Lest you expect otherwise, The Stock Market is not a standing paean to the pineapple. True, there’s a huge mural of a pineapple plantation on the back wall as well as too-cute tiny pineapples as table centerpieces; and the menu doesn’t scream “tropical” either. Fruits serve more as accents in items such as the warm brie cheese platter with walnuts, grapes, and apricots (P490), the much-ordered prime burger with bacon and grilled onions and pineapples (P395), as well as the tomato mozzarella fondue (P285). The latter is a welcome change from the traditional Gruyere-Emmentaler cheese combination. I’ve always wanted to try a (red!) fondue and this doesn’t disappoint. Hot and creamy with lingering bits of mozzarella leaving trails from pot to waiting mouth, it’s good enough to spoon in like soup, which I do. The accompanying Parmesan croutons are a nice touch but I believe that focaccia or a crustier bread would be more suitable.
Having been to The Stock Market at various times of the day, it’s at its best when the sun is out. It’s then when its gleaming glass windows and bright interiors can be appreciated at their finest. It tends to get too loud and busy at night and the service suffers for it.
This is a restaurant whose efforts to offer American regional cuisine are appreciated by my jaded taste buds. The old-fashioned stew of lamb and beef with mushrooms (P395) is creatively presented, its pastry crust tipped precipitously on one side. And I like something new for dessert too: the Key Lime pie with tufts of whipped cream fits the bill as does the flourless chocolate cake (both P160 each), a log of fudge that sits nicely on the tongue. The Stock Market is a venue to discover dishes not available elsewhere in the metro. Its ambitiousness should be applauded but the restaurant itself has yet to take flight: the cioppino seafood stew (P550) is unbearably salty, the roast pork stuffed with apricots and bacon (P475) presents a chewing challenge, and my request for the price of some pots is ignored. The server probably hid and hoped I’d go away. Which, out of frustration, I did.
The Stock Market
Quadrant B3 Bonifacio High Street,Taguig 856.6301
Soy sauce in my ramen I used to think that Shinjuku, one of my all-time favorite restaurants, had the best ramen. Now, I’m not so sure. It’s been overtaken by a place whose sharply staccato name, Ukokkei Ramen Ron, may be Manila’s best-kept ramen restaurant secret.
Ukokkei is characteristic of restaurants in Japan that serve a single specialty whether it’sÂ sushi or okonomiyaki. Ukokkei is all about ramen though they do have great onigiri (P80; little rice balls that are really triangles), gyoza (P120; never mind this one), and chahan (P260; fried rice). More complicated than just soup and noodles, ramen derives its flavor from the soup, the stock in which it’s boiled. Ramen chefs have undergone years of training and each has his way of making the broth from various meat bones, dried fish, vegetables, etc. At Ukokkei, all the ingredients are from Japan as are the chukamen, ramen noodles made from a certain type of wheat flour. Soft yet chewy, this ain’t anything like mami. Ukokkei serves just three types of ramen (from P300 with larger portions from P560): shio (salt flavored soup), shoyu (soy sauce flavored soup), and miso (miso flavored soup). Whichever soup you choose (all with a thin layer of oil floating atop), the toppings are almost always the same ”“ pork, leeks, shredded nori, etc. I’ve tried all but the shio. I prefer the miso ramen, the most popular of the soups because its shoyu counterpart has a somewhat strong, musty flavor that I can’t place and don’t particularly prefer. Nevertheless, Ukokkei’s ramen is restorative, its broth scalding hot and effusive with flavor. Ukokkei Ramen Ron G/F Tesoro Building 822 A. Arnaiz Avenue (Pasay Road), Makati 856.4588 Closed on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month
A woman named Chariya Chariya’s Thai Kitchen pulls in an enviable crowd with its affordable and decent Thai food. I say “decent” because obviously at these prices, some dishes will be lacking. For instance, the tom yum shrimp (P140) soup has nothing but one lone shrimp in the broth. Where’s the lemon grass, the kaffirlime leaves, perhaps even some canned mushrooms?
Mere quibbling aside, the bagoong fried rice (P120), the red curry beef, and pad thai noodles (both P150) satiate nicely as does the som tam (papaya salad; P70). I just feel that the dishes lack some good Thai patis (fish sauce) perhaps and more of those herbs traditionally found in Thai cooking. One dish ”“ and how appropriate that it’s dessert ”“ which I feel shines the brightest is the Thai halo-halo. Big enough to satisfy a rabid dessert lover like me, it’s cold and complete with the colorful klong-klang balls made of tapioca and rice flour. I can taste the freshness of the coconut milk and the palm sugar syrup sings. Without a doubt, the best Thai halo-halo I’ve tasted in Manila.
While Chariya’s Thai Kitchen isn’t tops on my list of affordable Thai restaurants, I appreciate how the place is clean and orderly, the staff is alert, and this is definitely one place where “spicy” really means spicy.
THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED.
Chariya’s Thai Kitchen 1776 N. Garcia (formerly Reposo) corner Milagros St., Makati 382.1616
One meal deserves another at le restaurant I have to go back twice to French restaurant La Régalade just to firm up my opinion of it. My first time there leaves me so unsettled that I’m rendered mute when people ask me, “So, how was it?” For the first visit, I’m accompanied by my Filipino friend Ian, who works as a chef in Paris, France. I think he’d be a good barometer of French food. The French onion soup(cover photo; P200) is adequate and Ian likes how the cheese is sufficiently gooey. Me, I’m not a fan of French onion soup so I can’t pass opinion on it.
During my visits, menu items have been replaced with others and two standing chalkboards, er, “stand in” now for the paper menus. One the newer items is a blue cheese tart, an exquisite combination of blue cheese ”“ gentle and not too pungent ”“ and roasted pears. Preening on puff pastry, it’s a picture of simplicity and perfection on the palate. Another time, I try one of their daily (lunch) set menus which at P600++ is quite the deal. One of the items is snapper resting on rice pilaf, the whole lot crowned with grilled tomato and zucchini. Finished with a sauce made from concentrated shrimp essence, it illustrates the care with which La Régalade’s dishes are created.
I can’t say the same however for the stewed lamb with dried apricots and spices (photo above; P750) and the bouillabaisse (P850). The former has no apricots ”“ just lots and lots of potatoes ”“ and the latter’s seafood is overcooked, never mind that the soup resembles a consommé more than anything else.
As for the dessert, the lemon tart is tart but tough, crust-wise. The flourless chocolate cake is typical of that in any other restaurant ”“ good but not memorable.
I know that La Régalade is associated with Alain Raye, a chef whose one Michelin star was awarded back in the mid-80’s. Though he jets in and out from Vancouver, the fort is ably held down by another French chef, Pierre Cornelis. After a number of visits here, I feel that the food is hit and miss ”“ sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not, which is disappointing for me. At these prices and with the chef’s renown, the food should be consistent. The staff also tend to hover a bit too much, especially when the place is frighteningly empty during lunch.
La Regalade 820 Arnaiz Avenue (formerly Pasay Road), Makati 750.2104 / 750. 2105