlimited WiFi access, and 20% off on massage services and reflexology, laundry, food and beverage. When booking online, the promo code for this package is FAMESCAPE.

Luxury at its finest is what the Suite Life promises, with an overnight stay in a cozy Executive Suite for Php16,000 nett, inclusive of Php2,000 credit in room service per stay, one hour in-room massage for two persons per stay, buffet breakfast for two at Corniche, unlimited WiFi access, and 20% off on laundry, food and beverages. Book online with the promo code SUITELIFE.

(Diamond Hotel Philippines is located at Roxas Blvd. corner Dr. J. Quintos St., Manila. For inquiries, call 528-3000 or email guestservices@diamondhotel.com. For room reservations, call 528-3000 extension 1141.)

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Genki Sushi
Puts Fun into Japanese Dining

Chirashi Don

Chirashi Don

I LOVE Japanese food. From Salmon Sashimi and California Maki to Ebi Tempura and Salmon Teriyaki to Matcha Ice Cream and Japanese Cheesecake… Every bite is a joy to my senses. Japanese cuisine is so rich in fish and seafood dishes that I do not feel deprived at all even if I skip the Beef Sukiyaki and the Beef Teppanyaki.

So, every time there is a new Japanese restaurant opening in town, be it a fast-food chain or a full-fledged restaurant, I get all excited to try its food. With so many Japanese restaurants competing for diners’ attention, however, it is no longer just the food that they concentrate on. They also focus on the ambiance as well as the concept to be able to provide diners with an exquisite dining experience that people will keep coming back for.

One of the best new Japanese concept restaurants—and my personal favorite—is Genki Sushi. It puts more fun into Japanese casual dining by incorporating high-tech gadgets into the order-and-delivery system.

Genki Sushi features casual booth dining

Genki Sushi features casual booth dining

Each booth comes equipped with a touch-screen iPad system, where diners place orders

Each booth comes equipped with a touch-screen iPad system, where diners place orders

The food arrives through the Kousoku Express System

The food arrives through the Kousoku Express System

The setup of the dining area is simple, as it maximizes space by utilizing booth seating. But each booth has its own iPad complete with a visual menu of all the dishes, names and prices. You make your order by touching the photo of the dish you want. You can order one to four dishes at the same time, and once you do, the orders are transmitted to the kitchen, who prepare the dishes right away. As soon as the dishes are ready, they are sent out via the Kousoku Express System. The first such fully functional, double-deck system of its kind in Manila and outside of Japan, this highly sophisticated serving innovation intelligently delivers food to the dining tables in 5 to 10 minutes. Shaped like a Shinkansen bullet train or Formula One car, the Kousoku train where the plates of food are placed run down a winding track located above the main conveyor belt, and stops right in front of the table that ordered them. This unique food delivery system is programmed to slow down upon reaching the diners’ table and gives out an alert to announce that the food has arrived. After diners shall have unloaded the Kousoku train, they need to press a button to send the train back to the kitchen for the next order.

That’s the exciting part. The Kousoku Express System is an improvement over the already exciting kaiten sushi concept that some Japanese restaurants have earlier utilized. ‘Kaiten’ literally translates to ‘revolving’, and the concept is having a revolving conveyor belt that strategically passes each dining table. On the conveyor belt and making the rounds of the tables are color-coded plates serving different kinds of sushi. When diners spot the sushi—or maki (rolls) or temaki (cone –shaped sushi)—that they like, they take it and pay for it later. Genki Sushi’s Kousoku system is an improvement over the Kaiten system in the sense that each order is prepared fresh and sent out fresh, too. The Kousoku system also delivers donburis, salads, mains and desserts; not just sushi and maki.

Check your bill with just the touch of a finger

Check your bill with just the touch of a finger

I find it really fun to order through the iPad and have my orders delivered to me by a ‘stretched-out’ Formula One car. I also like the fact that I can check my bill onscreen way before I actually check out.

All tables come with a hot water dispensing system and a container of powdered matcha so diners can have as much matcha green tea as they want

All tables come with a hot water dispensing system and a container of powdered matcha so diners can have as much matcha green tea as they want

Each booth is also equipped with a flowing hot water system and a container of powdered matcha green tea that allows diners to have as much green tea as they want to wash down their food with.

Tuna Sashimi

Tuna Sashimi

California Maki

California Maki

Salmon Skin Handroll

Salmon Skin Handroll

Salmon and Cucumber Handroll

Salmon and Cucumber Handroll

Seared Shrimp with Black Pepper Sushi

Seared Shrimp with Black Pepper Sushi

Northern Shrimp Sushi

Northern Shrimp Sushi

Shrimp Roe

Shrimp Roe

Lobster Salad

Lobster Salad

Flying Fish Roe

Flying Fish Roe

Scallop Pollock Roe

Scallop Pollock Roe

Squid Taberu Layu

Squid Taberu Layu

More than a fun and exciting concept, Genki Sushi is also always full because the food is good. There are a lot of choices on the menu. Among rolls alone, the selections are endless. Classics, such as Salmon Sashimi (Php200 for 4 slices), Tuna Sashimi (Php200 for 4 slices), and California Maki (Php150 for 4 pieces), still enjoy strong patronage, although diners also like trying out innovative variations, including Salmon Skin Handroll (Php80 per piece), which is temaki or cone-shaped maki; Salmon Roe Handroll (Php250 per piece), Northern Shrimp Sushi (Php80 for 2 pieces, each piece with 2 shrimps), Seared Shrimp with Black Pepper Sushi (Php120 for 2 pieces), Crispy Spicy Salmon Roll (Php150 for 3 pieces), Shrimp Roe (Php80 for 2 pieces), Lobster Salad (Php120 for 2 pieces), Flying Fish Roe (Php80 for 2 pieces), Scallop Pollock Roe (Php200), and Squid Taberu Layu (Php120).

Genki Roll

Genki Roll

Then there is the Genki Roll (Php150), which is sushi with salmon and cucumber filling and clothed with thin salmon slices.

Steamed Egg Custard

Steamed Egg Custard

The restaurant’s Chawan Mushi, or Steamed Egg Custard (Php120), is not to be missed because it is one of the best in the metro.

Chuka Wakame

Chuka Wakame

Make sure to also order Chuka Wakame (Php130), which is Japanese seaweed salad.

Chicken Teriyaki Don

Chicken Teriyaki Don

When it comes to donburis (rice toppings), which are mains served in generous portions, top three variants are Salmon Oyako Don (Php320), thin salmon slices and salmon roe on rice; Chicken Teriyaki Don (Php190), flavorful chicken bites on rice; and Chirashi Don (Php420), which is a combination of crabstick, octopus, tamago egg, salmon, tuna, Northern shrimps and salmon roe).

Matcha Double Fromage

Matcha Double Fromage

Rare Japanese Cheesecake

Rare Japanese Cheesecake

Green Tea Ice Cream (front), and Strawberry Ice Cream (back)

Green Tea Ice Cream (front), and Strawberry Ice Cream (back)

Diners at Genki Sushi are likewise surprised to find out that the restaurant has a good selection of desserts to end a good and satisfying meal with. It is a toss-up between Matcha Double Fromage (Php140 per slice) and Rare Japanese Cheesecake (Php140 per slice), but make sure you have either Green Tea Ice Cream (Php80) or Strawberry Ice Cream (Php80) on the side, as well.

 

(Genki Sushi can be found at Bonifacio Stopover, Rizal Drive, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; UP Town Center, Quezon City; and Ayala Malls The 30th, Pasig City.)

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