by Fabian

This blog post has been a long time coming. I offer no excuses for why it took so long to write this post, except that I am a procrastinating and lazy person by nature. Some of us only do things when we absolutely have to. While there have been no death threats or bribes from a dear friend who is now in Melbourne, what spurred me on tonight to write, finally, was another pleasant meal that had taken place last night, and now it would seem to be a true shame if another pair of pleasant meals that I also had were not documented as well.
JV’s underwater hockey friend, Marion, had flown in from Australia for a couple of weeks, and in proper Pinoy fashion, we used our hapless foreign visitor as an excuse to eat out. Her stay here was sandwiched between two dinners at Gloria Maris in Shangri La.  Both of these dinners were accompanied with enough wine to tranquilize a horse, courtesy of Dennis (and another oenophile Elmer!). I forget exactly the names of the wines we drank, but I do remember that Riesling and Chinese food are a decent combination. Chardonnay isn’t too bad either.

 Duck Salad
Duck Salad
My favorite appetizer in Gloria Maris is this. I’ve had this more than a few times, and each time I grow more appreciative of how nicely made this is. This is a cold salad made of duck, seaweed, mayo, and pili nuts. The combination can make for a slightly sweet salad, but it is refreshing and delicious. I ate a bit of it in the beginning, and some of more of it in the middle of the meal, and at the end you think, what the heck I’d like a little bit more. Good stuff.

 Wintermelon Soup
Wintermelon Soup
This is another fairly decent starter. Wintermelon is what it is: melon-ny, pulpy, and quite nice. I quickly realized that this would fill me up fast, so I didn’t finish my whole cup. In terms of starters thus: Duck 1, Wintermelon 0.

Crab with Sotanghon Deep fried Crab
Two Crabs
There were two kind of crab. I did not eat much of this, but I do recall that they were quite good. I always enjoy crab especially when there are sliced garlic and peppers on top. Crab, like other white-fleshed seafood has a relatively mild taste. It’s all about the condiments.

Stuffed Chicken 
Stuffed Chicken with Chestnuts
We had some chicken stuffed with sticky rice and chestnuts. This seem so classically Chinese to me, and I picked on this a bit.  Also delicious and very rich. Thank God there’s a glass of wine nearby.

 Peking Duck
Peking Duck
Nothing is as plainly tasty as Peking Duck. Within the wrapper is an onion to cut the richness, and of course we dip with hoisin sauce. Goodness. I can eat maybe one or two pieces of crackling lechon; I can easily eat triple the amount of Peking Duck. These weren’t carved out in front of us during the meal, but as presented here, they were already pre-sliced and in nice little wrappers. Innocuous looking, tasty things.

 
Prawn Curry
JV has said that she wanted some curry, so the cooks of the kitchen whipped this up. Not my favorite of curries. I generally don’t like curries in Chinese, Japanese or Korean cuisine. It was still okay though, but I didn’t eat a lot of this. Very yellow.

 Taro Duck
And More Duck
Before you get the impression that we’re a bunch of duck gluttons, recall that these food represent what we ate for two meals. 🙂 The Duck with Taro is a deadly combination. You can really eat only so much of this because fatty duck is fried with a layer of taro that does an excellent job, as with most starches, of absorbing a lot of fat. Another glass of wine please.

 Cheese Platter Cheese Platter 2
Prosciutto and Various Cheeses
It was a trifle odd to have this Italian commercial in the middle of the meal. But I’m not one to turn away very thin salted Italian meat. Dennis brought over this spread from Galileo Enoteca, a place that I have unfortunately still not visited. Would have been nice also taken outside the context of a Chinese meal. But somehow, it fit the meal. It helps when people all around the table love cheese. 

 Mango Sago
Dessert
We had mango and sago. I didn’t get to taste this. But I think Marion enjoyed it. It looked sweet, gelatinous and nice. Normally, I wouldn’t mind having dessert, but as you can imagine, I was stuffed beyond dessert.

Summary : I enjoyed most things, but especially enjoyed duck (and wine). These were two great dinners. I am embarrassingly always available every time JV and Dennis call me for a meal at Gloria Maris.

If you want to get a good idea of what I ate, you’ll have to go to the Shangrila Plaza Mall branch. I don’t think they serve the above dishes in all the branches (and no branches serve the prosciutto!). The quality and taste of the food is dependent on the branch chefs, and you might have to request for them to prepare a particular dish.

Rating  : Love It

Wine for our Gloria Maris dinners.

Chateau Batailley Pauillac 2007, Bordeaux
Wente Merlot 2001, Central Coast California
Cliff Edge Shiraz 2002, Mount Langi Ghiran

Chateau Bataille 1997Wente MerlotCliff Edge Shiraz

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Read a lot about Dong Bei from various blogs talking about Ivan Dy’s Binondo Tour.

Piqued my interest on how it compared to Lan Zhou which is our favorite noodle shop in Binondo.

Dong Bei

This is a 4-table place. What’s interesting is that dumplings are actually made in one of the tables in the dining area by the staff. Perched on their seats, they stuff pork & chive mixtures into tiny wrappers. Makes the meal an interactive experience.

Dong Bei Dumplings

Dumplings – chives, celery, cabbage, pork Php 80. Specialty of the house. The dumpling wrapper is extremely thin and a bit watery. The staff said that these dumplings are actually placed in boiling water and not steamed as I initially thought. I prefer Lan Zhou’s dumpling though since I like dumplings chewier.

Beef Noodles

Beef soup Php 100 – Pretty difficult to compare the noodles with Lan Zhou but we ended up concluding we liked Lan Zhou’s noodles better. Firmer and chewier. Soup broth was different for both places. Dong Bei broth tasted made of Chinese herbs while Lan Zhou broth tasted of beef or pork bones. Depends what type of soup broth person you are.

Fried Chicken with Sinjian Flavor

Fried chicken with sinjian flavor Php 180 – I liked the way they cooked the chicken. It was crisp and there was mix of subtle flavors.

Summary : Pretty interesting to compare Dong Bei with Lan Zhou. They are both good and deciding on which dumplings or noodle soup is better is a tough choice. On my part, I prefer Lan Zhou. Which one do you prefer?

Rating :  Like It
Food  :  Dumplings

Dong Bei Dumplings
Oriente corner Yuchengco Street
Binondo, Manila

Lan Zhou La Mien 

This noodle house has been shared with us by Chinatown locals. The Binondo area has a lot of small Chinese restaurants right now opened by newly arrived mainland China immigrants. The food they serve is refreshingly authentic to the region they come from with unbelievably cheap prices. 

 Rolling dough

Lan Zhou serves dao shao mian or knife cut noodles. The name daoxiao mian, or knife-shaved noodles, refers to the way the noodles are prepared. The cook holds a large ball of dough in his left hand and, with a knife, deftly and quickly slices shavings of dough into a large pot of boiling water.

 Hand pulled dough

You can watch the cook through the glass window dividing the kitchen from the dining area. The Chinese lady pulls and tosses the lump of dough transforming it into pasta.

 Lan Zhou noodle soup

La Mien noodles – The specialty of the house Php 70. The noodles are fantastic – chewy and doughy. Best d@#n chinese noodles I’ve had in Manila. The broth is flavorful and made from real beef bones.

Bowls of chopped spring onion and coriander, chili garlic sauce and bottles of soy sauce, and black vinegar are on every table to place in your bowl of noodle soup.

 Dumplings

Dumplings Steamed – Not-too-thick wrappers enclosing a filling of pork and Chinese chives. Served with shredded ginger in black vinegar. 

Summary : Everyone should have a try of Lan Zhou. The noodles are so fresh, springy and chewy. Beats any other bowl of Chinese noodle soup out there.

Rating   : Love It
Food     : A bowl of noodle soup

Lan Zhou La Mien
819 Benavidez Street
Binondo, Manila
Tel : 2445365

The Chinese cuisine that most people all around are accustomed to is actually Cantonese style cooking. Since I was in Shanghai, I was extremely curious on how Shanghai cuisine measured up.  Compared to Cantonese cooking, Shanghai cuisine is more assertively seasoned and higher in fat content, thus generally higher in calories, but lighter and more mildly seasoned than Mandarin cuisine (excerpt from Shanghai Cuisine). Upon countless research on numerous blogs, I decided to try out Ji Shi for classic Shanghai food.

Ji Shi is a tiny two-storey restaurant which just has around 12-ish tables. It was completely full of Shanghai locals or expats who could speak fluent Chinese! They have another branch called XinJiShi which is bigger and caters for tourist but I like the authentic Shanghainese ambience of this place.

Cabbage with shredded tripe in garlic sauce

Cabbage and shredded tripe in garlic sauce RMB28 – This was served chilled. Crunchy veggies in a sour vinegar like sauce. It was extremely good and refreshing. The first time I tried out this type of flavors. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how the white cruncy veggies could be white cabbage but it is and I take their word for it.

Wine preserved chicken

Wine preserved chicken RMB32 – Drunken chicken served chilled again. Very good. Strong taste on the wine.

Fried River Shrimps

Fried River Shrimps RMB98 – One of the house specialities. Have you seen shrimps which look so tiny and so fresh? And peeled!!! I saw the neighboring table having this and pointed it out to our server to order.

Saute Shepherds Purse with shredded beancurd sheet

Saute Shepherds Purse with shredded beancurd sheet RMB18 – Shepherd’s purse is a type of green leafy which we don’t have here in Manila. Light flavored and mixed with shredded beancurd.

Shepherds Purse Crab Meat and beancurd soup

Shepherds Purse Crab Meat and beancurd soup RMB28 – I liked how they put in crab fat (the orangey glob in the middle ) which I mixed up with my soup. Gave an extra dimension to the taste.

Fish Lip and Ham with chicken soup 

Fish Lip and Ham with chicken soup RMB48 – Better of the two soups we ordered. The chicken broth was extremely flavorful. Is it because it’s double the price of the crab meat soup? Hmmm…

Summary : I loved this place. It had a hole in the wall feel and I loved the black and white photos hanging on the walls. Don’t come here for the ambience, come here for the food. Classic Shanghainese food, clean and crisp flavours. I loved everything that was served.

Rating : Loved It
Food   : Fried River Shrimps

Ji Shi
41 Tianping Lu
Shanghai, China
Tel: 6282 9260

This is the more expensive degustation menu.

Appetizers

Cuttlefish and wild vegetables roulade

Cuttlefish and wild vegetables roulade

Crispy sesame duck spring roll with chestnuts

Honey glazed wind dried pork liver sausage and gold coin pork loin – the sausage and pork loin are the jerky types you can buy in Bee Cheng Hang

The Mains

Shark’s fin

Stir fried shark’s fin and bamboo shoots with scrambled eggs, fresh mushrooms, salted pork soup – The scrambled eggs completely overpowered the sharks fin. I couldn’t taste the sharks fin at all. The salted pork soup was fresh and clear.

Pan seared king prawns

Pan seared king prawn in fresh chives juice served with sweet corn pancakes – I liked the corn pancakes. They were crunchy and sweet at the same time. The prawns were nicely seared. It was soft on the inside and had a nice burnt texture on the outside.

Spare Ribs

Twice-cooked spare ribs with roasted garlic, sugar cane spun candy – Nothing great about this dish.

Hot and Sour fish tofu broth

Hot and sour minced fish tofu broth with hand spun spinach noodles – Chinese version of tom yum. Nice and sour bite but nothing great.

The Sweets

img_1538.jpg

Almond and snow fungus papaya pudding, served with millet mousse cake – The clean taste of the pudding matched well with the millet mousse cake. The mousse cake had a grainy and creamy taste which was really good.

RMB 588 per person

Summary : Whampoa Club is an experience. The venue is stunning, and the Chinese food like you have never experienced. Fresh, creative, elegantly presented. Very good food but not exceptional food. However, well worth the time of any food obsessed person visiting Shanghai.

Rating : Love it
Food : Shanghai style braised pork

Whampoa Club
3 Zhong Shan Dong Yi Rd (Fifth Floor, Three on the Bund)
Shanghai, 200002
China
Tel : +86 21 6329 1003

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The Chef – excerpt from Three on the Bund – Whampoa Club

“Founding Chef Jereme Leung, started his career in Hong Kong at the tender age of
13, he has since worked his way up to be one of the most prominent Chinese chefs
in the international market, renowned for his immense talent and creativity.
Chef Leung was awarded the Five Star Diamond Award as one of the “World’s Best
Chefs 1999 “ from the American Academy of Hospitality Science. He was also the
recipient of the prestigious Hennessy X.O. Culinary Award in association with the
Peak magazine Malaysia that recognizes chefs from five-six star hotels in Malaysia for
their creativity in developing gourmet culinary trends.
In 2001, he was voted the “Rising Chef of the Year” by the world Gourmet Summit
Awards of Excellence”. Chef Leung, probably one of the youngest master chef in
Asia, has contributed to the success of more than eight Chinese restaurants in
Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Prior to joining Three on the Bund,
he was executive chef for Jiang Nan Chun, flagship restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel
in Singapore.

Chef Leung now heads up the team at Whampoa Club, Three on the Bund,
introducing his own contemporary interpretation of Shanghainese cuisine, using only
the finest ingredients and presenting in a modern and clean style.”

The Restaurant

image

Whampoa Club is located at 3 Bund Street. Entering the main door, it has distinguished neighbors such as Emporio Armani and Hugo Boss at the ground floor. Taking the lift to the 5th floor, we were welcomed in a small reception area and after confirming our reservation, were led inside. The hallway was very very impressive. Inlaid panels lined up the long hallway with a magnificent chandelier reaching from ceiling to the ground at the end.

 The Menu

My mom and I opted for the two kinds of degustation menu. Part I  shows the cheaper menu of the two. Enjoy!

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

Appetizers

Appetizers

Cherry radish pickled with crispy anchovy

Crispy sesame duck spring roll with chestnuts – I love taro duck. This was an interesting variation. Having duck with mashed chestnuts. The chestnuts gave a sweeter taste than taro.

Marinated wild mushrooms with mineral tofu

Chef’s Mains

Lobster Soup

Lobster soup with fresh lily bulbs and “Ji Cai” vegetables – Fresh and clear with lobster taste in the soup.

Braised Pork

Shanghai style braised pork in Chinese spices, served with spinach mantou sticks – Perfect balance between the soy and sugar. The braised pork literally falls apart on the fork. I loved how the mantou bread looked like a breadstick and it’s deep fried crunchiness.

Five-spiced lamb chop

Five-spiced lamb chop served with duo of jasmine and wild rice – Nothing great with this dish.

Sweets

Chocolate Oatmeal Pudding

Home-made banana sorbet and chocolate oatmeal pudding – The banana sorbet gives a nice flavor to the chocolate oatmeal pudding. This was comfort food and I finished the whole plate up.

RMB 488 per person

Mom, sis and I were in Shanghai for four days and when you’re in Shanghai, you should try Shanghai’s culinary delicacy which is hairy crab. Wang Bao He claims to be Shanghai’s oldest restaurant dating back to 1744. It also claims to be the best place to feast on Shanghai’s famous hair crab. Crab dominates the menu, of course, from dumplings and soup to the whole hairy monster, which is typically steamed and eaten with a dipping sauce of ginger, soy sauce, and black vinegar. Be prepared though as the bill can easily skyrocket with the 50 or so crab dishes that can be ordered.

Stewed Crab Meat with Clam in thick soup

Stewed crab meat with clam in thick soup HKD70 – Clam-based broth with crab meat.

Sauteed Crab Meat

Sauteed Crab Meat HKD300 – Good but expensive. A lot of crab fat and meat sauteed together. The crab fat giving the dish it’s tasty flavor. Go easy on the serving as it’s a high cholesterol dish. I got lightheaded after having this.

Sauteed Scallop with Crab Meat

Sauteed scallop with crab meat HKD168 – Typical scallops with crab meat. Too cornstarchy for me.

Sauteed seasonal vegetables

Sauteed seasonal vegetable HKD22 – People say that when in China, you should always order the veggie dishes as they are really good in preparing them. I definitely agree. This is the best dish we ordered. The vegetables were simply sauteed but the taste and freshness of the green leafies shines through. The vegetable hearts were small and it’s my first time to try it.

Steamed dumpling with crab meat and minced pork

Steamed dumpling with crab meat and minced pork HKD18 – I had much better. The wrapper was tough and I couldn’t even taste the crab meat inside.

Shanghai Hairy Crab

Shanghai Hairy Crab HKD378 – I felt we got shortchanged on the crabs. The meat wasn’t sweet at all! My mom said that the smaller hairy crabs are much sweeter.

Summary : Wang Bao He is a place to go to just to try Shanghai Hairy crab. The list of crab dishes is impressive. The cooking is typical big Chinese restaurant style. You can’t go wrong bringing visitors here. I personally think I can eat in this type of restaurants in Manila.

Rating : Chance Visitor
Food : Shanghai Hairy Crab

Wang Bao He
603 Fuzhou Lu, Shanghai
Tel : 011-8621-6322-3673.