A Home-Based Baker's Tips To A Better Routine

11:01:00 PM Larisse Espinueva 0 Comments

Note: These are based on my personal routine to be exact. I hope this article would be a nice guide for other bakers who encounter these similar scenarios.

"Start early, finish early." Might be the best work motto I've applied into baking. Time literally runs fast when you're in the kitchen. I have learned my lesson through the years that went by. I used to start in the afternoon and end up finishing at two in the morning. Today, we start at 9am and finish at approximately 6pm on a regular basis! Hooray for this improvement!

1. Dealing with Clients
It is a smooth-sailing online transaction if the clients know what they already want. You answer their inquiry, make the options and quotations, talk about logistics, and done! The deciding factor is already on their hands. But what if you are asked the most vague question like this,

Q: "Hm po?" 

Based on my experience, ninety percent of the time, people who inquire this way directly in your inbox has no full intention of ordering from you. They are just simply curious. The remaining ten percent is always a window of opportunity for you to sell your product.

First, ask what they are inquiring about. If they don't reply, don't bother. Once they respond, give them straight to the point answers. Offer them your prices and suggest the best packages while not limiting them to get a better offer. Let's say the client wants a simple round cake, after sending your prices suggest your packages in which they will feel is more like a better deal and mention the bigger sizes that you have.

Working around their budget has it's pros and cons. Make sure you know the type of event they will be celebrating. It's not advisable to suggest something within their budget without them knowing the exact details they are getting for that price. More often than not, they will end up being disappointed. Yes, they spent what's within their capacity but not enough to fulfill what they had in mind. When suggesting to work around a client's budget, it's best to mention the exact size, the flavor and the costs you cut off for you to be able to sell it at that price. This is what we often see on promo ads as the "disclaimer."


2. Clarify The Final Output
Send them an order summary with all the details of their order. As for the design, make sure that the necessary details and changes are mentioned or better yet, make them a rough sketch of the final look of the product.


The summary of their order is the protection you'll have between you and your client. One unforgettable experience of mine was with a debutante cake I made a few years ago. The client showed me her design references and then we had a face-to-face meeting regarding the final design sketch, the exact sizes, the price and the logistics. Upon reaching the venue, I set up the cake, took pictures and endorsed it to the organizer before leaving. After a few hours, I received a text from the client saying that the cake looks too small. The frustration inside me overflowed but I responded to them in the politest way, "Hi Ms. _______, I made the cake exactly to the measurements we agreed upon." From there I received no reply. I did not feel bad because I know for myself that I executed the cake well and based exactly on what they ordered.



3. Ask For A Downpayment 
For my clients, I only ask for a minimum of fifty percent downpayment no matter how small or big the cost of their order is. The fifty percent is good enough to cover the cost of ingredients just incase worse comes to worst, the client does not show up. Yes, it is indeed possible! Imagine all those days you spent preparing for their order and they just ditch you without even a call or text. Yup, it sucks but at least they made that downpayment!


4. Plan Your Strategy At Least A Week Before
For example, a three tier cake is needed to be delivered by Saturday, 7pm.

Here's my ideal schedule:

Friday/Saturday: Check your current supplies and make your ingredient list for the next week
Sunday/Monday: Buy ingredients and materials
Monday/Tuesday to Thursday: Work on your decorations and other necessary preparations
Friday: Bake and finish the cake
Saturday: Deliver


5. Shopping Day 
My shopping list is divided into three-parts to make sure I won't leave anything behind and mix anything up:

a. Baking Store
b. Grocery
c. Bookstore/Office Supply Store

If possible, it's better to order ingredients over the phone and have the baking store prepare them ahead of time. This way, you can save time while they prepare. Use this time to go to the grocery and other stores first where you can't make an advance order.


6. Advance Decorations
It was only a few years ago when I started to appreciate the time-saving benefits of making your decorations in ahead. I usually just squeeze all the work in two days which was not helping my health either because of the late nights I needed to finish working. Knowing that it's "decor day," you'll get to focus more on achieving the details on your toppers and not rush into baking and finishing your cake.

Decorations You Can Make Ahead:
a. Sculpted Toppers
b. Dedication/Name/Age/Nameplates
c. Design Accents such as dots, borders, etc.
d. Dummy Cakes to be covered and decorated

You can store these decorations in a closed but not air tight container with cornstarch at the bottom to prevent the decorations from sticking

Other Preparations:
a. The Packaging (folding the box, the plastic covers, your sticker/brand tag, etc.)
b. The Cake Board (Adding ribbons on thick cake boards and other embellishments)
c. Line your Baking Pans with Parchment Paper
d. Make your Icing (Fondant can be stored in room temp and is best used the day after. Buttercream and ganache can be kept in the fridge for a month.)


7. Baking Day
Things to double check before baking:
a. Flavor
b. Complete Ingredients
c. Recipe Computation

Here is a guide to easily compute for your recipes:



Multiply the conversion factor (CF) to all of the ingredients. I converted all my recipes into grams so that it is faster to measure. I use a digital scale to measure my ingredients.

Ex. You need to bake 10 pieces of cupcakes but your recipe makes 12 pieces

1. Divide 10 (new yield) and 12 (old yield) = 0.83 (conversion factor)
2. Multiply the CF to all of the ingredients. Make sure the ingredients have the same unit of measurement (grams, pounds, etc.)



(Sample recipe is based from http://www.joyofbaking.com)
Use this website to convert your ingredients:
http://www.convert-me.com/en/convert/cooking/

8. Final Decorating and Finishing
Once the cake is covered with your icing, simply stick those decorations in! Brush off any excess cornstarch on the cake.

9. Delivering
Given the delivery time is 7pm. Consider that it is a rush hour. If you familiar with the terrible traffic in your area, adjust your time to make sure you won't be late. As per experience, Waze, has helped us A LOT! We can at least estimate the time of arrival even prior to leaving the house. It also gives the best and fastest routes! Put your trust in Waze and discover new routes for your next delivery. It has only failed us once. Haha!

Happy Baking! :)

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7 Modern Money Saving Tips

3:04:00 PM Larisse Espinueva 0 Comments


1. Make A Schedule

As the famous saying goes, “Time is money!” From meetings to hangouts or even just your simple errands, make sure to keep your day as organized as possible. Set a date for your errands together with another trip. With this, you'll spend less on the meals when you'll eat out and the transportation fees. This is a good practice to discipline yourself on managing your time and planning your expenses.

2. Get A Piggy Bank
Instead of using your excess coins specially the cents to buy unnecessary cheap items like a candy bar or that piece of gum you bought just because you can, feed that piggy bank! Now this tip may sound juvenile, but this can really help if you make this a habit. In a few months or less, you'll be surprised how much you've already saved.

3. Set Your Cash Aside

Don’t be too paranoid! Leave some of your money at home to avoid overspending. Just like my first tip, allow yourself to budget your expenses for the day so that you don’t end up spending more than you should. Ideally, now that you’ve left your excess money at home, there’s no way for you to spend it now, do you? Set a daily allowance for your meals and transportation. Simple as that.

4. Make A List

Avoid buying things that you don’t need by making a list of the things that you really require. In that way, it will feel more like an errand than actual shopping. From there, you can narrow down the things you need most and more or less how much it's going to cost you.

5. Wait for the BIG SALE

There's a bigger chance of buying the item for less if you just simply wait specially if there's really no urgency to purchase. Department Stores are fond of Pay Day and Clearance Sales. There are also a number of online stores that do these sales often. Subscribe to their newsletters to keep yourself updated on promotions and discounts.

6. Avoid (Impulse) Online Shopping

Now don’t get me wrong. If there’s one thing that I really love about the progress of the internet, it’s for giving us the ability to shop without having to go out of our houses anymore. But with this luxury comes the added temptation of buying more than what you need. It’s so easy nowadays to purchase anything with just one click that you might end up losing all your money to this innovation. Be smart on window online shopping.

In my case, I also have an online store for my personalized cakes in Paranaque. A lot of home-based businesses also start online stores but with a way more interactive experience rather than just having to click and buy. Try to look for these businesses since these home entrepreneurs tend to give you a better bargain than your usual online retail stores.

7. Put Your Excess To Sale

Looking for extra cash? You might already have it at home! Look through your drawers and closets you'll even find some things you no longer need and one smart way to get money from things you already have is to try to sell all the clutter from your household. There are a lot of mobile apps and websites that you can use for free and sell your items. Snap a photo, upload, and voila! It's already for sale! Couriers are not even a problem, there are some that offer a pick-up service from your place then straight to your buyer.

Being young is no excuse to be unwise on your finances. So save up and keep yourself financially aware and informed. You'll never know when you'll need that extra cash in the future!




ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Larisse is a full-time foodie, blogger and professional cakemaker. She makes a living making personalized cakes in Paranaque as the founder and co-owner of CANVAS Cake Studio. She blogs to relax and express her thoughts in her website: Larisse Gastronomique. She’s also known for her love of cheese and weird appreciation of odd humor.

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Sentiments of a Home-Based Cake Decorator

10:33:00 AM Larisse Espinueva 0 Comments


It’s not always "A-PIECE-OF-CAKE" for cake decorators. Imagine all the time we spend on practicing and studying those tutorials, the books we had to read, and the recipes we had to test. We all have that moment of failure – may it be a burnt cake or a missing ingredient, it’s never just a piece of cake.





THE CLIENT CAN’T DECIDE


So here’s a scenario:

“I want a cake with a flower print that’s not too girly but I also want Elsa on it.”

Okay. Sounds weird but it seems doable enough. Let’s give it a try. So after a few days when the sketch and everything else is ready for showing, the client contacts you again and says:

“I think I want to change my theme to My Little Pony instead. Can you add more rainbows too? Will it fit a four inch cake? What do you think?” 

Uhhh...what?

Don’t get us wrong. As your supplier, we do our best to suggest all the options (be it easy or difficult) but when we run out of ideas and the client still can’t make up their mind, we just let out a loud *SIGH* in our heads and say, “Please, please, pleeaase make up your mind!” Of course, we never want to rush and be rude, it’s just not proper customer service.


THE HOURS IT TOOK TO FINISH ONE CAKE


Everything has to be prepared ahead of time. There is very little room for error and not all mistakes can be covered with decorations. You can’t just wake up and say, “Oh I think I’ll bake that cake order today!” It’s just not possible to finish everything in an hour or two. Don’t misunderstand, WE LOVE OUR JOB but after slaving in the kitchen all day, under all that heat and focusing on the intricacies, we can’t wait to finally rest our eyes and stretch our backs on our comfy beds.

THERE’S SO MUCH DECORATING TOOLS AVAILABLE


The tools. From the ones we use to make our flowers really look like flowers to the ones we use to spell out our client’s name on the cake. As a baker, I know you want them all too but I hope you’re not crazy enough to buy all of them at once! My personal strategy to not over-spend on these time-saving tools is to only buy what you need AT THE MOMENT. Never-ever-everrrr say: “Huh. I might need this someday.” when buying. Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s just not practical. Buy the basics. Buy the ones that has already been needed for a cake more than once. If only I can buy them all, I would, but unfortunately, not all of it works. (Like that clay gun extruder! Didn’t really work for me)

CLEANING UP


I’m going to keep this one short. You don’t even have to be a baker to know that cleaning up really isn’t the highlight for your daily activities. I mean, good for you if you have your personal dishwasher or house helper to do this but for those who are just starting out, not so good. I mean really, washing pans and wiping tables should be considered a talent!


THE CLIENT IS LATE


This really grinds my gears. Being 30 minutes late is somewhat forgivable but AN HOUR!?

There was this one time, we had an arrangement to meet up in this certain place on this certain time. As any hardworking supplier, we were there earlier than the time we agreed on. Our client contacted me after an hour and a half and said,

“Sorry, I can’t make it today, can you deliver tomorrow morning?”

Ouch, right? Even if the client offers to pay twice for delivery, come on, wasted time is time wasted. There’s no getting it back! Offering the client to pick up the cake in your home is more than okay but please, we have lives too, we can’t wait for you ALL DAY & ALL NIGHT. It’s just not right.

There’s a saying that goes something like, “No one is entitled to waste another person’s time.” And it’s true. Whenever there’s a chance that I’m going to run late on a delivery, I always make sure that they are well informed about the situation. We respect your time. I wish you can respect ours too.

And lastly, your client says,

“You were referred to me by <insert name of existing client, friend or acquaintance>, can I get a discount?”

DISCOUNTS


Then I ask in my head, “Ummm... why?”

My only exception for discounts is if they are a regular client. However, there are times when I just can’t afford to give one. When that happens, I offer something for free, like a box of cupcakes, cookies, or anything that I’d like to promote. I think of it as a gift of good will while being an investment for their possible next order.

I understand that most clients aren’t aware that there are more hours spent on making a cake than actually eating it.  We pour in blood, sweat and tears (not literally, of course) to make sure their cake looks good that sometimes after everything’s done, we think to ourselves, “You know what, I should have charged more for this.” And we didn’t and never did. Yet, some still complain about the price.

Whenever I get discouraged, I tend remember something a businessman once told me during the early days of my baking:

“Never charge less than what you really deserve.”

He’s right. They are not just paying for some simple cake, they are paying for your skill, knowledge and most importantly, your hard work as well.

I love what we do but no matter how much you look at it, it’s art. A-R-T. Not just a piece of cake. 

Our 5ft. tall Alice in Wonderland Cake ordered by one of our regular clients.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Larisse is a full-time foodie, blogger and professional cakemaker. She makes a living making personalized cakes in Paranaque as the founder and co-owner of CANVAS Cake Studio. She blogs to relax and express her thoughts in her website: Larisse Gastronomique. She’s also known for her love of cheese and weird appreciation of odd humor.

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Kimchiladas

2:44:00 PM Larisse Espinueva 0 Comments

Who would have thought Korean and Mexican cuisine can go surprisingly well together? They did! Located along the busy street of Dona Soledad, Better Living is where you can get your quick Kor-Mex fix. 

Beef Kimchi Quesadilla (P180)
The kimchi adds just the right amount of kick to the beef quesadilla.



Beef Bulgogi Wrap (P165) Generous amount of beef. I love how you can enjoy their bulgogi on a wrap too and not just with rice.





KorMex Submarine Sandwich (P115)The winning ingredient of this sandwich were the mangoes. It added a tangy-sweetness that complemented the beef and veggies. The bread can use a bit of improvement as it was too heavy and dry.



Beef Stew (P170)
The best out of everything we tried! The beef was full of flavor and well-cooked.


Beef Bulgogi (P130)
Tender and well-seasoned beef.



Bibimbap (P110)
Bibimbap is bibimbap! Liked this too!



Affordability and the convenient location are more reasons why you should try this place if you're looking for either a decent quick bite or a satisfying full meal. :)


KIMCHILADAS
161-A Regina Building Doña Soledad Avenue
Better Living Subdivision
(Beside Paranaque Doctors Hospital and Lemon Nail Spa)
0998 229 4099
Parañaque

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Travel Eats: Bohol Bee Farm

11:37:00 AM Larisse Espinueva 0 Comments


Bohol Bee Farm is a must go-to on your itinerary when you’re in Bohol. Although we were not able to tour the whole place, their food itself already gave them a great impression. Reasonably priced too!

For starters, they offered a complimentary Bread and Cassava Chips and Dip Platter. If my guess is right, inside the ramekin is a cucumber Parmesan dip. Next are the honey and the pesto spread.



Organic Garden Salad
10/10
SUPER YUM. HEALTHY. EDIBLE FLOWERS. YES. ORDER THIS.



Honeyglazed Chicken

> Chicken – 8/10
Two points less for the slight lack in flavor on the chicken meat. The honey glaze was amazing.

> Cassava Lumpia – 10/10
Wow. The only lumpia I enjoy is the fried pork lumpia my Lola makes but since Bohol Bee Farm offers healthy organic food, there is no way to compare. The peanut paste inside the Cassava Lumpia is what won me over.  It had a pleasant taste with a smooth texture.

> Red Rice – 4/10?
Maybe it’s just my rice preference but I was never a fan of red rice. It’s a mouthful to chew and rough to swallow. However, I do commend them for the serving.  It might not look a lot but it felt so heavy to finish.



Grilled Squid
10/10
‘Perfect’ is a strong word and yet it is the best word to describe it. I’m not even exaggerating, it was perfectly cooked. Tender and soft.



Spare Ribs7/10
Great flavor and tenderness of the pork. There's really nothing bad to say about this 
entrée but it was not the highlight of the night. 



Don’t forget to try their best-selling Lemon Grass Juice! Tasted so refreshing after the whole day tour!




The happy diners, Justin and Tita Carol the birthday girl! JJJ



Overall, great dinner to end the day!




………. Oh wait… what’s this?

HOMEMADE ICE CREAM!



Right outside their Pasalubong shop is their homemade ice cream stall.



Here's a recap of the flavors we tried:

Guyabano 10/10
Avocado 10/10
Dragon Fruit 7/10
Salted Honey 8/10
Malunggay 9/10
Spicy Ginger. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. They were not kidding about the spiciness! Too overwhelming!



Can’t wait to go back and explore more of what they have to offer!


BOHOL BEE FARM 
Dao, Dauis Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines
+63 38 502 2288
5AM-10PM

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Quick Bite at Rodrigo's Roast Beef

5:42:00 PM Larisse Espinueva 0 Comments

Owned by Rodrigo, I assume. I might not have much info and story behind the owner but one thing I know for sure is that he knows his beef! If you’re protein-craving but don’t want to go over budget, this place is worth your money. 

Bossman's Meal (P328)
100g Angus Roast Beef
Quarter Chicken
3 Solid Sides



Both the Angus Roast Beef and Quarter Chicken are tender and well-seasoned. For our sides, we chose the Creamed Spinach, Mashed Potato and Side Salad. The sides are a stand out on their own. The creamed spinach was good, the mashed potato delivered in flavor, and the side salad tasted fresh thanks to the crunchy greens.

Side Salad (Part of Bossman's Meal)


Roast Beef Manwich (P148)




Same roast beef was used for the sandwich. Could have been better if the bread was more toasted inside since the meat was drenched in gravy. Macaroni salad was, well, macaroni salad.

Considering the inviting atmosphere and good food, there's no doubt for another visit.


RODRIGO'S ROAST BEEF
21 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Paranaque City
(Right across The Pergola)
6pm -12mn - Mon-Fri
11am-10.30pm Sat-Sun
(02) 501 0584
(0917) 391 1194

0 comments :

Five Things I Love About Café IF

4:04:00 PM Larisse Espinueva 0 Comments

Café IF has recently become one of my favorite cafes over the past few months.  For people like me who can only work productively outside, it’s safe to say you’d like this place too.

1. Injeolmi Bingsu
Good for two for only P240! You can even ask for extra injeolmi powder free of charge. Even without the request for extra topping, they still put a generous amount not just on the outside but in the bottom too even with the other flavors. The strawberry bingsu is also a must try!




2. Sandwiches
Who would have thought corn kernels work so well on a Ham and Cheese Sandwich (P80)? Their Egg Sandwich (P100) is good too! Both these sandwiches come with free iced tea.

Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Egg Sandwich

3. Ambience and Interior
If the lack of personal space is a big pet peeve for you, you won’t have any issues here. The café itself occupies the whole second floor of the building. The space in between chairs and tables are wide enough for you to embrace your inner introvert self away from the other diners.


4. Fast Internet, Outlets and Seating
Having a good number of power outlets and seats available give a welcoming feel for the diners to work in their café. You won’t feel the pressure to leave after a few hours. Wi-Fi is great too! I nearly finished working on my website without any disconnect.


And finally….

5. The Tita Dates
This place is also good for long catch-ups with your girlfriends right after your lunch date. Go ahead and talk about all the chismis you want. As I have said earlier, the spacing is good in between diners. Indistinct conversations is all you’ll hear from them.


With all this love for Café If, I would greatly love them more if they added more meal options. Most people stay from morning ‘til the afternoon. It would be good business for them to offer rice and pasta in the future.


CAFE IF
Second Floor, GLT Building, Presidents Avenue, BF Homes, Paranaque City
10am-11pm
(02) 834 1154
(0927) 794 3070

0 comments :

BF Homes: Kantori Yakitori

1:56:00 PM Larisse Espinueva 1 Comments

I have this theory that when you put any food on a stick it becomes more appealing and enjoyable to eat. From street food and kebabs to cake pops and now pies (yeaah, some people make lolli-pies now), I think a lot can agree on this. 

Creativity and passion for food is what I tasted in Kantori Yakitori. Perfectly grilled meat and veggies on skewers is their main focus. Sticks are sold individually at very affordable and reasonable prices. Hesitating to order more is not really an issue, fitting all of those food in one sitting is. Haha! It's a smart choice to bring at least 2-3 people with you if you're planning to try most of it.

Sushi Fireball (P58)
Kimchi. Cheese. Nori. Kewpie

The cheese and the kewpie balanced out the spicy kick of the kimchi rice. The nori was a great complement.



Tsukene (Meatball) (P58) and Saikoro Beef Japan (P148)

I have to be honest, the meatball was weird or maybe I am just not familiar with the concept but the meatball itself had an odd flavor nor did it improve with the sauce.

The beef was amazing. First glance, you would think it might resemble the heavenly wagyu sticks of Kikufuji but it is most certainly not fair to compare. It's totally different. Just think of them as brothers-from-another-mother kind of thing.



Yummymono Sampler (P258)
Butabara (Pork Belly) -- formerly Rib eye according to their menu, Asparabacon, Shitake, Quail Eggs and Tofu Tempura

There could have been another stick of meat since they did replace rib eye with butabara which was way cheaper. Taste-wise, everything was well-cooked and seasoned nicely. Can't get enough of those Bonito Flakes.



Kamameshi (P60)
Chicken. Carrots. Leeks. Furikake
(no photo)

The fried rice was okay. I might not have given it much appreciation considering all the different flavors of everything we ate.

Okonomiyaki (P148)Bacon. Cabbage. Kewpie. Bonito Flakes


And last but not the least, the king of all isaws there is...

Shiro (Instestines) (P48)
Neatly flattened intestines on stick garnished with a line of kewpie. Even for someone who is not a fan of isaw will become one (me!). It felt so clean and full of flavor!



*BUUURRPP*

Don't forget to spot those samurais holding yakitoris on their eye-catching mural!
Happy eating!


KANTORI YAKITORI
51 Aguirre Ave., BF Homes Paranaque
(formerly Charbroiled Burgers near tirona gate)
(02) 358 90 79



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Larisse is a full-time foodie, blogger and professional cakemaker. She makes a living making personalized cakes in Paranaque as the founder and co-owner of CANVAS Cake Studio. She blogs to relax and express her thoughts in her website: Larisse Gastronomique. She’s also known for her love of cheese and weird appreciation of odd humor.

1 comments :

Quality + Comfort Found in Kettle

9:09:00 PM Larisse Espinueva 0 Comments

If you think Kettle is one of those hyped up, overpriced restaurants, well you are very wrong. So very wrong.

I've been browsing through my Instagram feed and have been seeing quite a number of people trying this place. Lucky enough, they have a newly opened branch in Newport mall that's near us. With all the new restaurants popping up here and there, there must be a damn good reason this place isn't new on IG anymore.

Here's why...

CLAM CHOWDER (P259)
Probably one of the best I've tasted so far. Creamy and cheesy soup, not much clams though but super good nonetheless. The sourdough bread is the winning element. It's so rare to find a bread bowl you can actually eat with gusto. The crust might not be as crusty for a sourdough bread but the bread itself is soft and tasty! It's like it was born for that soup!



MAC & FOUR CHEESE (P289)
"Cheddar. Fontina. Gruyere. Parmesan. Bacon."
They had me at CHEESE. I have an immense love for anything that has cheese and especially four kinds of it in one plate!



LAMB ADOBO (P499)
What's funny that night was, the lamb was so delicious and tender that I forgot it was adobo. The tzatziki sauce and cherry tomatoes were perfect with it.



For comfort food that uses noticeably high quality ingredients, the price is not so bad. You're being thrifty if you think the price isn't reasonable. Just looking at their interior and location, it's not cheap.



So for my next order, I'm already eyeing that Baked Brie, Smoked Salmon Salad, and Buttermilk Fried Chicken!


KETTLE
SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City
02 8873564
Shangri-La Plaza, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City
02 6547077
Eastwood Mall, Libis, Quezon City
02 6618962
Resorts World Manila, Newport City, Pasay City
02 8050409  /  02 8050410

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