As much as I want to veer away from Chinese restaurants, my roots still haunt me. Having a mom who only eats Filipino and Chinese cuisine, each celebrated occasion is bound to end up at a Chinese restaurant.
Last month was no different. Even without an occasion, we were bound to dine at Hong Kong Emperor Seafood Restaurant since it was an easy-spot for my mom when we looked for a lunch destination at SM Mall of Asia.
Although I am suffering a moderate Chinese-food-fatigue syndrome (I only made this term up!) I was still impressed by the classy ambiance of Hong Kong Emperor Seafood Restaurant. The interior is filled with gold and white, and some browns here and there. The lovely chandeliers were also a delight to gaze at.
We were courteously attended by their staff, and even their managers (who are probably members of the owner family) were very friendly in recommending us dishes and taking our orders.
Of course, as how family out-of-home meals start, we ordered for soup -- Fish Lip Soup (P380). Our family has been ordering this soup for countless times already whenever we dine at Chinese restaurants. However, I'm not really sure if the meat used in this soup is literally lips of fish.
Hong Kong Emperor's version is flavorful and had generous amount of crab meat and mushroom, although I have tasted better Fish Lip Soup at other restaurants.
And since rice is a staple to any of our Chinese meals, we made sure to order the very popular Yang Chow Fried Rice (P360) -- a default rice choice for my family.
I am not really picky when it comes to fried rice. As long as the rice was cooked well -- not too hard and not too porridgy, and the flavor is rich, then it's good enough for me. Hong Kong Emperor's is rather good in my opinion. It came in a generous serving with a lot of toppings to boost not only its colors, but also its taste.
Our first viand is one of the newer items on their menu, Orange Spareribs (P380).
My mom really loved this dish! It was an instant favorite for her. The spareribs were soft and moist, glazed with thick orange sauce. I agree that it tastes good, but some people may find the sauce too overpowering and nakaka-umay.
We ordered for another viand. I already forgot the price and what this was called, but it is basically Fish Fillet with Vegetables.
We also ordered for my younger sister's favorites, Chicken Feet and Hong Kong Style Beef Tenderloin (approx. P380).
Both food items were rather average for my taste. The Chicken Feet was slightly spicy, while the Hong Kong Style Beef Tenderloin was indeed tender but nakaka-umay. My sister on the other hand, found them to be good. Maybe it's just not my cup of tea?
To add more variety, we also ordered for their Steamed Lapu-Lapu (seasonal; P1,000+) -- our default fish choice.
The fish was indeed fresh. The meat was very tender and sweet, and the mild yet slightly salty sauce complemented the fish really well. I'm not a big fish eater (except for sashimi), but whenever I eat freshly-cooked Steamed Lapu-Lapu, it just feels beautiful, like my taste buds are dancing into the gastronomic greatness. Pure bliss. Despite how the Lapu-lapu looks pitiful on the photo.
After the lovely Lapu-lapu dish, my dad was feeling adventurous. He called the server and inquired about the new food item on their menu -- Goose Web with Abalone Sauce (P580).
He decided to order it and, lo and behold, shiny-glazed feet of geese! We were excited to try it out since we never had one despite goose web being a usual feat at Chinese restaurants. However, the excitement turned into disappointment after taking one bite. The meat was rubbery and quite hard to chew. It was like eating rubber sheet.
To be fair, we don't really know if goose web is supposed to have that extremely rubbery texture. But one thing is for sure, we didn't like it. The abalone was delicious though, and the sauce was also rich in flavor -- perfect for pouring over hot steamed rice.
On a separate occasion, my date and I dined at Hong Kong Emperor Seafood Restaurant too just several days after the Chinese lunch with my family. (I know, I said I try to veer away from Chinese food.)
This time, we started our lunch with Hakaw or Steamed Shrimp Dumpling (P128).
I'm not really fond of dumplings, but this is surely one of the best I've tried. The wrapper is a soft, starchy goodness coating the tasty plump shrimp. My date loved it too as it was a flavorful punch in the mouth.
We also ordered for their Seafood Efu Noodle (P380) as it was recommended to us by the manager.
I don't eat a lot of noodles, but this is one flavorful plate. The noodles were cooked just right -- not too hard and not soggy, and the seafood came in generous and unpretentious amount.
To pair to our steamed plain rice, we got their Baby Back Ribs with Gravy (P480).
My date and I both love ribs and gravy, so having them together is a great idea. The meat was juicy and the gravy really was a nice addition to the old baby back ribs. However, we had quite a hard time digging on this dish. The meat was hard to take off from the bones. It was a wrestle match to try to eat the meat's yummy goodness.
After the hearty lunch, it was nice of the restaurant to offer us 2 complementary plates of fresh fruits -- slices of pineapple, watermelon and orange. However, we had to decline the offer since my date was not a big fruit eater and I, on the other hand, was too full to eat anything.
Although our meals at Hong Kong Emperor Seafood Restaurant was a mix of good and not-so-good in terms of food, we are definitely paying a next visit. With a beautifully-decorated interior, and a friendly and courteous set of staffs and managers, we are sold.
However, we will try to be more safe with our orders next time -- veering away from the unknown and the untested, until my dad's fearless and adventurous side attacks again.
Ambiance - 4.5/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 3/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Hongkong Emperor Seafood Restaurant
2/F Entertainment Mall,
SM Mall of Asia, Ocean Drive
Pasay City, Metro Manila
(02) 556-9520 to 22