Eat or Retreat,  Monthly round-up,  Product Reviews

October 2020 Round-Up: A balanced list of favorites

October’s list is significantly shorter than any of the lists I’ve been making lately. I suppose it’s because of my sudden pickiness when it comes to ordering, but I also think it’s because we’ve been cooking and baking quite a lot in the house this October. I have been insanely busy to a degree even I don’t understand lol. In any case, I have 10 things on my list this month, and it might just be the very epitome of quality over quantity because most of the things in this list may also make it to my year-end faves.

I think I like being busy. I spent less money on ordering out this month, and although some of that budget did go into ingredients instead, it’s a significant reduction compared to before. The part I don’t like is how EXHAUSTED I am. Anyway, that’s not what you’re here for. On to the list!


1. Quisine’s Flamin’ Hot Aburi

I never quite bought into the sushi bake craze since sushi bake is something I can make, so the fact that this is the second time Quisine is making an appearance on my favorites list means I really like their stuff. Last month I managed to try their Cereal Shrimp with Salted Egg Aburi and so I had lofty expectations for their new flavor. Well this Flamin’ Hot Aburi did not disappoint one bit! It is as creative, delicious, and addictive.

When I first saw that they added Samyang flavoring to this, I thought it was going to be dangerously spicy. (Yes, it’s THAT Samyang famous for the spicy noodles.) Surprisingly, it’s still a fairly well-balanced sushi bake but with a kick. Sticky Japanese rice underneath supports a creamy and generous layer of kani coated in Quisine’s special sauce. The tobiko looks even redder with the Samyang sauce, but the heat isn’t as intense as one would expect from appearances.

I initially thought the Cheetos would push this over the top, but it ended up giving this sushi bake a perfect touch of crunch. They obviously love playing with textures as much as they love playing with flavors! Each bite becomes an adventure of sensations, in that sense. As someone who loves spicy food, I personally did not find this too spicy. It’s even better once wrapped inside the nori because the umami gets turned up a notch.

Honestly, I think I kind of like this one a little more than their salted egg variant because there’s less umay factor, yet I will admit you can’t go wrong with either. If you’re splurging on a sushi bake anyway, I highly recommend any of Quisine’s two variants. (They ain’t cheap, but I understand why.)

What do these people eat for breakfast that makes them come up with such unique flavors? I would love to know. (And just so we’re clear, they did not send me this sushi bake. I am writing about this simply because it’s good!) Try them out for yourself by contacting Quisine on Instagram!

2. Peñafiel’s

Fil-Mex cuisine is becoming a thing lately, and I am all for it. Ironically, despite enjoying tacos quite a lot, I don’t seem to buy them as often as I logically should. I almost missed out on Peñafiel’s! If they hadn’t introduced themselves to me and sent me their products to try, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy their delicious lineup.

I am still remembering the taste of their tacos as I write this. All the meat fillings are carefully thought out and incredibly tasty, capturing the flavors of Pinoy favorites in a “handy package”. It’s clear no shortcuts have been taken in the preparation of the meats. I can’t even pick a favorite from their Taco Sampler set! Whether it’s the Chicken Adobo, Sisig, or Beef Tapa, any which one will satisfy the tastebuds. I highly recommend trying them all since they’re quite affordable at around Php 230 for the Trio, and Php 440 for the Six Pack as of this writing.

They also make a delicious Birria Queso Pares (Php 175 per piece), which you dip in pares broth. Birria is actually a savory Mexican beef stew, but someone came up with the idea of turning it into a taco. To make birria tacos, you first need to cook a good stew, and then you use the soup as a dip and the meat as the filling.

Traditionally, the tortilla wrapper gets dipped into the stew soup before being stuffed with meat and fried until golden, and then the leftover soup gets used as a dip as you eat the birria taco. It’s such an interesting way to eat two things at once, don’t you think?

Making a Filipino version of this new Mexican favorite, Peñafiel’s uses beef pares as the stew component. It works incredibly well! You get full-flavored tender beef and broth, plus some cheese to round things up. And let me tell you, they make a pretty mean pares!

My only real complaint is how stiff and tough their flour tortilla becomes once it cools down. Considering this was delivered all the way from Makati, it’s an inevitable thing. Although on one side, you can easily hold it up and dip it when you’re eating the birria taco, it’s not as great on the normal tacos. The shell breaks into pieces easily when I pick it up because it has hardened and become “makunat“, I guess you can say. It’s kind of hard to explain lol. BUT it’s a good thing the flavors of the tacos more than make up for it! I highly recommend you give Peñafiel’s a try by hitting them up on their Instagram.


3. UNIF Soup Daren noodles

I’m often confused by how sellers list this instant noodle in their stores. The Chinese label is read as Tong Yi Tang Da Ren [統一湯大人]. The ‘Tong Yi‘ part is the brand, called ‘Uni-President’ internationally. Then they translated the ‘tang‘ into its English counterpart ‘soup’ while maintaining the ‘Daren’ part. Semantics aside, this is the instant noodle I often turn to when I am craving for a quick noodle soup fix. It’s easy to prepare, comforting, delicious, and it usually contains a liquid/paste flavoring. I sometimes get allergies when I eat instant noodles with powdered flavorings, so I prefer this. Plus it’s in a cup.

I really don’t think you can have a conversation about health as far as instant noodles are concerned because you don’t eat instant noodles to be healthy. You eat it because it’s flavorful, comforting, and super quick to whip up, and this ticks all the boxes. My recommended flavors: Tonkotsu, Sour & Spicy, and Borscht. You can skip the Seafood one. I do believe you can find these on Shopee.

4. Master Chef Himalayan Pink Salt from

After checking my baking supplies, sea salt was on my list of ingredients to purchase and replenish, but a timely care package from WeNourish saved the day when it included a big pack of Himalayan Pink Salt. Having never used this kind of salt in my baking and cooking, I was unsure about the effect it would have. Turns out it’s not just lovely to look at because of its color, it’s also nice to use in place of my regular Mediterranean fine sea salt.

By the way, if you get the chance, check out and their selection of products. I love browsing through online stores like this one, where there’s a great variety of products across categories. They also carry brands that you can’t buy just anywhere. They have multi-vitamins and supplements, healthy snacks or indulgent treats (Aroma truffles and Torres chips!), and even beverages actually. I’m pretty sure there’s something for everyone. They even have Arabica% coffee beans! Check out the site!


5. Yolk Goodies Egg Tarts

I can’t remember the last time I had egg tarts, which is why when I came across a review for these I felt a sudden craving. I didn’t know what to expect but it looked really good so I decided to place an order. In any case, it’s just located in Binondo. Well, to say that I enjoyed the egg tarts from Yolk Goodies would be an understatement. I ended up ordering again the following week so I can send my grandma a box.

Their Sampler Set is definitely the way to go. You get all three of their flavors: Classic, Ube-Cheese, and Chocolate, in one neat package. All the flavors are pretty good actually, and none of them are too sweet. The crust is flaky even on the next day straight out of the fridge, and the filling is delightfully creamy. I also like the fact that the egg tarts don’t taste like sweetened scrambled eggs as some egg tarts do.

Even though the Classic is hard to beat, I like how the addition of ube and chocolate brings something new to the egg tart eating experience. They don’t scrimp on the ube (Good Shepherd) or the chocolate (Malagos). Despite the flavors being dominant, you still won’t forget you’re actually eating an egg tart. I appreciate that.

Congratulations, Manila! We finally have another worthy entry in the realm of home-based food purveyors. I am so tired of having to spend so much on delivery fees for orders coming from the South and the North that every time I find a Manila-based seller, I want to jump for joy! If you live near the Binondo area especially, check out Yolk Goodies. You can order through their Instagram!

6. Otter Breads’ Chocolate Babka & Garlic Herb Butter Infused Sourdough

The team from Otter Breads has done it again! How is it that they keep outdoing themselves every time they make a new menu item? I know I said before that I’m in love with their Sourdough Noir, and before that their classic sourdough, but the Garlic Herb Butter Sourdough has stolen the top spot in my heart.

It might be my love for savory things talking, but I just want to say: I cannot stop myself from nibbling on this sourdough! It’s got such good flavor on its own you can just devour it after toasting. The way the garlic-herb flavor complements the natural sour note of the bread is pretty darn addictive!

Oh the amazing sandwiches this sourdough will make!

To be fair, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of their sourdough breads. The thing I love about Otter Breads’ sourdough products is the fact that the crumb stays fairly “fluffy” even when it’s not newly toasted. The crumb never gets tough as cardboard, unlike most of the others I’ve tried. (It’s a different matter when frozen or refrigerated obviously. You have to reheat!) To be honest, sourdough has quite a bad reputation with my parents because they feel like they have to labor so much just to eat it lol. Now I just make sure to serve them sourdough products from Otter Breads.

Seriously guys, I’m not buttering them up for you. I don’t want to namedrop the other brands we’ve tried before, but believe me when I say the difference in the eating experience is incredibly huge. And I’m making a big deal out of this because it does matter. Bread isn’t supposed to make your jaw hurt!

Moving on, I also want to mention their Chocolate Babka. I’ve made babka before so I knew what to expect. This certainly ticked all the right boxes! Rich, with a soft crumb and pockets of chocolate, I find babkas are always a great excuse to have chocolate for breakfast.

And because chocolate and coffee are a match made in heaven, Otter Breads will be releasing a holiday set comprised of their chocolate babka and your choice of single origin cold brew. As someone who has indeed tried this combination, I give it a seal of approval.

I don’t buy cold brew a lot these days since I make some at home regularly, but their brew is delightfully strong, which means it stands up well to lots of milk. Add a touch of condensed milk for sweetness and the resulting drink is even better than what you can get from a certain international coffee chain!

I’ve been a fan of Otter Breads since I first got introduced to them several months ago. Since I’ve mentioned them quite a number of times in my monthly favorites list already, I don’t know what else I can say except this: Go and order from Otter Breads now through their Instagram! You will not regret it. I promise!


7. The Good Cup’s Ethiopia Sakicha

It’s official: I’m in love with Ethiopian coffees. I wasn’t sure at first what my origin preference was, but considering how much I loved all three Ethiopian beans I have tried with a passion, I think I’m on my way to figuring that out. I was literally unconsciously sales-talking a friend of mine to buy Ethiopian coffees lol.

The Good Cup Coffee Co’s Ethiopia Sakicha is one of my favorite Ethiopian beans. It’s difficult for me not to like coffees roasted by this brand because they do it so well, but I would have to say this Sakicha is one of my favorites from them. It’s very juicy, with pomelo and honey tones, plus a delicate floral-ness to it that’s rather delightful. Definitely recommended! Check out the amazing coffee selection on Good Cup Coffee Co.’s website!

8. Prominent Manila’s Euphoria in Ethiopia Taster Pack

Being a newly-minted sucker for Ethiopian coffee, this sampler set almost feels like it was made just for me. When I first came across it, I had some beans I needed to go through so I stopped myself from ordering. But I couldn’t get it out of my head. The idea that I could get to taste four different Ethiopian coffees by four well-known roasters appealed to me too much. It doesn’t help that this coffee box set is named ‘Euphoria in Ethiopia’, because it really did things to my imagination.

Opening the box, the geek in me was totally smitten by the graphs on the front of each 60-gram packet. It’s a very good way of giving you an idea of what to expect at a glance, aside from the indicated tasting notes. Even though I always choose coffees based on tasting notes I think I will like, it’s usually not that straightforward when you’re drinking the actual coffee because flavors are complex and subjective. The spider diagram works though, because you can plot it in broader terms.

Anyway, it doesn’t surprise me that I enjoyed the coffees in this box, but there are coffees I ended up loving significantly more than others. The standout in this pack is a bean roasted by EDSA Beverage Design Studio’s #YKW, called Halu Beriti G1. It starts out very prominently like bergamot tea, smoothly transitioning to a juicy peach that made my eyes widen in delightful surprise. This reminds me so much of good-quality fruit-infused tea. I didn’t know coffee could be this fruity to be honest, and I loved this so much I’m planning to purchase this individually. The second coffee that stood out to me was Yardstick‘s Kedida, a coffee in between sweet and floral with distinct berry notes.

Interestingly enough, El Kapitan’s Haru Suke gave me a different experience compared to H Proper’s. It’s a little heavier in the mouth and a little less juicy, though the tasting notes are more or less the same, with black tea and berry notes in the forefront. Masha by Vsnry Coffee had too much of a sour ending for me so I wasn’t the biggest fan. I guess this is the risk you take when you go for sampler sets. There’s a chance you won’t LOVE everything, but at least I can vouch for the quality of the beans from each of these roasters. In the end, it’s a matter of preference. 

I am constantly amazed by how a thing as tiny as a coffee bean can create this whole universe of flavors. It’s fascinating how different each coffee can taste even if they are the same bean, but roasted by different roasters. Even the coffee hailing from the same country but cultivated by different farmers taste significantly different. Definitely the best part about coffee tasting journeys. You can check out Prominent Manila’s Instagram and website to see what they have in store next!

9. Nom Nom Thai Specialty Drinks

I ordered these drinks from the same place I ordered the egg tarts above, based on a recommendation made by a friend. I must say I am quite impressed by the quality of these drinks by Nom Nom, most notably the Thai Jasmine Milk Tea. I love the aroma of this drink! You can tell they used good jasmine tea to complement a Thai jasmine tea mix. The tea flavor is obvious but not too strong. It’s floral but not in an artificial way. The formulation itself is also creamy and not too sweet. In my opinion, it’s a perfect drink, which is why it’s my favorite from the bunch!

Their Traditional Thai Milk Tea is a bit close in taste to what I make here at home, which makes me think they also perhaps add real black tea with the Thai tea mix when they brew this. It has good tea flavor and is not too sweet! The Coconut Mango Milk was very interesting as it left our household divided. Half of us liked it and half of us did not for some reason. I liked it well enough maybe because I enjoy coconut in my drinks, and thought it reminded me of thick mango shake but with a prominent coconut milk base. I loved the popping boba!

Overall, I am very pleased with these drinks. There’s a certain quality to them that clearly goes beyond just using the ready-to-brew tea mix. It’s not badly priced at Php 100+ for 500mL, plus the bottles are cute lol. Check out their Instagram to order, or order as a bundle with the Egg Tarts!

10. Plentitude’s Tablea

I received some products from Plentitude a while back but only managed to use some of them this month. I wanted to specifically mention their tablea, which I used to make the Tablea Coffee that I paired with my Cream Cheese Ube Rolls. The Tablea Coffee was EXCELLENT, and I am convinced a big part of that is because of the tablea I used. 

I noticed these tablets are a little thinner than your typical tablea tablets, but packed with flavor so you don’t need to overload the milk when you make your tsokolate. Adding in too much makes a very thick tsokolate, as does using full fat milk. I highly recommend using skim or 2% milk when making tsokolate with this tablea. Add about a teaspoon or two of sugar and you’re good to go!

Doesn’t the image of a warm cup of thick tsokolate make you feel warm on this rainy day?

Plentitude make great single estate chocolate bars, as well as lots of other wonderful chocolate things. You can view the complete lineup of Plentitude’s products via their website!


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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