Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Open Table: Your New Hangout Place in QC

With new and upcoming food establishments opening in the Quezon City area every so often, keeping returning diners happy can be more significant than gaining new ones because repeat customers help in promoting the business through the most effective kind of marketing -- word of mouth! When I asked CS where were we having lunch that Saturday afternoon, he brought me to Open Table after remembering his satisfactory dinner there with his friends.

2 Lazcano Place houses several restaurants in the 2-level building right in the corner of Scout Lazcano, Mother Ignacia, Paligsahan and Diliman. We were able to check out Bento & Co. a few months back and though it wasn't rave-worthy, the prices were affordable and servings were decent for a quick and cheap Japanese fix. Aside from the two aforementioned restaurants, other establishments that you can also check out include: Urbanidad Cafe, Adelaida's Delicacies, Little Winehaus, Kusina Juan Republika, The Brewology Cafe and 5YNCO Bar.

Open Table's second floor dining area is the perfect spot if you're searching for a private venue for intimate gatherings or business meetings. The place can accommodate up to 30 people with weekday rates of Php7,000 and weekend rates of Php10,000, all consumable.

What we ordered

Open Table Iced Tea (Pitcher) - Php150.00

Pork Ribs (Family size) - Php775.00

CS knew that the sharing size might not be enough for us so he got the the family-sized (500 grams) Pork Ribs that came with 3 sides - potato wedges, coleslaw and corn kernels. Slowly cooked with the distinct smoky flavors, the meat was tasty and tender with just the right amount of fat.

Fast and efficient service with a feel good ambiance and extensive menu that's good for sharing, Open Table is indeed the newest tambayan place in this side of the Metro.


Open Table Restaurant
2 Scout Lazcano St. corner Scout Magbanua St.
Paligsahan, Quezon City
Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (6917) 526-4995

Monday, September 11, 2017

Executive Hotel Lounge Review: Shangri-La Bangkok

As a young budget traveler, it's quite rare that I get to stay in 5-star hotels especially when traveling abroad as majority of my budget is allotted to theme park entrance fees, shopping and making the most out of the trip by exploring farther. But as I grew older, my body longed for soft comfortable beds, world-class amenities and topnotch service. One of our recent travels in Bangkok brought us to one of the most luxurious hotels along the vibrant Chao Phraya River, Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok. And to make our stay even more pleasurable, we booked a Horizon Club room that entails an access to the hotel's club lounge. You can read more details about our room here.

Ambiance and Amenities.

Access to the club lounge on the 24th floor is strictly key card required. As a new guest, you can approach the staff at the lobby to usher you to the lounge for check-in.

Shangri-La Bangkok's signature contemporary Thai style is depicted on a more subtle and professional look as the hotel caters mostly to business travelers. Ambiance is also cozy and comfortable without the cramped feeling even if you're seated side by side.

With a view like this, how can anyone not stay longer? If not for Chatuchak Market's unique and addictive charm, we would love to stay here in the club lounge all throughout our stay.

Variety and Abundance of Snack Choices.

A wide array of international cuisine is offered at breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails. While most hotels offer basic snacks and desserts, Shangri-La Bangkok's club lounge offers freshly baked breads, sushi and sashimi, delicious canapés, bite-sized sandwiches, cheese platter, classic Thai dishes, fresh and sweet fruits and delicately crafted desserts. The staff are also quick to replenish the dishes so guests don't have to wait long even if the lounge is always a full house.

Unlimited alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages.

Coffee, tea, fruit juices and soft drinks are served 24/7 so after a hot day exploring the streets of Bangkok, we always head straight to the club lounge to cool down. There's also a wide variety of premium alcohol and cocktails offered during evening cocktails.

Operating Hours.

  • Afternoon tea - 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
  • Evening cocktails - 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
  • Breakfast - 6:30AM to 10:30 AM (weekdays) / 11:00 AM (weekends)

Full Breakfast Buffet.

Horizon club guests have the option to take their breakfast at the club lounge or take the elevator down to the main restaurant alongside other hotel guests. We tried both on separate occasions and though I liked the variety of dishes the restaurant offers, I must say that I enjoyed the privacy, exclusivity and pampering the lounge offers more than anything.

Other Perks & Services Offered. 

A tailor-made and hassle free travel is what Shangri-La Bangkok promises and delivers. Moreover, club lounge guests are treated to a more unique and spoiled service that includes the following: airport limousine service, a dedicated club concierge, use of meeting room facilities for 2 hours a day, private check-in and check-out in the room, late check-out until 4PM, suit pressing and shoe shine service and a portable WiFi device that guests can use outside the hotel.

Overall Service.

Warm and genuine Thai hospitality -- one of the many reasons why I love Bangkok especially with the staff that I encounter at high-end restaurant and hotels like Shangri-La. As more international travelers visit this dynamic city, meeting the demands of varying cultures has proven to be a good ground for continued growth in Thailand's hospitality and tourism industry.


Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok
89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road

Bangrak, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel.: (662) 236-7777

Friday, September 8, 2017

GoCar Tours: A New Perspective of San Francisco

The world's first ever GPS-guided storytelling car, GoCar tours offers the most unique and exciting way to roam around San Francisco. These electric mini yellow cars are pre-loaded with more than 500 attractions and points of interest throughout the city. So when my good friend A asked us if we're game to try this instead of driving a car to tour us around, we immediately said YES! First thing to do is to choose the package and tourist spots you wish to visit. In our case, we paid $120 per GoCar for a half day tour of the most famous landmarks in San Francisco plus insurance. Making an online booking is also recommended because they only have several GoCars available for rent. The staff then requested for the licenses of the drivers for the necessary paper works while we went ahead and watched the safety video. After signing the papers and paying the fees, we hopped onto our respective cars and made our way to the city. Talk about sightseeing in style!

Golden Gate Bridge

Perhaps the most recognizable landmark of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge is a mile-wide suspension bridge that links the city of San Francisco and Marin County. Standing high and proud at 746 feet tall, it opened in 1937 after four years of struggling in construction due to fog, relentless winds and treacherous tides. The GoCar GPS guide took us to a vista point under the bridge at the Fort Point site (best angle in the morning) but A thought of a better idea to drive north of the bridge and hike up the Marin headlands for a more scenic view of Golden Gate Bridge.

International orange (not red as I thought) was the color of choice for the Golden Gate Bridge to provide visibility for passing ships especially when there's heavy fog.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Company

The third oldest chocolate company in the US, Ghirardelli prides itself as a manufacturer of premium chocolates by using only high quality cocoa seeds for its products. Situated on the west side of Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square is the exact location of the original ice cream and chocolate shop where customers can now see chocolate manufacturing equipment, indulge in hot fudge sundaes, sample Ghirardelli Squares (they're very generous in handing them out), visit an assortment of boutiques, and dine at the numerous restaurants located within the plaza.

By noon time, we made our way back to the GoCar booth along Mason Street to return our rides. It was an exciting experience but a half day tour is enough as we wanted to travel farther and in lesser time. We could have visited more places as recommended in the guide book but we wanted to stay longer in certain spots as this was my first time in San Francisco. So after returning the GoCars, we picked up the car and drove to other famous attractions in the city.

Fisherman's Wharf

Known for its world-class dining, shopping and entertainment options, Fisherman's Wharf is the most famous waterfront community in the whole of San Francisco. This vibrant and thriving local neighborhood is also home to Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, Musée Mecanique (San Francisco's Antique Penny Arcade), the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39, the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien (one of 2 remaining fully functional Liberty ships) and the World War II submarine - the USS Pampanito.

If schedule permits, a tour of The Alcatraz Island (aka The Rock) is recommended as well. The infamous federal penitentiary was once home to America's most notorious criminals such as the likes of Al Capone from 1934 to 1963. Day tour to The Rock costs about $40.00 per person.

Another popular sight at the Fisherman's Wharf are the hundreds of sea lions that camped out at Pier 39's West Marina. Shortly after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the sea lions suddenly appeared in droves of 10 to 50 but the population grew to about 300 within a few months.

Palace of Fine Arts

The iconic Palace of Fine Arts is a popular wedding and photography spot in San Francisco with its Greco-Roman style Rotunda and colonnades across a peaceful lagoon. Offering a lovely view and a calming vibe, no wonder a lot of local and international movies and television shows choose this spot for film productions. The structure was originally built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition and has became a city treasure since. Admission and parking is free of charge.

As the song goes, I left my heart in San Francisco but I'm hoping to redeem it soon!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cafe Voila, Tagaytay

Armed with positive reviews I've read on this Asian restaurant in Crosswinds Resort, I was confident to suggest Cafe Voila to cap off our wonderful weekend in Tagaytay. Finding the place was never a problem as it was conveniently located along the highway by the resort entrance.

Guests are free to sit inside the air-conditioned room or by the al fresco dining area to better enjoy the chilly weather. The outdoor tables were full when we arrived but we're lucky to be seated in the last available table by the main dining room. As Cafe Voila is a popular dining spot, better call to reserve to make sure you don't wait long. The restaurant's name suggests it to be a French cafe but the decors and the menu were more on the Oriental/Asian side.

On the table

Complimentary bread were served warm and soft; the fresh tomato dip was really good as well.

Tom Yum Kung - Php435.00

The moment I saw that there's Tom Yum on the menu, I knew what I wanted and never bothered to finish reading on. I may still be full from our afternoon snacks but there's no way I'm missing on having this classic Thai dish. Unfortunately, the soup was nowhere near the hot and sour flavor I'm used to but turned out to be quite bitter with overwhelming shrimp flavor.

Jasmine Rice - Php75.00

Trio of Spring Rolls - Php595.00 (3 pieces each)

We made the mistake of not asking the staff to elaborate more aside from the brief explanation on the menu and just assumed that they're serving fresh Vietnamese spring rolls. The other two varieties were vegetarian and heart palm (aka ubod) so at Php595.00 for 9 pieces of fried lumpia, it was definitely way overpriced! I wonder if the entire serving would cost even half of what they're charging their customers for. Never order this because its a total rip off!

As much as I would like to commend Cafe Voila for its attentive staff and relaxing ambiance, the disappointing meals we had were the biggest let down of our rather amazing week. Will probably take long before I can convince CS and myself to give it another shot.


Cafe Voila
Crosswinds Leisure Resort
Brgy. Iruhin, Tagaytay City
Cavite, Philippines
Tel.: (63905) 331-4457
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