Now, here’s a heartwarming story.

Among the “Big Three” malls in the South — SM Southmall, Alabang Town Center and Filinvest Festival Mall, it’s a generally-accepted notion that Festival Mall has absolutely abyssmal food options. There was KFC at the bottom, Teriyaki Boy on the third floor, with a smattering of random stuff like Jack’s Loft, and the Italian Restaurant that nobody ever eats at. And there’s Pepper Steak, which is strictly inferior to its rival Pepper Lunch.

So maybe you had Racks, you had Fukuya back when it was still alive — it got shut down unfortunately when Filinvest started renovating for expansion. Long story short, there’s a dearth of food choices at Festival Mall.

But with the opening of Riverpark, the new section by, well, the river and a line of lifestyle restaurants dotting it, suddenly there was hope! Unfortunately, the only restaurant I had tried up until last weekend was Asahikawa Bangaichi Ramen, which frankly was a disaster. Still, a bunch of other restaurants have opened there like Planet Grapes, Market Basket and the subject of today’s article, Hog’s Breath Cafe.

The Hog’s Breath Cafe is an Aussie food franchise that has now made its way to Alabang! Aussie cuisine is like, you know, British cuisine. Except it has an Australian Accent. I don’t know how that changes the taste, but the place looks nice and the company was awesome.

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I actually got here to attend the Writer’s Workshop hosted by my friends from healthjunkie.ph and notyourordinarymum.com. I came to this workshop for two things — to eat the food at Hog’s Breath and to meet one of my idols and a celebrity in the local blogging community, Azrael Colladila. Got to meet new and old friends alike, and learned a lot during the workshop.

Yes, I got to meet the man himself!
Yes, I got to meet the man himself!

But we can discuss that in another post. Let’s talk about the food that I got to sample during the event. I have to say, the food. Is. Amazing.

This is our delicious sampler platter.
This is our delicious sampler platter.

Here we have calamares, fish fingers, baked potato and buffalo wings. There’s some honey mustard dip and some chili dip as well. I have to say — the calamares suprisingly did not make me allergic. That’s plus points, meaning the squid used was very fresh. It’s a great barometer for freshness; lesser squids leave me hanging with an itchy tongue and throat.

The baked potato was superb. Most of the potato was actually scooped out, but there was enough left to remind you that you were eating potatoes. However, the resulting cream cheese and mayo mix sitting in the cheese and bacon well, with just the right amount of green onions, created a superb taste dancing in my mouth. It wasn’t too salty, there was an appropriate bit of tartness, no need to dip into the dips it came out perfect just as is. Kudos to this wonderful baked potato.

The buffalo wings were great. Spicy and tasty — though I wouldn’t put this above Wingstop’s or Buffalo Wild Wing’s. As always, they’re a pain to eat with a fork and knife, but they were suitably hot, but even a non-spicy lover can stomach this at this level.

The fish fingers were awesome — lightly battered and fried, the fish base was some kind of white river fish, and when you dip it in the honey mustard dip it is superb. I loved it. The dip was what made it, but the job of fish fingers is to have a nice crispy texture and succulent but neutral flavor so it goes well into whatever sauce you dip it in, whether it’s tartar sauce, or this really wonderful honey mustard dip.

 

The nachos were my favorite. Amazing.
The nachos were my favorite. Amazing.

The nachos on the other hand were really good. I like my food on the spicy side, and these nachos had quite a bit of spice in the marinated beef. This is not for the faint of heart when it comes to spicy stuff. It’s really, really tasty and really, really good. I finished off the huge plate all by myself, practically, and went off to another plate to have more. It was delicious!

However, what really impressed me were the desserts.  They remind me of Friday’s desserts, except I think they might have even been better.

 

The Mississipi Mudpie is a slice of chocolate cake with some really thick, rich fudge sauce on top, with a cherry and served with vanilla ice cream. I have to say, the cake was amazingly good. Everything about this dessert is rich, thick, and simply decadent. The fudge was oozing like melted cheese, and it had about that kind of consistency, except it was sweet, gooey chocolate. I love it! The cake was also thick and moist, not spongy but rather very solid, like a really rich brownie or a perfect chocolate crinkle that you kept in the freezer for a few hours.  Eaten with the vanilla ice cream, it becomes perfect as otherwise it would be too thick and almost dry, but with the ice cream the blend is superbly decadent.

It’s much superior to other Mudpies I’ve had, like the one at Rack’s.

Here is the Mississipi Mudpie
Here is the Mississipi Mudpie. Decadence is my middle name.

Then we have the Apple Crumble.  Now, last time I ate an Apple Crumble was at the Union Jack Tavern here in Festival Mall. The funny thing about this Apple Crumble is that it’s basically an Apple Pie topped with a huge scoop of ice cream and lathered with at on of caramel sauce. Does it work? Why yes, yes it does.

The crust was awesome, it’s what makes or breaks apple pies. It’s a buttery crust, much more buttery than flour when it comes to taste, and that’s a good thing. The apples were sweet, the cinnamon and sugar sauce it came with even sweeter. That’s why the buttery crust is important to balance out the taste. But then you put in the ice cream and caramel syrup and all bets are off. It’s just pure, sheer, decadence. I love it!

This Apple Crumble is topped with a delicious scoop of ice cream.
This Apple Crumble is topped with a delicious scoop of ice cream.

And the last big surprise — Fried Ice Cream.

Now, who invented Fried Ice Cream? There has to be a certain madness to mixing a hot frying pan and something that melts the moment you put it in the sun, like ice cream. But thank God for whoever invented it. Because this one is simply delicious.

It looks very innocuous at first, like a ball of flour and two dips.
It looks very innocuous at first, like a ball of flour and two dips.
But once you chop it open and drizzle some sauce on top... oolala!!
But once you chop it open and drizzle some sauce on top… oolala!!

This amazing ball of unhealthiness can only best be described as sheer paradise. Unlike the other two desserts, it wasn’t actually overly sweet.  The batter was quite thick and floury, and not sweet, but gave it a great texture. The ice cream inside wasn’t overly sweet either, just gives it that delicious rich creaminess, and once you dip it into the caramel or fudge dips you get just the right amount of sweetness. This dish is the one that combined its elements the most into a perfectly balanced dessert. It was hot, it was cold, it was not too sweet, it had texture, it was just a perfect way to end the dessert course.

 

I have to say, this place put Festival Mall back on the foodie map for me. I will have to return here in the future to try out their main menu. I just got around to snacking today, I can’t wait to see how a real meal would taste.

 

 

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Posted by Erwin Anciano

Erwin has been eating food for the past 30 or so years. Yes, he actually thinks that makes him an expert on all things food-related.

Website: http://emuncher.com