Wednesday, January 29, 2014

5th Ajinomoto Umami Challenge event coverage

Last year, I was able to witness for the first time the Ajinomoto Umami Challenge. Not only that I saw many culinary students dedicated to their craft and school pride, I also learn a great deal about umami.

This year, I was able to see the culinary action again as 51 schools across Luzon to compete for this year's umami challenge. Just like last year, I once again saw different presentations of different mouth-watering dishes.

The judges were culinary experts so it is a great opportunity for these participants to showcase their best entry. Whether they win or lose, the important factor here was the experience. Follow more of my foodie adventures. Just visit and like the L.E.N.S. blogs on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Hardest Working Restaurant Manager is Now in the Philippines

Press Release

4000 Restaurants Cannot Be Wrong!

WOULD it not be great, as a restaurateurs, to know how many diners will be coming, what time, and what will they be having? No more surprised and terrified kitchen staff and only satisfied diners.

ResDiary provides a web-based reservation and table-management tool to restaurant operators in over 4,500 restaurants, in 17 countries, allowing them to take online bookings through their websites, facebook pages and through Twitter as well as by telephone and to process walk-in bookings.

With now available in The Philippines, restaurateurs now have an efficient system that allows them to allocate reservations in a way to make most effective use of the tables available and capture customer contact details and other data of the customer.

The system offers restaurant executives the ability to manage table reservations using laptop, iPad or even a smartphone or to even e-mail or text to confirm customers’ reservations, remind them 24-hours before and request a review afterwards on a responsive micro-website.

Since its launch in September 2006, ResDiary is widely employed in United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and United States.

ResDiary is charged for on a flat monthly fee basis, with no additional charges for bookings taken through the restaurant’s website, Facebook page, Twitter account or through the portal operated for ResDiary customers by ResDiary. 

For more information on our restaurant reservation system please give us a call at 0925.5002659 or visit

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Abe Opens at SM Mega Fashion Hall

The LJC Restaurant Group opens a fifth Abe branch at the third level of the expansion building of SM Mega Mall, SM Mega Fashion Hall on January 28, 2014.

Abé Restaurant offers Kapampangan cookery as well as dishes that reflect the favorites of writer, painter and bon vivant Emilio "Abé" Aguilar Cruz, father of LJC Group founder Larry J Cruz. Abé was known for his love of good food in all its forms: gourmet cuisine, peasant fare, exotic delicacies, and comfort food.

The Restaurant is known for its signature dishes such as Binukadkad na Plapla with balo-balo and mustasa, Sinuteng Baby Pusit, Paco Fern and Tomato Salad, Sinigang na Bangus sa Bayabas, and Knockout Knuckles, the LJC Group’s version of Crispy Pata.

Other Abe branches are found at Serendra, SM MOA, TriNoma Mall and Alabang Town Center. For inquiries and reservation, call 09175522080.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Family Reunion at Soya Bar

For the family get-together of the Lorico Clan especially for my balikbayan uncle, my cousin agreed to host  the reunion at his current business, Soya Bar, located at the Eton Centris Walk. Soya Bar already has outlets in selected malls in kiosk form but the Centris outlet is their only one outside a mall.

Among other restaurants and bars in Centris Walk, this is probably the only health conscious food establishment. They offer soy-based drinks besides the taho we all grew up with and protein-based dishes. If you are working especially in a call center or just working out in a gym nearby, this is the ideal choice for energy boost.

Soya Bar offers taho that you don't usually buy at the streets. They have the cold variations. If you don't wish to get stuff with the heavy selections, there are light choices for you to enjoy. What I really find unique was the dish I ate which is the veggie sisig.

If you need a lot of protein, this is the right place for you. But this is not just for the health conscious. This can be also be a suggestion for those who doesn't eat pork for religious reasons especially during Holy Week. The atmosphere is also cozy and ideal for those who are hanging out. For a coffee drinker like me, it's a must-try to drink their soy-based coffee.
Veggie sisig comes with a drink.

For more foodie adventures, follow this blog and or like my Facebook page, the L.E.N.S. blogs.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Harina Artisan Bakery Cafe

When I first found out about Harina Artisan Café, I had a difficult time to going there because it is not the route public transportation passes. But going there will be worthwhile. When I entered the place, it already gave me the impression that something good is cooking or in the case of Harina Artisan, something good is baking.

I already was enticed by the appetizers. Breadsticks that you can just pick up and dip with two choices. Chocolate or cheese. These are not just any dip. It is rich chocolate and cream cheese. The ice tea is also a unique presentation. It is serve with the same type of jars that was used on home made peanut butter.
For the platters, Harina serves pastas, and sandwiches. Don't be fooled. These meals are more heavy than it looks especially the sandwiches. The sandwiches also comes with fries. If your appetite isn't satisfied yet, wait till you have dessert. The desserts are just as heavy as the platter meals. The hotcakes are served much thicker than the usual.
This cozy establishment also has time for fun activities for kids. When I went there, Harina helds cupcake decorating activity for kids. Harina Artisan not only housed the delicious breads that I ever taste, it also ideal for family to dine in.

This is probably the best place to spend Easter Sunday since it is nearest relevant holiday besides birthdays. Watch out for my next foodie adventure. Like L.E.N.S. blogs at Facebook for future updates. Harina Artisan Bakery Café is located at 118 Katipunan road, White Plains, Quezon City.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

51 Schools in Luzon join the Ajinomoto® Umami Culinary Challenge

I learned a great deal about umami when I attended last year's umami challenge. I am looking forward to see this again this year.

Online media release

The Ajinomoto® Umami Culinary Challenge (UCC) will once again open its doors to hundreds of young talents and provide them with a venue to learn from the best in the culinary and food service industry. The event will be held on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at the Hall 2, SMX Convention Center in SM Mall of Asia from 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Year after year, the contest successfully grows in size and coverage, gathering the Philippines’ most creative and innovative foodies, culinarians, professional and aspiring chefs.  

According to Chef Russell Bautista, UCC Competition Head and Resident Chef of AJINOMOTO PHILIPPINES CORPORATION, “This one-day event is a golden opportunity for us to witness our future chefs showcase their skills and masterpieces. Ajinomoto hopes to contribute in discovering and maximizing their true potentials.” 51 schools with more than 400 student-competitors signed up for this year’s competition. UCC has expanded its reach in Luzon with participants coming from Ilocos, CALABARZON, NCR and CARAGA regions. Last year, UCC was also brought to Iloilo and Cebu to reach students in Visayas and Mindanao.

There are six (6) contest categories including a national cooking showdown. Hercor College from Capiz earned their chance to compete against the school who will win the Best Filipino Umami Dish-Luzon in the upcoming Manila leg of UCC. On the other hand, the school with the highest score from Luzon will be named the Umami Bowl Champion and bring home a kitchen classroom showcase. Distinguished judges include culinary and nutrition experts like Chef Sau del Rosario, Chef Eugene Raymundo, Chef Seiji Kamura, Chef James Antolin, Dr. Zenaida Narciso and Ms. Joan Sumpio to name a few.

Other event highlights include new and unique culinary competition categories, Eat Well, Live Well.® Cooking Class facilitated by well-known celebrity chefs and Umami and MSG Safety Presentation by Dr. Nemencio Nicodemus. This event is presented by AJINOMOTO PHILIPPINES CORPORATION and sponsored by La Germania, Solane, and Masflex KitchenPro.