It was March 2014 when I first stepped into this company located at the other side of Araneta Avenue, the one heading towards Sgt. Rivera and A. Bonifacio. I originally applied as a development editor, but compensation issues led me to take a marketing-related post. My job involved writing content for promotional materials, multimedia scripts, and publicity articles—aside from helping out in company events.
Fast forward to two years and four months later. An unexpected promotion led me to become an administrative assistant, but now the time has come for me to depart. This has been long overdue, but I felt that I’ve reached the end of the line career-wise. Adding the fact that I’ve been unwittingly involved in a power struggle between company executives made me decide to file that resignation letter and realize that there is a life outside of this place. Besides, it slowly dawned upon me that staying here any longer wouldn’t bring me any further anymore.
Of course, despite all the workload—I didn’t stop working on this blog. In fact, I’ve done reviews for a lot of places during my stay such as:
- Ramen Cool’s second branch along West Avenue
- Pastry Passion near Del Monte Avenue
- Pink Guava (now closed)
- The legendary Ma Mon Luk along Quezon Avenue
- The Bunny Baker at Hemady Square
- Eat Fresh, located within the Banawe vicinity
- Top Tea Cafe along West Avenue, near Examiner Street
- Mr. Graham’s Sandwich Shop, owned by an Ateneo batchmate
- Mister Kabab’s flagship branch that’s open 24/7
- Arya’s newest branch at Robinsons Magnolia
However, nothing lasts forever just like anything in this world. I just ended my tenure more than a week ago and now, I’ll be leaving this vicinity with no idea if I will even return. Regardless, I’ve enjoyed the times I had a good meal or two in a few dining spots near my office—which are typically a short walk or drive away. There’s no better way to say farewell than to cite the most unforgettable meals.
Thus, this triptych will showcase six food instances, divided into three common themes. I hope this will suffice for a formal goodbye and a close to more than two years of new gastronomic discoveries.
Teh tarik and kaya toast
The memorable tandem of black tea mixed with milk and toast with kaya (coconut) spread and butter, with a soft-boiled egg seasoned with soy sauce and pepper, is a standard breakfast staple in Singapore. I’ve tried Toast Box’s version previously, but driving from the office to its nearest branch in Trinoma is a hassle. Thankfully, there are nearer restaurants offering this remarkable pair.
First up is Kopi Roti along Tomas Morato Avenue. It has branches in Resorts World Manila and Katipunan Avenue, but the Tomas Morato branch is the main one. This franchise from the Lion City prides itself as the one that introduced the kopi bun to Philippine shores. However, they also serve the ubiquitous pairing alongside their basic offerings. If you will remember, their branch at NAIA Terminal 3 was the place where I had a snack during our Cebu trip. Despite the small size of their toasts, they are seriously packed—kaya and butter oozes out with every bite. I also liked the fact that they serve teh tarik with its trademark foam still intact. However, the cold teh tarik serving is smaller compared to that of Toast Box; maybe a larger glass will do?
The second restaurant for this category is Shiok Shiok along Maria Clara Street. This newly established restaurant is owned by the same people behind Eat Fresh and Tuen Mun Roasts, and occupies the old spot of Bugis (which transferred to a larger location just across the street). Their teh tarik and kaya toast combo is the cheapest I’ve had so far at P120, but I think it needs more improvement. The teh tarik is served hot in a small cup, but lacks the sweet taste of the condensed milk mixed in it. I asked the servers if they have it cold, and was told that it would be the same as the nai cha (milk tea) in Eat Fresh. The nai cha was better; I was expecting almost the same taste if this was a hot version of it. Kudos to them for using wheat bread as a base for the toasts, though.
Meat skewers on rice
Whether it’s street-style Filipino barbecue or yakitori skewers from a Japanese restaurant, meat on sticks served with rice is a perfect meal in itself. Being a heavy eater myself, I would typically prefer two to three sticks to go with my rice. Below are two memorable meat skewers I tried out.
I first encountered Yakitori One during a trip to SM Aura in Taguig, for a seminar we attended. I was initially curious, but hesitated to try it out—until I saw it again at the food court of Robinsons Magnolia. This platter consisted of their Chicken Thigh, Chicken Bell Pepper, and Pork Asparagus Wrap skewers served on a bed of rice. A small amount of pickled ginger came with it to cut the savory taste. One stick here is sufficient for a serving of rice and, with two more available, was able to taste everything. The Pork Asparagus Wrap is my personal choice as it makes the otherwise bland asparagus more appetizing.
I already mentioned Bugis in the previous section, and now – let me do a full post on it. CJ and I were frequent diners at their N. Roxas branch back when we were still in the same office, ordering their rich Singapore Laksa with every visit. For this instance, however, I tried out something different. This was actually two separate components: Pork Roll and Nasi Goreng Rice. The rice was savory enough on its own with no need for a viand, as it had seafood, mushrooms, cabbage, and Chinese sausage mixed in. The Pork Roll, on the other hand, served to reinforce the umami taste—with its asparagus, shiitake mushroom, and scallop filling. Two sticks with three rolls each, bigger than that of Yakitori One’s, made this a filling meal for a perfect day.
Coffee with accompaniments
I’m no stranger to coffee shops. In fact, I’ve done a post or two about some places I occasionally stop by for a warm brew. Nevertheless, a lot of third-wave coffee shops are springing up in various locations around the metro. These new joints pride themselves on artsy and snazzy interiors, unique coffee creations, and mouth-watering accompaniments like cakes and pies. Below are two instances from two notable coffee shops I discovered around the vicinity of the office.
Ah, Craft Coffee Revolution. I’ve only seen the Esteban Abada branch (which caters to students from Ateneo and the other schools around), and the in-mall locations at Estancia and Podium (which have yuppies as the main customers). Craft Coffee is known for its affordable third-wave coffee creations, putting aside the free Wi-Fi. Who would have thought that they would open a branch along West Avenue? I had the chance to try out their Macadamia Sansrival paired with a cup of Mocha Coffee. I’m now a fan of the sansrival—which makes use of buttery macadamia nuts—after the first bite. For savories, there’s the Chicken Empanada paired with a glass of Iced Chocolate. I loved the empanada and its pronounced curry flavor, and the fact that the drink had some undissolved tablea at the bottom. This I ate without any hesitation.
Respite is among the new restaurants popping up along the stretch of Mother Ignacia Avenue. Located across St. Mary’s College, it has become a hub of students looking for wonderful coffee and a place to hang out after classes. Sisters Sylvette and Jessica run the coffee shop; Sylvette is in charge of coffee matters, while Jessica handles cakes and pastries (she also makes other baked goodies under her own brand Jes Bakes). I had the chance to taste their Tuna Empanada, paired with their 10-Hour Cold Brew Coffee (with Davao-sourced beans, mind you). The cold brew coffee, sans the acidity found in hot brewed versions, served as a palate cleanser for the savory pastry. I capped this off with a slice of their Chocolate Yogurt Cake and Iced Chocolate…and you know what? That cake is condensed awesomeness, simply put. There’s no hint of yogurt whatsoever—only pure chocolate minus the cloying sweetness. Maybe the fermented milk product toned it down, which was a good thing.
And that closes more than two years of being employed in my old job. I might not have the chance to say goodbye to each and every person I’ve known during my stay, so let me take this chance to do so. It was great knowing all of you guys, and see you in better times! I might be saying farewell to Araneta Avenue, but Eastwood City awaits.
And before I end this, watch out for future posts here at the Guide—featuring new spots!