3 Hidden Gems To Discover In Makati’s Poblacion Neighborhood

Yes, there are still places to explore in Makati’s own ‘Williamsburgos’. Poblacion is more than just the red light district. The neighborhood, just outside of the posh Rockwell Center, boasts a hodge-podge of culture, tastes, and experiences. My girlfriend and I frequent this part of the snobby financial district, because it is anything but. I love Makati, and I love even more that this part of town has glorious traffic on the weekends. It’s usually Car-maggedon the rest of the week.

This weekend, we stayed at the Element Boutique Hotel, Restaurant and Bar. 

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This place is just a tad bit pricier than our usual staycation places, and with the photos they have of it online, our expectations were fever pitch for this place. And at first glance, they did not disappoint.

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But the thing is with appearances (and I say this a lot), with the onset of Instagram and making everything look so ‘artisanal’ or ‘hipster’ even, a lot of restaurants and hotels are just that. Appearances. They forget that the word of mouth is still the best form of marketing, and sad to say, Element was one of those places. I couldn’t say much about the restaurant as it is on the very pricey side, but the hotel had nothing special about it (I mean, they didn’t even have coffee in the room for fuck’s sake!). This was sad, because I really wanted to like this place.

Rating: 💣💣

As Element’s restaurant prices were obviously for the men and women with a more discriminating taste (meaning it was expensive as hell), we went out for a stroll to look for something to eat. We wanted something different, this was evident with my GF’s want for Chinese food. That rarely happens.

Lucky for us, we didn’t have to look long. Right down the street from Element was LSQ Chinese Home Cuisine. 

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It was so cool because it had all the makings of a legitimate Chinese restaurant. I loved it, and for an hour that we were there, we were instantly brought back to Hong Kong (the only China we’ve been to — so far.)

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In stark comparison to the feels the restaurant gave us, they served Northern Chinese & Sichuan cuisine. Not Hong Kong. The food was served timely, and they didn’t have soy sauce or calamansi for the dumplings we ordered. They only had black vinegar. It was so legit, but also feels kind of dirty, but that’s why it was fun. Seriously the best Chinese food out of Binondo. We ordered Beef and Kutchay Dumplings (💣💣💣💣 by itself,💣💣💣💣💣 when dipped in black vinegar!), Sweet and Sour Chicken, and Yang Chow.

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We met up with our friend, Christine, on the second night and went to Bucky’s. You might have seen them at your nearest Toby’s Estate, but they’re more than just brownies (that aren’t brownies, apparently). We had Beet Salad, Fried Chicken, and Baked Ziti with Ragu.

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I’m not a mashed potato kind of person, but the ones that came with the fried chicken, I could rave about (💣💣💣 bombs)! The Baked Ziti was the star of the show though. I’m lactose intolerant, but I couldn’t keep my chill with the Baked Ziti with Ragu (💣💣💣💣 bombs! Super must-try). The Beet Salad was also great, but I’m not a fan of beets, but I loved that this salad came with pistachios and goat cheese!

Rating: 💣💣💣.5 bombs!

Overall, the weekend was one for the books, we’d recommend to pull off a staycation in Poblacion. More than the hidden gems here, there’s so much more the neighborhood has to offer, and then some.



Three Words: Nitrogen. Gelato. Liquid. (Not In That Order)

Outre Manila from Vincent Clarke on Vimeo.

We are in the era of the hipster, where customised VSCO filters and everything that doesn’t conform is now considered ‘cool’ to some extent. Not that the hipsters care.

I’m quite the ice cream (see: #thisiswhyimfat), and would never pass on the occasional gelato. And even more occasional, the liquid nitrogen kind. So it was a complete bummer when I had a bad stomach (also read: lactose intolerant) that day when I joined my girlfriend for a meeting at the (sorta) newly-opened Outré Manila. OUTRÉ, quite literally translates to ‘strange’, or ‘unusual’, and damn straight there isn’t anything usual in this restaurant in Circuit Makati. Fronting their store are three tanks of liquid nitrogen used to create gelato, like it was straight out of one of Breaking Bad’s outtakes – creates the right kind of excitement for the process, and not just the finished product.

It looked like a labor of love because its prepared on demand. Their bestsellers Milo Dinosaur (a robust coffee-chocolate flavor) and Happy Sally (salty-sweet caramel) look amazing and most of all, worth it. Both are priced P160. Moving on to the food that we actually ate, my first thought looking at the menu was “this better be fucking blow-my-brains-out awesome”.

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Potato Wedges / Sour Cream + Sweet Chili Sauce Combo *thumbs up emoji* *thumbs up emoji* *thumbs up emoji*

I now believe that this is the ONLY way I can enjoy sour cream without completely retching. Sweet chili sauce. Who knew? I knew who didn’t…me.

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Bulgogi Cheese Steak Sanger #BOMB

Sanger  is basically Australian slang for a sandwich. And man, I’d really like to go in a reality warp and become this sandwich, mate. The Korean sling to it was pretty awesome. But for P235? Maybe it would be even more awesome if it wasn’t too pricey.

The next time I’ll be around Circuit Makati, I’d give the Wombok Salad and the 6-Hour Beef Ragu Fettuccine a go.


The Best Ramen In Town…is also the Cheapest Ramen in Town

BEFORE GOING ANY FURTHER, I’D LIKE TO SAY “HI” TO YOU, WHO HAS TAKEN THE TIME TO BE HERE. Let me clarify that this isn’t a food blog. No. Its so much less than that. Its an anything blog, where in I will write anything and everything there is to write. I may even take topics that are recommended by you. So again, hello! And welcome to VINNYVERSE.

Why do Filipinos love Japanese food? Because its cute, new to our tongues – no thanks to the generous helpings of oil and sugar dumped in most Filipino dishes, and finally (and most importantly), it is amazingly delicious. Mid 2013, ramen started taking over Manila. And up until now, we still aren’t cured from ramen fever. Who couldn’t blame us, it’s heartiness, saltiness, and the tenderness of the pork immediately takes us home. But what really bums me out about ramen is that it averages P400. That’s robbery too much for us (yes it is, if you can only afford to eat it once a month, then yeah, its too much). But then my friends recommended this really awesome ramen place in Malate, not only was the ramen amazing (as per usual), it was also below P150. Read that again, just to double-check. Yes. Less than ONE HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS.

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Awesome ramen, in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant taking up half the street in Adriatico? Sign me up. (Photo by me)

You just have to take my word for it that Erra’s is pretty freaking awesome for Shoyu Ramen for P60. I’m not going to be writing a review about how tender the meat of the pork was, or how the soup was just the right salty, you have to see it for yourself.

The great thing about this concept is that its authentic, in local prices. That’s how it should be.

Erra’s Ramen Cart is at Zone 076, 1755 Adriatico St, Malate, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines.

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