What's new at Circles, Slappy Cakes, Wendy's

By Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 03 2014 08:25 PM | Updated as of Mar 04 2014 09:23 PM

MANILA -- Here are some new menu items from three restaurants that ABS-CBNnews.com has personally tried.

Circles Event Café

Chicken and lamb kebab. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com

The popular Makati Shangri-La Hotel outlet has added Mughlai cuisine to its vast buffet spread for the “Delights of Delhi” food festival featuring guest chefs from the Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi.

While Indian food has always been part of Circles’ regular buffet, guest chef Abhinandan Singh explained that Indian cuisine differs widely across the South Asian country and that Mughlai cuisine, which is adapted from the imperial kitchens of the Mughlai empire, is more representative of the cooking techniques in India’s northern regions.

More importantly, especially for Filipino diners, Mughlai cuisine isn’t as fiery as the specialty dishes from India’s southern provinces, making it an ideal introduction to Indian food.

While there were still hints of heat, the dishes that were presented to select food bloggers at last Friday’s preview were more aromatic, and not just spicy. The preferred spice was the expensive saffron, while the use of ghee or clarified butter gave the dishes such as smooth richness in keeping with the dishes’ royal history.

In fact, the spiciest item we tried were the papadoms served at the start, although the trio of dips -- yogurt, spinach and pickled chutney -- smoothened out the heat.

(Clockwise from bottom) Chicken biryani, yellow lentil and prawns. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com

Among the must-try dishes in this special spread were the chicken kebab appetizer, which is delicious enough to be enjoyed as a main dish; the very addicting zaffrani paneer tikka or cottage cheese cooked in a tandoor oven; the aloo papadi chat or potato salad, which Singh said is a popular street food in New Delhi; the creamy and subtle Murgh shamina, or chicken curry, which was named for a beautiful queen; the very flavorful Subz diwani handi or vegetable curry; and the chicken biryani, which again didn’t have the usual heat one expects from such a dish.

Instead of rice, you can also enjoy the curry dishes with the hefty roti breads, which can be enjoyed on their own.

The dessert was a mango-flavored Shrikland, which is a yogurt dessert that certainly refreshed the palate after such a rich meal.

“Delights of Delhi” runs until March 14. Guests who dine at Circles during the festival period may also get the chance to win hotel accommodations in Traders Hotel, Puteri Harbour, Johor in Malaysia and Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi in India.

Slappy Cakes

Red velvet pancakes cooking on the griddle. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com

It was supposed to be a one-time Valentine special but Slappy Cakes has decided to retain its twist on the popular red velvet cake on the menu. And why not? If you like red velvet, then you’ll love the red velvet pancake.

If you haven’t been to this “DIY” restaurant before, diners at Slappy Cakes are given squeeze bottles with pancake batter and cook them on griddles built into each table. A squeeze bottle holds enough batter for five regular pancakes.

The pancake batters come in different variants like buttermilk, chocolate and peanut butter. The red velvet batter was added last month and this comes with a cream cheese frosting to complete the red velvet experience.

Slappy Cakes also recently introduced new Slappy Shakes in chocolate, vanilla and banana flavors, as well as an interesting Balsamic Garlic Burger. If you’re used to the decadent burgers with everything on it, the presentation of the Slappy Cakes burger may seem dull. The upside was in the beef flavor and texture, which you will certainly appreciate since there were no other ingredients to compete with the patty.


Pretzel bacon cheeseburger. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com

I have to admit that the photo of Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger looked very appetizing compared to the real thing, which was a lot smaller than what was suggested in the photo.

But despite this, the frenzy surrounding the bun was warranted. Actually, the pretzel bun first made waves in the US last year when it was unveiled as a limited-edition sandwich. The bun itself has that firm texture of pretzel, with a good bite and slightly chewy on the inside. Wendy’s also gave the sandwich a bit of sweetness with the honey mustard sauce.

While the bun may be too “heavy” for the standard Wendy’s patty, even with the presence of the bacon, the pretzel bread would be better paired with the heftier patties of the more gourmet burger restaurants. At P198 for the combo (with fries and soda), the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger offers a well-appreciated upgraded fast-food burger experience. But this is no Baconator.