Of Hamburgers and Hangouts

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Blogging about Tarragon has made me nostalgic about the places we used to hang out and eat at within BF Homes.  Some of these favorites are gone, but at least some have survived and there are promising new restaurants springing up.  And there are also places that I wouldn’t really want to go back to.  So – since I can’t really take much food yet, I’ll write about food!  Here’s a list of favorites old and new, places I miss, and disappointments.

Favorites Old & New

Gourmet’s Palate
A chain of homey diners (all 3 branches are within or near BF) that feature a nice variety of burgers, sizzling plates, and shawarma.  The silvanas are also good. My usual orders here are the Blue Thunder burger, made with blue cheese dressing, the Samurai, made with wasabi mayo, Sisig, or the beef  shawarma.  In fact I tend to use their spicy shawarma sauce on everything.

A new-ish Japanese restaurant, only about 2 or 3 years old, but with really good sushi and ramen, among other things. We also like the fact that they have a tatami room and garden, and the Japanese owner himself mans the sushi bar.  A bit pricey, but one bite and you know the quality you’re paying for. This is where we go when we have money, and I always order the Ebi Ten Maki  :-)

Java Man
Probably better known as the cafe residing within some of the larger PowerBooks branches, Java Man has nice coffees, pasta, and panini.  The pastry selection is a bit limited, but the almond sansrival is fantastic.  It’s a good place to relax, and far less crowded than Starbucks.

Tarragon has a good selection of steaks, pasta, lamb dishes, and appetizers, and has a very comfortable, homey atmosphere. The new barkada hangout of choice, as we haven’t had one here in BF since the demise of Arcs’ big cafe and Shigatsu.

Tropical Hut
Still offering some of the best burgers in town, IMHO, this venerable chain has been a fixture of my life since childhood. Their Classic is still the juiciest and tastiest burger I know.  The rest of their menu however is just so-so to me, and somehow they just haven’t made the leap to the high professional standards espoused by their rival chains.  Which is a shame, because their burgers are far better than McDonalds’ or Jollibee’s.

The Vanished

Arcs’ Dates and Nuts
Technically, they’re not gone. Arcs’ Dates and Nuts still survives as a small cafe and pastry shop beside a music bar in the BF commercial area (Phase One), but it’s no longer conducive to dine there and they don’t keep much stock.  For many people, the Arcs’ legacy of good food now lives on through Conti’s, which was established by ex-partners of the original Arcs’.  I still miss their excellent, cut-it-with-a-fork lengua and their mango tarts …

Leigh and Josh introduced us to this nice little Japanese resto along President’s Ave, and it became a frequent late-lunch hideaway for me back when I was still working in the stock market.  Really good tempura, curry rice, sushi and sashimi – no surprise, as the Japanese proprietor made the latter two himself.

Ribs and Chops
This rather short-lived establishment was like Smackeroo in QC, a place that specialized in grilled steaks and chops.  I only got to try the place twice with Augs, but their steaks were quite flavorful and surprisingly cheap.  Ribs and Chops first opened in the BF market area, then moved to what should’ve been a better location in the golden quadrangle near Starbucks; then they disappeared. Dang.

Owned by Josh’s uncle, this Japanese restaurant was one of the larger Japanese eateries in the area with its two floors.  It was long a barkada favorite because of its nice al fresco setup and relatively cheap but good food.   I have specially fond memories of the marlin, the beef teppanyaki and the squid teppanyaki. Alas, it went to seed in its latter days – the food quality went down, and the tables got taken over by chain-smoking, hard-drinking types.


I liked the food at Chi’s.  In fact I recommend their food, specially their pizza.  Chi’s main feature is a big, wood-fired brick oven that gives a unique smokey flavor to all their signature dishes and makes their pizza crusts crunchy with tasty hard-toasted bits just like they make `em in Naples.  That brick oven is also Chi’s big problem; when it’s opened, as the chef has to do every few minutes when the restaurant gets busy, its heat blasts right into the dining area, totally overwhelming the air-conditioning and slow-cooking the diners.  I don’t think it’s a problem that can be fixed just by adjusting the aircon, or adding more; they should seal off the oven area from the dining area.  I hope they do, because I actually want to go there again – but I don’t want to get cooked.

The New Toho
This was supposedly a branch of an old, old Chinese restaurant in Binondo that I used to go to while in college.  I was at first delighted when I saw them open here, but … there’s a warning tingle I get when I see a perennially empty restaurant.  That warning was borne out when our family stopped here for a bite.  The place was deserted save for a couple of slovenly waiters who reeked of cigarette smoke, the roasted ducks in the display case looked like wood from dehydration and age, and cockroaches were playing tag on the floor.  We left without ordering a thing.

Perks Cafe
I wanted to like this new cafe.  Unlike many of the other cafes here in BF, Perks offers its own spacious parking lot, a very big plus in this crowded village (Asia’s biggest suburb), and the place itself is very inviting as it’s built in the form of a big glass-walled pergola. The coffee in fact was all right – but they fell totally flat with their food.  I went there with Cat’s choir mates, and all the pastries we ordered tasted old. That’s a pretty good disincentive to visiting Perks again … I hope their management does something about it. Specially since I think the place would make a good gaming venue.