Westgate Center in Alabang, Muntinlupa City

If you are looking forward to leisurely food pursuits in the south, a stroll around Westgate Center in Alabang, Muntinlupa City is something you wouldn't pass up on. It can be likened to a walk around the village, where people are assured of the warmth of home.

This a hole-in-wall hangout place sits next to the Acacia Hotel. It is where one can spend time with loved ones over a good meal,  artisan coffee or dessert.   Westgate presents a  buffet curation of the best that the local restaurant scene has to offer.

Let me share my culinary picks from the top three restaurants in my recent Westgate Foodcrawl adventure.

First stop is Earth Origins.  It is Alabang’s one-stop shop and go-to cafe for everything organic. Husband-wife team of Rman and Jeren Lorenzo put up this marketplace to empower families to shift the composition of their dinner plates to healthier options.

I love the fact that Earth Origins'  food offerings are all free from preservatives, saturated fats, flavorings and artificial sweeteners.

The tossed Tuna Poke Salad  (P 288) was a good mix of flavors and textures. It has Quinoa, kale, mixed lettuce, nori, sesame seeds and chia seeds, topped with ceviche tuna and boiled egg halves.The tuna had the seaweed slivers on top of the greens and what appears to be bread crumbs that gives each bite the added texture.

For those not into eating raw, the Nature Farm Salad  (P 288) would be a good alternative.  Earth Origins serves this healthy dish with chicken bits.  I just love eating healthy grub without sacrificing taste and flavor.

Their Classic Beef Burger (P 258) uses grassfed beef patty in a charcoal bun with French fries served on the side. All the condiments like mayonnaise, pickles, ketchup and cheese are organic and homemade by Earth Origins.

Vegetarians would love their Veggie Burger (P 258) with a patty made from banana heart.  It comes in a whole wheat charcoal bun and served with French fries as well. They also offer these burgers in Blue Cheese and Chicken-Pulled Adobo Style (P 385) variants.

Paella lovers will love the All Meat (P 285) and Seafood Paella (P 348) addition on their revamped menu.

Drink options include Iced Tea Lemongrass  (P 70), Hibiscus  (P 85) and Blackberry  (P 98). If you are a fan of juicing and its benefits, Earth Origins provides a selection of refreshing, tasty drinks in different variations that are guaranteed made from 100% high quality, raw organic fruits and vegetables with no sugar and no preservatives added.  Choose from Passion, Pineapple Lemongrass Harmony, Red Cheerful, Orange Clarity, Green, and Lemon Ginger Happy  (P135 for 250ml bottle) flavors.

Second stop: Neil's Kitchen.  Chef Neil Ramos breathes new life into Filipino food in his restaurant. Neil's Kitchen serves Pinoy classics that have been reinvented for an exciting new gastronomic experience.

Kitchen, Chef Neil Ramos breathes new life into Filipino food. A quick browse through their menu shows that they serve many Pinoy classics, but reinvented for an exciting new gastronomic experience.

The Ayala Alabang “AA” Batchoy  (P 295)  is a new addition in their menu. I love Neil's Kitchen's take on this Ilonggo dish.  It is loaded with toppings plus a serving of puto on the side.

Sinigang Paella with Grilled Pork Belly (P 395) is one of my staples whenever my family and I dine in here. See previous Neil's Kitchen review here.  The Sinigang Paella is sticky rice infused with the sinigang broth which makes it more savory. A hefty serving of Grilled Pork Belly makes a perfect match for it, both garnished with crispy kangkong on top.

Chef Neil also served us his Wagyu Sinigang, Gyudon Style (P 495). The beef was tender and juicy.

Adobo Project (P 450) is sweet, garlicky chicken and pork combination. Underneath the shredded chicken adobo bits lay big chunks of pork adobo that add up to a mouthwatering fare.
“Sloppy K” Beef Caldereta (P 425)

Chef Neil's Adobo Project uses both chicken and pork. Underneath the shredded chicken adobo bits lay big chunks of pork adobo.

Menudo Mania (P 395)

Escargot De Gata (P 295) are golden apple snails are cooked in coconut milk. This gourmet delicacy comes in de-shelled with spices like garlic, ginger, turmeric, and red chili pepper.  Neil's Kitchen carefully removed the meat from shells for ease of eating in public and indulging too!

Turon de Napoleon (P195)
For desserts, we had Fried Suman, Mangga and Chocnut (P 250), Puto Bumbong with Buco Jelly and Toasted Coconut  (P 250), Sweet corn Maja BB Special (P 195) and Turon de Napoleon  (P195)

Sweet Corn Maja BB Special (P 195)

Puto Bumbong with Buco Jelly and Toasted Coconut (P 250)
 Puto Bungbong with Buco Jelly and Toasted Coconut takes the humble puto bumbong (Rice Cakes in Bamboo Tubes) several notches higher! While the classic recipe serves the chewy puto bumbong with grated coconut, margarine, and muscovado, Chef Neil tops the rice cake with cocomilk jelly, and a shortbread made up of toasted coconut, sesame seeds, muscovado sugar and chocnut.

I have had lunch at Neil's Kitchen a couple of times and I always look forward to having  great tasting dishes each time!

Third stop: Butamaru.  Chef Jerome Lim, who had extensive training experience from Sugimura-san of Menko noodle company in Oita, Japan owns Butamaru.  Their ramen menu is based on five basic kinds of ramen shio, shoyu, miso, tantanmen, and curry tantanmen, and uses traditional Kyushu tonkotsu broth made for 16 hours. We had Original shio ramen  (P 320),  Spicy Miso Butter Ramen  (P 370) and Curry Tantanmen  (P 380).

I'd say Curry TanTanMen is my favorite bowl over Spicy Miso Butter. The Butamaru broth with minced pork was made even richer with flavors of the curry powder. I found it to be really addicting.  The flavorful broth is halfway in thickness, making it possible for anyone to slurp it out way. You can customize and request for more spice to suite your taste. They serve it with two hefty slices of chashu, which melts in the mouth.

They serve other Japanese dishes. Chef Jerome crafted Izakaya (Japanese gastropub) dishes for an even fuller Japanese experience.

Butamaru offers Katsugyozayaki (P 160), Truffle Gyoza (P 220), Spareribs in the following flavors: Spicy Glazed Spareribs Original Glazed spareribs Buttered Parmesan spareribs

Last stop was Brother’s Burger – one of the best burger joints in the South!  I was surprised to know that they now offer Mexican dishes with chicken wings, all-day breakfast, hotdogs and pizzas!

 Brother's Burger servee two kinds of Burritos – Chicken Burrito (P 190) and Steak Burrito (P 200).  The Quesadilla comes in  3 flavors: Cheese Quesadilla  (P 120), Chicken Quesadilla  (P 185), and Steak Quesadilla  (P 200).

If you long for  a different kind of environment, do check out Westgate Alabang. Westgate Center is a premier development project of Filinvest Alabang Inc. in Filinvest City, Alabang. The 9.2-hectare open-air shopping and dining complex boasts of a relaxing atmosphere perfect for rest and recreation. Visit them at www.facebook.com/WestgateAlabang if you wanna know more.