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#FoodTrip: A feast of flavors in TriNoma

MANILA, Philippines - Weekends are the best time for a family to catch up with each other, for friends to hang out together or for one to have that much-needed "me time" in order to recover from the past week and rest for the coming week. While there are those can afford to go on quick, out of town trips, there are some who cannot; time, budget and the weather (especially if you commute) are the biggest constraints.

So we look for places in the city. And what better way to spend this time than over food? Admit it: we Filipinos have the best conversations over food — whether we're eating in a new place for the first time, finally trying that restaurant or cafe we've been eyeing for the longest time or going to an old favorite.

This week on Rappler, we start our #FoodTrip, a weekly feature of restaurants in one area or destination, whether they're in the city or out of town.

TriNoma: Go-to place in the north

Quezon City has a lot of gastronomic destinations for the foodie: there's Tomas Morato, Timog, West Avenue, Maginhawa, Katipunan, Technohub and the stretch of Kalayaan.

Then there's TriNoma, a mall that opened in 2007, owned by Ayala Land. The mall offers a mix of indoor and al fresco dining choices in all its levels.

When my family was living in the area, this was our go-to mall on weekends. We had our weekly family dates there, whether they be lunch followed by a movie, or a movie followed by dinner.

If you're up to spending a day in TriNoma, here are my recommended places for a whole day feast of flavors.

FOR BRUNCH: Abe

PERFECT FOR THE FAMILY. If you're planning to have lunch in Abe, we recommend that you have a very light breakfast at home. Or why not have your brunch here?

PERFECT FOR THE FAMILY. If you're planning to have lunch in Abe, we recommend that you have a very light breakfast at home.

Or why not have your brunch here?

Tucked in the outdoor area of level 3 is Abe, also a Capampangan word that means friend or "kaibigan." Abe opened its first branch in Serendra in 2005 and also has branches in Mall of Asia and Alabang Town Center. It is owned by The LJC Group, the same group behind Bistro Remedios and Cafe Adriatico in Malate, and Cafe Havana in Greenbelt.

Abe caters to families, politicians, even celebrities. The Filipino interiors and homey ambiance of the place make you feel at home. Going there actually reminded me of my maternal grandparents' old home in Tarlac.

Best of all, in true Capampangan style, you can eat in Abe with your hand. 

FEELS LIKE HOME. The tiles and windows in Abe remind this writer of my grandparents' Tarlac home

FEELS LIKE HOME.

The tiles and windows in Abe remind this writer of my grandparents' Tarlac home

KARE-KARE. An all-time favorite of Abe clients. This is an original Bistro Remedios recipe. The sauce is rich and nutty; the meat is a juicy mix of oxtail and tripe. Bring on the rice!

KARE-KARE. An all-time favorite of Abe clients. This is an original Bistro Remedios recipe. The sauce is rich and nutty; the meat is a juicy mix of oxtail and tripe.

Bring on the rice!

BAGOONG OR SHRIMP PASTE. Abe's bagoong is sauteed in garlic and a secret ingredient. It helps bring out the best in the kare-kare.

BAGOONG OR SHRIMP PASTE. Abe's bagoong is sauteed in garlic and a secret ingredient. It helps bring out the best in the kare-kare.

MUST-TRIES. The tamarind shake (left) is Abe's signature drink. The tanglad iced tea (right), brewed tea with lemongrass, is their best-seller.

MUST-TRIES. The tamarind shake (left) is Abe's signature drink. The tanglad iced tea (right), brewed tea with lemongrass, is their best-seller.

COOL DOWN. Abe's halo-halo with a scoop of ube ice cream

COOL DOWN.

Abe's halo-halo with a scoop of ube ice cream

Business hours: 11:00am to 11:00pm, Monday to Sunday  

Phone: (02) 901-5691 / 901-5692

Seating capacity: Main dining - 80 / Azotea - 150

FOR MERIENDA: Parvati

DESSERTS, DESSERTS. Craving for cake or dealing with a very bad sugar craving? You'll find your fix here.

DESSERTS, DESSERTS. Craving for cake or dealing with a very bad sugar craving? You'll find your fix here.

Parvati is in the lower ground floor of TriNoma, flanked by Bread Talk - Toast Box and Gourdo's. It opened in April 2010. According to Joanne Tan, operations manager and co-owner, she and her partners decided to name it after the Hindu goddess because she is the "goddess of all goddesses," and they wanted to offer the "best of the best from the homebakers."

Everything in Parvati is made by a homebaker, or bakers who learned on their own and who bake out of passion. The place is cozy and relaxed; from the outside, you'll immediately see their fridge of desserts!

Parvati offers 3 kinds of desserts: frozen, chilled and room temp. Joanne told Rappler that, in the beginning, they rode the cupcake bandwagon until their clients started looking for decadent desserts.

"It's an extension of your mom's kitchen," said Joanne. Parvati is the first cafe of its kind in Manila in terms of concept, and is giving homebakers a chance to grow their own business.

GREAT FOR CONVERSATIONS. Parvati's cozy space is the only branch in the Philippines as of writing

GREAT FOR CONVERSATIONS.

Parvati's cozy space is the only branch in the Philippines as of writing

FROZEN BRAZO DE MERCEDES. A creation of homebaker Fiona Tan, this dessert is a certified best-seller. Once you've tasted its sweet and salty mantecado ice cream, it would be VERY hard to forget!

FROZEN BRAZO DE MERCEDES. A creation of homebaker Fiona Tan, this dessert is a certified best-seller.

Once you've tasted its sweet and salty mantecado ice cream, it would be VERY hard to forget!

TACO SALAD. An original Parvati recipe for the figure-conscious

TACO SALAD.

An original Parvati recipe for the figure-conscious

SMOKED SALMON SANDWICH WITH MANGO DILL DRESSING. Parvati's offering to sandwich lovers

SMOKED SALMON SANDWICH WITH MANGO DILL DRESSING.

Parvati's offering to sandwich lovers

SHRIMP ETOUFEE PASTA. A satisfying mix of shrimp and pasta, for seafood lovers who like heavier meals before their decadent dessert

SHRIMP ETOUFEE PASTA.

A satisfying mix of shrimp and pasta, for seafood lovers who like heavier meals before their decadent dessert

HONEY APPLE ICED TEA. Perfect for tea lovers like this writer. Having those slices of apple to munch on is heaven!

HONEY APPLE ICED TEA. Perfect for tea lovers like this writer.

Having those slices of apple to munch on is heaven!

Parvati offers free wi-fi. Free coffee also comes with every P100 purchase on desserts. There are also outlets for laptop and mobile phone charging.

Business hours: 10:00am to 9:00pm, Monday to Thursday; 10:00am to 10:00pm, Friday to Sunday 

Phone: (02) 901-1428

Instagram: @theparvatishop

DINNER: Mango Tree Bistro

TIME TO CHILL. Mango Tree Bistro, right beside Powerbooks, invites you to enter, relax and enjoy good Thai food

TIME TO CHILL.

Mango Tree Bistro, right beside Powerbooks, invites you to enter, relax and enjoy good Thai food

After a long day of shopping or when you've used up the energy you got from dining in Abe then Parvati, it's time to cool down in Mango Tree Bistro, located at the 3rd level of TriNoma. It is one of my favorite places in the mall, not just because of the interiors but also because of the over-all relaxing vibe (yes, we love mood lighting).

Mango Tree Bistro (not to be confused with a frozen yogurt brand called Red Mango) is owned by Mother Spice Food Corporation under Eric and Imelda Teng. The couple is also behind the retail brands Maldita, Mental and Epse. Like Parvati, Mango Tree Bistro opened in TriNoma in 2010. They also have branches in Greenbelt 5 and Bonifacio High Street.

This place is for foodies craving for Thai food. If you're dining with family members who are not into spicy food as much as you are (or even kids), you can ask the kitchen tone down the level of spiciness. But worry not: there are non-spicy menu options, too, like the stir-fried kangkong and pasta.

RELAXING INTERIORS. If you need privacy or a mood that's peaceful and quiet (at least in the afternoon), Mango Tree Bistro is a good place to go to. The servers don't hover and let you work on your laptop, go through your mobile phone or eat in peace. I love that.

RELAXING INTERIORS. If you need privacy or a mood that's peaceful and quiet (at least in the afternoon), Mango Tree Bistro is a good place to go to. The servers don't hover and let you work on your laptop, go through your mobile phone or eat in peace. I love that.

PENANG WA. This curry-based beef dish is a hit with Pinoys. It has a distinct aroma and layers of flavor: sweet, spicy and salty. The creamy and rich sauce is made from ingredients flown in from Bangkok.

PENANG WA. This curry-based beef dish is a hit with Pinoys. It has a distinct aroma and layers of flavor: sweet, spicy and salty. The creamy and rich sauce is made from ingredients flown in from Bangkok.

CHICKEN WITH LEMONGRASS. These pieces of chicken grilled while skewered by a lemongrass stalk explode with flavor. This dish is great eaten with rice or by itself; just don't forget to have it with the sauce!

CHICKEN WITH LEMONGRASS. These pieces of chicken grilled while skewered by a lemongrass stalk explode with flavor.

This dish is great eaten with rice or by itself; just don't forget to have it with the sauce!

Mango Tree Bistro offers free wi-fi. There's acoustic entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights at 7pm onwards. 

Business hours: 11:30am to 10:00pm, Monday to Thursday; 11:30am to 11:00pm, Friday to Saturday; 11:00am to 10:30pm, Sunday

Phone: (02) 916-0297 / 585-5460; Mobile 0917-8902166

- Rappler.com


Do you like going on a #FoodTrip? Tell us about it! Email desk@rappler.com, use the subject heading FOOD TRIP.