i ate at: cafe juanita and dome cafe

my friend has been scarce in manila for the past few months (or year) so when she asked to have dinner with us, the boy and i quickly said yes. i had a major-major (hehe) craving for Cafe Juanita's corned beef so we ended up at its new, swankier digs in pasig. we were too hungry to take pictures of the well-lit, rather eccentrically decorated interiors but at least C remembered to shoot the food before we gobbled them down. :)
Tom Yum soup

the first order to arrive was the Tom Yum soup for my sour-food-aficionado companions. actually, that's not entirely accurate: the attentive wait staff first brought a tasting portion of the broth, asking if the sourness and heat was to their liking. the dish was served, split in two, after more chili was added, and they provided extra on the side as well.

i had a spoon or two of the soup, and it's the first time i've had Tom Yum that i like. the other stuff i tried before was usually malansa (fishy) and tasted more like sinigang. this version had distinctly thai flavors and there was a rich, full-body feeling to the soup that made me want to sop it up with some bread.i will definitely order some for myself next time.

Corned Beef with cabbage, carrots and potatoes
this is the reason i wanted to go back to Juanita. since living on my own, i've missed my lola's rendition of this dish and have raised many an eyebrow to the canned monstrosity my bf often craves for breakfast. this is what REAL corned beef looks like, folks. i only took a picture of what was on my plate but i'm perfectly capable of finishing the entire dish by myself (sans rice). i like it with a generous dab of the white mustard they serve on the side. as much as i love this, though, my lola really makes better: the meat they use in Juanita is generally on the lean side, which gives it a hefty, meaty feel. at home we use a cut with plenty of litid, cooked into melt-in-your-mouth goodness. which is to say, something almost unhealthy as bulalo.

Osso Buco on fettuccine pasta
umm, speaking of bulalo, C ordered what is essentially that but cooked in red wine and tomato sauce. it's not as good as the one he makes, actually. it needed more acidity, whether from tomatoes or wine i'm not certain. it's a rather opulent dish so this is usually served with gremolata (chopped parsley, garlic and lemon) to cut through the richness but they only had a sprig of parsley for garnish. i don't know; maybe it doesn't make sense to serve gremolata when it's on pasta?

i have to put emphasis on the name of this dish because few things make me as happy as crispy pork bits do. it was my first time to try Juanita's take on the popular Vigan dish and i was pleasantly surprised by the cilantro generously tossed with some tomatoes. it added a very bright note to the fatty hunks of meat, which i usually pair with a sauce made from meat drippings (Mang Tomas, anyone?). the thing is: some people are genetically predisposed to hate cilantro! so you may want to find out first before ordering this dish. or, you can have someone else order it and pilfer from them, as i did. :D

Butterscotch pudding (right) with vanilla ice cream
alas! Cafe Juanita has very few dessert options. :( my boy decided to order this for the three of us, just so we can sample something. while it lacks severely in the presentation department, the dish was actually quite addicting. the butterscotch, drizzled with a thin butterscotch sauce, is light, not too soft and isn't too sweet. the ice cream completes this unpretentious (and uncomplicated) dessert. i was quite sorry i hadn't ordered one all to myself but we were thinking of going to the movies.

we moved to nearby Shangri-la mall only to discover that they weren't showing Megamind anymore. i took it as an opportunity to have cake...

coffee and this marshmallow-icing-covered devil's food cake at Dome Cafe. when i first saw this in the display case, i thought it was a banana cream pie. it's been a really long while since i made my deadly-good drunken devil's food cake (so called because it has liqueur) enrobed in chocolate ganache, so i decided to give this a try.

damn. i can make better cake than that. :( the icing was icky, and the cake itself didn't taste much like chocolate and had a crumbly texture. what saddened me even more is that you're only allowed to get the personal size cake (think something like a mini cake) and it was so expensive. hay naku!

thank god for good company: whether the food is yummy or sucky, you're guaranteed a fun time. :)


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