Thursday, December 30, 2010

Choi Palace, Eastwood

Name: Choi Palace
Location: Eastwood Mall Veranda (3rd or 4th Level)
Google Maps: Eastwood Mall
Date & Time: December 18, 2010
Must Know: Soft Opening Review, probably at 65% operating efficiency only

Ordered from the menu:
  • Wonton Noodle Soup (P140.00)
  • Hakaw Dumplings (P100.00)
  • Siao Long Pao (P100.00)
  • Shanghai Veggie Pao (P100.00)
  • Fried Taro Puff (P100.00)
  • Dried Shrimp w/ Spring Onion Rice Roll (P140.00)

Those who knoe me well know how much I love dim-sum. That night, with absolutely no plans of dining Chinese food, I pulled all the stops to convince Audrey to switch our original plans so we could  try Choi Palace's soft opening.

Okay, let's begin.

Wanton Noodle Soup (Php 140.00)
The Wanton Noodle Soup (P140.00) was the first one served - just in time because we were starving. Their serving is generous and we were able to ask them to have this served split in two bowls. As mandatory when tasting soup dishes, sipping the soup is always the first and this one started off pretty well. Next, we tried a few strings of noodles which was very firm but not too soft - this was truning out to be very promising right at the very first dish. It is also served with a couple of dim sums (6 to be exact) which soaked up the soup and all its flavor which you can taste once you take a bite. The Chinese pechay had the right clarity and softness which gave me no problems eating that too (I usually don't). Over-all, for me this one tops Ramen Bar's similar soup dishes, and definitely the price as well!

Hakaw Dumplings (Php 100.00)
Next up is the Hakaw Dumplings (P100.00). Each serving is four pieces and it is sized relatively big enough to be eaten in two bites. If you know Hakaw, this one is just about normal. The prawns are not very big but not to small either, and the dim sum wrap was clear enough to have the right amount of softness to hold-up each dumpling even when soaked in soy sauce. I ate mine without dipping it in sauce and still enjoyed it very much.

Siao Long Pao (Php 100.00)
We couldn't wait to move on to the next dish, which is quickly becoming a popular favorite with Filipinos, the Siao Long Pao (P100.00). Their serving for this is four pieces, and sized just about right. If you don't know what Siao Long Pao is, imagine meat dumplings with very tasty soup inside - that's exactly what it is.

There's an art to eating this dish - grab the dim sum with your chopsticks while supporting it below with a spoon, add some soy sauce and vinegar with some garnish and then bite the top off. Once the dumpling is opened with your bite, let the steam come out a little and then sip all the soup inside and feel the flavors explode in your mouth - and while it lingers, go and chomp the rest of it down. Choi Palace's Siao Long Pao is so far the best I've tasted in the country. Hands down, this was the best! After finishing this delightful dish, we were ready for the next one.

Shanghai Vegetable Pao (Php 100.00)
The Shanghai Veggie Pao (P100.00) ended up being so plain and simple. Imagine siopao but instead of meat asado, what is inside is steamed shredded veggies with no flavor at all. It tasted like the chef going on a cigarette break in the back-alley and this was left too long in the steamer. As quickly as the Siao Long Pao raised all hopes for Choi Palace, this Veggie Pao brought it crashing back down. Stay away from ordering this! Order only if you're a vegetarian.

Fried Taro Puff (Php 100.00)
Next, the Fried Taro Puff (P100.00). For someone not fond of taro, starchy food and the like, this one surpisingly won me over. I remember saying to Audrey that I usually didn't like starchy food, but once I sank my teeth into this, I had a change of heart. The soft taro is coated with fried batter to contrast the soft/rough texture, and the sauce adds flavor to the otherwise bland taro. In the end, this one for me is the day I started not "disliking" taro.

Dried Shrimp w/ Spring Onion Rice Roll (Php 140.00)
Lastly, the Dried Shrimp w/ Spring Onion Rice Roll (P140.00). This one is a little bland but I think that's how rice rolls should be. It's soft and delicately rolled together and served over a light sauce which I wasn't able to make out. Over-all, this dish was normal and had nothing to brag about.

Here's how it fared our scorecard:

4.5 - Food Quality was superb. Even for the dishes I didn't like, they were well prepared.

3.5 - Ambiance, it does have a great location. However, the tables outside have absolutely insufficient lighting. Make sure you have reservations.

4.5 - Value for Money is excellent!

2.5 - Service sucked. I had to ask for water 3x, chopsticks 2x, and 3x to get the bill. True, it's a soft opening so I'll have to come back.

+1 - For the best Siao Long Pao I've tasted in the country.

Total = 16 for a soft opening, not bad at all. This is not the best Chinese Restaurant in the country, but their Siao Long Pao is something you mustn't pass up.