Quick Fix for Oriental Cravings

by: Mike Lord Raymundo

Tangy-Glazed Chicken Chunks in Manila

It’s supposed to be a fresh Saturday afternoon in Manila according to Siri yet we can’t withstand this scorching hot weather outside the city. I commonly spent this day with two particular friends.

We are really desirous to delight ourselves with new dishes today so we like to do it here. This fancy Asian bistro with high ceiling and cool color tone façade caught our attention while we are about to start talking over fast food and pizza parlors.

Standing in front of the menu stand displayed before this shiny entrance glass door, a long list of Chinese characters with English translations is not really appetizing. But we consider this promising store as we stare at the photographs on the menu. In consensus, we enter this potential restaurant.

A receptionist with genuine smile assists us in a 4-seater table. It’s a great start for first timers. Not at least a second then, our dedicated wait staff named Sheila immediately grabbed 3 slim book-size menu and gracefully present it to us individually as she says “Good evening, sir” (addressing to us). Nod our heads as response to kind customer service.

We flip these clear-laminated pages of menu and few minutes had pass, we still have not picked our orders. So we decided to get a recommendation from the staff. She gets us into a certain page and showed us their promising combo-meal – For 198 Philippine peso or 4 US dollars, we have three orders of their best-seller item – called General Tso’s Chicken.

It says on the menu photo, it is has a generous serving of deep-fried chicken chunks glazed in sweet and tangy sauce comes with unlimited cups of steamed white rice, a tall glass of Iced tea, and an egg-drop kind of soup. As for starters, we have two types of Dimsum – Hakaw (Shrimp dumpling) and their Japanese-style Siomai that is both good for 2 servings.

“Geez, this is a good catch”, said Mark, in excitement as he sips his cup of house tea served by another wait staff. I am also positive with his statement because I like the store’s minimalistic approach to design. Warm color tone, check. High-rise ceiling, check. Well ventilated restaurant, check. It already set my mood for big appetite and, yeah, I am ready for the unlimited rice meal. So bring it on!

In about 10 minutes, starters have arrived. Hot steam escaped through the lids as Sheila uncovers it. I used their orange plastic chopsticks and dipped a piece of Hakaw into soy sauce and oil-dried chili concoction. As I expected, this is an unusual Hakaw taste. This feels fresh, flavorful, and seasoned seafood dumpling. This is a solid appetizer. Same as goes with the Japanese-style pork Siomai. These bite-sized creatures are one of the best in town.

I intend to make more because I like condiments; it supplements the food. More chilies and lemon drops.

In just about another 10 minutes, here comes our main course. Sheila, being an enthusiastic server, is really doing a great service. She describes the dish in a way we want to stop her from talking and chomp those tangy-glazed chicken chunks. To our surprise, we have discovered the best marinated, tender, and savor cuts of chicken in town (as to our experience).

It should be great with more cups of rice, I suppose, so I quickly requested for another batch of cups. While sipping this ice-cold red tea makes me think that we are too young to taste the goodness of Asia. The soup is just alright. Warm, creamy, yet not so palatable to our conscious taste buds.

“This is for our brotherhood”, I happily say as I slowly lift a cup of a warm tea while my mouth is chewing the flavors of Chinese culture.

In total, we consumed 16 cups of rice, 4 each. 8 glasses of iced tea.  Happy. Satisfying. Thinking of returning here for a better bonding with Oriental food.

As Sheila say “Xie Xie” upon leaving, we also praise the restaurant Chef for recreating a chicken dish that is best shared for brotherhood who desires world peace.