Wilson’s Shy Niece Rests or Rants?

I don’t really want my second foodie post to be about Chinese restaurants.  Why?  Because Chinese restaurants, wherever you go, tend to be so generic.   Here’s some of their recognizable aspects.

  • has glass door with chimes on it.  A statuette of a dragon, a frog biting on a coin and/or a waving golden cat is the first thing you’ll see.
  • the walls of the restaurant are either panelled with mirrors or are decorated with Chinese artifacts or Thai wood carvings.  There’s always a sparkling faux-crystal chandelier at the middle of the ceiling, like it’s some sort of a homage to Phantom of the Opera.
  • The service crew (attendants) wear bow-tied long-sleeves and pants for the male and embroidered cheongsams for the female.
  •  The tables are round, huge, have red table cloths and have lazy susans on top of it.
  • The ceramic wear are generic white consisting of tall single-serve bowls, heavy plates, saucers, and a flat-bottomed Oriental soup spoon.
  • Occasionally, there’s table napkin decoratively folded like an open fan and a packet of wet wipes but there’s always a pair of disposable palitos chinos and  mint-tipped toothpicks on your table setting. 
  • Chances are you’ll be given peanuts or chicharon bulaklak as you place your order.
  • Finally, if you happen to choose a usual comida china, it will consist of a thick soup, a choice of dumplings, a couple of seafood dishes, fried chicken, pancit, fried rice and for dessert, a choice  buchi and almond jelly.

Not that I hated Chinese cuisine.  I love it and I must say, every restaurant I’ve been to really really delivers, except probably for Chowking, Maxim’s and David’s Teahouse, whose take on Chinese food is so… fastfood.  I’m merely lamenting the fact that in a Chinese restaurant, everything has gone predictable, boring na tuloy…  But last week, we went to this chinese restaurant in Wilson St, Greenhills and had a definitely new (but not necessarily better) dining experience.  Something I must really write about.

A friend of the community, a middle-aged Chinese lady, brought us to Hai Kang Seafood Restaurant two weeks ago as a sort of despedida for our priests bound for a mission appeal in US.  We learned from her that Hai Kang means “Ocean River,” which is a sort of a push-gone-to-shove in underlining the fact that we’re in a seafood restaurant.  Or not.  “Ocean River” might be a safe name if they in fact served a dish containing some fresh-water lifeforms.  Or it could point to EAC, an underwater current where Nemo and Dory met Shell and the gang of hippie turtles.  But anyhow…  We entered the establishment.  Yep, there’s the chime on the glass door.  Waiters on bowties, waitresses on cheongsams?  Check.  Mirrored walls?  Check.  operatic chandeliers?  Check.  Red round tables with lazy susans and a setting of generic white ceramic wears?  Check.  Disposable chopsticks, fan-like table napkins and  a packet of wet wipes?  Check, check and check.  Every inch screams “Chinese restaurant!”   But since this is just libre I kept mum about it.  We were seated and the lady who was paying the bill placed the orders.  Saucers of peanuts were served (check!) and so, the saga of a confused Chinese course meal began.

I was expecting an (imitation) bird’s nest soup be served first but we got, to my surprise, pancit canton guisado instead, a bit too savory and heavy to be an appetizer.  But as every Chinese restaurant’s staple, the pancit is steaming, loaded with seafood and veggies, shimmering in sauce and  is perfectly tasty.  The noodles slides off your chopsticks if not properly pinned between the sticks.  Then, we were served some shrimp dumplings in a platter.  In some other chinese restaurants, dumplings like these are served in plate-sized bamboo steamer, ensuring that your (kunya-kunyariang sharks-fin) siomai is hot and freshly steamed.   These dumplings, though cold, still tasted great. 

Then arrived, still not the soup, but same sort of a fish generously covered with crunchy roasted garlic and ginger.   It’s pearl fish, our benefactress declared.  Why pearl, she has no idea.  Whatever it is, it definitely rocked on our palate, as the tenderness of the fish melds on the tangy taste of garlic.  At last, the soup was served.  it was oriental seaweeds soup which tasted like… (imitation) bird’s nest soup.   But it’s good to the last drop, having us tilting our soupbowls away from us sooner than we think.

Instead of fried chicken, we were served with fried pigeon on a bed of (very Indonesian) krupuk.  I don’t have the heart to taste this dish as the sight of the heads of the pigeons (may expressions pa kasi talaga!) reminded me of that forwarded pictures of deep-fried human fetus engagingly eaten by a huge Asian man.  Sick.

Buti na lang, the next dish is my all-time favorite basta nasa mga tsinong kainan, the beautiful “Pork in salt and pepper.”  My kidneys may be swollen from their ordeal with stones but that didn’t stop me from taking loads of it.  What’s good with this dish is the way they aged the pork, a bit pungent and ripe, the smell of culinary perfection for me.

Two more dishes were served but didn’t catch my attention (I was busy sinking my teeth on slices of pork in salt and pepper) as they probably do not merit my attention.   Then, someone commented, “Wala bang kanin?”  Like a stale afterthought, shanghai fried rice was belatedly served and was hardly touched.

For desserts, we were given the de rigueur mongo buchi, mango tapioca pudding, and that gluten balls with ube jam center and covered with ground peanuts whose name eludes me right now.  I washed my lunch with 500-ml size Lipa Fresh Buko Juice with a token strand of buko meat in it.  Solb!

Now, I have to say something about other aspects of Hai Kang.  The waiters are courteous, especially the one assigned in our room.  The toilets are clean and spacious.  There’s ample parking space for those who do power lunches.  I cannot comment on the bill because really, I didn’t even had the slightest idea how our lil lunch costed our benefactor.  The service is fast though really, they botched the proper line-up of our lunch fare.  Unlike Gloria Maris and a few other restaurants I know, there’s none of that dreadful ipis smell.

Do I recommend Hai Kang Seafood Restaurant?  Yep, syempre.  But in way how I would also recommend any other chinese restaurants of the same mould.  Their food is already great, almost great enough to be on the leagues of Li-li, Causeway, North Park and the classic Ma Mon Luk and Panciteria Lido.    A little more creativity on their ambiance won’t hurt.  Why not add a live performance from a Wonders acrobat?  Or choose a more modern Oriental furnishing?  Or do fusion dishes? I don’t know.  Just give me something new.  As I would always say when asked what would I like to order, “Surprise me.”

24 Responses

  1. comida china…!!!

    (naglalaway ala homer simpson)

    lawit ang dila… exit.

    hello, betch… teka, that doesn’t sound right, baguhin natin. hello, betchay!

  2. brother, all you mentioned first are all fastfood chinese resto kaya generic talaga… hehehe! di mo ba pansin pati apelyedo generic din? hehehe! nagutom tuloy ako.

    and chowking’s the worst. may personal favorite ako, yung Hap Tiang sa may binondo, hindi yung medyo formal ang kainan kundi yung original Hap Tiang na nasa second floor, marumi, masikip pero da best ang chicken feet in black bean sauce at iba pang mga dimsum nila!

  3. All your assumptions were true, but not all Chinese Resto are the same like the ones in Hong Kong. Syempre, this city is very cosmopolitan. Forget about Feng Shui plates, decorative walls but once you indulge to their cuisines, talagang ibang iba. Iba dahil, it is so expensive to eat a table for one (and that’s me) so eventhough I love to go on these cool-expensive chinese resto, I’d still opt to eat in the typical chinese noodle shop. Wala talagang converted na ang tastebuds ko sa Chinese foodums.

    “… reminded me of that forwarded pictures of deep-fried human fetus engagingly eaten by a huge Asian man”….

    I’ve seen those and believed they are not real. But I do believe they like to eat “snake soups” a lot esp on winter months but no way for me.

    real or fake, that picture haunted me much. ugh…

  4. aba, broder… pagkain for body ang mga ito a…🙂 just read din yung pagkain for the soul na inihain mo😀

    naku, parang junk food nga for the soul nga ang writings ko eh. but thanks for visiting! God bless!

  5. nakuuuu!!! we have the same favorite sa hap chan… chicken feet din. hehehe!

  6. Kapatid… ginutom mo ako. Sa totoo lang, even if medyo predictable ang mga chinese restos diyan eh at least masarap pa rin ang pagkain.

    Dito sa aming lugar ang common na niluluto sa mga chinese fast food ay chicken, beef, fish or shrimp but all in the same sweet and sour sauce. Pero at least medyo they gave a choice naman whether spicy or regular.

    Kahit Chowking papatulan ko na just to prove na ang sama ng chinese food dito… by the way, alam mo ba na walang china town dito sa KSA… weird no… and I thought every country had its own china town.

    walang chinatown? home of comfort foods pa naman yun sa kahit na anong culture. hirap nun ah.

  7. kakagutom naman….pag kumakain ako sa chinese resto feeling ko anytime may sa salakay na shaolin kid sa’kin…iya! huyah!…wahaha

    at kapag bayaran na rin, parang gusto kong humataw ng wushu sa mahal. hehe… God bless, kamotenista!

  8. masarap talaga ang chinese-inspired food at totoo di na medyo predictable sila — lalo sa “hilo” effect after eating (siguro nasobrahan sa vetsin or something). Pero kasama yun sa experience eh. otherwise parang decaf na barako yun or non-alcoholic beer… what’s the point?🙂

    fave kong chinese chicha place? estero sa binondo at hapchan🙂

    hapchan din, paborito ko, lalo na yung chicken feet. kung tutuusin eh steamed adidas lang naman na may tausi yun pero ansarap talaga. siguro nga sa vetsin yun o yung anise wine na pampabango.

  9. brother utoy,
    hinde pa ako nakakain from work… ngayon eto nabasa ko… kakagutom hahahaa. ingat palagi. God bless!

    NJ

    thanks, NJ! God bless!

  10. nakakagutom…fasting pa naman ako today… he he he

    maliban sa chowking, wala pa ata akong chinese resto na napupuntahan dyan sa atin, di dahil sa ayaw ko ng chinese food, but that time wala lang talaga akong “pambayad”… he he he, pero dito kahit naman papaano meron nang “pambayad” sa China Gate & Tempura Yakitore…

    pag uwi ko punta ako sa resto na ‘to… wait ka lang..😀

    hehehe… China Gate and Yakitore? saan yun? dapat masubukan!

  11. wow! food post!!! hahahaha

    mahina ang tolerance ko sa chinese food although may lahi kaming chinese konti….ewan..nahihilo ako sa siomai, dumpling etc. too much vetsin nga yata and parang lasang medyas yung mga noodle soup hahaha

    yap, bikos aym a trayhard pudi! hehehe… hilo? yun siguro yung pampa-addict nila sa pagkain, kaya nakakahilo.

  12. tama ka sa lahat ng obserbasyon mo brother…kahit dito alam mo na talaga kung chinese restaurant kahit ala pang pangalan na nakalagay….

    may Chinatown din ba dyan? sabi ni Leap, wala daw sa Saudi although may chinese foodhouse pa rin.

  13. mas gusto ko pa rin kosing gawlu!

    hahaha!!!

    mahilig ako sa chinese cuisine eh.
    siguro dahil na rin sa natuluan ako ng dugo ng mga intsik!

    wapak!

    hehehe… alam mo, hanggang ngayon eh yung Canon mo ang naiisip ko. aymas hebwantu! ay mas heb wan tu!

  14. kakagutom naman mga post mo brother!…
    basta ako, kahit ano!kakainin ko..hehehe
    hindi naman ako mapili…=)
    hindi na ako hiatus..hindi ko kaya e..nag iinarte lang ako!
    balik ako sa dating gawi…=)

    welcome back, doc! di mo rin natiis ano? hehehe… God bless!

  15. Hmm..sana may pic bro. utoy!🙂 yung ipis smell, yan agad pinapansin ko pag pasok sa isang resto, chinese man o hindi. Sa hong kong, naranasan kong pumunta sa authentic na chinese resto, ang problema, sa sobrng authentic ay mandarin ang sulat sa menu, sa mga pictures lang ako nagbase ng aking order, pag dating ng pagkain ko (na akala ko ay fried chicken) steamed duck pala na marinated sa soy sauce. hindi ko naubos. grr… ang nagustuhan ko lang sa chowking ay yung lumpiang shanghai. yun lang. kahit isang subo ko lang ang isang piraso dahil sa sobrang liit haha!

    yan ang harang sa chowking eh. andaya ng servings, ibang iba sa pictures na pinapakita nila. hehehe…

  16. wala lang. sasabihin ko lang na nag-indulge ako sa isa sa mga deadly sins: gluttony. nakakita kasi ako ng eat all you can chinese resto sa ciudad ng city (sobrang over redundant) at di ko napigil ang mga paa ko na parang namagnetize papunta sa table 6.
    ang chinese talaga, kahit saang sulok ng mundo, talagang iisa ang panimpla. ang chalap chalap!!!

    naintriga ako, ano bang meron sa table 6?
    may tribya ako sayo. dun sa davao, may isang chinese restaurant doon, pag-aari ng isang batangueno na ni patak ng dugong tsino eh wala. gayunpaman, ansarap ng pansit nila. at orig ang siopao kasi catsup(?!!) ang sauce.

  17. off topic

    email ko sana sayo yung tinatanong mo eh di naman valid yung email add mo na iniwan. na bounce back yung sinend ko

    ha?!! naku, naku! sorry po, bossing! (nagtungo sa Bluepanjeet shrine at nag-alay ng buhay na manok bilang atonement) hehehe… sensya na, kapatid. how are you feeling now? God bless!

  18. nakainan mo na ba yung “delicious” sa raon?

    yun, walang lazy susan dun… walang glass doors…

    meron dun, naglalagkit na chef.

    i’ve been there during my college days, kapatid. delicious talaga ang pancit guisado. pero zero sa hygiene. antataray pa ng serbidora, parng laging nagdadabog.

  19. kapatid, sobrang bored na ako sa ofis.napablog tuloy.baka pwede ka 4 mentoring with bluep.sa kababasa ko ng blog mo, parang gusto ko na ring magkalat sa blogosphere…

    sure, kapatid. truth to tell, newbie rin lang ako so i’m just a notch lower in cluelessness about blogging.

  20. table 6 lang kasi ang vacant that time. hehe, kahit na parang langaw na akong nakadikit sa wall dahil sa sikip, hala ngasab pa rin. hehe

    naku san ba yang trivial chinese resto na sinasabi mo? napakalawak ng davao bro utoy, hehe.. di naman siguro dencia’s dahil puro chino ang nasa likod ng counter dun. hehe

    kung hindi ako nagkakamali, sa may bandang uyangguren yun.

  21. I luv many many things about chinese..that includes their resto’, too..if i get home this year, i plan in fact, to re-visit binondo..and enjoy the complete chinese atmosphere, along with the heavenly foods..samahan mo ko bruder..:)

    ur yummy post reminds me to doso, anyway🙂
    rgds

    pero siguro, wag tayong bumili ng prawns at chicken from china. hehehe…

  22. Ask ko lang how’s the ambiance of Hai Kang Seafod Restaurant? Okay kaya for function/ events like baptism?

  23. mann i love bird’s nest soup too even IF its made from spit!!! <333

    i eat it like once every monthish and used to bought from website hongkong-bird-nest.50webs.com/index_e.htm sometimes, my mom went back to hong kong and bought a full suitcase of it cause its cheaper there😄

  24. Tried the bird nest soup last year from like http://www.geocities.jp/hongkong_bird_nest/index_e.htm . Tastes really good… yeah, I thought it was gross at first, but wow, you won’t regret it.

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