Phoenix Court: Chef's Chinese Specials at The Bellevue Manila

Growing up in a Filipino-Chinese environment, you can bet that every special occasion in the family is celebrated around a table of Chinese food. And while my fellow Go's don't seem to suffer from taste fatigue, I can't deny that I do. However, visiting the south has surprisingly rekindled my long-forgotten love affair with Chinese cuisine. And I have Mommy Jane and The Bellevue Manila's Phoenix Court to thank for that.
Phoenix Court The Bellevue Hotel Manila Alabang

Located at the 2nd floor of The Bellevue Manila's tower wing, Phoenix Court is the hotel's signature Chinese restaurant, and the only fine dining Chinese restaurant in the city at the moment. It can comfortably sit 250 guests and even has function rooms for private dinners. Its interior mainly uses golds and reds which give off a sophisticated yet warm vibe. And how can you miss that golden phoenix on one of its walls? So artsy!

Phoenix Court Bellevue Manila

The beau and I have been to Phoenix Court twice, and both of which are courtesy of Mommy Jane and The Bellevue Manila, the most gracious hosts ever! So on this review, let me run down and entice you with the dishes we got to try for both visits.

The First Time

Peking Duck Preparation at Phoenix Court

It was dinnertime when we first went to Phoenix Court, and what better way to invigorate us after a long, traffic journey to the south than to start the evening meal with 'em glistening Peking Duck. Just look at that crisp, moist and shiny skin!

Peking Duck Pancakes at Phoenix Court The Bellevue Manila
✓ 1st Way: Peking Duck Pancakes
We first had our Peking Duck served as Peking Duck Pancakes -- crisp duck skin with cucumber, shallots and some Hoisin sauce encased in a thin flour wrapper. This is one of my favorite ways to eat Peking Duck as I don't easily get overwhelmed. The duck gives off that sinful and savory flavor, while the Hoisin sauce provides the sweetness, and the fresh vegetable fillings and wrapper beautifully balance everything.

Peking Duck 2nd Way (Minced with Lettuce Cups)
✓ 2nd Way: Minced Peking Duck with Lettuce Cups
While the duck pancakes are unarguably good, for some reason, this is how I personally like enjoying my Peking Duck, Minced with Lettuce Cups. I know, purists might cringe at how unsophisticated my preference is. But I don't know... I just love how light and easy, albeit a little messy, this is on the palate. The duck meat is minced then sautéed with vegetables in oyster sauce. Served with lettuce cups, this is a great way to get interactive on the dining table. Plus, a good way to get kids eating some veggies!

Two Variety of Prawn (Sauteed and Crispy)
Two Variety of Prawn (Sautéed and Crispy)
We were then served with Two Variety of Prawn -- one sautéed and the other crisp-fried. I usually shy away from prawns that look like camaron rebusado since I used to think it was my mom's failed attempt at tempura. However, although the battered-and-fried prawn does remind me of camaron rebusado with how it looks, I have to say it's pretty good. Crunchy and far from greasy, the prawn itself is cooked to perfection too! The sautéed version on the other hand, was light yet savory. Perfect with fried rice.

Steamed Live Lapu-Lapu with Soya Sauce
✓ Steamed Live Lapu-Lapu with Soya Sauce
There are only two ways I like my fish, raw (sashimi) and steamed. So after seeing this platter of Steamed Live Lapu-Lapu with Soya Sauce served on our table, I was happy to finally eat fish after weeks of skipping them. (Sorry for ignoring you, fried fish!) I've always loved steamed fish as there's basically little risk of messing them up. As long as the fish is fresh or better yet, live, the dish is bound to have moist, great-tasting fish meat. And don't get me started with the sauce! The soya sauce coupled with scallion oil is the perfect complement to the fish with its light, salty yet savory flavor.

Stuffed Crispy Chicken with Sweet and Sour Sauce
Stuffed Crispy Chicken with Sweet and Sour Sauce
This is probably my least favorite dish for both our visits to Phoenix Court, and I sadly don't even remember a lot about it anymore. I'm not sure what is stuffed in the crispy chicken, but I recall it was chewy and somewhat tasteless. The only redeeming factors it had was the crispy chicken skin, and the good blend of sweet and sour sauce.

Quick-Fried Beef Tenderloin with Black Pepper
✓ Quick-Fried Beef Tenderloin with Black Pepper
I grew up eating this dish since it's my little sister's favorite Chinese food. And although I've tried quite a lot of it, Phoenix Court's version, the Quick-Fried Beef Tenderloin with Black Pepper, didn't disappoint. The beef pieces were fried perfectly, moist and tender but still with good bite. The sauce isn't too peppery too as it has nice touches of sweet and savor. This is another dish that makes one enjoy more rice than usual.

Homemade Bean Curd with Crabmeat Sauce
Homemade Bean Curd with Crabmeat Sauce
While I may not have gotten a lot of the Homemade Bean Curd with Crabmeat Sauce, I can't say the same for the beau who's a big fan of tofu. He gorged down this bean curd dish piece after piece. I can't blame him though 'cause this dish is pretty light. The bean curd pieces are soft on the inside with a chewy bite on the outside. The crab meat sauce with roe on the other hand, is both light and tasty.

Braised E-Fu Noodles with Seafood
✓ Braised E-Fu Noodles with Seafood
Noodles are the last thing on my mind when going for Chinese food. However, I think I might just order for Braised E-Fu Noodles with Seafood the next time I see it on the menu. This dish, albeit simple and straight-forward, is a great treat for both the palate and the tummy. The seafood -- fish fillet, shrimps and squid, as well as the mushrooms, are all cooked to perfection. The noodles, although coated in a slightly thick sauce, is also far from soggy. No wonder this is a dish my dad has long been a fan of!

Sesame Balls (Buchi)
Sesame Balls (Buchi)
I've never been a big fan of Sesame Balls, locally known as Buchi. But I have to admit that I enjoy them, to some extent. And I can say the same with these very pieces. The crust is made of sesame seeds which gives off a nice, fun and crispy texture. The inside on the other hand, is chewy with a burst of nutty-sweetness from the bean paste filling.

The Second Visit

We dined twice at the Phoenix Court during our second visit to the south. The first one was to try the Dimsum-All-You-Can (P650++ for adults; P325++ for children 6 to 12 y/o) promo for dinner, while the other is to try the new chef's specials. However, today let me share with you what the chef had us sample for lunch.

Braised Asparagus Soup with Fresh Shrimps
✓ Braised Asparagus Soup with Fresh Shrimps
For a light start, we had the Braised Asparagus Soup with Fresh Shrimps. I actually didn't think this was asparagus soup at first, because of the presentation. However, every spoonful definitely gave off that nutty note from asparagus. The shrimps were also very soft but with a good bite. This is definitely a good light and refreshing soup, deviating from the usual winter melon, fish lip or hot and sour soup I'm accustomed to.

Sweet and Sour Pork
Sweet and Sour Pork
Although I'm not much of a Sweet and Sour Pork fan, this dish was definitely a crowd-pleaser. The pork was cooked to moist and succulent pieces, and the sauce just had the right balance of sweet, sour and savory. I also surprisingly liked the pineapple chunks thrown into the mix. It added not just sweetness and texture, but also character.

Steamed King Fish with Touso Soya Sauce
✓ Steamed King Fish with Touso Soya Sauce
Though I slightly prefer lapu-lapu, this Steamed King Fish with Touso Soya Sauce is also a great fish item at Phoenix Court. Again, the fish itself was cooked perfectly -- soft, moist, slightly sweet and far from tasting fishy. Definitely a sign that the king fish was fresh. And while this didn't have much of my favorite scallion oil, it made up with heaps of salty and nutty crispy tauso.

Cereal Prawns
Cereal Prawns
I'm very biased when it comes to Cereal Prawns. I loved Wee Nam Kee's version so much, that I always use theirs as a basis for comparison. However, while Phoenix Court's cereal isn't as buttery, it's a different, yet still as good, take on this Singaporean favorite. The prawns are soft and juicy, encased in crispy and addicting cereal.

Spinach Bean Curd with Crispy Mushrooms
✓ Spinach Bean Curd with Crispy Mushrooms
While this Spinach Bean Curd with Crispy Mushrooms doesn't look anything too special, it was unarguably one of the most crowd-pleasing dishes of the day. The bean curd pieces infused with spinach are already a good treat, light, refreshing yet quite flavorful. However, the crispy enoki mushrooms took the whole dish to another level. They were super addicting, and definitely a good complement to the bean curd's texture.

Peking Duck Pancakes
Peking Duck Pancakes... We meet again!
Quick-Fried Beef Tenderloin with Black Pepper at Phoenix Court
The Quick-Fried Beef Tenderloin with Black Pepper wasn't as good as before, but still enjoyable.
Of course, there are also some familiar dishes served to us that day like the Peking Duck Pancakes which is as expected, a blockbuster, and the Quick-Fried Beef Tenderloin with Black Pepper which was a tad bit too salty for my liking.

Chilled Coconut Pudding
✓ Chilled Coconut Pudding
For dessert, we had the Chilled Coconut Pudding which I now consider one of my most favorite desserts of all time! The coconut pudding is served with coconut meat and some coconut water, and every mouthful is light and uber refreshing. The flavors, sweet, creamy and fruity, are all subtle and a symphony on the palate. It's also served chilled which makes it perfect for a hot, summer day. Yum yum yum!

THE VERDICT

Although I consider myself a foodie who prefers to avoid repetitive Chinese cuisine, I've still found myself falling for Phoenix Court's charm and good Chinese comfort food. There were some familiar dishes, and some more unique, but I've equally enjoyed them and found myself interested in Chinese food yet again. The nice, sophisticated ambiance, and the friendly and courteous service also added to my overall impression of Phoenix Court. Just as a phoenix rising from the ashes, my love for Chinese food is now rekindled.

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


Phoenix Court, The Bellevue Manila
2/F Tower Wing, The Bellevue Manila Hotel,
North Bridgeway, Alabang, Muntinlupa City 1781
Metro Manila, Philippines
(02) 771-8181
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