Food Panda Maginhawa Food Crawl: Cocina Juan

Monday, December 29, 2014

Some of my blogger friends were trying to take selfies outside Cocina Juan. It's on the stretch, at 100 Maginhawa Street in Quezon City. I'd mistake it for a Filipino restaurant but as seen on their menu this would be closer to authentic Latin American cuisine. The interior was rustic, a little mexican going into Filipino shabby chic using a hodge podge of chairs, tables and windows. It's a great place to drink and unwind but they informed me the whole Maginhawa street was barred from serving beer by the local government because of their proximity to schools, though they gladly welcome bringing in wine and the likes without corkage at all. This place is owned and managed by Pat Sodario, brothers Carlo and Tom Adviento. Chef Tom worked in Nicaragua - hence the influence of the food made there. Cocina Juan is one of the stalwarts of the Maginhawa scene and has been in operation for 6 years already. They might have had a face lift but they're still doing good, pretty far from the garage looking setup that they had in the past. Though now, it looks quite nice for new diners, and I think it's time a big crowd experience what they have in store.  

This is Cocina Juan's Dinamita. It's made of deep fried Anaheim Chilies, cheese wrapped in a light batter. Pretty good, simple and hot just the way I like it. No fuss, just real good food.

Nacho Supremo Todo

When Nachos were sent in from the sky, Cocina Juan probably did catch most of it. This is what they call Nacho Supremo Todo. Their love for extremes is already showing in the appetizer alone. It's got tons of nachos, meat sauce, frijoles (beans), Jalapeno Chili, their own Salsa and Cheese. This would be great as a starting conversation piece for a group of friends, or maybe if you're going out with your family. It's a party in a platter and they're just starting. 

Quesadilla con Tomate
This is simple, their Quesadilla con Tomate just has Tomatoes and Melted Cheese on it. The Tortilla is also toasted on the pan so you get that slightly toasty-el plantsa smell which you would love to have in a Quesadilla. I love that. Dip it on salsa, then it would have that Latin flavor a bit more. I don't even like the taste of flatleaf parsley/Cilantro but I think they only added a hint of it so it wasn't as pungent, that's a good thing. It looks like they perfected these starters because of their years of experience, and it shows.

Medio Burrito
If that isn't a presentation, I don't know what else is. This is Cocina Juan's Medio Burrito. They've also made this in beef, chicken or pork. It's also got high quality rice (they chose to have it that way), Roasted Peppers, Corn, Salsa and Cheese wrapped around a 10 inch flour tortilla. The Aioli sauce is actually played around the plate to mimic a peacock's feathers. It looks good on the plate, and tastes light and yummy on the inside. The strips of fried tortilla also gave the normally filling burrito some texture so they did a good job doing that. I love this but it could use more sauce, more heat too.

Meat Burrito
As if the other Burrito wasn't whimsical enough, they went ahead and did a play again on this plate with the Aioli sauce and yogurt. This is their Meat Burrito. It's even bigger than the Medio Burrito which I guess is why they called it as such. It's got the same stuff plus a little element of crunch with the layer of iceberg lettuce. I don't know what is it about their burrito that makes it so light, I think it's with the quality of rice that they make it with. Pretty good.

Aside from the regulars, they've got nice things on the menu that's super perfect for groups. They were not joking when they were talking about BIG servings. This is just one of the varieties of plates that they have. They also have incredible Chimchurri, Pork Ribs, Lamb Chops, Fried Chimichanga (my super favorite!) and practically can cook anything by request as long as they have it inside the store. There's more reason to celebrate at Cocina Juan, you just have to go there and experience the Latin fiesta they can hold in every table, every time you come and visit with your friends and compadre's. I really enjoyed our time there, now it's your turn!

Thank you to wonderful people at Cocina Juan. Thank you also to Food Panda who organized this Maginhawa Food Crawl. You may download the app in the App Store and Google Play or just directly order via web at They've got tons of restaurants and list the local ones near you including Cocina Juan if you are near... so you can get it fresh, hot and fast. See you in the next one!


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Food Panda Maginhawa Food Crawl: Big B Burgers

On the other side of the road across Homies Pinoy Fried Chicken is this haven for macho burger lovers called Big B Burger Restaurant. Not to be confused with the other more commercial brand that has the same initials, this quaint place in 44B Magiting Street Teacher's Village, Quezon City presents a more rustic, monochromatic full restaurant that can serve up to 40-50 people in one go. 

Don't be afraid to go in. Don't think that the front of house is the actual space because they got the newly renovated space in the back that can get you and your friends seated comfortably.

The front serves as a kitchen so you can order your burgers ahead before you go inside and grab a seat.

They got it all in black and white. They also got very playful with the interior using simple chicken wire and light bulbs as lighting. We even saw some students bringing in their boyfriends and girlfriends for a treat.

It didn't feel hot inside and you can smell the burgers being made in the grill. I was prepared to taste something unusual because of the things that I saw on the menu while going inside the restaurant. It's conducive to groups but not too high end because this is mainly a student "friendly" area. Big B Burgers started out as a small entrepreneurial venture of friends Joelle Luviengco, Eric Galvis and Pibo Pagadion. Their dream was to put up enough money to send them all to Cebu so they could attend festivities at Sinulog. They used to sell customized burgers to friends, school mates, organizations and fairs inside the University of the Philippines. When they graduated, they built the first restaurant out from scratch and now extended the space with monochrome details because they wanted to emphasize on the colors of the food. They actually have a plan to expand to more stores soon but are now concentrating on getting more people to experience it first in the Maginhawa area. To be honest, I envy them because they are so young to have this promising business in their hands. They're doing something that they're passionate about and earning at the same time. Which leads us to their well researched and whimsical menu, here we go!

Meet Big B's BallsBalls. It's a bowl full of Tater tots and meatballs smothered in melted cheese nested on a medium sized metal bowl. Isn't that lovely? Isn't this a sight for sore eyes? I know. If you love comfort food, they have every reason for you to visit the place and curl up with some Pink Potions (Peach Flavored Soda?) to go with it. Though I must tell you a big secret, there's a bit of a performance that goes along with that if you order it with "feelings". That's something that I won't tell you so you have a great reason to visit them at the corner of Magiting Street. 

The Secret "Feelings" ingredient will be added by these guys, you should catch them while you're at Big B's

Poutine Ng Ina
Playing with puns they made this with the French Canadian Quebec based Poutine as inspiration. The original one has Fries topped with a gravy sauce and cheese curds but this local one which they call "Poutine Ng Ina" pays homage to Mom's cooking and a little less of the cheese. Although most customers don't blurt it out and usually order it by pointing on the menu, it genuinely sparked interest with a lot of people who might want to experience it like the real thing. I've had it in hotels before (the real Poutine) but I find their version is really good. I would recommend this more than any other starter on their menu but they really have a few, so there's a good excuse to try them all! I loved this to say the least and if I'm going back there, I'll order this for sure!

Bongga Burger

We first tasted this burger called Bongga! Yes, the Bongga Burger. It's patty is made from 50% Beef and 50% Longganisa meat. It's sweet and savory and would be so ideal for kids who want that sweet touch on their burger. As for the dressing, they've got special concoction that is mayo based, with pickle relish and a multitude of secret ingredients. They told us people might be able to copy their patty and if they didn't innovate in that area too much, they might find other brands pirating their formula. So to make things different, they've got the dressing guns inside the store which they use so profusely, so liberating on your own burger. They let you determine the amount of dressing you want in your own burger and I haven't seen that anywhere else in Manila.

This one's called BAM. The BAM burger consists of 50% Bee and 50% Spam Patties. If you love SPAM and the lovely Hawaiian favorite in the can, then this one's for you! Among the burgers, this was well received by the bloggers. I found the one I ate a little on the salty side but they all said it was just right. This one was even their favorite too so if you want something everyone does, this might be your best bet. It's ingenious in fact to think of these combinations. As for me, I chose this last burger as my personal favorite.

This is Big B, just like me, it is the sinful one. It's made of 50% Beef and 50% Bacon, it's patties are made of legends. I love the beefy and smoky mix so after one bite of this and the fabulous dressing that they have inside the store, I closed my eyes and said hallelujah! These young guys and gal had been doing their homework. What's even better is that they can do these burgers for Quarter, Half or One Pound varieties. I would love 2 pounds of this meat next time haha! But really, it's something that could rival the best in the business. The bun is also sweet which makes it appealing to all ages, none of those dried ones that go tougher to chew. The "Poutine Ng Ina' also is available in bigger servings so if you're up to MORE, don't be shy to say so.

This is one of the nicest burger joints to go to this year. I would gladly go back for the BIG B and the Poutine Ng Ina Mo when I have the chance to visit the Maginhawa area again next month. You should too. Thank you so much to Joelle Luviengco, Eric Galvis and Pibo Pagadion for letting us get to know BIG B in an even BIGGER way. Thank you also to Food Panda for organizing this. Til the next restaurant! By the way, please download the Food Panda app on App Store or Google Play. There's so much restaurants in your area that you can conveniently order from through the app or directly via Try it out for a change and see how it could change the way you look at food delivery again!


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Food Panda Maginhawa Food Crawl: Homies Pinoy Fried Chicken

Sunday, December 28, 2014

We got ourselves out of the Mexican joint and rode a few meters away from Maginhawa to Homies Pinoy Fried Chicken at 51 C Magiting Street U.P. Village in Quezon City. The place has about a few tables inside so it could fit a good 4-6 groups of 4 on a good day. The outside had whimsical drawings on it signifying a place of abundance, oh yes they are declaring this parcel of land as UNLIRICE country whilst inside, they had framed most of the good reviews they had over the years and got that to be some of the interesting conversation piece while inside the restaurant.

Their type of Chicken likened the home cooked no batter Fried Chicken like Mom used to make. They don't cover it all up with flour, but keep it crispy, lovely seasoned just like the ones you see perfectly cooked at home. The restaurant's owner Mr. Hagen Topacio says the restaurants name hailed from the terms of endearment he used to call his ex. That's cute and all, but wait til you see what they have at Homies!

Oh and this ain't your ordinary chicken house because aside from the good food, they've got quirky ways to ask for EXTRA RICE. See those cute toy chickens in the center? That actually sounds like real chicken when you squeeze it. Now, you don't have to wave your hand out to call the attention of the servers because they'll immediately fill your plate with rice when you do that instead! Although, be prepared to chuckle to because it sounds so funny! People will even look at you silly!

As for the food, there are hits and misses. I didn't like the Lumpia that much because I felt it was a small serving (for the size it shouldn't have been cut into 6) and it was just so so (maybe it needs improvement), not that special. For the price, you can't really complain about it (the lumpia and everything else) because it's dirt cheap as it was made to cater to students around the area. Other than that, you're going to be lucky on some of the really good stuff that they have on the menu. They have a pretty mean Chili (which I loved as it was smoky and spicy), so whatever food it ends up with like this Chili Dog, you're definitely going to love it too! If you want a hotdog fix, they can give those expensive frankfurters a run for their money. It's because of the special CHILI, hands down.

Another thing to be proud of is their Fried Chicken. It's non adulterated, no fuss, no overbearing coating, just all home cooked, seasoned well and mind you, it reminds me of Mom's cooking. You can eve have it compared with Max's restaurant but with their slightly different marinade (special secret recipe) and still get to win because they barely have things going over 100 bucks. Add to that, the meals have UNLIRICE. Value for money? Yes, I think they have accomplished that.

Chicken Teriyaki - One of their best sellers. It's on the sweet salty side so if you want something else aside from Fried Chicken, this would be a great alternative. You'll be needing a lot of rice though!
Chicken Curry - It's the Pinoy Chicken Curry but none of those potatoes which Princess Sarah has taken the skin off because they use French Fries instead. I thought it wasn't going to work but it did. It's not spicy though, just right.
Menudo - It's one of the nicest things on their menu because it's just pork pieces and the veggies on a thick tomato based sauce. Simmered for countless minutes to make this one of their hit dishes that afternoon. I don't like liver that much so this was a welcome treat because they didn't put any! 
Chili Con Carne - This is my favorite (aside from the Chicken of course) on their menu because it's got the same base as what they have on the Chili dog. The Chili made on this joint would do wonders for them because they had it spicy, no like the others who just made beans and ground thingys on tomato sauce. I must say theirs is up to par with bigger restaurants but at a fraction of the cost. For those who love spicy things like me, I highly recommend this.
Pasta - They have a lot of pastas on the menu like Spaghetti and Carbonara. It's very convenient too because they can whip it up in a few minutes.For those just passing by or wanted to have something to go for work or school, this would be very convenient.  

Homies Pinoy Fried Chicken personifies what good food and value for money is. Thank you so much for accommodating us in your restaurant Hagen Topacio and thank the heavens above for people like you who made sure to serve Pinoy Fried Chicken this good to the masses. I'd be glad to go back their with family and friends. Thank you also to Food Panda for arranging this Food Crawl in Maginhawa Street. Remember, you can order through the Food Panda App by downloading it off the App Store or Google Play. Or if you prefer just go to the web and look up Til the next restaurant! :)


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Marites Allen Updates for 2015: Year of the Sheep

Saturday, December 27, 2014

We attended the convention of Marites Allen at the Luxent Hotel in Quezon City. As I'm writing this outside the veranda, the place is packed with fortune and Feng Shui enthusiasts from around Metro Manila. I couldn't even get a seat literally because of that. 

Generally, 2015 is seen to be very nice. More so if you are born in the right hour, day, month and year and complement the element and animal sign that's bound to be lucky. 

As for relationships, although it's going to be elusive for me this year - I don't really mind. I can also do things to suppress it by using charms and enhance other things that I'm lucky with according to the charts. Feng Shui is basically how you can make your environment work for you. We just have to be guided by it but we still control our destiny. There's nothing wrong following simple rules to become ultimately happy right?

For those who would love to do something about their house and follow the flow, the East is where the Sun rises but you can follow a simple gradient so you can subdivide the section of your house into the directions where you need to take action. Illness on the Southeast, Robbery in the South, Hostile people in the Center (do not put wood or water in that area), and some unluckiness in the West (throw out old charms that absorbed much bad elements already and get new ones to supress it). 

People here take matters of their fortune seriously. They know how much Ms. Marites Allen offer only the most practical advises even though it all looks so luxurious here. Her new line for Frigga not only have pieces that look so gorgeous on women - but brings an added bonus of luck by getting all the auspicious symbols in it. So when you lack one or more things in your animal sign, it'll get you all the help you need. She's also launching a book early next year indicating pieces and prints that you can wear every month so you don't have to do the guess work. Frigga has really outstanding titled people working behind it that also worked with other brands and some critically acclaimed as well.  

Some of the nice things you would see in the World of Feng Shui stores and Frigga outlets soon!

Now you've got the best of both worlds. You've got the best designs and clothing, plus the one of the most revered real masters and authority in Feng Shui. You don't get that title just by practicing it and studying about it because there are certifications that come with that awarded by a governing body. Unfortunately I heard some people are abusing that and presenting themselves as masters. Marites Allen is the real deal and she's doing things that have benefited some of the most noted personalities in the Philippines including Boy Abunda, Kris Aquino, Lucky Manzano, Jennylyn Mercado and Chinese moguls to name a few. She wants everyone to benefit from it and the way she's going, she's gotten a ton of countries in Europe and Asia already in her belt. She's never going to forget the Philippines of course. To know more, you may check out her personal website and Frigga's Facebook Page She's also coming out with stuff for men beginning with the leather wallets which we saw during the Feng Shui Convention this afternoon. Aside from that, you can visit World Of Feng Shui outlets in leading malls nationwide! That I gotta see!


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