Mao Jia Hunan Cuisine: Authentic Chinese Regional Food

Sunday, September 23, 2012
Coming from a Filipino-Chinese family, I've already had my fair share of Chinese cuisine and even found myself quite tired of the traditional Chinese flavors. However, since I only got used to the Guangdong style also known as the Cantonese regional cooking, I found myself unusually excited to try out Mao Jia Hunan Cuisine in San Juan which offers a different Chinese regional gustatory experience from the Chinese dishes I got used to.
Mao Jia Hunan Cuisine

Located at the Ronac Art Center in North Greenhills, Mao Jia Hunan Cuisine is one of the only few Chinese restaurants in the Metro serving authentic Hunan dishes known for being spicy, flavorful, aromatic and deeply and strikingly colored. And although I hate to admit it, I actually haven't had a taste of Hunan-style cooking yet prior to this trip, so you can say I'm a complete newbie to the Xiang or Hunan type of Chinese regional cuisine.

Chariman Mao displays Chariman Mao display pieces

Mao Jia Hunan Cuisine has a simple, warmly-lit space with just a few tables around, and a function room for diners who are looking for privacy. And although there's nothing too extravagant in the restaurant, what caught my eyes were these miniature statues of Chairman Mao in a wide variety of colors. They weren't only there for the restaurant's design though 'cause they're actually up for sale.

Of course, being new to Hunan food, I was excited to try the dishes and find out if this particular Chinese regional cuisine will leave me wanting more. And with a nice selection of gustatory treats at the restaurant, we finally began the Hunan cuisine immersion.

Beancurd with Kuchay P160

First on our table was the Beancurd with Kuchay (P160). While I'm not a big fan of tofu, this easily became my favorite tofu dish ever. The beancurd was cooked to a nice yet firm softness with loads and loads of savory flavors. Even the kuchay was very tasty, so both the beau and I were happy diners who can't help but savor every bite from this dish.

Salt & Pepper Shrimp P380

We then had the Salt & Pepper Shrimps (P380) which are simple yet tasty crispy-fried pieces of shrimps that can bring joy to lazy seafood lovers. Unlike most shrimp dishes, these ones don't need to be peeled off from their shells since they were cooked to be crispy and edible. Just pop a piece or two straight in and enjoy this well-seasoned treat.

Stir-Fry Frog Legs P380

Next, we had my favorite Stir-Fry Frog Legs (P380). While most people I know don't really dig this goody, I'm one of those who love this dish very much! Whenever I'm dining in a resto offering fried frog legs, you won't find me leaving the place without ordering this chicken-like tasting treat. As for Mao Jia Hunan Cuisine's version, I was glad that it's cooked and seasoned perfectly making it one of the most flavorful ones I've had.

Spicy Fried Chicken P220

We then had a serving of the Spicy Fried Chicken (P220), a nicely-cooked chicken dish with onions, peppers and tons of spicy, savory flavors. While this has tolerable spiciness, I was able to suffer its wrath 'cause I accidentally ate a spoonful of chili peppers.

Wintermelon Spareribs Soup P200

I was fortunate that we were served the Wintermelon Spareribs Soup (P200) next as this simple yet hearty bowl comforted me while my mouth was on fire. For someone looking for a flavorful soup though, this is definitely out of the list as this was very mellow and subtle on the palate. However, if you're ordering a ton of spicy dishes, then this is definitely a nice soup to balance the heat out, with a bonus of tender sparerib pieces.

Sour and Spicy Cabbage P120

It was unexpected, but this Sour and Spicy Cabbage (P120) item easily became one of my most favorite dishes of the night. While this cabbage serving has chili peppers, it wasn't spicy enough for my palate. It's also savory while being sour at the same time, which makes it so addicting. Everyone in our table loved this to bits!

Sour and Spicy Shredded Potato P120

We then got to sample the Sour and Spicy Shredded Potato (P120). While I expected it to taste a little similar to the previous dish, this one is definitely a lot spicier. And honestly, I think this dish is the spiciest one we've had for the night that even its sour promise wasn't able to balance the heat out. Texture-wise, the shredded potatoes were firm and might come off as raw at first bite. This may be perfect with beer though.

Stir-Fried Vegetable P120

We also had a serving of the Stir-Fry Vegetable (P120) which was apparently a bok choy dish with garlic and ginger. While I'm not a big fan of bok choy, I loved how simple yet tasty this dish was. Even the beau who regularly avoids vegetables liked this.

Chili Fish Head P380

Next we had the bestselling Chili Fish Head (P380) which uses the head of an Imelda fish or bighead carp. While there were loads and loads of chili peppers in this serving, I was surprised that the fish head didn't taste spicy at all. It was savory and very juicy albeit a little difficult to eat. It also wasn't too fishy for a fish head dish.

Hunan Sausage Off-Menu Special

Then, we had an off-menu but regularly available Hunan Sausage dish with leeks and chili peppers. I'm not so sure what these sausages are formally called, but they were imported from China and made from pork. I find them a little similar to our local longganisa though, just firmer, denser and more peppery in taste.

Salt & Pepper Spareribs P380

We also got to try the Salt & Pepper Spareribs (P380). While this dish was tender and flavorful, I somehow didn't find it extraordinary or good enough compared to the other dishes we had for the night. Don't get me wrong though, it's definitely savory, a little spicy and a good eat either on its own or paired with rice.

Diced Beef with Corn P220

We then sampled the Diced Beef with Corn (P220) which didn't successfully enticed me when it was served. However, it turned out to be a sumptuous beef entrée after my first bite. The diced beef may be a little small, but it was tender and succulent. I loved that it had generous amount of corn too and had a little hint of spice from the chili peppers.

Pork Strips with Chili Pepper P200

We then continued on with a serving of Pork Strips with Chili Peppers (P200). Unlike the previous dish, I was definitely able to feel the heat of this one. The pork strips were soft and juicy and oozing with a spicy yet refreshing flavor from the green chilies. This wasn't spicy enough compared to the shredded potato dish though.

Kung Pao Chicken P220

Last viand for the night was this plate of Kung Pao Chicken (P220) with onions, bell peppers and green chilies. This dish may look simple, but it's definitely savory and tasty. Every chunk of chicken was tender and moist, perfect with a cup of plain rice.

Honma Bread P90

Mao Jia Hunan Cuisine doesn't offer dessert items at the moment. However, they have the Honma Bread (P90 Small; P140 Big) which can nicely cap off your Hunan-style meal. Although it may look like your ordinary loaf of bread, this one is oven-baked first and then fried to attain a crispy crust. The inside of the loaf on the other hand, remains super soft with a hint of creaminess in it. It was so good when eaten as it is, but I bet it'd be more awesome when dipped into condensed milk.

THE VERDICT

Our trip to Mao Jia Hunan Cuisine definitely opened me up to another kind of Chinese regional cooking. While I'm not much of a spicy food fan, I found myself enjoying every spicy dish that we had. Actually, even the non-spicy items were also really good as they were extra tasty. And with a chef all the way from China, a very reasonable pricing, a nice, relaxing ambiance, and a prompt and friendly service, I'm sure to visit Mao Jia Hunan Cuisine with my spicy and Chinese food-loving family next time.

Taste - 4/5
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 4/5
Overall Value - 4/5


Mao Jia Hunan Cuisine, Ronac Art Center
424 Ortigas Ave., North Greenhills
San Juan City, Metro Manila
Philippines
(02) 586-0700; (0917) 630-6196
Facebook Page

27 comments:

  1. I seriously need to go to this restaurant. Affordable, good ambiance and great food.. what more can you ask for? :D

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  2. I can't believe we missed this during our family visit at Charlies Sadly, it will take a long time for us to travel that far again. =( I've never had hunan cuisine too although some of their dishes like the kung pao chicken, salt and pepper dishes and the fried bread has its similarities with other chinese dishes. This might be just the cuisine for me since I love spicy food. =D

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    1. I actually thought your family would be trying this instead of Charlie's 'cause this is a Chinese resto :D Anyway, I was reminded of you nga when we were eating. I'm sure you'd love the dishes here! ;)

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  3. The prices are affordable as I see it and your photos made me drooling but I am just hoping that it is not that quite spicy because I am not into it.

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    1. The spiciness of the dishes can be adjusted to your liking :) And not all dishes naman are spicy ^^

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  4. The dishes looks really inviting. And some dishes look quite spicy as there are too many spices on it, esp the fish dish. I am not into spicy foods but hubby would surely enjoy those dishes :-)

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    1. Ironically, the fish head wasn't spicy at all! Well, maybe except if you'll directly eat the chili peppers ^^

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  5. Looks yummy and kind of affordble. I am not into Chinese food but i would love to try them out;)

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  6. OMG! i am salivating. i have tried the top two dishes when i was in taiwan. and those are my fave. specially the first one. i dont know.. u just like it. and its one of the food that i missed, aside from chipay

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  7. Oh wow you make me want to cook and eat...I am getting hungry with the foods. They looks delicious...

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  8. Woah! Super daming food sumi!! :) i want frod legs!!! :)

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  9. Oh wow... that's a lot of food. But all worth when shared with the family. :) Very curious about the frog legs since I've never tasted one before. Pero pinaka-fave ko i-try would have to be the Salt&Pepper shrimps.

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    1. Try the fried frog legs when you get the chance. It has been one of my fave Chinese dishes ever! :D

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  10. wow, all those for just a single meal? I understand you came in a group when you had all these, LOL! Ang sasarap tingnan lahat...nakakagutom and that bread looks tasty. sana lang makayanan ko pag lahat ito nasa harapan ko na, :-D

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  11. This is very different indeed compared to the Chinese cuisine that I'm used to. I must admit that I've never tried any of the dishes above. It's fascinating how there's so much variety in Chinese cuisines. Just recently, I watched a BBC documentary on it where they went to different provinces to explore the style of cooking of each. Hunan cooking was also featured there. This is something I definitely must try because I love spicy food. :)

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    1. Didn't know you're into spicy food pala! :D Now, I learned something new about you.. haha.. Anyway, yes Chinese cooking has a lot of regional cuisines.. :) I haven't tried a lot pa nga, but hopefully soon.

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  12. Greenhills lang to? Hmmm haven't tried Hunan cooking, so spicy talaga yung ganun na cooking? I don't think I'd like spicy Chinese food, but with your review, I'd love to try it---with lots of water. Haha kidding!

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    1. Not every dish naman is spicy, and you can also ask them to turn down the spiciness if you're not so much into spicy food :D Haha.. True! I think I finished a whole pitcher of cold water the night we dined here :D

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  13. i love frog legs in sinampalukan. the dishes all look delicious except for the shredded potato and as you described its taste i will keep in mind not to order it when we dine in that place :)

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    1. The Shredded Potato was not that bad actually, but I think most people might find it a little odd.. :D

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  14. Everything is DELISHiously taken and presented. I would love to try the Stir -Fry Frog Legs. Never tasted even once.

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  15. They do have unique Chinese dishes which is a good treat for one's food cravings. I was also able to try the Stir fry frog legs.

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  16. oh wow! Delish! I can dig in to all of those, except for the bread though. The stir-fry frog leg, salt & pepper shrimps and dice beef with corn are my top choices. Price range seemed affordable too. I hope I can visit the place soon.

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  17. I've been looking for just that kind of tofu dish (Beancurd with Kuchay) now I know where to find it wheee! :D

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  18. The Honma bread looks so heavenly, I'd probably eat that whole day if I try...hihi. Everything so sumptuous here! I'll have the kungpao chicken please! :)

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