THE QUIET DINER

Tried-and-tested chain

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Undecided on where to have lunch, we went to a tried-and-tested Italian restaurant which has become popular among regular lunch diners.

Then, a few days after, we checked out Japanese cuisine in another part of town.

Coincidentally, both choices belong to the same successful chain.

Italianni’s, Nuvali, Sta Rosa, Laguna

This branch is among those spread out in various malls and commercial complexes. While pizzas and pasta dishes have made this restaurant popular, it offers a lot more. There are sandwiches, premium meat and chicken dishes.

Dining area: On a main wall are two murals depicting an Italian castle surrounded by lush foliage. There are catchy phrases all around, each inspiring the diners to enjoy food and life. The TV monitors show kiddie films, the better to keep restless children from moving around.

Service: A female staff welcomes guests, sits them and hands the voluminous, colorfully photographed menu folder. Bread is served immediately and the hungry ones are delighted to dip into a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The bottles are left on the table, so we don’t have to call out for more.

Staff: Neat and knowledgeable

Suggested menu: Though Italianni’s is known for its handmade pizzas and pastas, go for the bundles called Great Feast. Each is enough for a group of three. The Country Style grouping includes Roast Beef, very tender and served with white sauce; Herbed Roast Flaming Chicken with a sauce that is a bit too sour; and Smoked Salmon Spaghetti, spiced with black pepper. Maybe add a salad of greens with its light dressing and Pepperoni Pizza, also spicy. There is a selection of blended coffee for after-meal beverage.

Government taxes and service charge are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.

Rating: **

 

Watami, Northwing Veranda, Mall of Asia

This casual Japanese restaurant belongs to the same chain as Italianni’s. Its customer service consciousness is evident in the card placed on each table, encouraging guests to “textify,” meaning, to give feedback to management after a dining experience.

Dining area: Huge and spacious for easy movement. It has good acoustics—you won’t hear the conversation from the next table. Hanging lamps brightly illuminate the hall.

Service: Again, thick menu folders, with color photographs of dishes, are handed as guests are seated. Tea is served and orders taken immediately.

Staff: Efficient, attentive

Suggested orders: A starter of mixed sushi and sashimi can whet the appetite. Then our group got the bowls—complete meals with rice and choice of  topping. The bowls are deep and can even be shared.

Most of the bowls have what they call Hot Spring Egg, which, when mixed, gets cooked and adds a creamy texture and succulence. Beef and chicken are the choices.

The tender Beef Rice Bowl, done Tokyo-style, has thin strips of the meat. The Chicken Cutlet in Scrambled Egg Sauce, equally soft, is coated.

For less than P500, a hungry diner can have a truly filling meal.

Government and service charges are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.

Rating: **

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