Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Ultimate Taste Test Challenge Part 2- Crunchy Belly, A Happy Panda, Nihonjin Delights and Street Food.

Hey everyone! Here's the second installment of my food trip adventure at the 9th Ultimate Taste Test Challenge. I just recently realized that there are a lot of fried stuff and something chocolate-y during the event. :)

Now, let's continue...

First stop for today is Crunchy Belly by Carlos Kitchen. I can't help but compare this with ManilaQ's Bagwang (as reviewed on my previous post). But, this is totally different. It has its own approach to those little fried pork strips. 

This has a more bacon-y texture and has that chicharon feel to it. At a glance you might mistakenly think that this is fried chicken skin.

They got a gold medal from me because when I first tried it, I was speechless. It was just so good. I could get myself killed if I eat more than 200 grams of this bad boys.

Next stop is Happy Panda and boy I surely was a happy panda after trying their delectable delights. Their food if I was to describe it, is a fusion of eastern and western cuisine done by actual live Pandas exported from China trained by pixies. #saywhat? 

L-R:  Crispy Chicken with their original sauce, Asian Buffalo- sweet, chili and tangy buffalo sauce, Satay-gravy Chicken- peanut paste and coconut milk sauce.

They got a gold medal from me because of their creativity and for their unique presentation. Catch them at Mercato Centrale and visit them at

Tonchaya offers authentic Japanese cuisine. What they served that night was two of their best sellers: spicy ramen and okonomiyaki. 

Okonomiyaki or more known as Japanese pizza.

Since I am not into spicy food, I just sampled their "authentic" okonomiyaki. All I can say is that it is flavorful. However, it is lacking in some ingredients like squid and/or octopus. All I ever saw and tasted was vegetables on my okonomiyaki. How disappointing. Not a happy ninja at that.

Next on my list is Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and Pasta. I remember my first experience on night markets a few years ago and this was the very first one that caught my attention. So, I ordered and I tried. I have to say that it was visually pleasant but hanggang doon nalang. It doesn't taste as good as it looks. If there's one good example of obviously cost-cutted products, these would be it. A deep dish pizza doesn't mean getting a slice with 1.5 inches of bread and less than half an inch of the rest of the ingredients. Its like eating pizza hut's thick crust pizza with twice the crust.

Their lasagna was a so-so. I just hope that they did not sacrifice quality over price. Sayang ito. From someone who is fond of eating pasta, it was obvious after tasting this that they used mediocre ingredients. Id rather buy something that is expensive but worth it rather than eating something that's affordable but I'll be throwing away after the first bite. Sorry for being harsh. Please take this as a constructive opinion so you can better improve your products. #justsaying

Next is Balamban Liempo. Crispy liempo strips cooked Cebu lechon style. I just have to compare this with ChicBoy's. This one is just as good. However, there are still rooms for improvement. I hope that the skin is still crispy when served. It gets chewy once it gets cold. They should know this.

Reminds me a scene from the movie Titanic where Rose puts her hand on a steamy window. Sexy.

They still get a bronze medal from me for the tenderness of the meat. But they really have to do something about maintaining the crunchiness of the skin once the product reaches its customers.

Last on the list for this batch is a regular for Mercato and Soderno goers. I love pinoy street food- isaw, BBQ, kwek-kwek and all. It's a good thing that Showbiz Isaw made it available to the public with less chances of getting hepatitis. 

I love their pork barbecue. Its soft, tender and bursting with flavor. You just know that it was marinated well and was cooked properly. No award for them because, in the first place, this is how it should be cooked. And, I don't find anything special and unique. If they have experimented on the marinade, lets say, gave it a little adobo twist (just an example) or placed a variety of sauces to choose from then that would have caught my attention. If they are sticking to their products as it is, the least thing they can do to get everyone's attention is through advertising. They chose to have a witty (?) name so why not make the most out of it? Why would you name your brand "Showbiz Isaw" in the first place o.O  You can put witty names on your products such as "Barbecue Almalbis", "Inday and the magic kwek-kwek" or "Tinapa-ner". Pinoys are so creative, it helps market your products if you put a little creativity in it.

That's it for now. Thank you for dropping by. I might have said some negative stuff about some of the products. But that doesn't mean that I am telling you not to patronize them. All I am saying is that in my opinion, I have found some room for improvements. What may be wrong for me may be just right for others. This is just my views and opinions. cheers! :) 

Got more awesome foods to review on the 3rd installment of the Ultimate Taste Test Challenge. Stay posted. G'day mate!