Spider-Man: Homecoming

Fun and surprising. Watch in cinemas.

85/100

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I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming last week. Here’s my review (SPOILER ALERT):

STORY

Though primarily a superhero movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a visual metaphor for adolescent maturity. We are told equal portions of Peter Parker & Spider-Man’s story in the midst of juggling responsibilities. Think of Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 lite with a deconstructed Civil War storyline and modern perspective in their for good measure.

Because of everyone’s familiarity with Spider-Man in the past decade, certain aspects of his history were not included. There’s no mention of the spider bite; the Osbourne family; Gwen Stacy’s death as a mere hint in the decathlon trip; the showdown with the Uncle Ben’s killer; and Uncle Ben’s exclusion possibly is not from death, but divorce. The lack of Peter’s trademark Spidey-sense was a bit jarring, but could be another metaphor for being a late-bloomer.

All these stem from Marvel’s contemporary take on their webslinger, where they dive right in from the events of The Avengers and Captain America: Civil War. If those two movies portrayed the effects of those events on an executive level, Spider-Man: Homecoming does so on an everyman scale.

As with previous movies, Marvel approaches the seriousness of responsibility with a bright, chipper tone. For the most part, it works, as their main character is a teenager all throughout the film.

CHARACTERS

Homecoming’s cast is diverse for all the right reasons. Since it is set in modern times, Peter’s high school friends aren’t white. They’re mostly African American (Laura Harrier as current love interest Liz Allan-Toomes/Zendaya as future love interest MJ), Mexican (Tony Revolori as smart, unjock bully Flash Thompson), and Filipino (Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds)! Though they all have their origins set way back in the 1970s, Marvel definitely took some liberties. And hey, they own these characters, so why not? The shoe fits.

Peter also gets two mentors per gender: Marisa Tomei as a younger, hotter Aunt May may have received backlash at the beginning, but it fits the update. She is the unsure maternal figure to her nephew, keeping his head below the clouds. That last scene reaction was priceless before the cut to credits.

The spidersuit AI Karen – played by Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany’s (Vision) wife – acts as the logical voice of reason. Though only a humanized AI, she is Peter’s best friend, truly understanding the ins and outs of normalcy and celebrity.

If you think that Iron Man hogs screentime, he doesn’t. While Aunt May is hands-on, Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark is more of the passive-aggressive father figure. “If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.” and “I want you to be better.” are his most memorable lines, inspiring his protege to avoid the same mistakes he made. His unusual mentoring and discipline stem from his own parental issues, which he deals with through Peter. Though at first treating him like an unneeded machine, Tony learns to value him because of Peter’s simple altruism.

Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan is the most detached from Peter, likening him an annoying insect in spite of attempts to connect. However, like his boss Tony, he eventually warms up to Peter in the end.

Marvel did a surprisingly good take on the Vulture. They turned a B-list Spider-Man bad guy an A-lister by making him a smart, psychopathic genius. Adrian Toomes is forced into a life of crime because of Tony Stark’s mistakes. He isn’t really evil, just a victim of circumstance like many of us. Michael Keaton was the right person for the role. I’m pretty sure Birdman was his audition for Vulture. His reveal act as the dad of Peter’s love interest was totally unexpected and fresh. The respect and secrecy he gives Peter towards the end is an interesting dynamic between the two.

If Tobey Maguire is the better Peter Parker and Andrew Garfield the better Spider-Man, lead actor Tom Holland brings balance to both personas. As Spider-Man, he is the immature, unripe hero. He learns that limitations and guidance are not exactly a bad thing. They discover your greatest strengths, weaknesses, and prevent burnout.

As Peter, he is the blossoming teen, discovering that what is right and what feels right are two completely different things. As he matures, he comes to terms with both and chooses the former. Because of that, we the viewers have this sense of growing up with him, because we’ve all gone tread that path before.

This is why Spider-Man is a beloved character in the first place. He is Marvel’s first teenage superhero, someone we can all relate to. Perhaps the greatest example of a flawed, but noble personality. As shown several times, he just wants to do right, setting himself as exceptional just like any teenager.

There were hints of the Sinister Six in some portions (Scorpion and Shocker being the most obvious), but they were only minor. Good of them to mix the Spider-Man baddies with current Avengers events, giving us a sense that both are somehow interconnected.

PRODUCTION VALUE

The balance of natural locations and green screen sets reflect the perspective of the creative team. Some moments we are in Peter’s Queens apartment or Midtown High School. Other times we are with Spider-Man in Washington D.C. or in the air fighting the Vulture.

Michael Giacchino’s subdued score reflect that the Spider-Man we’re seeing isn’t fully mature, merely on the cusp of discovering his full potential. Dave Jordan’s music supervision also portrays this in Peter Parker’s life. He is young and immature, so the inclusion of The Ramones’ “Blitzkreig Bop” tell us musically that adolescence is fast, rocky, but also fun at some points. The colorful, crayon-based end titles get that point across too.

They retained the suit design from Civil War, following the modern update. My only wish was that Peter got the more classic design post-Vulture showdown. It didn’t happen. Perhaps the decision was done to visually distinguish Holland’s Spider-Man from Raimi’s & Webb’s.

In terms of sound design, the ignition of Vulture’s jet harness sounds a LOT like (or probably shares) the Green Goblin’s glider from 2002. I can’t decide if that was just laziness or a fun easter egg.

OVERALL

Considering Raimi’s & Web’s eventual butchering of the Spider-Man franchise, Marvel did the best with what they had. The title is not only a reference to the main character’s life stage, but his return to Marvel after so many years. Here’s hoping Sony sells the Spider-Man rights back to Marvel so they can finally make a proper adaptation, once the entire MCU is rebooted after Infinity War.

That being said, however, the best Spider-Man movies for me will always be Raimi’s first and second. In my book, Homecoming ranks right beneath them.

Fun and surprising. Watch in cinemas.

85/100

Shabu Yaki

Shabu Yaki lives up to its name: It is absolutely yucky. Today I am suffering from a mild stomachache because of their disgusting food. Don’t believe every good review you read online. I am not returning or endorsing it to my family and friends, unless if it’s to say, “Stay as far away from this place as possible.”

0/5⭐

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Located along Aguirre St., BF Homes.

Concept

Shabu Yaki is a combination of two main Japanese dishes they serve: Nabemono (hot pot dishes) and yaki (grilled). The hot pots are prepared in front of the diners, without anything in them except boiling water. Servers then bring an assortment of raw ingredients (fishballs, leafy vegetables, meat slices, seafood, noodles, etc.). The diners then mix and match the ingredients in the the hot pot for several minutes, then eat once cooked.

Among all the Korean eateries in BF, I have no idea why this restaurant brandishes itself as a traditional Korean restaurant, because the food it serves are from two different Asian cultures. Didn’t fool me. Conceptualization is amiss.

Fun fact: Hot pots are called “shabu-shabu” because of the sound the boiled food makes when mixed with dip.

Environment

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Our dining room.

Since it is located inside BF Homes, the restaurant itself seems to be a house converted into a restaurant. Given its theme, there are 3 sliding doors that reveal more dining spaces. Our family ate in the largest one, since we were a group of 10.

The restaurant looks like a plain house from the late 80s or early 90s, with white walls and scratched out wood tiles on the floor.

There’s even an al fresco area, but it follows the same structure. It is very basic in structure, meant only for dining and sharing stories over a hot meal. Nothing else. Seems as if the owner didn’t bother to renovate it upon acquisition.

Ventilation inside gets progressively warmer as the meal goes along, so it is best to move outside for better ventilation. In fact, our party should’ve eaten al fresco instead. The hot pots would’ve cooled faster and the meal would’ve been more enjoyable.

Speaking of the owner, Shabu Yaki (though Japanese in concept) is owned by a Korean! I could tell by the collection of baseball items decorated on the counter and dining areas he was an avid fan, too. Jerseys of his favorite players and numerous baseballs were signed. Some were even glass-encased in shelves.

Service

My dad tried to reserve when he saw their number online, but the number was no longer working. He sent me ahead to physically reserve because of this. When I was taking pictures, I saw the said phone out of commission on the counter. He later remarked to the staff that they should either get a new phone or take out their contact details from the Internet.

I was the first to arrive on the scene to reserve the table. Though already open, I caught them off-guard still preparing ingredients for the lunch rush inside the dining area. I’m pretty sure they have a kitchen, or some other place, to do that. Not a good start.

Christmas ornaments were still up in the middle of summer. Utterly strange, as the staff didn’t even bother keeping them at all. Just goes to show how ill-trained they are.

As our time there went by the servers were slow and indifferent, coming to our aid when we called them. None of them came up to us to ask if we needed anything else or if everything was okay. I’ll note positively that they were nice enough to accommodate me while waiting for the rest of our group, setting up the tables almost instantly.

It seems as if:

A. The team was only taught basic skills in customer service. Or

B. They need to be updated in their training.

Food

While Zomato and one Google reviewer gave this restaurant rave reviews because of their food and environment, I beg to differ. We had seafood, pork, and beef shabu-shabus all mixed with vegetables. The taste? Run-of-the-mill. We all had eaten in better shabu-shabu and yaki places where the flavors came alive in your mouth. My cousin and his wife had the same opinion as I. There are much better Korean/Asian restos in the BF area. Shabu Yaki it was dull and ordinary.

We had tasty Korean ice cream after our meal as consolations for the mediocre tasting hot pots and grilled meat. Though reliable, it didn’t work.

Cleanliness

The cleanliness of this restaurant is horrible. It’s bad enough it hasn’t been re-modeled for decades, so it adds to the already unclean look of the restaurant. I also visited the men’s bathroom. No surprise: It wasn’t clean. There were piss marks all over the toilet seat.

But the worst part was this: In the middle of our meal, a small cockroach emerged from under the cooker right in front of me. I froze in horror and lost all my appetite instantly. I would’ve screamed if my family wasn’t there with me. Fortunately, my cousin killed it. Unfortunately for this restaurant, my gana to eat their food had evaporated like the hot pot’s boiling water. Disgusting.

Overall

Shabu Yaki lives up to its name: It is absolutely yucky. Today I am suffering from a mild stomachache because of their disgusting food. Don’t believe every good review you read online. I am not returning or endorsing it to my family and friends, unless if it’s to say, “Stay as far away from this place as possible.”

0/5⭐

On a positive note: It’s fun to write scathing restaurant reviews, especially when the place in question deserves it.

Codename

Codename is fun once you get past the guesswork. I thoroughly enjoyed, as with most word games I’ve played. The difficult-to-understand rules don’t help at all. They need a better copywriter in the next edition.

70/100

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Concept

Codename was invented by Czech Vlaada Chvátil in 2015. It is an espionage-wordplay board game hybrid. The goal of the game is for two teams (red & blue) to uncover their own agents hidden in the field. Playtime is a minimum of 15 minutes to a maximum number of minutes depending on the number players.

It is erroneously classified as a board game because the pack comes with no board. It is properly a card game, as any flat, dry surface can be used as the game’s board.

Characters & Pieces

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There are 6 characters in the game:

  1. Double agent – 1 piece, for the extra member of the starting team.
  2. Innocent bystanders – 7 pieces.
  3. Red agents – 8 per team
  4. Blue agents – 8 per team
  5. Assassin – 1 piece.
  6. Spymasters – 1 per team.

The pieces included are the 40 key cards (20 blue and 20 red), 1 timer (which can be used optionally to pressure oneself to make better guesses), and 200 codename cards.

Gameplay & Rules

Unsurprisingly, the rule book is confusing perhaps due to the Czech-to-English translation. It took me an hour with the help of my cousin reading it along to understand.

Basically, a round has 17 agents on the field (1 extra for the starting team). Per round there are 25 codenames in play, each either a friendly agent (8 or 9 in play), enemy agent (8 or 9 in play), innocent bystander (7 in play), or assassin (1 in play) depending on the marker organization of the key card per round. The red & blue spymasters are positioned where the key card is, while the red & blue field operatives are on the opposite end as the players.

Only the spymasters know where the exact location of each character is on the keycard. It is now their objective to feed clues about the right word to their teammate to guess the codenames in play corresponding to their agents. Only single-worded clues can be given that pertain to the meaning of the codename (ex. the clue drink can be used to hint at the codename beer) or word association (ex. cookie as a clue can indicate the codename monster).

If in the case that more than 1 clue can hit multiple words, then the single-worded hint is followed by a number. Example, if the clue food hits 3 fellow agents with the codenames turkey, oreo, and chips, then the spymaster can say “Food:3” so the field operative can guess those 3 words.

Whoever finds all their agents wins. A correct guess = 1 free guess which can be used or unused, but not accumulated within the round. Whichever team picks the assassin mistakenly instantly loses the game.

Once my cousins & I understood, no thanks to the rule book, we discovered it was a really fun game. The girls outscored the boys 3-0, though.

Suggested # of players

Chvátil & co. recommend a minimum of 4 and maximum of 8+ players on the side of the box. I however, recommend that 4 be the maximum and 2 be the minimum, so there are better changes of winning through limited number of guesses.

Overall

Codename is fun once you get past the guesswork. I thoroughly enjoyed, as with most word games I’ve played. The difficult-to-understand rules don’t help at all. They need a better copywriter in the next edition.

70/100

Alba

Alba deserves its rating as the best Spanish eatery today, bar none. As my dad said, “This, my son, is the original.”

5/5⭐

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Alba, fully booked on a late Sunday morning.

Concept

A modest, quaint Spanish-style cantina in Polaris St., Makati, Alba was opened in the late 1970s by Señor Anastacio de Alba, a Spaniard. His goal was to bring Spanish food and culture to Manila, being the first one to do so. Before, it was known as Casa Colas, then became Alba, or as my dad calls it: “The restaurant he frequented even before I was born”. He recollects taking my mom – and other dates – there when he was single.

Though initially owned by Señor Anastacio, per a waiter I spoke with he passed ownership of the place to his son Miguel, when the patriarch passed away in 2016. Miguel is now also in charge of the recipes.

Environment

Alba has 2 floors. The ground floor hosts a spacious dining area and the bar, while the second floor contains more seating areas if necessary. Both are consistent in their replication of Spanish culture.

Though the exterior boasts bold colors of yellow and black highlights (which make Alba stand out among the crowd of eateries in Polaris St.), the interiors are modeled like a realistic Spanish cantina in the middle of the desert. It is dimly lit in certain areas to downplay the heat and brightness of the noonday sun while you enjoy a home-cooked meal. The inside is also furnished with lampposts; decorative plates of Spanish nobles and villas; pictures of oil paintings, a paella, and even family members; ceilings are supported by wooden beams just like Spanish eateries of old.

The walls of the second floor are painted with a colorful rendition of a clothesline on one side, and children dancing around a tree on the other.

Service

Because of their longevity and loyal clientele base (majority of the customers with us were either middle-aged or senior citizens), the staff are trained to be polite and proper from the entrance. If you have a reservation, they will quickly bring you to your table and take your order. If you’re a walk-in, they will find you a seat or do their best to accommodate you if they’re fully booked, which is in most cases true. My dad had to reserve a week in advance to get us in.

Food

Since our family ate there on a Sunday, we partook of the lunch buffet, which was P700 per head. Each buffet at the ground and second floors were divided into three portions: appetizers, main course, and dessert.

For our appetizers, we were served with clam chowder soup. Nothing overpowering. Just right to jumpstart our appetites. The appetizers had tabla de embutidos (Spanish cold cuts) among others, and albondigas de pollo (chicken meatballs), and other pintxos (small snacks) that were really tasty.

We had 8 main dish selections:

  1. Paella valenciana – Their signature dish of rice, fish, pork, chicken, and vegetables cooked altogether. It was finished in minutes because it was that delicious.

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    The main course buffet. From L-R: paella valenciana, pasta con sardinas picantes, verduras con salsa ajo, pescado a la brava, callos a la Madrileña, lengua sevillana. Not in picture: the conchinillo, which was in the dessert table for some reason.
  2. Pasta con sardinas picantes – Spicy tuna pasta that I really liked.
  3. Verduras con salsa ajo – Boiled vegetables. I didn’t touch them since it was my cheat day.
  4. Pescado a la brava – Cream dory boiled first before baked with a pesto sauce, a surprise favorit.
  5. Pollo al ajillo –  Boneless chicken with garlic sauce.
  6. Callos a ala Madrileña – Stewed tripe (cow stomach with tomato sauce).
  7. Lengua Sevillana – Ox tongue with mushrooms, olives, and sherry brown sauce. The best viand among all.

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    The dessert table. Cochinillo on the far left and the canonigo in the mid-right.
  8. Cochinillo – Roasted suckling (2-6 week old) pig, boiled before roasted. The flavor was unusually clean for my taste.
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The canonigo (meringue cake).

I didn’t pay much attention to the desserts. I only had one slice of canonigo (meringue cake) which was the softest, most savory I’d ever tasted. Per a cousin of mine, it tasted like sweet air. In that case, it’s the best air I’ve ever tasted.

In terms of taste, you get what you expect from Spanish cuisine: saucy, delectable, and because of this, high cholesterol treats. After a bite of the pasta con sardinas picantes, the back of my neck started throbbing! I wasn’t surprised. Spanish cooking has become a staple in modern Pinoy cuisine due to their influence. I’d be more surprised if my neck didn’t throb.

Cleanliness

Expect Alba to be very clean due to the loyal patronage it regularly serves.

Overall

Rich with culinary history, Alba’s truly authentic Spanish experience still stands the test of time. It is an institution that has inspired many followers in its wake: Las Paellas, Circkulo, and Bar Pintxos to name a few. The late Señor Anastacio’s dream is still alive 65 years later. Alba deserves its rating as the best Spanish eatery today, bar none. As my dad said, “This, my son, is the original.”

5/5⭐

For a full list of Alba’s branch information, visit http://alba.com.ph/our-branches/

Huma

Like its mythological namesake, Huma takes you to the highest heights of Mediterranean cuisine and never lets you down.

5/5⭐

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Concept

Huma – of Busuangan, Palawan’s Huma Island Resort & Spa – is their flagship culinary restaurant in Manila. It is a total immersion of Mediterranean high cuisine and culture, with the name coming from an invisible, mythological bird that never touches the ground, instead living is whole life flying among the clouds. In these parts of the world, the huma bird is a symbol of great fortune and the highest honor.

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Upon entering, it looked similar to Al Fairuz (meaning “the turquoise gem”), a Lebanese-style restaurant from the same company I ate in at SM BF. I made an educated guess because upon sitting at our booth, the tissues were marked with “Al Fairuz”, not “Huma”. Sadly, it closed down because the high class of that brand did not match the crowd. Huma’s location at the second floor of S Maison – the mall wing of Conrad Manila – suits its approach better.

Environment

The lavishness of Mediterranean culture is visible from the outside, differentiating it from its competition. There are fancily decorated pillars superimposed over a plain brick wall with intricately-designed windows.

The inside is very similar, but truly reveals the opulence of high culture: a large dining space decorated with curved shelves, windows, even dining booths adorned with Middle Eastern lanterns; Mediterranean furniture; pillars and counters adorned in gold and silver tiles; the bright hues of green, blue, and turquoise decorated its seats; the earth tones of brown and khaki draped the tables; walls and ceilings are detailed with a curious number of geometric shapes; and even the kitchen contains a traditional brick oven for baking chapati bread. It was like being transported to the majestic palace of a shah, raj, or sultan.

Though our booth was dimly lit, it only added to the authenticity of our culinary feast. It was as if we were dining with an important dignitary, secretly discussing important matters over a hearty meal, away from the crowd’s hustle and bustle.

They even have an al fresco deck for their Shishah By The Bay offer, if you and your group are into that.

The replication of their culture is even faithful down to their waiters’ clothing. They were a thawb (mid-length top robe) and harem pants for their bottoms. So far, so good.

Service

We were served well and fast, too! We were seated at our booth instantly upon arrival. After ordering, in 15 minutes our food was delivered to our table. The staff was courteous. After leaving, I thought I would take points off if they didn’t greet us goodbye, but they did. Good job. Everything perfect at this point.

Food

The real test of a restaurant is not its service, theme, or cleanliness. Those help, but its mostly about the food. If their meals aren’t up to par, then it all falls apart.

It was more than a relief when everything we ate carried the roasted, earthy, spiceful, sour, and sometimes sweet flavors of the Mediterranean we all knew and loved.

For appetizers, we had chapati tucked in a fez-shaped container. What attention to detail!

We had two dips: the traditional humus with chickpeas and another one mixed with eggplant, also known as baba ghanouj. The humus was good, and the baba ghanouj was even better! Early on in the meal, this would symbolize the culinary heights we would experience from Huma.

The main courses were – to say the least – splendid. Chicken musakhan (think lumpia but stuffed with chicken), jawaneh dajaj (stir fried, earthy-tasting chicken that tasted like they cooked it under the hot desert sands), kebbeh maklieh (ground beef balls), and a surprisingly delicious fusion dish called supreme tabliyah (a flatbread pizza with an equal mix of shawarma beef and chicken mixed with Mediterranean salad dressing) were shared by everyone. Nothing was spared. It wasn’t good, it was all wonderfully fantastic!

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The baklawa…before it was devoured.

Even the dainty baklawa (a dessert made with unleavened bread, filled with assorted nuts and honey) – tasted so organic I would have eaten more had we not been limited to only 6 plates.

Prices are a bit high due to the restaurant’s motiff – around P1000 max per person – but it is well worth the spend.

Cleanliness

Huma’s cleanliness is top-notch. I can tell from this that it is managed well.

Overall

If you must dine here, make it in celebration of a special occasion like birthdays, graduations, or infrequent family get togethers so the the trip is worth it.

Like its mythological namesake, Huma takes you to the highest heights of Mediterranean cuisine and never lets you down.

5/5⭐

Botejyu

While the experience is lacking due to its inconsistency in restaurant design, Botejyu more than makes up for it with its food, delivering the unique selling point. I wish I could rate it higher. Maybe next time.

3.5/5⭐

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Concept

Botejyu is primarily focused on the grilling side of Japanese cuisine. This is why the restaurant’s logo is the rising sun (found in the center of their nation’s flag) and a spatula inside it. The first thing one encounters at the entrance is the teppanyaki grill, bursting forth with the aroma of sizzling meat, vegetables, etc.

Teppanyaki (teppan meaning “iron plate” and yaki meaning “grilled, broiled, or pan-friend”) is a post-modern take on Japanese cuisine, which they learned after World War II from the West. So don’t expect fresh staples such as sushi or sashimi here. The restaurant promised authentic cuisine. I was excited to try it.

Environment

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It was quite confusing to determine the vibe of Botejyu. While it promised authentic Japanese cuisine, upon entry the rightmost half (cooking station) suited the idea, yet the left portion (dining area) was very contemporary in design. The decor didn’t match the experience it was selling, with their modern minimalist approach leading to a neither-here-nor-there disposition.

The tables had the usual chopsticks (encased in the restaurant’s logo), tissue paper, a lit candle (to keep away flies), utensil tray, and a condiments rack with assorted sauces and spices.

However, since we were a big group of 12, we were all cramped in our tables, reflecting the dining in Japan. Real estate is very scarce there now, so restaurants often have tiny spaces for customers. It contributed a bit to the genuine Japanese eating vibe.

Service

Botejyu’s area is pretty sizable, with its needs met by its team of ample staff members. They all welcome , seat, wait, and serve you the food almost instantly. It was a very good first experience for us with them. It also helped that 4 ladies from our group went ahead and ordered while the rest were still on their way. When our group arrived the food was there in 10-15 minutes as committed due to their more than capable team.

Food

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The not-so-ripe mango shake.

It was a heavy lunch. We all ordered one drink and meal each, with the appetizers to share. I had a ripe mango shake which tasted a few days too early from being ripe. Bad start.

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When the rest of the food came, it more than made up for my lousy shake. First, we had the takoyaki (pictured above), their version of Pinoy squid balls, but with chopped octopus tentacles instead. The women had an assorted version, while the men’s was covered in a cheese omelet.

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The beef kalbi teppanyaki.

I had a bowl of beef kalbi teppanyaki, or grilled beef with onions. Though tasty and cooked thoroughly, it had more onions that meat. Even if I was forewarned by the waiter that would be the case, it appeared to have more meat than onions on the menu. I wish they would’ve changed items with that kind of outcome. A friend of mine also wound up with an order that looked vastly different in quantity than that in the menu.

Two friends ordered Japanese pancakes: a mochi & gouda and mixed seafood okonomiyaki. Both were winners. Their quality was like that of a 4-star hotel I had eaten in. We had gyoza (grilled dumplings) that were excellent.

All of us shared our food with one another, agreeing that Botejyu delivers on their promise of authentic grilled Japanese food. Its as if the flavors were faithfully combined and brought here.

Cleanliness

I have nothing bad to say about their tidiness. As customers pulled out of their tables, the staff would immediately fix it for new customers. I also approached the restroom area and saw it was clean. A female friend of mine who’s very particular about comfort room cleanliness did not say her usual “Ay, ang chaka ng banyo” when she returned to our table.

Overall

While the experience is lacking due to its inconsistency in restaurant design, Botejyu more than makes up for it with its food, delivering the unique selling point. I wish I could rate it higher. Maybe next time.

3.5/5⭐

Paper Moon

I am not coming back here. If you plan to visit or re-visit Paper Moon, don’t.

0/5⭐

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Concept

Paper Moon’s main attraction is their crepe-thin layered cakes instead of the common, thick ones. They serve the latter as well. It is the sister company of Japanese restaurant Boteyju, which explains why they are next to each other in SM MOA. After our group’s lunch, we decided to have desert there. I had seen a branch in Alabang Town Center, but had never tried it. This was the moment.

When seated, we all wondered why it was called Paper Moon. Some said it was probably because of the crepe cake layers (which were paper thin) and the out-of-this world taste of such a unique product (figuratively captured by the inclusion of the word moon). None of us got a definite answer, even as the waiters overheard our conversation.

Environment

 

The dessert boutique’s vibe is very contemporary, classy, and minimalist in structure. With the majority of color being white, the space it occupied looked bigger than it actually was. Adding to the minimal theme was the pop of gray and khaki on the seats.

Service

There were only 2 groups present when we arrived. They only had 1-2 people with them. For our group of 12 who ordered only 6 slices of cakes and several coffee drinks, the services was surprisingly draggy. The cakes took more than 15 minutes, with the drinks understandably coming in a bit later. The uninviting mood of the servers did not help at all.

Food

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Their menu.

The black coffee ordered by some friends was good. There were no comments on how good or bad it was, so I guess the coffee was just right. It kept them up after we left.

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Salted caramel cold blend. To sweet, even for me.

The salted caramel cold blend I ordered, which I thought they would also get right, was (I can’t believe I’m saying this) too sweet! I only finished half for fear of contracting diabetes afterwards.

The cakes, though a good concept, underwhelmed in execution. We ordered 6 slices for everyone to try (5 of the specialty mille crepe and 1 regular cake):

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4 of the 6 cake slices we ordered. Not very impressive at all.
  1. The original was just filled with whipped cream. Nothing original about it at all.
  2. The mango mille crepe was the best, but its because mango crepe is always a good staple.

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    Strawberry mille crepe
  3. The strawberry flavored one was too sour, as if the berries used were close to expiration.

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    Matcha mille crepe. It didn’t matcha our expectations.
  4. The matcha cake was forgettable.
  5. So was the regular red velvet cake slice.

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    The chocolate mille crepe
  6. Lastly, the chocolate mille crepe was absolutely mediocre.

With the mille crepe‘s prices per slice ranging from P225-P250 and the regular cakes from P60-P325, Paper Moon’s offerings are not worth it.

Cleanlines

Though the minimalist vibe made the Paper Moon look clean, looks can be deceiving. We sat at the leftmost booth at the very back. 3 of us smelled that booth couch had an unpleasant odor, as if it hadn’t been cleaned since the dessert place opened. Once we noticed the foul stench, we moved from the couches to the chairs to avoid it. I had to move to the opposite end of our tables because it was just that bad.

Overall

I am not coming back here. If you plan to visit or re-visit Paper Moon, don’t.

0/5⭐