Monthly round-up,  Product Reviews

September 2020 Round-Up: Asian food and fluffy breads galore!

I’ve been pretty picky with my buys lately, ordering (and receiving) significantly less things these past few weeks than I have the previous months. With that, I was actually expecting my round-up to whittle down to less than 10 items. Shockingly, that’s not the case! But when I look through the things that have ended up in this list, I realize it’s not ridiculous at all. I ate a lot of good things in September.

15 items. It’s almost as if I spent half of September eating good food. Well I do have some non-food/recipe-related recommendations in this list but it’s like 3 items out of 15. I could’ve just not included them but I really wanted to talk about them here lol.

This month I have a good amount of savories and mains to recommend, finally, compared to sweets. They run the spectrum of delicious restaurant-level dishes to truly awesome instant noodles. (Because ya’ll know I love my noodles.) Anyway, without further ado, let’s get on with my September round-up. This is in no particular order by the way, but I did sort them into categories for easier reading. I hope you find something interesting to try!


1. The Baos

I am in love with The Baos’ Thai food. That’s the short of it. They currently have only two dishes, Pad Thai and Thai Green Curry, but these are some of the best I’ve eaten locally. No joke. Their Thai Green Curry (Php 265 for small, Php 500 for large) packs a punch and some heat, and it’s incredibly satisfying to eat with rice. They didn’t scrimp on the chicken and veggies, nor did they scrimp on the flavor. My brother nearly licked the bowl clean.

I also loved their Pad Thai. They sent me the Pad Thai DIY Kit version (Php 240 good for 1-2 persons), and I really enjoyed the process of making it on my own. The instructions in the kit are very clear and organized. Since I cook at home I didn’t feel pressured to cook the dish so I’m not sure if a noob will find this easy, but I personally thought it was easy to follow and execute.

Their delicious sauce permeated the noodles so very well, leaving it just slightly saucy. It’s a clever little DIY Kit that exceeded all my expectations! In fact, I loved it so much I even made a little video review of the kit a while back just to show everyone what to expect.

To tell you the truth, I’ve cooked a handful of pad thai recipes before hoping to find a good one to share on the blog, but none of them have ended up tasting like this. Heck maybe I’ll just buy this instead of attempt another recipe from scratch lol. They actually sell their pad thai in its ready-to-eat form (Php 220 for small and Php 420 for large) for those who don’t want to DIY, but I have to say that freshly-cooked pad thai is just unbeatable.

Get your Thai fix from The Baos on Instagram now! You won’t be disappointed, promise.

2. Quisine’s Cereal Shrimp with Salted Egg Aburi Sushi Bake

This is the first sushi bake I’ve ever posted about that I didn’t make, and it definitely deserves a space in this list. Made with an interesting combination of ingredients and flavors, it’s a great reinterpretation of Cereal Shrimp AND Salted Egg Shrimp into a sushi bake.

At first bite it felt a bit overwhelming. The salted egg-mayo topping was very dominant. But then I added the extra cereal included in the box and it immediately got balanced out. The more I ate, the more addictive it became. The flavor of curry leaves also started to come out more and more, and I thought it was a good touch that cuts through the richness.

This sushi bake also had a very nice play on textures. I love how you get a good amount of crunchy shrimp and roe on top. I thought the size of the shrimp was perfect for getting those bite-sized portions you sandwich inside the nori sheets. You get a whole small piece of juicy shrimp with every bite without needing to struggle with the portioning.

I think if you’re looking to splurge on a baked sushi and are having a hard time picking among the many that are now available, this is a very unique option. I seldom see sushi bake sellers play with salted egg and cereal! It’s priced similarly to most other premium sushi bakes at Php 1,100 (8.5” x 6”) and Php 1,680 (10” x 7.5”).

Quisine also recently launched an interesting new spicy flavor so you might want to check their Facebook or Instagram to order!

3. Ahana’s Chashu Casserole

I didn’t know about Ahana until a friend of mine, recommended it to me. (Thanks, Chloe!) In a world saturated with sushi bake, this chashu casserole is a breath of fresh umami-fied air! This layered rice casserole has flavorful gohan underneath, a layer of spiral charsiu or chashu on top, then a line of ajitama tamago down the middle. If you initially look at this through Ahana’s instagram, it’s so picture-perfect I couldn’t help but wonder if it’ll look the same in reality.

Well, it does.

Now looking amazing is one thing, but the test is always in the taste. I was feeling slightly nervous about this because the photos (and my insistence in ordering) created this hype among my family members, but I’m so glad it delivered! This casserole comes only in one size, 8″x12″, for Php 1,500. Not bad considering the quality.

The chashu, aka the famous Japanese BBQ pork belly we always see atop ramen, was tender. It had a smoky flavor on top but a very prominent sweet-salty body. Umami as promised! I reckon the excess sauce created from the marinade/simmer is what they use for the rice underneath, thus it’s impossible for the gohan not to be good since it literally has all the flavors. Even including some of the flavors from the fat of the meat.

The icing on the cake for me is the ajitama tamago, which is one of the best things in life for an egg-lover like me. And when it’s this good, it’s dangerous. I wish I didn’t have to share lol. I enjoyed this quite a lot so I’m passing on the recommendation. Order through their Instagram account and enjoy!

4. Mom’s Homemade Chashu

Speaking of chashu, my Mom decided to try her hand at making her own version of chashu recently. She combined two different recipes and ended up with this delicious chashu creation. It was GINORMOUS but really tender and delicious!

I have plans to try this out for myself, but in a smaller scale to top on homemade ramen. I saw how much my Mom struggled tying this up because it was so big lol. But amazingly enough it’s super tender. I loved it! I think if she managed to slice this a little thinner it might have ended up being entirely melt-in-the-mouth.

If you’re curious about the chashu-making procedure, check out Just One Cookbook‘s walkthrough. It’s quite a process but I think it’s worth it. However if you prefer to order, I totally get it. The link for Ahana is up above!

5. Creamery Catering’s Tom Yum Pasta & Seafood Laksa

Seeing Creamery Catering’s Instagram gallery, it’s impossible not to be curious about their offerings. The account is full of mouth-watering photos of creative Asian fusion dishes and reinterpreted desserts—two things that are my major weaknesses. This is not the first time I’ve heard about Creamery Catering actually, but I’ve only heard about their desserts. Frankly, their entrees are way more interesting!

It was really hard to pick just two dishes from that gallery, but we ended up ordering Tom Yum Pasta & Seafood Laksa based on our cravings at the time. We also ordered their Avocado Sansrival and Puto Bumbong Taisan. They didn’t give me a breakdown of the cost but only asked whether I wanted servings good for 5 or 10. I went with 5 servings and it cost over Php 2,500 for everything. Ordering from Creamery Catering is definitely not cheap, so the price, coupled with the photographs, produced some extremely lofty expectations.

The Tom Yum Pasta was delicious. You get just the right amount of tom yum flavor, and it’s given a boost by the tangy tomatoes and the abundant seafood. It was probably our mistake for not giving the pasta a final mix to distribute the flavors before eating, but I found some parts of the pasta were more packed with flavor than others.

The Seafood Laksa likewise had good flavor. It was just spicy enough for general consumption. Rather than pairing with noodles, they paired their laksa with fried mantou. The mantou is well-made so it was a pleasure dipping the bread into the laksa. I just wish we got more shrimp than meatballs, though to be fair, the seafood in their dishes are fresh and well-sized.

I wasn’t really a fan of their Avocado Sansrival (not pictured) however, as I found it way too sweet! The avocado flavor was completely dominated by the caramel sauce and the meringue. The Puto Bumbong Taisan, also on the sweet side, had an ube undertone and a sublime fluffy texture. I enjoyed it minus the buttercream layer more since I’m not into sweets, but the buttercream is just a thin coating on the outside. It’s the muscovado that probably ups the sweetness. I do appreciate the attempt to reinterpret the puto bumbong into a cake though. And I definitely love the fluffiness of the mamon.

Creamery Catering do a good job with their main dishes and reinterpretations of Asian favorites, but I was bothered by their unresponsiveness to messages. On the day I was to pick up my order, my intention was just to confirm if my order was ready, but I couldn’t reach them through text or call, nor could I reach them through DMs. Luckily they had a telephone number on their IG profile, so I called their landline and thankfully someone answered!

The fact that I still ended up including their dishes in this round up means that I liked them enough to somehow forgive this shortcoming, but hopefully you won’t have the same experience as I did. You can message them through their Instagram page but I recommend calling.


6. Lilu’s Cheese Rolls

When I tried my first Lilu’s Cheese Roll, I was struck by how long it’s been since I last ate an honest-to-goodness cheese roll. I’ve had so many gimmicky baked goods lately I’d forgotten how good it feels to find an affordable classic. These cheese rolls are fabulously that. Soft and fluffy rather than airy and empty; plus it has a long stick of cheese in the center. (Not a matchstick, mind you.) It also has everyone’s favorite coating of butter/margarine and sugar on top to complete the experience. Personally, I scrape a bit of that off because I don’t like my cheese rolls sweet. The best part? It’s just Php 150 for 8 pieces.

Yes folks, it’s still possible for something to be affordable but delicious in this day and age! And Lilu’s proves this point with their classic cheese rolls in a world full of overpriced baked goods. There, I said it lol.

It’s not that I’m against high-end baked goods. I do indulge in them every once in a while and some of them are actually legit, but I guess I’m tired of how some people position their products as “premium” to justify the price but in the end it’s just really… Normal. There’s literally not much that differentiates them from their “normal” counterpart.

That’s why I appreciate Lilu’s all the more. They just makes good cheese rolls, sell them at a good price, and leave all the talking to the products. And what can I say? Sometimes all a person needs is a good classic cheese roll!

Ghorl, look at that fluffy crumb!!! I am in love.

But you know what saddens me about this entire thing? Lilu’s is located in Las Piñas. The delivery charge to Manila is literally more expensive than the actual product lol. Maybe I’ll just have to ask my friend in Las Piñas for more bread-related favors. You can order from Lilu’s Cheese Rolls through Facebook and Instagram!

7. Buenos Dias Panaderia’s Pan de Tableya & Pan de Tuyo

I first heard about Buenos Dias Panaderia from a friend whose taste I trust. Oddly enough, a few days later the panaderia’s Milo Buns gained some traction on the Internet. It was this deadly one-two punch of persuasion that finally pushed me to buy from this Cavite-based panaderia. A group of us decided to do a joint purchase and have the breads delivered to the Las Piñas friend I mentioned above just to keep the cost low.

To say I was hyped about their breads would be an understatement. I like making and eating yeast breads so I always have a special curiosity reserved for buying them. It was present in full force when it came to Buenos Dias. I felt that I needed to try their breads out because they looked so good! (For research kunwari.)

Their famous Milo Buns are pretty much as advertised. Priced at Php 375 per dozen, these soft buns have a Milo cookie topping and a creamy Milo filling. The size of the bun isn’t too big so you won’t get umay too quickly, and the filling is actually not sweet. My issue is that it lacks that malty taste I’m looking for because local Milo doesn’t taste as good as the imported one, but that that’s not the baker’s fault. Also, these to me are not the type of bread I’d crave often. Hindi ko siya hahanap-hanapin.

I do actually like these Milo Buns cold because the filling reminds me of ice cream then, but when warmed it becomes satisfyingly lava-like. However, the Milo Buns were not the highlight of my order. They were good, but I found two other breads to be better.

I ordered an assorted box of breads for Php 400 a dozen, and I was free to choose which breads I wanted in the box. I went for two pieces of six different kinds of bread that seemed interesting to me.

This might be an unpopular opinion, but the Milo Buns didn’t strike me the same way their Pan de Tablea did. This one had a very nice classic tsokolate flavor that was more nostalgic to me than Milo lol. I wish it came with more filling to be honest. No wonder this was what my friend recommended instead of the Milo Buns.

For the savory breads, my favorite was the Pan de Tuyo. It has lightly salty flaked tuyo (imagine Spanish-style sardines) mixed with cream cheese and punchy sun-dried tomatoes. I loved the combo of flavors!

I felt that I could probably find good substitutes from a bakery near me for the other breads I ordered in this assorted box, but these two are a bit more unique to Buenos Dias.

Just for the heck of it, I’ll review the other breads I got in this assorted box too. The (A) Pan de Coco has some very crisp coconut filling, and it’s just the right amount so as not to overwhelm. But it’s a normal Pan de Coco that’s a bit on the sweet side. For the (B) Ube y Queso, I appreciate that it’s packed and siksik with halaya and a fat length of cheese. That cheese really balances out the sweetness of the ube. This bread is filled with Buenos Dias’ homemade halaya, but it tastes a bit too vanilla-y for me. (I prefer a more ube forward and less sweet halaya ala Bahay Pastulan’s version.) It’s not bad though.

The (C) Yema Swirl is very sweet for me so it’s the one I liked the least. But I like the shape lol. Lastly, the (D) El Pancho is a bun that has a generous amount of yummy Cavite chorizo inside. Me likey, but I feel it’s not as unique as the Pan de Tuyo.

In general, I found the breads of Buenos Dias to be good, but I think it’s normal that some are more memorable than others. The enriched bread base they use for all their breads/buns is a solid recipe. It stays soft and chewy even when refrigerated and reheated. It’s delicious and fits with sweet or savory fillings, plus it’s not overly expensive. I think it’s definitely worth a try if you’re headed in the direction of Kawit or living nearby. Make sure to order in advance through their Instagram.

8. Taho Cheesecake Recipe

One of my favorite recipes not just for the month, but for the year! This No-Bake Taho Cheesecake recipe translates the Pinoy favorite so perfectly into cheesecake form. It’s silky, packed with the flavors of soy, and topped with sago and arnibal. You can grab the recipe HERE!

9. Puno’s Ube Cheese Ice Cream

It’s been a while since I’ve had any interest in ice creams but it seems I just haven’t been finding the right ones to try all this time. This is the second local brand I’ve tried and loved in the past two months!

Last month I talked about Geno’s, and this month I’m talking about Puno’s. This brand hails from Nueva Ecija, but there are now quite a lot of Manila distributors. Puno’s Ice Creams are a lot cheaper than Geno’s, and they’re also available in more smaller sizes than Geno’s, making them a more economical and storage-friendly choice. BUT I personally like Geno’s a little more for its more homemade and nostalgic qualities. Geno’s also has a less sweet, more milky base I enjoy. That doesn’t mean I dislike Puno’s Ice Creams though. It is on this list after all.

I found that some flavors of Puno’s Ice Creams have similar qualities to mass produced commercial ice cream. The Coffee Crumble in particular tastes just slightly better quality than the supermarket brands, but it’s as sweet. However they do have flavors that are above average.

In particular, I want to mention the Ube Queso (Php 285 for half gallon) and Avocado Macapuno (Php 350 for half gallon) flavors. The ube ice cream is slightly grainy and chock full of ube flavor, which makes me believe they used real ube here. I loved biting into the large chunks of queso in there as well. Likewise, the avocado ice cream was made using real avocado for sure, because you can’t fake that bitter avocado undertone with flavorings. The sweet macapuno complements the avocado well. It’s so good!

What I appreciate most about Puno’s is the abundance of bite-sized munchies inside the ice cream– something that I wish Geno could do better as their add-on’s are too fine. However, majority of the add-on’s in the Puno’s Ice Creams tend to sink, so I recommend being that person who eats the bottom portion of the tub lol. We ordered our Puno’s stash from this Instagram shop.

10. MC Rice Unpolished Champorado

I’ll admit this is one of those things that’s an acquired taste, which is why I debated for a while whether I should add it to this list. Most of the people in my household didn’t find themselves particularly drawn to this, but I found myself in that odd space wherein the more I ate, the more I liked it. I also imagine certain people with certain dietary requirements will appreciate this, so into the round-up it goes.

To say this isn’t your typical champorado is an understatement, because it doesn’t cook like a typical champorado to begin with. The rice does not soften to champorado-like consistency no matter how much water you add; rather, it stays firm with a bite. It even has more of a bite than regular rice. I actually thought I messed up somehow, but even cooking it longer it stays firm. So I guess ganyan lang talaga siya. It’s like half kakanin, half champorado, but minus added sugars.

I actually tried the products of MC Rice years before and I liked their rice selection enough to make a blog post. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one though, but it ended up being better than I expected. But as I mentioned, it can be an acquired taste. This Unpolished Champorado already has its own natural flavors, but it’s better served with lots of milk and a touch of brown sugar.

This product positions itself as an alternative to champorado that’s healthier, but I honestly doubt this can beat a good old traditional bowl of champorado for most people. But because it has some naturally nutty, cacao-like undertones, I think this product can make champorado even better because of how its flavor profile complements chocolate. If you’re interested in giving it a try, you can check out the Instagram account of MC Rice.


11. Hai Chi Jia Singaporean Instant Noodles (& Others)

Asian noodles are one of my favorite things in the universe, which is why Asian instant noodles often give me a lot of satisfaction. Whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen, but I’m pretty happy with how my love for them spurs me to discover all these different brands. Because I think I’ve just found one of the most well-made, high-quality instant noodles there is. I’m talking about the Hai Chi Jia brand of noodles from Singapore.

I mean have you ever seen a cup noodle that has this many add-on’s??? In one of the variants, there’s even a packet of baby clams!

This is the Hai Chi Jia Spicy Seafood Clams Vermicelli Noodle Soup. It’s got such a shockingly strong flavor for something in a compact package. For an instant noodle, it’s quite nuanced. I can taste the onions in the broth, as well as the black vinegar. This one isn’t as spicy though. 

My absolute favorite from Hai Chi Jia however is the original Suan La Fen, or the Sour and Spicy noodles. If you like hot and sour soup with that punch of black vinegar, you’ll love this. I promise. It’s SO GOOD. I’m so surprised by the amount of add-on’s that make it look like a traditional Chonqing Suan La Fen. All it needs is cilantro!

I absolutely loved the potato glass noodles. Super bouncy and chewy! It allows the flavors of the soup cling very nicely, coating each strand with flavor. This is just the right amount of spicy and sour for me, with a bit of sweet and lots of bite! The spicy seasoning has a bit of that mala kick to it so you have the option not to add it all in. However I do like my spicy noodles, so I tend to put everything in. 

Did I mention the seasoning of these noodles are in liquid/paste form rather than powder? That’s a plus for me since I sometimes get allergies with the powder seasoning of instant noodles. (But I keep eating them anyway?) All I can say is, these products definitely takes your standard for instant noodles to the next level. The quality is just superb. Heck, people might not even know this is instant if you served this in a bowl!

This other instant noodle is a different brand but I thought I’d add it in here since I got all these noodles from a store I want to recommend. The brand of this one is Guan Dong Zhu, and the product is Mala Oden.

Right off the bat I will say this is only for mala lovers because you definitely get that tingly mala sensation here. The kick is legit, but not offensive that it lingers on your tongue and throat for a long time. I love that they decided to have a decent solo portion of oden or hotpot balls with these noodles. I found the noodles for these are a little less bouncy compared to Hai Chi Jia, but still good!

I recommend any and all of these, although my favorite is the classic Suan La Fen. You can buy all three instant noodles from Klass A Prestige on Instagram! They also sell other grocery and baking items like Guittard chocolates.

12. Luo Ba Wang Tomato Flavored Luo Si Rice Noodles

This one might be a little harder to find locally, but apparently this instant noodle is currently quite popular in China so local Chinese grocery stores might be carrying them now. I had my stash sent over from Ningbo, China by our acquaintances there, and actually I had no idea what this was until I saw this video by one of my favorite YouTubers Strictly Dumpling.

He had some very good things to say about these noodles, and I personally thought they seemed rather unique, so I took a chance. Right off the bat, I would say these noodles are not for people who dislike bamboo shoots. You know those bottled Chinese bamboo shoots they sell in the grocery store that have a very strong scent? That’s the dominant aroma of these noodles, so if you don’t like that, scroll down now. I happen to like that stuff, so I have a different appreciation for this!

I’m loving the fact that Chinese/Taiwanese/Singaporean brands in particular have recently made it a point to make their instant noodles as close to the real deal as possible. I’m not just talking about the flavoring, but also with the toppings and add-on’s they include in the package. Compared to Korean and Japanese instant noodles, these brands are really taking larger leaps.

These Luo Ba Wang noodles have a nice tomato soup base, and even though the bamboo shoots dominate in the scent aspect, they do not drown out the tomato flavor of the broth. The veggie and tofu add-on’s also make these noodles quite filling. We always add some dumplings into the mix when we’re eating this as a main instead of a side dish.

The noodles included in this are rice noodles that are just the right amount of fat to make it easy to slurp but also nice to chew. I love how it contrasts with the crunchy bamboo shoots. Certainly a very unique instant noodle!


14. H Proper’s Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Haru Suke

I previously talked about H Proper’s Ethiopia Sidamo in a round-up, but I think I’ve found another Ethiopia bean that tops that. I haven’t tried enough Ethiopia beans to establish them as my favorite foreign origin, but I have a feeling that’s going to be the case. Ethiopia beans are delightful! Compared to the Sidamo, this Yirgacheffe Haru Suke has flavors that feel more “alive”. I feel that the Sidamo has a “darker” mouthfeel as it’s chocolate and black tea forward, with a sweet grapey type of ending. The Haru Suke meanwhile is more juicy, with a berry-floral note that makes me think of honey. Ugh, I love it. Check out H Proper’s amazing coffee selection on their website.

15. The Chai Bros Co.

I said I wouldn’t order any more ready-to-drink products, but annoyingly enough, on a day I was badly craving something yuzu, the ad for this brand shows up with their Yuzu Tea prominently featured. Ugh. Thankfully, they have a pick-up point in Binondo so I didn’t need to pay any delivery charges, but originally they are located in Greenhills. All the products are Php 150 for 500 mL servings so they’re good enough to share.

To start, I enjoyed both milk tea drinks. Both are lightly sweetened and smooth, so I think the general population will love these drinks. I just personally wish the tea base was slightly stronger. The Thai Milk Tea is okay but since I make a pretty solid recipe at home I’m incredibly picky about it. My favorite is the Hong Kong Milk Tea. Though I also know how to make this drink, I like how this version brought me back to Kowloon.

All their tea drinks are just the right amount of sweet, and all of them taste as advertised. The Yuzu Tea tastes like honeyed citrus tea. The Grapefruit Tea is a bit more bitter because grapefruit has some naturally bitter properties, but it’s slightly highlighted by the brewed tea they used. This is the one where the tea taste is strongest, but it has a good push and pull between sweet and bitter.

My favorite is the Butterfly Pea Lemon Tea. They probably used the same tea jam they use for the yuzu tea but mixed it with brewed butterfly pea tea, and the effect is very refreshing. The lemon flavor jumps out in a very nice way since the butterfly pea flavor is mild.

All their teas are a combination of freshly brewed tea leaves and tea jams (yes, the Korean ones). There’s nothing wrong with that, but since we always have bottles of Korean tea jams at home, I realize I can easily make these. I just have to experiment with the right combinations. Nonetheless, I’m happy to have tried these products and thought maybe you’d like to try them too. Check out their Instagram for more details!


16. Nebokgom Channel

I am in love with how much inspiration this channel brings me! It’s not a teaching channel per se as it doesn’t really teach recipes, but it is a vlog of a South Korea-based cafe that is bursting with ideas. This channel allows me to witness all the things I love about dessert-making by the hands of a professional dessert-maker. I love creative flavor pairings and the techniques I become privy to when I watch the videos in this channel!

This channel kind of proves my theory that Asian pastry chefs are in a very advantageous position because not only can they make use of Western techniques alongside Asian ones, their familiarity with Asian flavors can usually make their desserts stand out more.


Full disclosure: This post is not sponsored. All items were purchased on my own unless otherwise stated. I received no compensation for writing this post. All opinions are my own.

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