My recent visit to Bag O’ Shrimps was a long overdue plan in my bucket list. Perhaps I was waiting for the right companions and timing, even if it is just near my office. Having the chance to share this moment with a friend who shares the same ultimate love for seafood, is but a perfect timing to fulfill that wish.
In a blog post, I confessed my strong love affair with shrimps. I love it as one of my comfort foods, since childhood. Thankfully, I have no allergic reactions to seafood, or else I would really feel totally deprived of enjoying one of the finest things on earth. Discovering a restaurant that is particularly devoted to shrimps, is perhaps one of the best things to enjoy as a seafood lover. And so to cut-off that anticipation, I dragged one of my best friends to Bag O’ Shrimps in Tuscany, McKinley Hill!
The interiors are simple, but cute. It’s nautical theme fills every nook and cranny with objects and signages related to a fisherman’s wharf, or those of seafood shacks in California.
The sailor theme was carefully executed in the ornaments such as nets, paddles and bouy, anchors, and even in a famous saying.
When we finally decided what our orders would be, a white paper sheet was laid in front of us. That would serve as our dining plate so we all had the space to get messy with our boodle fight. We’re also given a steel bucket to throw in the shrimp peelings, plastic gloves and bibs to get geared for the huge mess we’re both ready to face ahead. I was not able to take photos of it since I immediately suited my hands with gloves.
For our appetizer, we ordered onion rings. We were supposed to take Dynamite Sticks but it was unavailable at that time. I liked the batter of the onion rings, it was seasoned right and not too salty. The consistency of the crispness in every onion ring prods you to munch some more after the first bite. It was also a good side dish to complement our shrimps, giving us a variation and preventing us to get bored with the huge serving of shrimps in our lunch.
And the main star of the day arrived, 500g of Shrimps in Bag O’ Momma sauce. Aside from the fact that the spiciness level is set to mild ( I have low tolerance for spicy foods), I also heard it is one of the signature creations of the owner, herself. And it did not disappoint. The serving size was actually good for 2-3 people but since we’re both fans of shrimps, that was enough to satisfy the two of us. The fusion of spices, sweetness and other savory flavors drove us mad, craving for more cups of rice. (Okay, diet ruined here.) I even dripped the sauce to my heap of rice, mashed it my hands and that was an instant meal itself.
There are also available sides to match your bag of shrimps, according to your preference. You may choose from corn and local and imported sausage. For us, corn was a good option. It added hint of sweetness to the spiciness overload.
With the party of spices and flavors in our mouth, it was best to cap off that loaded afternoon with cans of cold soda.
So that was my first #BOSexperience. We’d definitely go back here, to try their other seafood offerings in the menu, and perhaps to dare ourselves step up from the spiciness level!
Bag O’ Shrimps
Ground Floor, Tuscany, Upper McKinley Rd, Taguig, 1634 Metro Manila
Nanbantei of Tokyo holds a special spot in my heart for many reasons and good memories.Visiting it again is like seeing an old friend in the past after ages. Now that it has a branch near my place, I have no excuse anymore to miss it. Rekindling the old friendship would make you wonder if things were still the same, or it just has gotten better. Apparently, with Nanbantei, it’s a combination of both and I couldn’t get more excited.Nanbantei roughly translates to a place where guests can stay and unwind after a long day at work. Nanban means foreigner, and Tei means rest house or teahouse. It is a restaurant dedicated in grilled and skewered dishes called Yakitori, and other Japanese specialties.
I only know a few restaurants specializing in Yakitori, and Nanbantei seems to be on top of its game for showcasing the best Yakitori dishes in the metro. Yakitori originally means grilled chicken, but Nanbantei has an expansive range from beef, pork, seafood and vegetables so its diverse selection won’t leave you empty-handed at all.
Nanbantei’s ambiance is similar to the type of modern Japanese restaurants today, furnished with wooden tables and chairs and oriental lamps. Its simple, clean interiors is visually relaxing in the sense that you’d focus more on the food experience with the laid back setting. The tables are not so close to each other, space isn’t cramped up if you’re wanting some privacy.
As a frequent customer before, I used to order the platter consisting of all types of Yakitori. But the number of sticks (21 pieces) is quite overbearing and tiring to finish in the end. Good thing about Nanbantei, they already have included the Teishoku (meal sets) on the menu which is easy on the pocket, but equally satisfying and heavy on the tummy too. At the price of Php 350 you’d have soup, appetizers, Yakitori and rice.
We ordered the Best Seller Set, Yakitori Lunch Set and Maki Set. Each meal has four Yakitori sticks of your choice, two pieces California Maki, two pieces Ebi Tempura, Miso soup and a full cup of steamed Japanese rice.
While waiting, we munched on crunchy vegetable sticks with sweetened shrimp paste. If you’re not used to it, you’d find it a bit odd- tasting, but as you go along you’ll enjoy the vegetables dipped in this sweet paste. It’s like stirring up your taste buds in preparation for the big feast that is ahead.
We also had complimentary tea to warm us up after a long, tiring day at work. Tea was nice.
The Miso soup was flavored right, not too salty. I even asked my friend’s soup for my second serving since I am really into it.
Then the Ebi Tempura came, followed by the California Maki. Oh boy, the shrimp batter was great that I could hear the crisp crackle when I had my first bite at those plump shrimps. It was not too oily and airy. And when you finally doused the shrimp to the tempura sauce, you’d instantly crave for a hot bowl of steamed rice.
I love how they prepared their Maki. Its noticeable freshness can be seen in the vivid colors – no hint of staleness. You’d know the difference of that which was stored in the fridge for a long time, and that which was prepared on the spot. Theirs can be categorized in the latter, undeniably.
A friend, who’s a fan of greens ordered Kani Salad. Undoubtedly, Nanbantei banks on the freshness of its ingredients- from the crisp lettuce, crab sticks, and mangoes. The colors are just so alive. From now on, I will make sure to include this as a starter each time I’d dine in a Japanese restaurant.
And just as the waiting time is prolonged, our anticipation is heightened for the real deal. I was thinking at the back of my head that delaying the serving of Yakitori was part of their scheme to increase our excitement. We were all ready then to devour the meat feast like hungry lions all set to pounce on its carnivore meal.
And it was all worth the wait, as they would say. The meat was grilled just right, not burnt. Of all the Yakitori, I had big fondness for the Poteto Meki (potato wrapped in bacon) – two of my favorites rolled into one. I also liked the Aspara Meki (asparagus wrapped with pork). Basically, I’d like my meat paired with veggies to get a balance of taste and nutrition.
As our huge appetites toned down, we lost the battle. We weren’t able to finish everything on our abundant table spread. Rice had no room for our tummies anymore.
The service was absolutely excellent too. Our assigned server kept checking on us to see if we all had all the orders right, and if there was something missing. She also asked how well we enjoyed the food.
And just the the old days, Nanbantei has not failed my expectations of what a high- quality Japanese restaurant ought to be. Not only does it take pride in innovating Yakitori specialties and other Japanese dishes but also in upholding good customer service. It was nostalgia, really. The food unfolded good memories in the past, that which are worth keeping. I shall continue to mark it as one of my all-time favorite Japanese restaurants.
When I became a career woman taking headstrong tasks, wearing many hats and adapting to crazy time zone shifts, I have learned to take coffee as a sweet respite from everything stressful. It helps me calm my nerves and reminds me to take things lightly amid the fast turn of events.
And being the slightly-coffee- aficionado that I am, I would always love to have that “coffee time” should I want to spend more time with you after a restaurant date. On my last reunion with my college buddies, I took them to Costa Coffee – a café that’s been around the news lately for its alluring charm and unbeatable global brand.
Costa Coffee may have set its foot just last year in the Philippines, but it carries a name tagged as UK’s number 1 Coffee Chain, and the second largest coffee chain next to Starbucks. Founded in 1971 by Italian brothers Bruno and Sergio Costa in London, Costa Coffee has more than a thousand branches sprawling in 30 different countries all around the globe. In five months, they already have five branches in the country and aiming for more. Boasting a bad-ass profile as mighty as that, Costa has impressed on me that there’s much to look forward to as I sit down and take that coffee sip.
Stepping into the English- themed spacious cafe with bold tones of red, furnished with brick walls and wooden fixtures, we smelled the welcoming aroma of the roasted beans wafting through the air. The Union Jack couches and Red Phone Booth added color to the cafe’s cheerful London vibe. Unlike swamped coffee shops stressful to one’s sight, Costa BGC has a breathable space and a vibrant mood to suit your relaxations needs.
Costa uses Mocha Italia from its own roastery in London, which is a blend of 70% Arabica and 30% Robusta. They ensure that the beans are light roasted and not to the extent of burning it to avoid the emitting of bitter taste. I am not familiar with the “Barista language” but from what I understood, Costa diligently prepares their coffee fresh from their espresso machine, unlike other famous coffee stores where coffee is already pumped.
Their baked creations are homemade unlike other cafes with external suppliers. We missed trying their desserts because we were already full but we look forward trying them soon. These pretty goodies sitting elegantly on the glass pastry holder looked luscious and deem worthy to be tried, I thought.
Its flagship store in BGC is an interesting piece of art, an eye-candy to the weary soul. Frames affixed on the wall have so much to speak about the British culture. The huge, multi-colored couches complement style and comfort. One of the baristas told me that the materials of the furniture pieces came from the remnants of the Yolanda tragedy. Some are shipped from London, and are specifically customized for Costa. Although the design is consistent with that of abroad, our local branches take a more fancy yet formal outlook to suit that restaurant-type theme.
I had too much on my dinner plate that evening that I wanted to have a drink that will serve as an instant dessert. I ordered Double Chocolate Cookie Mocha Frostino – made up of Belgian whipped cream, cookie crumbles, chocolate chips, vanilla powder and Mocha Italia coffee. I loved the lumps of cookie shavings on my drink.The sweetness was not too overpowering, but it kept me hyped up all night -only to find out it has twice the amount of espresso shots compared to other regular coffee.
For non-coffee drinkers, Belgian Chocolate Cream would be a good option. The distinct taste of Belgian Dark Chocolate is very apparent in this one.
Flat White remains as one of the best seller from their line of hot drinks, known for its velvety and creamy milk. Costa is the only coffee chain that uses Cortissimo, a shorter coffee extraction method to build the Flat White. It takes 15 seconds of extraction, compared to Espresso that lasts for 20 seconds.
Last on the list was Mocha Cream, a mocha-based coffee drink blended with the right amount of sweetness but not as strong as my Double Chocolate Cookie.
Every nook and cranny of Costa is definitely amusing. The service was great, the facilities were classy, and the drink selections were wonderful. It is very conducive for meetings, studying, or sharing intimate conversations with your friends. The experience was absolutely worth it. So we resolve that next time, we have to come earlier to have that prolonged time to enjoy the cozy ambiance!
Unit 103, Ground Floor, One World Place, 32nd Street, BGC Taguig
Opening Hours: 9 AM to 10 PM