KKK – Quick, No Fuss, Filipino Dining

It was lunch time and although we grabbed apples for our late breakfast (breakfast-on-the-go) on the way to SM Megamall, we knew we had to eat even though we were not starving.  We parked in Building B, and we went to the basement to walk all the way to Building A where the food court was when we saw, KKK – a Filipino Restaurant.

Note:  to all vegetarians out there, if you’re looking for places to eat, you can go to a Filipino Restaurant and you’re sure to find dishes that are meatless, or dishes you can easily request to have the meat taken out.  Just be conscious that a lot of Filipino dishes have Bagoong (Shrimp Paste), so you can either let that slide, or be strict and have that taken out as well.

The Wandering Boots_Vegetarian KKK

The Wandering Boots_Vegetarian KKK 07
Near the basement escalator!

We’ve eaten in KKK (Mall of Asia) before and we didn’t blog about it because we just had an ok experience or a few notches below ok.  Food was, ummm, ok, place was, ummm, ok…  Price was, ummm, higher than most for the serving size.  That was many years back when we were still eating everything!  Now, I think it’s time to document a new experience.  But, mostly because there’s very few options for vegetarians it’s not practical to pass up on opportunities to blog about them.

About the Restaurant

The restaurant was spacious and every nook and cranny was optimized to incorporate Filipino decoration, almost to the point of having too much.  Very good still, a lot of opportunities to take photos for Instagram or your daily (hourly) Facebook shoutouts.  They also hid (or tried to hide) their counter by designing a jeep in front of it.  A full-sized 1-side jeepney with more decors on top of it.

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The branches are written as the jeepney routes.
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If they tried to hide the kitchen counters, well, it did not do them any good from this angle. This view reminded me of eating in a carinderia (eatery). And see all the decors on top of the jeepney?
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Very spacious! Those who’ve been followers of my blog know that I love having more than enough elbow room.
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Unique light fixtures made out of blue-stained bottles. Just didn’t jive well with the color-scheme going on in the restaurant but still cool to see.
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Some tables have this. ^_^

The Menu

I’m sorry, dear readers.  I don’t have a photo of the menu but their website has everything and here’s the link to the vegetables part (gulay) but the price is not updated.  That’s also one of the reasons why we decided to eat here.  They have a part of the menu dedicated to vegetable dishes.  We always look for that.  I meant to take a photo of it after we were done eating, but I forgot since we were in a hurry to go somewhere else.

Our Order

We decided to order just 1 viand (ulam) and share it since when we asked what the serving size of their viands were, they said everything is for sharing.  And we were also gearing up for a special dinner with friends that same day.

Chicharon / FREE (starters) The Wandering Boots_Boot Rating 3

We didn’t order this.  As you know, we’ve started to be vegetarians and we had no idea we were going to be served this while waiting.  But since it’s served, I tasted it just to let you know how it tasted – plus it’s bad to waste food.  Honestly, the chicharon tasted a little bit overcooked (burnt almost) and wasn’t something we’d probably have a refill on even if we weren’t vegetarians.  BUT, the vinegar (sinamak) it was served with was SUPERB!  Almost made me want to ask where to buy one but decided not to because we used to make sinamak at home and I’d like to share how we make ours here someday.

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Laing sa Gata / P220 (for sharing)  The Wandering Boots_Boot Rating 3

It was served in a round sizzling plate (smaller than the ones used in sizzling plate in Korean restaurants), with an uncut piece of chili.  The description from the menu reads “DAHON NG GABI NA MATYAGANG NILUTO SA GATA AT SILI”.  Well, the gabi leaves were certainly cooked, umm, but were probably a little overcooked.  I’m not sure if the whole theme was “do it well – well done”.  It tasted bitter and salty, but I’d take salty any time of the day.  I love salty food.  Was it enough for sharing?  Yes, it was.  Because it was in the salty side, we had some left over.  I also noticed that towards the end of the meal, the sizzling plate was sooooo oily you can fry an egg in there (and saute some onions before that).  It probably was the oil from the coconut milk.  The taste wasn’t something we’d rave about, but if you’re a vegetarian, eating with someone, looking to share a meal, and really hungry, this is ok.

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Overall

I wouldn’t say it was a bad experience, but I also wouldn’t say it was awesome.  There were a lot of great things and mostly they were about the place.  It was spacious, clean, and interesting.  There are a lot of things to look at and to take pictures of.  But it ultimately is about the food.  The food was ok, not bad, and not rave worthy.  I’d love to try their other “gulay” dishes next time.

I hope this experience doesn’t turn people off from wanting to be a vegetarian or thinking about taking that first step.  Just like being a omnivorous foodie, you’ll have good days and bad days in trying out restaurants.  It is an adventure!

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The Wandering Boots

Sambo Kojin, Japanese Korean Smokeless Grill – Yakiniku Eat-All-You-Can!

Like This!

There’s nothing more fun when meeting with friends than meeting over lunch at a restaurant that offers unlimited food.  But we were introduced by my brother and his friends to Sambo Kojin and now we know that there’s still such thing as “better than unlimited food”.  Sambo Kojin offers more than just stuffing you up with the abundance of Japanese and Korean Yakiniku choices, they also give you great ambiance, great desert table (which is also unlimited), and great service from everyone in their staff (service crew, chefs, valet, supervisors).  Ah… words aren’t enough to express the wonderful time we had at Sambo Kojin so let’s go on with the rest of the blog and the photos… ^_^

The Wandering Boots_Buffet

About the Restaurant  The Wandering Boots Rating 5 SMALL

Apparently, there are 2 branches already, and we went to their EDSA branch which is along the South bound lane of EDSA, very near Barrio Fiesta.  If you’re coming from the North, like Quezon City, just take EDSA, and it’ll be on your right (Landmark: huge Barrio Fiesta signage) way before you reach Robinsons mall.  And if you’re coming from the South, let’s say Makati, you’ll have to take a U-turn somewhere near the White Plains area… Argh!  Showing the map would be much better, right?  ^_^;

The Wandering Boots_Buffet
Zoom In
The Wandering Boots_Buffet
Zoom Out

It was my brother’s treat and he made a reservation for 11AM.  When we got there, valet was waiting for us (for free).  We were among the first customers of the day and very friendly female staff greeted us at the lobby and we were escorted to our table on the 2nd floor.  Once the door opened on to the dining area of the 2nd floor, we were greeted by some 7 – 10 staff with a loud “Irasshaimase!”  That’s the Japanese greeting for customers who are coming in a business place whether it’s restaurant or spa, etc.  Because we were among the first customers to arrive, we got a good look of the whole place without the hustle and bustle of other enthusiastic lunch batch customers.  The whole place is super spacious, very clean with the white leather chairs, cream and white covered walls and beams, polished brown wooden floors, black granite tables, and the very prominent and inviting buffet table which was well organized, very clean, and always stocked up (never empty).

The Wandering Boots Sambokojin buffet
Clean table, clean grill, black granite table, comfortable chairs... Ah... such a wonderful place to have lunch!
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A few more customers are starting to come in. My brother and Mario in this photo, and you can see how well lit the whole place was. The white/cream walls and the perfect lighting made the place look bigger. No fancy shmancy giant paintings or what not. Just everything that buffet-ers need, great food, huge and clean place, and friends.
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I like that there's a fair distance from the buffet area to the nearest set of tables and chairs so that those who are getting food aren't disturbing any of the customers who are also enjoying the whole experience.
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See how really clean, spacious and just relaxing the place is? Yes, it's a buffet restaurant, but it also feels like a cafe where you can also catch-up with friends, tell stories, etc.

About the Service  The Wandering Boots Rating 5 SMALL

Don’t be scared even if it’s your first time because as soon as you get to your table, an assigned Sambo Kojin staff will take care of your every need.  He/she will ask you if it’s your first time or not, regardless, he/she will still explain the buffet price, about the leftover charge, the sauces, etc.  They’ll also be the one to turn on your grill.  Ask away!  You can call the attention of any of the crew for water, request for spoon, etc., and they’ll be on it and fulfilling it ASAP.  The chefs were also very polite, fun, and accommodating!  They were quick to refill and I never found myself staring at an empty plate even though it seemed that people were getting food faster than it took for people to refill the serving plates.

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Chefs hard at work making sure there's a constant supply of everything for everyone.

About the Food  The Wandering Boots Rating 5 SMALL

We came there on a Saturday, so the buffet price was P595 per person (plus P100 if you have leftovers).  You pay for your drinks and they have a separate menu for that.  Each table is given a tray of 6 different sauces which you can use for everything, we highly recommend the Sambo Kojin sauce.  We were also given a Sambo Kojin Rice, there weren’t a whole lot and we failed to ask if we can get more but it was delicious!  Reminded me of Adobo Rice except that it was a little sweet and they used Japanese rice.  Ahhhhhhh!  There was a great number of different sushi and sashimi to choose from, various bacon wrapped goodies, different tempura choices, lots of meats and different parts for you to grill (fancy some tongue?), unlimited curry, salad, and crazy fondue desert, fruits, ice cream, and cakes!  Did I miss anything?

Sambokojin
Do you think you'd be able to taste one of each from this section? Here's the meat and veggies section you can grill. Very well disguised, you won't see at first but the plates are stacked below the buffet counter.
Buffet
Closer look... ^_^ Mushrooms!!!
Buffet
Here comes the sushi/sashimi section! All your appetizers can be found here too! Their kimchi was superb!!!
Buffet
Wonderful colors... Say hello to the world, Shiitake mushrooms!
Buffet
Here's where the deep fried goodies are... Tempura (all kinds of them), plus tonkatsu.
Buffet
While waiting for your grilled stuff to cook, have some perfectly cooked dishes first!

Buffet

Buffet Sambokojin
Tired of photos of meat? Well, have a salad!
Dessert anyone? Fondue forever!? Cakes galore?! Where's the ice cream!?
Buffet Sambokojin
Ice cream!

There’s just too many photos to post everything individually so I decided to just show them in a slideshow…  Enjoy!

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Overall

I love the whole experience!  It was a very interactive lunch (getting stuff, grilling them, turning them at the right time, etc).  You would think that because most of the food were unseasoned (or so I thought), you expect them to be bland after grilling, but that’s not the case.  Their tempura was exceptional and the desert table was something I wish I had left more room for.  ^_^

Fun fun fun!

It's the waiting time that sometimes frustrates you... ^_^; It's faster to devour than to cook.
But it's also during those lag/waiting times that you get an opportunity to share a few laughs, and loads of stories with your friends or family.

QUICK TIPS:

1)  Call for reservation a week before, especially if you plan to dine on a weekend or holiday.  This place gets packed full easily on a weekend.

2)  If there are 6 of you, check if you can reserve 2 sets of tables good for 4 (total of 8 chairs) so that you also have 2 grills.  This makes for more meat grilling, less waiting time in between, ummm…, feeding sessions?  But if you can’t get 2 grills for 6 folks, that’s ok.  1 will do.

3)  Request for grill clean-up when all the skins start sticking to the grill, especially the delicate fish meats/skins.  ^_^  Making me hungry just thinking about the food there…

4)  Go easy on the tempura.  I know it’s tempting to just dive in a plate full of deep fried battered meat or veggies, but that will fill you up really quick and won’t give you a fighting chance to sample the other goodies they have to offer!

Contact Information:

Eastwood Citywalk QC (Tel. 421-0145 to 46)

Greenhills Mandaluyong City (Tel. 726-4466 or 726-4520)

Hours:

Mon – Thurs:      11:00 am – 2:00 pm / 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Fri – Sun:              11:00 am – 2:00 pm / 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Price

LUNCH (Mon to Fri) No Left Over Price is P 495 (with left over add P100 only)*Except for Holidays

LUNCH (Sat & Sun) No Left Over Price is P 595 (with left over add P100 only)

DINNER (Mon to Sun) No Left Over Price is P 595 (with left over add P100 only)

For children- No Left Over Price is P 295 (with left over add P100 only)

4th Stop. Lime 88 – Dinner

Well, the song says to “Save the best for last…” and I think we really did!

We weren’t really hungry, in fact, I can distinctly remember being full at that time and we almost called it a day after the movie.  The one thing that didn’t make us go home is the fact that this stop features “street food with a twist”!  Mario has been thinking about bringing street food into malls so this concept of street food being cooked differently is something we wanted to see (and taste) with our own eyes.

About the Store

Looking for the place was so easy if you follow Anton’s directions posted on his site. The place really looks and feels like a friend’s house.  The gate looks like a normal house if not for the sign “Lime 88” I wouldn’t have the courage to go in.  It felt weird at first, because, did I say it really looks like a normal house?

Mario while waiting for our food!  The chopsticks are for the Quail Egg Tempura.
Mario while waiting for our food! The chopsticks are for the Quail Egg Tempura.

As I said on my Valkyrie post, I thought they open at 5PM but after asking one of the crew members, I learned they open at 6PM.  So when we got there (a few minutes pass 5PM), they were just preparing the place for their Valentine’s Day opening.  People were mopping the floors, scattering rose petals everywhere and arranging the tables.

Notice a lot of masking tapes with white bond papers on the menu?  This suggests price change, people!  With prices of everything else going up, that's expected.  Still good value for the money!
Notice a lot of masking tapes with white bond papers on the menu? This suggests price change, people! With prices of everything else going up, that's expected. Still good value for your money! Also, I don't know if it's just because it's Valentine's Day the lights are red, I'm still not sure if that's good or bad, I just remembered that it bothered me sometimes. I'll try to go back and see if the lights are really like that on normal days.

We opted to dine inside the house (you have choice of dining outside for fresh air and a good view of the performers when they come it that night).  We got our tables and I went on placing the order with the “just trust me” sign to Mario.  I knew he liked Kare Kare and so I ordered “Osso Buco Style Kare Kare” (rumored to be the best Kare Kare) and for the other orders, Quail Egg Tempura, Creamy Garlic Tuyo Pasta (yes, I love salty food!) and Thai Green Mango Salad.  We tried ordering Scramble (for 40 php) but the shaved ice isn’t available until later that evening so … too bad for being too early…

About the Quail Egg Tempura

I forgot to take note of the prices so forgive me.  ^_^  I’ll update this post once I  have a chance to go back to Lime 88.

Quail Egg Tempura!!!  Yummy eggs in the basic batter color (no orange food coloring) and the yummy sauces!!!  We liked the soy souce concoction better than the sinamak but both go well with the eggs.  My tip is to let the egg tempura soak in as much sauce as it can before removing it from the sauce.

First to arrive!  Quail Egg Tempura!  Nice presentation, ei?  Considering it looked like we were just dining in someone else's house!  Notice the rose petals?  They're everywhere!  Somebody got berserk scattering them all over the place!  ^_^  I liked the petals too!
First to arrive! Quail Egg Tempura! Nice presentation, ei? Considering it looked like we were just dining in someone else's house! The black sauce strips are soysauce and the red strips are chilli sauce (I think). Notice the rose petals? They're everywhere! Somebody got berserk scattering them all over the place! ^_^ I liked the petals too!
Not too bad for someone who hasn't slept in more than 24 hours.  I've done 48 hours no sleep before.  ^_^;
Not too bad for someone who hasn't slept in more than 24 hours. I've done 48 hours no sleep before. ^_^;

About the Creamy Garlic Tuyo Pasta

Oh, WOW!  This dish is like a dream come true for me!  Who knew I’d be able to get the chance to eat TUYO with Creamy Garlic Pasta!  The Creamy Garlic Pasta has hints of “tuyo” also.  When the dish arrived, I didn’t have any time to meditate on how lucky I am to be alive in this era, I immediately took a bite off the head of the crispy tuyo that came with my pasta and a forkfull of pasta.  Mmmmm!  Pure heaven!

The sign of approval!
The sign of approval!
Yes, you guessed it.  I already had a few forksfull of pasta and had already bitten off the head before we remembered to take a picture.  ^_^  That's how good it was!
Yes, you guessed it. I already had a few forksfull of pasta and had already bitten off the head before we remembered to take a picture. ^_^ That's how good it was!

About the Osso Buco Style Kare Kare

This, for me, was the greated dish out of all the places we’ve been to that day.  Nothing beats the super pihikang Mario saying that “this KareKare is the best in all KareKare I’ve tasted”.  This dish is Mario’s dream come true!  In the tradition of my favorite Mythbusters team, the myth that the Osso Buco style Kare Kare of Lime 88 is the best KareKare in the country, myth-confirmed!

Can you see how yummy that looks!?  Mouth watering!
Can you see how yummy that looks!? Mouth watering!
The very happy and excited Mario claiming his rights to the KareKare.
The very happy and excited Mario claiming his rights to the KareKare.

About the Thai Green Mango Salad

This didn’t arrive until we’ve finished everything and when it did, we were so full to even remember getting a picture of it.  The corriander, with the salad, or was it corriander…?  We didn’t like that.  The chili sauce with the salad also didn’t appeal to me.  I wish it were just the normal ensaladang manga.  You can’t have it all!

Overall

If Lime 88 had a branch near us (Paranaque), we would definitely be there every Friday, Mario’s after work, my before work dinner.  We love it and we are planning to bring the whole family next time!  Count on that!

We were given free glasses of red wine.. for being early? or as Valentine's day gift?  Either way, THANKS!!!
We were given free glasses of red wine.. for being early? or as Valentine's day gift? Either way, THANKS!!!
Mario was there...
Mario was there...
I was there...
I was there...

And yes, the Wandering Boots was there!

My boots and Lime 88!
My boots and Lime 88!

*  For directions, please refer to Anton’s blog and for an idea of their menu go to their Munch Punch page.  Please be warned, though, the prices there are outdated.  The KareKare, which reflects 180php on Munch Punch is now 240php if I’m not mistaken.