30 January 2014

新年快乐 2014: Welcoming the Year of the Horse

The Year of the Horse is almost here. As you all know, we celebrate Chinese New Year here in the Philippines because most of us are either Chinese-Filipinos or have at least some drop of Chinese blood in our veins. Or because everything Chinese is just oh-so-good! So for those who love to celebrate the New Year with our fellow Chinese-Filipinos, let me share with you 10 Must-Try restaurants that serve Chinese in the metro, in no particular order of course. 

1. Tasty Dumplings

Tasty Dumplings is located along Ongpin Street in Binondo, Manila. They serve your usual noodles and dumplings, but their best-seller (at least for me) is their big Porkchop Rice. I'm not even sure if this is part of authentic Chinese cuisine but it's good, inexpensive, and really big. The kuchay dumplings are worth mentioning too. 

2. Suzhou

After visiting China in 2008 and trying my very first soup dumpling or what is now more popularly known as xiao long bao, I fell in love. One of the best xiao long baos I've ever tasted before Lugang and Shi Lin came along was from Suzhou. With a limited budget, I had to find a reasonable place to eat at in Promenade and guess what? I discovered Suzhou. Aside from their xiao long bao, they also serve delicious hot and sour soup. And the best part is, their products are priced reasonably and their servings, big. One serving of hot and sour soup will cost you P75 but it's big enough for two people (if you're hungry) or three (if you're having it as it is -- soup before dinner).

3. New Eastern Garden Restaurant

There's only one thing I can say about New Eastern -- LUMPIA! This is by far, the best source of fresh lumpia I have ever been to. The small serving is enough to satisfy any hungry person. It's full of vegetables, crushed peanuts, seaweed, and another ingredient unique to Amoy lumpias (I forget what they're called). The regular will cost you P40, P45 for the special; and P60-65 for the jumbo size.

4. Emperor's Dimsum and Tea House

Ah, my favorite xiao long bao place! Yes, I did mention Suzhou already but Emperor's has the perfect and closest xiao long bao to those that I had in 2008. Six pieces of those steamed, soupy dumplings for only P88. Yes, P88! My first serving of xiao long bao had 12 pieces and it only cost me 3 Yuan or roughly P18. It was so cheap and delicious that I started looking for it here in Manila, and Emperor's had the closest in price, flavor, and quantity. Their spareribs in taosi is also good. They actually have pretty good food for a relatively cheaper price (compared to the other Chinese restaurants along Wilson).

5. Lugang Cafe/Shi Lin

Two of the more popular restaurants that serve Taiwanese food (close enough to Chinese). I put them together because they pretty much serve the same dishes. Noodles in Spicy (or not) Peanut Sauce with Ground Meat. Yum! Lugang's Iced Pineapple Bubble Juice was so refreshing!

6. Gloria Maris

This one's a classic. One of the most common Chinese restaurants people go to. Their wide array of dishes is so hard to resist. I love their prawn salad and fried chicken! Plus, the "newly-renovated" Gloria Maris in Greenhills looks amazing. 

7. Ang Tunay na Beef

Another famous eatery in Binondo, Ang Tunay serves familiar Chinese dishes like steamed fish in taosi, steamed vegetables, and dumplings and fishball soup. It looks like a fancy carinderia with almost all the dishes behind a glass panel. Servings are good for two, and yes, that's just a bowl of rice on the picture. That's not the rice family platter. Something that doesn't sacrifice quality and quantity for the price. They also serve tea for free if you don't like water. 

8. Long Hai Restaurant

Quekiam! Kikiam used to be like fishball, only longer. Until I discovered what quekiam is to the Chinese. Long Hai is another restaurant hidden in one of the inner streets of Chinatown. They serve really good quikiam unlike the processed ones we normally see being sold in carts. Their beef noodles and qiampong are worth mentioning too. Servings are big for the price but the flavors are how it should be. The cup of qiampong is just P25, and the beef noodles is just P90. Yup, P90 for that big bowl full of noodles, beef cubes, vegetables, tofu, and tendon. 

9. North Park

Pinsec Frito from North Park's sister company (this is what pinsec frito looks like)

Another common Chinese restaurant that never fails to satisfy. I prefer my dumplings steamed, I was never a fan of fried dumplings but, North Park has the best pinsec frito and pinsec frito sauce. 'nuff said.

10. Dimsum Break

Our latest discovery, at least for us Manilenos, is Dimsum Break. It's a famous dimsum restaurant in Cebu that opened its first branch in Manila last year. It's not your typical Chinese restaurant because it serves more dimsum than short orders. Fresh dimsum is prepared and people line up, picking up whatever dimsum they want from the selection. If it's behind a glass panel, just tell the staff which one you like. Aside from their delicious dimsum and dumpling selection, they also serve really good fried rice. But, this isn't like your ordinary fried rice. Dimsum Break's fried rice is topped with a pork-shrimp-vegetable sauce. It's like a meal on it's own for the very low price of P68. All their dimsum are priced at P65.

I have more on my list because I love, love, love Chinese food but these are some of the restaurants you should try. Some are fancy, some are not. Some expensive, some are cheap, but I assure you, they all serve great Chinese dishes!

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! 大家新年快乐!

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