Kiku – A new and exciting Japanese food spot near UST

Kiku – A new and exciting Japanese food spot near UST

I’ve always wanted to eat affordable Japanese food when I was still a student in UST.

It’s just almost 1 year after graduation that this awesome place sprouted up in the water-logged town of Espanya. It was exciting that we were able to try it out.

Kiku or Chrysanthemum was taken from the emperor’s seal which is also based on the original Chrysanthemum flowers.

The simple yet spacious one-story establishment along Espana is dressed with wooden chairs and tables, and a long counter at the left side where orders are taken. The menu has various choices- Ramen, Donburi, Salads, Gyoza, Maki, Katsu, Dimsum and even Milktea!

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Affordable Japanese food

We appreciate the fusion of modern minimalism with traditional Japanese atmosphere. This was achieved with white walls and wooden furniture. This created an authentic modern-Japanese feel for the place.

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Minimal Japanese Atmosphere

The samurai and the shrimp

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Perfect fusion of Shrimp and Salad

One of the highlights was the tempura. It was good on its own but when eaten together with the salad it will take you for a good ride. The crunchiness of the salad compliments the tempura as the shrimp flavors burst when you take a bite. The soy sauce also easily compliments the shrimp on its own.

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Tempura (Php 90.00)

“I can imagine a highly skilled Japanese samurai cutting the pieces of the vegetables to be as crunchy as it is.”

Espanya is flooded… with Ramen?

When talking about Japanese food and culture, Ramen easily becomes part of the conversation. I remember watching Naruto when I was still a “totoy” watching Naruto eat ramen with his comrades made me feel hungry. I had been fond of Ramen since then, just like Naruto (the protagonist of the story).

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Emperor Ramen

They offer Ramen with two kinds of broths, shoyu and miso. Both topped with slices of pork. The noodles are neither too hard nor too soggy. Their Ramen comes in three sizes Kiku (Php 65), Prince (Php 75), and Emperor (Php 85). We recommend trying one of their Ramen together with Gyoza (Php 45). The gyozas are a steal for its price, with a winning soft filling and crunchy wrap.

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Gyoza (Dimsum and Dumpling)

The Ramen Kiku serves makes the top choices for me considering the budget range it’s in. Students can now enjoy a bowl of hot Ramen after experiencing the cold chills of a thesis defense or a mid-exam mind-block.

That tender porky goodness

Man! Even as I write this, I can still taste the juicy and tender pork cuts they served us. I have tried many a Japanese-themed restaurants and rarely do I come upon a place that gets the meat-cooking accurately right.

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Oyagudon and Katsudon (Php 90.00)

This goes for both the ramen and the pork Donburi. Their sauces also easily compliment their dishes. The great combinations hint on the time spent for trying things out and getting the flavors to play in a glorious harmony inside your mouth.

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(Tofu Itame Php 65.00)

More than the food

Ramen, Donburi and Milk Tea

You definitely have to try their Milk Tea, we recommend the Okinawa and Hokaido flavors. Sipping the cold drinks made me feel like I’m visiting the Japanese provinces they were named after.

Japanese plus Milk Tea equals a chill afternoon with friends. Kiku also handles reservations for meeting and other events. Kiku is located just below Dormus making it easily accessible for any Japanese food enthusiast.

The journey begins with a single step

We had the chance to chat with Mr. Erol Bautista, manager of the place. He told us about their vision for the restaurant -”To be able to create more food choices and to provide a more exciting experience for diners”. This includes being able to fully air-condition the place.

Mr. Erol tells us the story of how his brother, Ericson Bautista, who was a chef in Japan conceptualized Kiku and did all the logistics of bringing Japanese culture and food to the students of Ubelt.

A future Japanese Empire in the streets of Espanya

Kiku is definitely one of the budget friendly food spots you can find around the town. The quality of the food is a steal for its price. The Japanese modern-Japanese atmosphere will definitely make you stay, while a bowl of ramen and a cup of milk tea will make you come back. They are open from 9am to 11pm during school season, and 11am to 11pm during summer. Also, they are open for reservations if you have any events and meetings.

We can easily see Kiku being a popular hot spot for students and any otaku out there. Not only were they able to achieve the whole Japanese vibe, they were also able to deliver quality Japanese food for a student budget. Kiku is becoming a modern Japanese empire in the streets of Espanya.

Itadakimasu!

Have you tried Kiku? Share to us your experience in the comments section below!

HILLCREST WELLNESS CAFE – Coffee and Peace of cakes for the Soul

HILLCREST WELLNESS CAFE – Coffee and Peace of cakes for the Soul

Have you ever needed a peaceful place to sort out your life? Or maybe Rush ahead of deadlines?

Well we found a cozy warm café in Maghinhawa and its called Hillcrest Wellness Café. It sits comfortably at 48 Malingap Street, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City.

Once you go inside you will see the counter displaying their decadent cakes and the wide selection of coffee listed just above it. To your right, you will find a bookshelf lined up with well-kept books for your browsing.

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The baristas are all smiles as we enter and in our book a smiling barista is a great big check mark! If you’re having a hard time deciding between the scrumptious-sounding selections, no worries, they can give you suggestions on what you can order.

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Couches are available if you want to just sit back, relax and enjoy your coffee but if you’re looking to getting things done, straight chairs can also be found for a more focused experience. I can imagine myself in both scenarios. One is just to read a good book with a warm coffee to keep me company, and the other, working passionately with a cold sweet frap to back me up.

WHAT MAKES THE PLACE DIFFERENT

Hillcrest Wellness Café offers a combination of peaceful and relaxing vibe which can also be a modern work environment.

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The place is also an art-strung den of creativity that can definitely motivate an artist. You can find different motivational quotes as well as faithful verses in one big part of their wall.

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Due to popularity, mainstream cafes and restaurants produce an almost claustrophobic experience. Coupled with the buzzing of people and clanking of plates being served, most coffee shops can’t provide that environment that certain people need–a relaxed and comfortable work place.

Hillcrest Wellness Café maintains a comforting silence. Soft music can be heard in the background, just enough to balance out the silence and overall give a light atmosphere.

Although we didn’t have the chance to meet the owner of the place, we can definitely feel the passion and faith they had placed in setting up the place. This is one of the rare places that you can really say was built out of love.

CAKES, COFFEE AND GOOD FEELINGS ALL AROUND

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Cappuccino Frap

We’ve tried their blueberry cheesecake and taking a bite out of it feels like having a soft explosion of happiness inside your soul. We ordered a vanilla Frap to balance out the sweetness of the cake and it all turned out as a blissful experience. You can also check more food reviews in our food and dining section.

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We also recommend trying their Mango Cheesecake, it’s a different flavor adventure on it’s own together with a Cappucino Frap.

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Herb Pesto

The Herb Pesto was flavorful and a great choice if you prefer a heavier meal than the cakes.

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Taste Card Philippines gave us a 10% discount which was really awesome. If you plan to frequent amazing places like Hillcrest Wellness Cafe like us, you should definitely get a Taste Card. You can check more of their perks in their official website linked here.

For our personal experience, we can definitely say that Hillcrest Wellness Café is a haven for artists, soul-searchers and dream-chasers alike. Not only can you delight in the serenity of the place, the warm bright colors of the art but you can also indulge in the blissful experience of their pastry and the warm hugs of their coffee.

Are you planning to visit Hillcrest Wellness Café? What do you think of the place? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

You can check out other awesome restaurants that we visited in Maginhawa:

The Wicked Bulalo and a Photography themed cafe.

Gino’s Brick oven pizza: Pizzas, Pasta, and Nutella Soup!

Gino’s Brick oven pizza: Pizzas, Pasta, and Nutella Soup!

 

Gino’s brick oven pizza is one of the restaurants I’ve been wanting to try. Its flagship at Katipunan from mine is quite distant and so I can’t manage to visit the place, but it’s just funny that my feet led me to their Makati branch, which is much farther from where I live to have my own Gino’s brick experience.

Gino's brick oven pizza, pizzeria, food, pasta, Gino's makati, Gino's katipunan

Gino’s brick oven pizza is a Neapolitan inspired pizzeria from Katipunan, owned by Jutes Templo, Bryan Tan, and Michael Cruz who were buddies way back their college life. If you happen to know Cello’s doughnut adjacent to Gino’s brick restaurant at Katipunan, Jute’s wife owns that which is named after her- Cello, and if you are wondering who Gino is, he is Jute’s and Cello’s 4 year old son. I say thank you to their staff who educated us about the hidden mickey in Gino’s and Cello’s.

Gino's brick oven pizza, pizzeria, food, pasta, Gino's makati, Gino's katipunan

Gino's brick oven pizza, pizzeria, food, pasta, Gino's makati, Gino's katipunan

The branch in Makati seems spacious enough for me since we were there at around 3pm, a good thing because if you happen to be there at around lunch, the place is normally jazzed up with their diners plus a line of customers waiting for their turn. Needless to say that it has become the darling of Salcedo Village. Upon stepping in, the “Gino’s brick oven pizza” logo stamped on their wall (from a distance), welcomed us.  The interior, from the hanged framed photos, brick designed walls, and lights which are hanged down from the ceiling gave us a cozy atmosphere.

Gino's brick oven pizza, pizzeria, food, pasta, Gino's makati, Gino's katipunan

 

Gino's brick oven pizza, pizzeria, food, pasta, Gino's makati, Gino's katipunan

In our stay, we ordered their best sellers, SMEGG pizza, Salted Egg Pasta, and Nutella soup for our dessert. The SMEGG pizza was really great! A 12 inch thin crust topped with sausage, mushroom, Gouda, eggs, and cream. We were fooled because we thought that it is some kind of a light-weighted pizza but wait and behold, just after 2-3 slices I can’t afford to finish up our Salted Egg pasta. So if you are really raving for something to eat, and you happen to be right in the front door steps of Gino’s, then go grab their SMEGG pizza and their very own Gino’s sweet chili honey- a good partner in crime for their pizzas! I asked if they have any honey for sale but they don’t anymore. (I hope I can afford to sneak out just one but I can’t).

Gino's brick oven pizza, pizzeria, food, pasta, Gino's makati, Gino's katipunan, ,SMEGG, Salted  Egg

 (SMEGG, Salted Egg Pasta, Gino’s spicy sweet honey)

Gino's brick oven pizza, pizzeria, food, pasta, Gino's makati, Gino's katipunan, ,SMEGG, Salted  Egg

(SMEGG Php 420.00)

Gino's brick oven pizza, pizzeria, food, pasta, Gino's makati, Gino's katipunan, ,SMEGG, Salted  Egg

(Salted Egg Pasta Php 190.00)

The Salted Egg was something new to our palate, never though that it is possible to have it served as a pasta. The pasta has the right creaminess and texture with a kick of salted egg on the side which makes it for me unforgettable. It is some kind of a Filipino version of carbonara.

Gino's brick oven pizza, pizzeria, food, pasta, Gino's makati, Gino's katipunan, ,SMEGG, Salted  Egg, nutella soup

(Nutella Soup Php 180.00)

Yes you heard it right, Nutella Soup (they even have chocolate chicharon as a dessert! I wonder how it tastes like). I am not an avid fan of Nutella, I can’t lick clean a Nutella jar because we don’t have one but a Nutella soup?! Surely I can. I like their bizarre approach to it. The bowl containing the Nutella is made of dough with nuts sprinkled on top. So it’s your choice how you will consume it, either tear a part of the dough, just enough for the soup not to spill then dip it in the soup (like what we did), or just have it the usual way.

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 (The Team)

Our Gino’s visit didn’t stop from the interior and food. We were able to talk to their crew and ask more about Gino’s brick oven pizza. We asked for their best dishes and they recommended, Buffalo Chicken, Bianca Verde, and Bacon Gouda. They also shared to us that they recently won Manila’s new Pizzeria! Well, they do deserve it, they make the best pizzas in town! After the spontaneous question and answer with them they invited us to their kitchen, and I tell you, the brick oven is real. They’ve got two customized brick oven, and it’s a privilege for us to have a look at it.

Gino's brick oven pizza, brick oven, pizza, pasta, pizzeria, makati, katipunan

After the long wait I have finally tried this place, and I must say that Gino’s brick oven pizza deserves all the applause it’s been receiving from the food-lover folks. Everything is good, from the place, food, up to their approachable crew! So go and check out their place at Katipunan and Salcedo Makati.Message them and reserve a seat!

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ginosbrickovenpizza

Address: Katipunan 2F 341 Katipunan Ave. Loyola Heights QC (above mercury drug), 1108 Quezon City

Address: Bautista, Makati, Kalakhang Maynila

The Burger Company: We try to bring you the world through our burgers

The Burger Company: We try to bring you the world through our burgers

When it comes to burger satisfaction you’ll see various burger places standing tall in the metro, from the simplest burger stations to massive burger restaurants you’ll surely have one pick of where to have your burger cravings! The Burger Company located at Scout Reyes corner Mother Ignacia Street, the reborn of the old Boulevard Diner is where I’ve found my gastronomical  solution – one of the best burger joints that can be found in Manila.

burger company, burgers, burger q.c.

 

The Burger Company welcomed us with the hand doodled colorful monsters in their walls. Upon stepping in, you’ll see the interior fairly simple with just a splash of red and yellow vibe, and a shelf filled with post-its from their various diners. They also have board games which you can play with your friends while having your own delectable burgers.  The place is spacious so you can definitely invite a bunch of your friends.

burger company, burgers, burger q.c.

 

burger company, burgers, burger q.c.

 

The Burger experience was really great. They offer really great burgers! We ordered Striker Burger (one of the best sellers) and from the bun to the right cooked patty and to the melting cheese, it definitely hit our hunger satisfaction. They also recommended Gorgonzola and Mushroom, and Green Chile classic. We also ordered their chicken wings with firefighter’s pride sauce. They have four sauces to choose from, New York Classic, Firefighter’s pride, El Nino, and Global Warming, good thing we didn’t dare to try Global Warming! The firefighter’s Pride has really kicked us out from our chairs and awakened our taste buds! We also had their Nachos Overload, and their Vanilla Milkshake. If you want something to put out the fire in your tongue then you have to grab their must-try Milkshake served thick and cold.

burger company, burgers, burger q.c., striker burger

 

Striker Burger single patty (Php 249.00)

 burger company, burgers, burger q.c., buffalo wings

Bufallo Wings with Firefighter’s Pride sauce ( Medium weight Php 210.00)

 burger company, burgers, burger q.c., nachos overload

Nachos Overload (Php 235.00)

burger company, burgers, burger q.c., vanilla milkshake

Vanilla Milkshake (Php 130.00)

We got the chance to talk to one of its owner, Mr. Alvin Ong of operations and he shared to us that they’ve been in the business for around one and a half years. The concept of burgers and board games (owned by Mr. Francis co-owner) is something they tried that fortunately clicked. They have observed that the diners who stayed up 3-4 hours playing board games seem to consume more than the regular ones, and so they thought it is a good thing to have burgers and board games in one. It only requires you a minimum order of Php 150.00 or just a burger to enjoy their unlimited board games. We had Ghosts Blitz as our game recommended by Mr. Alvin, a good reflex game for everyone.

burger company, burgers, burger q.c., board games

Burger Company is a must food spot that offers comfort food infused with culture that can really gratify your cravings. What makes them different from the others? It is their well-thought-of recipe for their various burgers, where everything started from scratch! As what Alvin quoted “We try to bring you the world through our burgers” So what to look forward from them? Expect more from their burgers and their upcoming Mystery Burger Festival this coming March! If you want to know what this Mystery Burger Festival is about, go check them at their Facebook Page- https://www.facebook.com/BurgerCompanyPH. Also, they have Acoustic sessions every Wednesdays and Comedy sessions during Thursdays (I guess I better save those days for some chill-outs). Having this tried out, I wouldn’t wonder why they are are considered as one of the best burger places in town. I can vouch that they really have great burgers that can be enjoyed with great company. I have added them to my list of favorites and so I recommend you should try them too!

 

 Address:

72 Scout Reyes cor. Mother Ignacia Ave.,

Telephone No.: (632) 949-2269

Operating Hours – 11 am to 10 pm daily

Boracay Island Food Guide: Seabreeze Café

Boracay Island Food Guide: Seabreeze Café

I was off on one of my excursions in the Island of Boracay when I got to finally try one of the most eye-catching food spots in the beach front.

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The Seabreeze Café and Restobar, this more than subtle food place has been catching my attention for a few times now, not only by the number of tourists that seems to be flocking the place but by the cool and ambient atmosphere it seems to be providing.

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From the front tables which I suggest anyone of you who would care to try, you can see the white sands, blue clouds and pristine waters of Boracay.

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The buffet they serve is really something. They provide a full course meal from different countries ensuring that their guests, whatever country they are from, would feel at home easily. Besides International Cuisine, they also give justice to local Filipino food.

For my visit I was able to try their food during breakfast time. Everything you can imagine for a full and complete breakfast can be found here.

You have bacon, ham and different kinds of meat.

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An egg station will also provide much needed protein. Omelets and fried eggs-Yum!

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Waffles

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Rice and different viands are also available

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Three containers churn out different kinds of cereal and of course milk

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They also have a variety of Kakanin (Filipino sticky rice dishes)

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Of course they also have fruits

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They offer different beverages

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They have a bread station that serves a large variety of bread. You can also heat your bread using this cool conveyer belt thing.

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The open area of the restaurant gives a cool and spacious feeling to the place. Imagine the wind from the sea blowing at you while you enjoy chomping down on your bacon.

I talked to Mr. Jay R, manager of the Seabreeze Café since 2007. He had given us an insight into the perspective of the Café to provide good food and quality service. The crew as I observed also keep a vibrant atmosphere within the place.

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Besides their breakfast buffet, they also offer other courses during lunch and dinner. Their rates are as follow:

  • Breakfast – Php 488.00, from 6:00 am to 10:00 am
  • Lunch – Php 549.00, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
  • Dinner – Php 756.00, from 6:00 pm to 10:00pm

Besides the great food, they also offer entertainment during dinner time with dancing and music. The peak season according to Mr. Jay R is during the months of October to January.

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There are cheaper alternatives if you’re on a tight budget but if you ever want a classy and heart full meal you should definitely try this buffet so… If you ever go spelunking in the island of Boracay and you suddenly have the craving for a full and happy stomach, I would definitely recommend the buffet of Seabreeze Café!

A visit to this place during meal time will definitely give you enough energy and refreshments for your Boracay Island adventure.

Have you ever been to Boracay? Share your experience to us in the comments section below!

Ludo Boardgame Bar and Cafe: Over 600 boardgames to play

Ludo Boardgame Bar and Cafe: Over 600 boardgames to play

Well there’s no other good place to have tabletop lifestyle than Ludo Board games Bar and Cafe, together with your friends, family, best bud or special someone, Ludo can vouch for an all-day fun dine in experience.

The hustle and bustle Scouts of Quezon City is the home of Ludo: Board games Bar and Cafe (Scout Torillo corner Scout Fuentebella). I went their together with my sister and arrived later than our reservation time. It’s just a good thing that we made a reservation way before because the place was jazzed up with diners and competitive players when we came.The place is spacious and fitting for more than 30 patrons, so feel free to tag along as many friends as you can!

Ludo

The word Ludo is the Latin term of “play” and opened their doors in March of 2014. The restaurant is owned by 6 board game enthusiasts who came up with the concept and who also personally owns some of the board games that you will see piled up in the shelves. With their interior, you’ll see their walls covered with huge paintings inspired by the Dixit board game. Well, I bet they’ve asked its publisher to blow up and turn some of it into paintings for their walls. They’ve got over 600 games to play so you’ve got tons to choose from.

ludo boardgame
 
 
ludo boardgame cafe and bar

For the food, you can actually have their signature drinks or any of their Donburi rice bowls. We ordered Tonkatsu (Php 195.00), Katsudon (Php 195.00), Nachos (Php 250.00), and Vanilla Milkshake (Php 185.00). I do recommend that you order an appetizer especially the Nachos! It is a must! It is good for 2-3 persons, so while you are waiting for your orders you can have their nachos to start up the game with your friends

ludo nachos

Nachos (Php 250.00)

Ludo katsudon

Katsudon (Php 195.00)

tonkatsu

Tonkatsu (Php 195.00)

ludo donburi rice bowls

Donburi Rice Bowls

We played 3 board games, Dobble, it is a game of speed, object and reflex where in you race to find that identical object you see in your card and with the given card from the deck. TocToc Woodman, a dexterity game like Jenga. Your objective is to peel of the bark from the trunk using two hits with an axe. And Blokus, a strategic game where you get to play with tetris blocks. Your goal is to place as much as possible all your blocks in the set, and whoever has the lesser blocks left wins. Honestly, we really don’t know how to play those games, but they have an approachable crew who has long patience and willing to teach you of how the game is played. And if you don’t have any game in mind, no sweat, they will suggest games for you! If ever you’re interested with the games and want to have one to share with your other friends,you can buy it from them.

dobble boargame, ludo

Dobble

toctoc woodman, ludo boardgame

Toc Toc Woodman

ludo boardgame, blockus

Blokus

Ludo Boardgame Bar and Cafe is really a good place for friends and game enthusiasts. It is a place where some friendships might end because no one wants to leave without winning a game, which almost happened to us (just kiddin’) and also a place for some chill-outs and fun. I remember Martin, one of the staff, shared to me that they rarely have the usual board games (i.e. Monopoly, Scrabble) they go for the games that are not locally seen in the market that’s why I guess you’ll keep on coming back because there’s really a whole lot to play and to choose from. Also, I asked why they opted to have a board game theme and atmosphere for Ludo rather than the usual ones, and he said ‘It wasn’t for the restaurant why their is Ludo. It was actually for the board games. The owners want to share their games to the people and for them to enjoy that’s why they come up with Ludo’ 

Address: Scout Fuentebella Street Corner Scout Torillo,Sacred Heart, Quezon City

Website: http://www.ludogames.ph

Email: info@ludogames.ph

Contact: 0920 921 8482

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ludogamescafe/