I was finally able to take part in my first Zomato Food Crawl last November 28 at Westgate Center, Filinvest City Alabang. I’ve been part of the Zomato team of bloggers for about two months already but this was the first time that I was able to attend their foodie meet-ups.
Usually, the foodie meet-ups only involve one restaurant but during this food crawl there were five. So, it was quite an orientation for me. The theme was Guilty Pleasures in the South. The restaurants were supposed to serve us at least one guilty pleasure dish.
Stop # 1: Bugsy’s Bar & Bistro
Our first stop was at Bugsy’s Bar & Bistro. It was my first time in any Bugsy’s branch. The interiors was typical of any bar but I especially like the sports collections featured on their walls.
That day, Bugsy’s was in charge of serving us appetizers. I was expecting only one kind but they ended up serving us three types of chicken wings.
The first kind they served was the Buffalo Chicken Wings. I was really super excited because I’m on a quest to find the best buffalo chicken wings in town.
I’ve been served buffalo chicken wings smeared with too much sauce before so I was pleased to see that Bugsy’s version is not saucy at all. They were actually boneless chicken tenders that were so tasty that I enjoyed eating it even without the bleu cheese dip. Honestly, the dip was also prepared just right, not overpowering at all. This one goes on top of my list of the best buffalo chicken wings I’ve ever tried in my life.
The next version served was the Sriracha Honey Chicken Wings. Unlike the first version, this wasn’t boneless and it was smeared with a sweet and spicy sriracha sauce.
Those who like their chicken wings spicy will love this. I love the balance of sweet and spicy. I imagine this would pair well with beer.
The last version is called, as of the moment, as Chicken # 7. It’s actually Bugsy’s latest creation made with Jack Daniel’s Old Tennessee Whiskey and is yet to be officially released.
It’s the sweetest among the three versions and has an Asian taste to it. I’ve never tried Jack Daniel’s before so I wasn’t really expecting the chicken to be sweet. It was such a nice surprise to find that it’s actually really, really good. It’s my favorite version among the three.
Stop # 2: Sushi Ninja
I love Japanese cuisine so you bet I was so excited to try Sushi Ninja for the first time. The place was already full of guests when we walked in and the only available seats were the ones reserved for us. So, you can tell that this establishment is already quite a popular one in the area. I love the interiors of this place. It’s typical Japanese, light and airy, reminiscent of traditional Japanese houses.
They served us something that they created especially for our group called the Kobe Toshi. That’s deep fried Japanese rice topped with Wagyu beef, foie gras, uni, roe and wasabi mayo.
The owners of Sushi Ninja explained to us that in order to taste the dish well we had to put the whole thing in our mouth. Easier said than done though! I was unsuccessful doing that and instead consumed the dish in two bites. Haha!
I love Wagyu so I had high expectations with this dish. Unfortunately, the wagyu didn’t melt in my mouth as wagyu is supposed to do. However, I love the combination of flavors. This will be a winning dish if they can only perfect the cooking of the wagyu.
They also served us their version of Spicy Tuna Salad. I love eating tuna sashimi so this dish is usually on my list of things to order in all Japanese restaurants I frequent.
I have my favorite Spicy Tuna Salad though so I was interested to find out if this one will be better.
I think they got the spiciness just right. I love the combination of the crunch from the Japanese bread crumbs, the freshness and the softness of the raw tuna and the creaminess and spiciness of the sauce. I just think there’s too much sauce for my liking. But I truly enjoyed this. I was the only raw food eater on our table and would have finished this entire bowl if only I wasn’t too shy to do so. Haha!
Stop # 3: Neil’s Kitchen
I fell in love with the interiors of Neil’s Kitchen the minute I entered the place.
It’s unique, modern and quirky yet still homey and comfortable.
I love the little things they added to the interiors that make the place Instagram-worthy.
Plus there’s a corner with a bookstore! That’s a winner for me.
Anyway, they served us our first main course for the day called the Sinigang Paella with Grilled Pork Belly. It’s actually a pretty fancy deconstructed sinigang. The pork is apparently boiled the traditional sinigang way then it’s grilled. Then they cook the rice paella style but using the sinigang soup, with the vegetables in it except for the kangkong which is made crispy.
I have never seen sinigang cooked this way before and I was so, so, so, so happy with this one. Pork sinigang is one of my most favorite Filipino dishes and this version has all the deliciousness of the perfect sinigang but in a whole new level.
I love the ingenuity and creativity that went into creating this dish. The pork was really tender. The rice was moist and really soaked up all that sinigang goodness. The kangkong was perfectly crispy too. This was definitely the highlight of my food crawl experience that day.
Stop # 4: Melo’s
Among the five restaurants on the tour, Melo’s was the only one I’ve already tried before. Being a certified meatlover, my most favorite thing to eat is steak. So, you can imagine how excited I was to go to Melo’s.
I wasn’t able to take photos of the interiors of the place but it’s definitely pretty fancy. The place is dimly lit, the perfect ambiance for a romantic date.
They prepared something off menu for our group. It’s called the Christmas Steak Roulade with Turkey Stuffing and Sweet Potato.
Just look at the plating! Gorgeous! Plus, steak and turkey in one? Oh yeah! The turkey stuffing is quite tasty, especially paired with the cranberry sauce. That sauce is love!
The steak was cooked perfectly medium rare, which is how steak is supposed to be cooked. However, I prefer mine medium well. Nevertheless, I love that it’s really juicy and packed with flavor. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of were the sweet potatoes, but that’s only because I don’t really like sweet potatoes to begin with. But regardless of that, we all agreed that Melo’s should definitely add this to their menu this season.
Stop # 5: Detoxify Bar
After hours of stuffing ourselves full, I was so happy to go to Detoxify Bar for some light dessert. The interiors of the place is very modern and white, definitely something you’d expect from a place that promotes healthy living.
They use only organic ingredients which are actually certified by the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines. You can expect that this will make their offerings quite pricey but the owner assured us that they are continuously working on creating dishes that will not hurt our wallets too much. Good to know!
Now you might expect that they only serve healthy juices and shakes but they actually have meals and desserts on their menu, just like this Berries Smoothie Bowl that they served us.
We were told that the smoothie bowls come in different flavors and that they’re new to the menu. I love looking at this bowl. It’s just so colorful and inviting that you just can’t help but devour. And devour I did! It’s just so delicious. It’s made with kiwis, berries, bananas and greek yogurt, topped with chia seeds and figs. Definitely something I’d like to have more of. If you’re looking for a more filling dessert though, you’d have to maybe try something else but after a having a heavy meal, this one is just perfect!
Overall, it was one food crawl I’d never forget, not only because it was my first one but because I was stuffed full of truly delicious guilty pleasures. Plus, it was such a pleasant surprise to find out that there are so many great restaurants to try at Westgate Center. Portions of Westgate were actually renovated recently and it looks like a great place to hang out with family and friends. I will definitely be back soon!
Thanks for this amazing experience, Zomato!