Eat or Retreat,  Product Reviews

January to February 2021 Round-Up: Cake, noods, a new favorite mug, and things in between

Hello and welcome to my first favorites round up of 2021! I mentioned before that I’m going to take it a little slow this year in terms of ordering stuff, but honestly I think I’ve gotten A LOT pickier too. That’s why it took me 2 whole months before I could come up with a satisfactory favorites list. The upside to that is all the products and brands I’m mentioning in this list are literally the best things I’ve enjoyed the last two months, and I have zero qualms recommending them to anyone. 

Since the year started, I’ve actually been more absorbed with buying interesting pantry items and ingredients for cooking and baking. However, I’m not immune to the occasional craving for outside food, so once again I have a mixed bag of favorites for January and February– not a lot though, just the creme de la creme, if you will. I even have a store recommendation for those of you who like to collect interesting (but affordable) plates and mugs! I know it became a huge trend in the last year and I’m late to the party lol.

Anyhow, let’s get on with the list. This is in no particular order:

1. Asian dishes from Kitchen Cube Manila

Even though I like to write about food, you’d probably be surprised to find out my family does not order out as much as you’d expect. When we do, we’re actually very selective. Something has to really catch our attention. For some reason, Kitchen Cube Manila’s menu made us curious, and coupled with a sudden craving for Thai food (mostly), we decided to order. It wasn’t cheap ordering from here to be honest, but dang, I’m pretty impressed. You get quality, taste, and generous servings. Lately, it’s been hard to hit all three categories in one go. There will be times when I feel like home-based sellers are overpricing their products when these products fall short of the mark. Didn’t feel like that in this case, even though I can’t deny this enters splurge territory.

The food from Kitchen Cube Manila does appear to be pricey at a glance, but depending on the size you order they can come in pretty big packages. And you know what else I also appreciated about their dishes? They taste pretty darn authentic. It’s one of the rare times I can’t pick out a favorite, because I enjoyed literally every single thing in the bunch. From the pad thai to the catfish salad, down to the mango sticky rice, it was all a hit for my tastebuds. Nothing was too salty or too sweet or too anything. Everything was just perfectly seasoned and truly satisfying. 

Interestingly enough, they offer quite a wide array of dishes across cuisines. I’ve been wondering if they’re consistent with their other offerings and will probably try some other stuff soon. You can check out Kitchen Cube Manila on Instagram and Facebook to order.

2. Viaje by Kev Pollo a la Brasa Tortilla Combo

I didn’t realize how much I’ve been missing South American flavors until Viaje by Kev’s Pollo a la brasa Tortilla set arrived at my door. Kevin Uy, the owner of Viaje, is a Chinese-Filipino chef with a special love for Peruvian cuisine, and I think he manages to express this through his food. Kevin’s Pollo a la brasa, or Peruvian Roasted Chicken, is beautifully done. It’s perfectly juicy, flavorful and smoky, but when eaten with the salsa and sauces it’s a literal explosion of flavors!

His tangy Salsa criolla, made with tomatoes, red onions, and grilled corn, is something I could not get enough of. Seasoned with lime, the tart and bright flavor of the salsa cuts through the spiciness of the aji rojo. At the same time, it complements the savory flavors of the aji verde and white garlic sauce. When you wrap everything inside the soft flour tortilla alongside the chicken, somehow the salsa binds them all together into this delightful party in the mouth. My mouth is watering just from the memory!

At Php 980, I think it’s a pretty fair price for this delicious feast. We received this set for review, but I reckon we’ll be ordering again soon. In the meantime, you’ll want to check out Viaje by Kev on Instagram and Facebook too. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE. 

3. Mango Re-imagined Cake from 22 Grams Patisserie

Another winner from the same person who created one of my favorite cakes from last year is this Mango Re-imagined Cake. I have such a huge appreciation for the creativity of Dave Cervantes! His cakes have this common theme to them: From the outside, you think you already get a vivid visual representation of what to expect from the cake, but once you slice into it you are pleasantly surprised by how there’s so much more to the story.

In this instance, Mango Re-imagined. You get a bright and shiny yellow cake with specks of silver and nuts on top. The sides are coated with coconut and it makes you think this is a posh, tropical, mango cake. And then you make that first slice and… what’s this?! So many layers! You go ahead and have that first taste, then find your senses come alive. So many textures and sensations in the mouth! It literally made my eyes open wide with delight.

Just by the looks of the layers, you can already tell the amount of studying that went into building this cake. You get a Mango and Kaffir Tea Cake base, a sweet and crunchy cashew croquant layer, with a coconut white chocolate custard on top

In fairness dun sa kaffir once nagmature sya doon sa cake ang delicate nya pero ang ganda nung effect

Actually manipis lang ung white chocolate custard nya pero parang matamis din kasi ung malutong lutong na parang brittle/streusel nya.

Ang gusto ko ung pagsubo mo ang daming ganap sa bibig. May malutong tapos may jelly at cream tapos natutunaw na ung cake sa loob

You can reach 22Grams Patisserie through their Facebook or Instagram page.

4. Ajumma Republic Korean Hot Sauce with Yuzu

I bought this from Robinson’s Supermarket, but you can buy it online too.

5. SAGANA Coconut Spread

Although this doesn’t quite have that milky, slightly nutty taste of regular butter, this is by no means a bad substitute. Boasting a healthier composition versus regular butter, this might be one of the better and tastier alternatives for people with health issues or specific dietary requirements. It has the same sort of mouthfeel as butter, goes as well on a piece of toast as butter, and can even be used in any application that requires butter, but it’s entirely dairy-free.

SAGANA’s coconut butter/spread is made from 81% pure and non-hydrogenated coconut oil, 15% water, and 1.5% salt. Coconut oil is known to contain high amounts of Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which is a type of fat that helps metabolize ketones into energy used by the body’s muscles and tissues. Coconut oil is also known to contain Lauric Acid, which helps improve the immune system.

A little info about the company that produces this: SAGANA is actually a Swiss-Filipino social enterprise based in the Philippines. They count on smallholder farmers and cooperatives in Southern Luzon to supply their coconut oil, and they strive to keep their production process completely sustainable for the environment as well. This product uses 70% less water and emits 50% less carbon dioxide as it is made compared to dairy butter. Those are big numbers.

If you’re worried about whether this has a coconut taste, it really doesn’t. The only sign that this is made from coconut is that light whiff of coconut scent. I have eaten this as a spread and have used it for baking, and while I liked it for both, I feel like this is a type of butter to be savored more carefully due to its price. At Php 255 per 225 gram bar, it’s not cheap, but we often have to pay a premium for healthy and sustainable products right?

6. The Good Cup Coffee’s Ehtiopia Guduva Legertha

One of my recent favorites from my favorite local coffee roaster, this Ethiopian coffee is a delight! It’s got a tea-like mouthfeel and aroma, but the flavor profile is without a doubt blueberry. It’s also got this juicy fruity lychee-like taste. Seriously so good! They actually have quite a lot of good coffees; this just so happens to be a standout. You can order through their website.

7. Isla Cura Handpicked Treasures

I am totally in love with this mug I got from Instagram store Isla Cura. The coaster wasn’t supposed to come with it, but the seller threw it in as a freebie. Don’t they look just perfect with each other? Coffee seems to taste better in a mug you like, don’t you think?

Although this mug was my favorite buy from Isla Cura, I totally love everything else I ordered from them. Here’s the photo I shared in my Instagram Story, just to give you an idea of the kind of stuff Isla Cura curates. Super nice!


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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