It’s 90s all over again at newly opened Sobre Mesa

It’s 90s all over again at newly opened Sobre Mesa

Relive the era of new wave and cassette tapes as you wine and dine at Sobre Mesa, Shangri-La Plaza Mall’s newest restaurant.

It’s familiar in more ways than one.

Sobre Mesa is a bit hidden (or as hidden as can be) if you’re ever in the area of Ortigas. The nearest (and by far, the most accessible one) is at the fourth level of Shangri-La Plaza’s East Wing, home to some of the business district’s top and trendy restaurants.

The whites and oranges give off a 90’s vibe in a way that other places don’t.
Add this to the mix and you’ve got a semi-nostalgia-inducing pregame resto for the night.

Sobre Mesa doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb from the hallway of said fouth level until you get into within a couple of meters of it. It’ll hit you (if you’re of the right age) with nostalgia, what with posters of hit TV series Friends and Backstreet Boys greeting you as you enter. The colors are a bit of a throwback, with whites and oranges dominating the scene. You’ve got your classic wooden counter with bottles of brews/spirits on the top shelf, with aforementioned posters just a little bit below that.

Food

If you’re in the mood for large, comforting servings that you can share with friends, Sobre Mesa will not disappoint.

Who is Tito Japs? We’re not sure, but we understand why he likes this so much.

The biggest hit we tasted for the rebranded Sobre Mesa was Tito Jap’s Bulalo Estofado. It’s a unique take on the classic bulalo with beef that’s tender enough to be cut with a spoon swimming in a combination of rich broth spiced up with soy and citrus sauce. That zing from the citrus makes this dish worth hogging, but it is for sharing so don’t.

Go for the red Arroz Con Pollo y Chorizo if you want something familiar.
Or Arroz Negra for a Spanish resto staple.

Their paellas (which they call Arroz) are also a winner in our books. If you want something that has a bit of an interesting look and flavor, try the Arroz Negra. Not feeling black? Go for the tomato-ey Arroz Con Pollo y Chorizo.

This was one of the best cheesecakes a couple of years back. Still is in our book.

Save some room for their Salted Caramel and Banana Cheesecake. It’s worth its weight (and the wait) and will not drive your palate nuts with too much sweetness, thanks to the salted caramel.

Drinks

Not much can be said for Sobre Mesa’s drinks. They’ve got the “good for everyone” set of sodas, juices, and what not, but they also have some of the more interesting stuff like the Sangria.

The sangria’s done really well and goes with the food instead of being the star.

By the way, the first round of sangria is on them when you visit, so go ahead. It also comes with their homemade bread so you don’t have to completely starve before your orders come in.

Verdict: 8/10

Flavors at Sobre Mesa won’t blow you away (unless you get their cheesecake, which will). Everything meshes well at Sobre Mesa, from the food to the drinks to the atmosphere in either their Shangri-La Plaza or Sapphire Bloc (the original) branches.

Up the whole value-for-money gig with this big Chicken and Steak Platter.

It also helps that they’ve got a couple of tricks up their sleeve with promos like a pre-senior discount (16%) every Wednesday (only if you’re born between ‘75 and ‘90) dubbed Titos and Titas Day and Happy Hour, Every Hour from 5pm onwards.

If you ask us, it’s a place for your pregame before you head out and paint the town red. Or a good way to end your workday. Either way, if you’re a certified Tito/Tita of Manila, this place is worth a visit.

The Basics
Php2,500 (USD50) for two or three people
L4, East Atrium, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City
Mobile: +63917 624 5470
Facebook and Instagram: @sobremesaph

Words: Andrew Del Rosario

Go artsy at this new hotel in Makati

Go artsy at this new hotel in Makati

Colorful walls, delicious food, and free premium Filipino coffee—all in one convenient Poblacion hotel.

U Hotels on the tailend of Burgos Street in Poblacion is quiet on the outside, but it will take your breath away once you step inside. It’s all of 62 rooms adorned with murals made by local artists. The lobby alone is a work of art, with “Hello” splayed on the beam in different languages. Greens and browns set the mood.

The Lobby Lounge of U Hotels Makati. Refreshing, minimalist, and with little creative and eco touches. Photo from U Hotels Makati.
If this isn’t a boutique art hotel, we don’t know what is. Photo from U Hotels Makati.

Most people might not consider it a boutique hotel, but its 62 rooms adorned with murals made by local artists beg to differ. The location is almost central to where you’d want to stay in Poblacion, with everything is not more than a 10-minute walk away.

Sleep

There’s one word to describe my room: simple but given life by murals. It checks the basics—a great bed, a place for your stuff, TV, coffee making facility, an arm chair, and a mini-fridge.

But there’s more to it qualifying as artsy than the murals, say, the wooden headboard with short messages on it.

With the room having the basics covered, it really lets you enjoy the little things. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

Eat

They serve comfort food at The Lobby Lounge that’s familiar to Filipinos, like their smash hit beef pares (the beef is good enough for two to three people based on “classic” pares servings) and what they like to call Just Noodles, inspired by a Taiwanese dry noodle dish that you’d find on the streets of Taipei.

They call it Just Noodles, but it’s definitely not just noodles. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

Just Noodles is a dry noodle dish that may seem like a hodgepodge of what you’ll find in a kitchen but is surprisingly good: medium thick egg noodles with minced beef, peanuts, and what we’re calling a Filipino-style sunny side-up egg (crispy sides that are on the edge of getting burnt).

That’s a big bowl of beef pares, arguably the most requested thing on the menu. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

Drinks at The Lobby Lounge include sodas, lemon-infused water, tea (viand changes every day), and their trademark premium roast Filipino coffee barako, the local Liberica, served free to every hotel guest.

Do

Visit the oldest church in Makati, the Sts. Peter and Paul Parish; go on a food or pub crawl;  swing by Circuit Makati and while the time away in the skatepark or football pitch; or trek to the Ayala Triangle Gardens for a quick run. If you feel the itch to draw or paint, take an art class offered daily at the hotel at 4pm.

Show your room card to some of their partner establishments in Poblacion and get a discount.

Verdict: 8/10

The basics
Rooms start at Php6,000 (USD30) per night without breakfast
5091 P Burgos Street, Makati City
Uhotels.ph
Facebook.com/uhotelsmakati
Tel: +632 820 1000 to 02

Words: Andrew Del Rosario

Curious how hunk dad Dingdong Dantes does his and family’s travels?

Curious how hunk dad Dingdong Dantes does his and family’s travels?

This man doesn’t let even his busy schedule take away from what matters: family time.

He’s an actor, commercial model, and film producer—but above all, he is a husband to Marian Rivera-Dantes and a dad to their daughter Zia. Photo by Paulo Navarro

How often do you go on holidays?

Ding Dong Dantes and Marian Rivera try to find time to be together, despite their ridiculously busy schedules. A happy couple indeed. Photo from Ding Dong Dantes

Because both our [his and wife Marian Rivera’s] work schedules are unpredictable, we have to wait for our respective shows to go on a break before we plan anything. That’s why we almost always book at the last minute— a habit that is not highly recommended; haha! The key holidays are also the basic ones like Christmas, Holy Week and, of course, our birthdays in August and November.

What’s your secret to fnding time for vacations despite your crazy busy work schedules?

When your schedules are just as hectic as your ravishing spouse’s (and Marian Rivera IS ravishing), you WILL need help. Photo from Ding Dong Dantes.

The moment we find a window, we immediately grab it, may it be a couple of days to a whole week. With our work, it is impossible for us to be away for more than two weeks. How do you plan your family getaways? We have friends who help us, like Access Travel of Angely Dub.

Most of the time, I find it more convenient for someone to help me in the planning since both of us are always preoccupied with other things. Of course, we already know what we want—it’s really just a matter of organizing the logistics. Given that we stay at least two days in a new place, my basic policy is 20 percent planned itinerary, and 80 percent kung ano ang matripan (on what we feel like doing).

What is your favorite Philippine destination?

Yes, Zia. That is a good-looking beach.
Photo from Ding Dong Dantes

I like any place that is peaceful, green, sustainable and clean. A place where my kids can safely run around while we enjoy a cup of cofee, or a mug of beer. It does not matter if it is on a mountain, by the beach, in my friend’s backyard, or even a protected area in any place within the chaotic Metro Manila for as long as we are with the right people. Pero siyempre, dapat panalo rin ang pagkain. (But of course, the food has to be a winner too.)

What are the most memorable holidays you’ve had in the Philippines as a family?

Sunsets are often the happiest when you see them with the right people. In Dong’s case, it’s with Marian and Zia. Photo from Ding Dong Dantes

We really love the beautiful islands here in our country. Palawan will always have a special place in our hearts. Amanpulo is on the top of our list. Our recent trip to Siargao via SkyJet Airlines is also one for the books. Book a SkyJet flight, direct from Manila to Coron, Palawan; Batanes; and Camiguin.

Your favorite beach and why this beach?

Hard to say. We love so many and each has its own charm.

Things you love to do when on a holiday?

Eat. Sleep. Play. Plan. Repeat.

Your travel essentials aside from IDs and cash?

Cameras to document memories.

Where do you wanna holiday next?

We want to visit Cebu next.

Who is Dingdong Dantes?
Dingdong Dantes is a well-loved Filipino actor, commercial model, film producer, and film studio AgostoDos Pictures owner. He’s married to Filipino actor Marian Rivera with whom he has a daughter with.

Philippine Travel Trends for 2019

Philippine Travel Trends for 2019

It’s 2019, and we’ve got a bit of juicy travel bits for year straight from people who have been in the travel industry for several decadesthe Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA)that might just surprise you.

Travel, now a way of life

You might just see more people visiting Batanes. Photo by Ferdz Decena

Or for most people, it will be. PTAA president Marlene Dado Jante sees more people embracing travel as a way of life rather than a luxury, thanks in large part to how affordable trips are becoming and how accessible information have become.

“Travel expos are the best place not only to get the most affordable deals out there, but also to know more about a destination.” Her tip: talk to travel agencies who frequent travel expos. Chances are they’ll [the exhibitors] know more about a destination and can explain it to you in 20 minutes better than you can do with online research

DIY is still a thing

DIY trips are also becoming more and more popular, with blogs, vlogs, and books (e and tangible) that let you do your trip your way. Couple that with hostels and Airbnbs and you have a recipe that supports traveling as a way of life.

Vlogs, in particular, are perfect sources of itineraries, travel budgets, and travel hacks that equip anyone to travel. A simple search on YouTube and you’ll find budget itineraries complete with the actual experience you’ll get from people like Christian LeBlanc (Lost LeBlanc), Patrice Averilla (Avelovinit), and a lot more.

Sustainability is the way to go

Locals and adoptive locals like Luke Landrigan are all out in promoting sustainability and care for their beloved Siargao Island. By Daniel Soriano

Rehab is apparently a new buzzword for the local tourism industry. It’s only been months since the island of Boracay was opened. El Nido is already being worked on, and everyone from your mother to that nosy neighbor you sometimes talk to is talking about how clean the shoreline of Manila Bay has become.

From speaking with Marlene, you can tell there’s good that’s going to come out of all the rehabilitation going on, but she wants to go further than simply sprucing up our best destinations. “Rehab is good and all, but what we really need is for both the locals and the tourists to be more responsible in looking out [after the tourist destinations]. This will lead to destinations being more sustainable.”

Camping and Glamping

Camping at FarmPlate in Albay will also let you have a bit of farm life with their activities in store for guests like carabao riding and vegetable picking. By Monica De Leon

Camping is, well, camping. You get a sleeping bag or a tent, bring your own food, and find a place to sleep. It’s very sustainable albeit tough because you need to find a place where it’s okay to do that.

Glamping, on the other hand, is camping leveled up. It’s like staying in a hotel, but you’re in a tent. You’re outside and “exposed to the elements” but with all the creature comforts: a comfy bed, cooked food, “indoor” plumbing, and the like.

Crystal Beach in Zambales offers camping and glamping; Pass Island in Coron offers camping; Tagaytay has a number of hotels offering glamping.

Farm Tourism is a thing

There’s one type of tourism that’s been popping up since 2016, yet no one seems to be taking a hint: farm tourism.

You don’t (technically) even have to fly! Here’s a farm you can visit in Albay: Farm Plate. By Monica De Leon

It’s young, but it’s not that difficult to understand. What you do is you visit a farm, you learn what it’s about, what the farmers do, and what-not. It’s a great way of promoting what has sustained our country prior to the many warsa way for us to go back to our roots. The souvenirs at the end aren’t half bad, and they let you buy their goods at affordable prices.

Check out FarmPlate if you’re planning for a farm tour. For info, click here.

Pilgrimage

The Philippines is home to incredible-looking churches including this one in Batanes. By Monica De Leon

The Philippines is predominantly Catholic ergo its handful of centuries-old churches, basilicas, and cathedrals that have stood the test of time both in the big city and distant islands. This fact brings about tons of people poking interest in the Philippines as a pilgrimage site. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that travel agencies often include trips to churches.

Words by Andrew Del Rosario

Eat and sip Ilocos in Makati at Agimat Foraging Bar

Eat and sip Ilocos in Makati at Agimat Foraging Bar

Beginning this sunny month of April, Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen will take us all the way to the bountiful northern province of Ilocos for a tasteand sipof its wonderful exotic flavors.

If you live and/or work in Makati yet have never been to Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen, then you need to get to this place pronto. They’ve been a hit with Poblacion’s regulars thanks to the way they present flavors from Chefs Kalel Demetrio’s and Niño Laus’s foraging trips across the country.

Sit under this tree in Poblacion and you might just get the most interesting drink you’ve ever had.

Agimat carried the flavors of Batangas from the day they opened late in 2018, but we’ve got news for you: some of those are out starting this April. Where are they taking us? Ilocos. That’s where.

For the uninitiated, Agimat’s menu is nowhere near traditional. What Chef Kalel and Chef Niño do is present ingredients they foraged from a certain province (or, in this case, provinces) in a way that you will certainly remember.

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store for your tummy for the next four or five months at Agimat:

Start your meal with this. Or let it BE your meal. We won’t judge.

For your appetizer (and yes, it qualifies as an appetizer), a plate of savory alimasag (blue swimmer crab) with Alavar sauce from Zamboanga (yes, it’s not Ilocos, but it goes so well with crab), Patani hummus (see what we said about the menu not being traditional), Caramay foam, and rice wrapped in a Gamet (seaweed grown in Ilocos Norte) crust.

A duck leg on top of some delicious and healthy adlai and kinuday sausages. Good eats. Good eats.

A serving of itik (duck) a la pianggang (a Tausug classic, but not an exact recreation) on a bed of adlai (healthier rice substitute) with inuday (the Ibaloi version of smoked meat) sausages as your main dish.

There’s a short rib underneath all that beef floss and green, squiggly (yet delicious) alokon.

Alternatively, you can get their tender kitayama short ribs buried deep-ish beneath a pile of beef floss and alokon or Birch flower (though it’s not even related to the birch tree).

The drinks (the part menu that Agimat is well-known for) still follow their theme of “five elements:” fire, water, earth, air, and life, with a couple of mainstays making it over from the Batangas menu.

Diegong Bagsik. It lives up to its name if the ingredients are anything to go by.

Take this northern-inspired drink aptly called Diegong Bagsik. Imagine drinking something from inside a candle (no, you’re not using the candle as a glass) that has gin AND a cold brew liqueur.

Then there’s this beauty: Laban ni Gabriela.

The Laban ni Gabriela looks like something straight out of a fairy tale, making full use of everything local: blue pea gin from Liquido Maestro’s own distillery in Aklan, basi (a drink from Ilocos made with fermented sugarcane), and some good old mountain tea.

Yes, Agimat is tucked away in one of Poblacion’s hard-to-park streets, but a trip to this unique bar and kitchen (since we’re not willing to call it a restaurant) is a risk worth taking.

Verdict: 10/10

The Basics
About Php1,000 (USD 20) per person
Alfonso corner Fermina Streets, Poblacion, Makati
Fb.com/agimatbar

Words: Andronico Del Rosario
Photos: Daniel Soriano

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