Tim Ho Wan (HK and PH)

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Tim Ho Wan (G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Hong Kong, China (Sham Shui Po))

Date visited: November 2013

What we ate:

Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (~HK$20), Steamed Rice with Chicken Feet and Spareribs (~$HK20), Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumpling (~HK$25), Glutinous Rice Dumpling (~HK$25), Tonic Medlar and Petal Cake (~HK$10) (~PhP600 total)

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Tim Ho Wan (G/F, SM Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall)

Date visited: May 2014

What we ate:

Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (~PhP150), Steamed Egg Cake (~PhP90), Pork Dumpling with Shrimp (~PhP150), Glutinous Rice with Lotus Leaf (~PhP200), Mango Pomelo Sago (~PhP 80), Spinach Dumpling with Shrimp (~PhP120), Vermicelli Roll with Pig’s Liver (~PhP150)

 

Taste = 5/5 (HK & PH)

–          This post will be a little different from the others since we will be comparing the HK and PH branches of Tim Ho Wan, the world’s “cheapest” Michelin-starred restaurant. With every branching out of a restaurant, there is always the possibility of a change in the taste of the food because you can only import so much and eventually, local ingredients would have to be used, hence, a possible change in the taste. Thankfully, the Baked Buns (what they are known for) were just as delicious in the PH as they were in HK. The PH verison was just a little sweeter than the HK version but both have that salty, sweet, savory, umami, rich flavour from the bun to the pork filling. The bun has a slight crunch when you bite into it but the rest of the fluffy pastry crumbles in your mouth giving you a salty-sweet combination. The pork filling is just so yummy to describe but the taste is savory-sweet Chinese-style BBQ flavour and the pork is very delicate. This is the only dish that we agree should not be taken home/taken out. Instead, it should be eaten on the spot and is absolutely the best dimsum we’ve ever had.

 

The Vermicelli roll with Pig’s Liver needs special mention. We were expecting it to be really livery (and off-putting) but it was surprisingly not that livery because of the coriander and the steaming process, which made it very delectable.

 

The Glutinous rice dish tasted exactly the same for both the PH and HK versions. It was very filling too and had a lot of Chinese flavours in it.

 

The Spinach dumplings were very good. They put the perfect amount of spinach and shrimp in them that the result was amazingly good. The shrimps were soft and had that little sweetness that complimented the leafy and almost bitter taste of the spinach. Add in soy sauce and you have yourself the best seafood and veggie dumplings.

 

The Mango Pomelo Sago was yummy was well, the combination sounded odd to us but the result was good. The soup was mango-based and it had pomelo, mango and small sago (pearl/bubble) bits which turned out to be great together.

 

The rest of the dimsum were good though they weren’t really much different from those coming from the other Chinese restaurants in its class. One of the differences that we noticed was that the condiments were not readily available in the HK branch whereas in the PH branch, soysauce was on every table.

 

Service = 3/5 (HK) 4.5/5 (PH)

–          This was where we saw the major difference between the HK and PH branches. In the HK branch, the servers were more senior and were quite unfriendly but we think it’s because people are just expected to eat then leave there. Be warned: the wait on the queue in HK took us almost 2 hours. In the PH branch, the servers were younger and had that hospitable demeanour but they still moved as quickly as their HK counterparts. However, there is also a queue and from the looks of things, it’s just getting longer as the months pass. The good news is that the line moves much faster in the PH branch than in the HK branch.

 

Ambience = 3/5 (HK) 4.5/5 (PH)

–          This was also where the difference between the branches was evident. The PH branch is mall-based so the furnishings, air-conditioning and floor spacing were way better than the HK branch. Both have cramped dining areas but the atmosphere in the HK branch felt very confined.

 

Value for money = 5/5 (HK & PH)

–          The prices in HK are lower than the PH branch by 20-50+% depending on the dish. But considering the taste, quality, ambience and service of both branches, their prices are really a bargain.

 

We could only find their Singapore website (click here).

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Mandarin Sky Seafood & Shabu Shabu Restaurant (478 Banawe St cor Simoun St Sienna, Quezon City)

Date visited: September 2013

What we ordered:

Suahe, Stuffed Vegetable Roll and Buchi

 

Taste = 4/5

–          The Suahe (shrimps) was nicely cooked although I thought they were a bit too firm. Fortunately, the sizes of the shrimp were larger than usual. Both Lyn and I thought that the dipping sauce tasted more like tempura dipping sauce which we didn’t particularly like for suahe. We prefer a sour-salty and a little spicy dipping sauce. The Vegetable Roll tasted great. It was like good siomai (pork and shrimp dumplings) wrapped in freshly blanched petchay. The accompanying sweet sauce was a little bland for us but when we dipped it in soy sauce with calamansi, the taste became much better. The meatiness was enhanced a lot and the vegetable wrap tasted better. The Buchi (spherical rice cake with a sweet bean paste in the core and sesame seed coating) was excellent probably one of the best that we have tasted. There was a thin crispy layer, then a second rice cake soft layer and finally, a warm sweet pasty core.

 

Service = 2.5/5

–          The servers were very courteous, smiled a lot and moved fast. The major problem was that it took an hour for our first dish to arrive (Suahe), 30 min more for the other dish (Vegetable Roll) and 15min more for the Buchi. In fairness to them, they warned us that the dishes we ordered took long to cook. However, they told us that we would only wait 20 min for the dishes but it took them more than an hour and a half to complete the orders and they were in instalments.

 

Ambience = 3/5

–          You could see from outside that this restaurant has a lot of patrons. Parking was hard and the waiting time was more than 15 min. The place was nice but the dining area was very crowded and everybody was just noisy. We’ve eaten at Chinese restaurants with even more diners but for some reason, it was just too noisy in the restaurant.

 

Value for money = 3/5

–          The quality and taste of the food were above average. The waiters were welcoming and were quick on their feet. What made us terribly disappointed were the poor cooking times and the atmosphere of disorder in the dining area.

I couldn’t find a website or Facebook page for this restaurant, Sorry.

Golden Fortune Seafood Restaurant (678 TM Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila)

PhotoGrid_1372910509996Date visited: July 2013

What we ordered:

Suahe, Crispy Squid, Halaan, Steamed Lapu-Lapu and YangChow Fried Rice

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          I have eaten at this place several times already but I don’t remember the food to have tasted this good. The Crispy Squid was cooked very well. The squid was on the spicy side and the meat was soft and not tough and chewy. The Halaan was just ok but the clams tasted fresh. The YangChow tasted above average. The Lapu-lapu was very fresh and the meat was very good. The sauce had a hint of sesame oil and really went well with the very fresh fish meat. The highlight of the dinner was the Suahe. The sizes of the shrimps were large and they were very fresh. The meat was soft but not mushy and the sauce in the heads tasted very good. The sour-salty sauce was just perfect.

 

Service = 5/5

–          The servers were very professional and it seemed that they have been doing their tasks since childhood. The dishes were served in good time and service was fast.

 

Ambience = 4/5

–          The restaurant looked clean and well-maintained but the other restaurants in its class have already made vast improvements.

 

Value for money = 4.5/5

–          The prices of the dishes were very reasonable. The dishes tasted very good and the freshness exceeded our expectations.

Click here for their Facebook page.

Tao Yuan Shark’s Fin & Seafood Restaurant (Upper Ground Level Al Fresco Area, Robinsons Magnolia)

PhotoGrid_1369930587722Date visited: May 2013

What we ate:

Szechuan Style Spicy Beef, Fried Squid Stuffed with Mashed Shrimp in Salt and Pepper, Hakaw, Chciken Feet and Fried Rice with Barbecued Pork and Garlic

Taste = 5/5

–          When I asked Lyn how the Spicy Beef tasted, she said it tasted like fast-food. I took a bite and I agreed that it tasted like fast-food beef but in a very good way. It was soft, burgery, a little sour, a little sweet and a little spicy … just great. The best dish was the fried squid with shrimp. Anytime you mix squid and shrimp together and cook it really well, it’s always a winner: fried sweet shrimp ball with a crispy but firm squid outer layer then dip it in good vinegar, yummy! The Hakaw (shrimp siomai) and Chicken Feet were good as well, very neatly presented and tasted very well. Lucky for us, the Fried Rice was the perfect complement to what we ordered. It added just the right amount of pork and garlic flavour that enhanced the other dishes’.

Service = 5/5

–          The servers were very attentive and made us feel that all of their attention was on us. They gave quick but warm service.

Ambience = 5/5

–          The restaurant’s dining area felt like an impressive Chinese banquet. It was well-lit, tables draped with good fabric, nice furnishings and utensils and the chairs were very nice. The only flaw was that the tables are not spaced far from each other so a little manoeuvring is needed to get around the place.

Value for money = 4.5/5

–          The prices were more expensive than what I expected but the taste, quality, service and ambiance certainly made up for the relatively high charges.

Click here for their website.

Lam Tin Tea House (30-U Banawe St. Cor Cuenco St. Brgy Sto. Domingo, Quezon City)

Lam Tin Tea HouseDate visited: May 2013

What we ate:

Suahe, Yang Chow Fried Rice, Chicken Siopao and Chicken Feet

 

Taste = 5/5

–          I haven’t eaten on all of the Chinese restaurants along Banawe but so far, Lam Tin has the best-tasting food in that street considering the prices. They also have the best Chicken Siopao, a chicken ball with a distinct taste wrapped inside very soft sweet bread then steamed to perfection. I loved the taste of the shrimp head sauce on the Suahe because they were very fresh. The shrimp meat was very soft and was almost like jelly. The dipping sauce, a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, green onion and chillies with some sugar, was superb. Their Yang Chow tasted like what great fried rice should taste. It was not oily at all, had a generous amount of shrimps and was seasoned very well. Their Chicken Feet here are Lyn’s favourite and she said they were very tender and was coated with a very tasty sauce.

 

Service = 5/5

–          The restaurant probably represents an old-school Chinese restaurant with even the owners and his children serving the customers. Even though I got sprayed on by saliva while talking to the server, we got fast service.

 

Ambience = 3.5/5

–          The place had basic furniture, basic comfort rooms and basic utensils. We felt that people were there for one purpose – to eat and then go home. That wasn’t really a problem since they serve great Chinese food.

 

Value for money = 5/5

–          Don’t let the picture fool you. The smallest Yang Chow rice serving could feed 3 people (5 females or 2 males) and their siopao comes in twos. Their food items are really priced properly.

Click here for their Facebook page.

Mr. Choi Kitchen (2nd Level Al Fresco, Robinson’s Magnolia)

Mr Choi KitchenDate visited: March 2013

What we ate:

Seafood and Sweet Corn Soup, Sweet and Sour Pork and Beef with Ampalaya

 

Taste = 3.5/5

–          The taste of the dishes was what you would expect in a Chinese restaurant. Nothing to really distinguish itself. The ampalaya was too bitter according to Lyn. The amount of rice was generous but the amount of the pork was too small. The soup was nice but the serving size was small.

 

Service = 4/5

–          The service was good. They were attentive and moved fast.

 

Ambience = 4/5

–          We decided to dine in the al fresco area and it was comfortable enough. The area was brightly lit and was not noisy.

 

Value for money = 3/5

–          The price they asked for was a bit too much considering the small serving sizes (except the rice servings).