Amici

I’d be lying if I told you I don’t miss the old Amici – the wonderfully chaotic self-service canteen in the not-so-fancy area of Makati that offered authentic and freshly-made Italian dishes. Walking into Amici di Don Bosco was like being invited by a friend at his home and served with a delightful home cooked meal. I remember that my very first visit back in 2004 made me feel that this restaurant was named so because it provided a warm and relaxed space for friends and family to enjoy Italian cuisine.

However, the turo-turo feel of the old Amici vanished when it was bought out in 2007. The new management decided that it was time to say goodbye to the self-service feature. It’s bittersweet – it has become commercialized.

While the new owner had introduced major changes – a brighter, orderly, more updated and modern space; efficient and well-trained wait staff; and a broader menu – it made sure that the food remained true to its Italian origins.

Needless to say, I’m just happy that I can still enjoy authentic Italian food. My go to dish at Amici is Spaghetti Ai Tesori del Mare – a mildly spicy feast of spaghetti tossed in fresh tomatoes, scallops, clams, mussels and chili oil. Believe it or not, I visit Amici at least once a week to get a fix of this delicious dish. Waiters would ask me, “Sir, Tesori?” whenever I step into the restaurant. It actually feels like walking into Starbucks and getting my usual coffee.

Spaghetti Ai Tesori del Mare

The only problem I have with Amici is the lack of consistency. The food may look and taste different depending on the cook who prepares it. I can actually tell when my pasta was made by someone other than my favorite cook.

When I’m with friends and family, I’d normally order soup and salad. Minestrone Soup is the best but they stopped selling it some years back. Mushroom Truffle Soup is a good replacement though. They have some good salads, too. I highly recommend their Blue Cheese and Pear Salad.

Then there are the thin-crust, slightly burnt at the edges pizzas that they are also known for. Tutta Carne is Amici’s all-time favorite but my personal favorite is Al Quattro Formaggi – a flavorful combination of mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and blue cheese.

Al Quattro Formaggi
Al Quattro Formaggi

One should never leave Amici without getting a scoop of gelato. My favorites are Sans Rival and Mango Berry Medley. And by the way, their gelato cakes are also worth a try.

Don’t forget to drop by Amici for their anniversary promotion on July 27 & 28.

Pizza Fest - Anniversary Special
Pizza Fest – Anniversary Special

Amici
Arnaiz Ave. corner Chino Roces Ave.
San Lorenzo, Makati City
Tel. +63-2-818-4444

Unakichi

A new Japanese restaurant has sprouted in our neighborhood  – as if we don’t have enough already. The location is not the most ideal for a restaurant, being next to a show club, but the foodie in me made me try it nonetheless.

The whole crew greeted me as I stepped into the restaurant. Right then and there, I knew I was in for a treat. I got even more excited when I saw the restaurant’s interior. It offers a very minimalist atmosphere, which is clean, simple and unpretentious.

I was surprised the restaurant became packed a few moments after I got seated. I admit I was a bit uneasy, always observing the Japanese diners next to me. I was afraid I might violate basic Japanese dining etiquette and table manners.

The Chef hard at work
The chef hard at work

The restaurant offers meal sets for lunch just like any other Japanese restaurants. Meal sets are named after the main dish being offered and include rice, dashi (soup), salad, chawanmushi, pickled vegetables and some seasonal fruit.

A pretty good rule of thumb is to order what the restaurant is named for. But because I was too hungry to ask the waiter what Unakichi means, I just ordered what looked safe and familiar. So I got myself a grilled mackerel set.

While waiting for the food, I went through their menu again and noticed that the first few pages are nothing but unagi (eel) dishes. A quick google search revealed that the suffix kichi means to be really enthusiastic about something or really into something. That’s when the name Unakichi started to make sense.

Grilled Mackerel Bento Set
Grilled Mackerel Set

And my food was finally served. The grilled mackerel was fresh, juicy and seasoned to perfection. The greens that came with the meal set complemented the fish nicely. While I’m not chawanmushi’s biggest fan, I have to say that their tofu version was really tasty. However, their dashi was a bit disappointing; it was a little bland for my liking.

 

But overall, I was pretty satisfied. I’m sure I will be back soon to try their specialty: unagi dishes!

P.S. Make sure you bring enough cash because they don’t accept credit cards yet.

Unakichi
Unit G14B Makati Cinema Square
Amorsolo St., Legazpi Village
Makati City
Tel. +63-2-728-2072