It was my aunt's birthday that herded the whole clan to celebrate at David's Tea House at The Wharf. Situated on top of a hilly point in Lakefront, Paranaque, The Wharf is a commercial complex which houses restaurants, bars, and coffee shops, providing the locals a place to hang out and relax.
As we sat at the reserved tables, we began to scout the menu for dishes that would represent each type of the Chinese (Hongkong) cuisine. Without much debate, we settled for a set menu (P3,950), which consists of soup, rice, a beef dish, a chicken dish, squid, clams, dessert and drinks, that's good for 10 people.
The Polonchay with Seafood Soup (P270) was surprisingly tasty. The color, while it made me think of green eggs and ham, was not something you usually associate with soup. I was hesitant to try it at first, but my stomach was battling it out with my sense of sight. In the end (the fight lasted for one minute), my tummy won, and as the hot soup tickled my taste buds, I tasted something which I could only describe as delicious.
The Shrimp Siomai (P75) was an additional order because there was no dim sum included in the set menu. It was meaty alright, but there was no distinct flavor of shrimp. If you closed your eyes and were oblivious to the name of the dish ordered, you'd have easily mistaken it for pork siomai.
Yang Chow Fried Rice (P180) is the most common choice for rice when in Chinese restaurants. And this particular Yang Chow offers nothing unique that can set it apart from that of other restaurants.
The Beef with Broccoli Flower (P240) shouts Chinese. Though some parts of the meat were a bit rubbery, the thinness of the cut prevented you from having a lock jaw out of over chewing. The broccoli flowers are not that crunchy anymore as they lay there drenched in beef sauce. Nevertheless, I love broccoli flowers, crunch or no crunch, so I ate more than my share.
The Fried Squid with Salt & Pepper (P260) was good. The fried batter was crisp, a bit spicy brought about by the pepper, and the dipping sauce completed the bite. The squid was cooked well, it wasn't tough at all and you can easily cut right through the meat.
As Filipino birthday traditions go, it wouldn't be complete without noodles to represent a person's prayer for longevity. Seeing as there were no noodles included in the set menu, we then ordered the Mixed Meat Pancit Canton (P190) which was okay. Granted it had more sauce than your average canton but really, it wasn't their saving grace.
The Clams with Tausi (P230) was spicy, but not overly so. And because clam meats are just teeny weeny in size, they usually depend on the broth or sauce for their flavor. I like clams save for the times they are cooked in sand. I hate it when I see sand still inside the clams' shells trickling down onto your plate as you try to open them and scoop out the meat. Good thing I didn't taste the grains in this dish.
I love their Sweet & Sour Pork (P215). This particular version was more on the sour side, but still had that faint hint of sweetness at the edge of your palate. Particularly noteworthy were the thin slices of tender pork. I love how you can easily cut through it without much effort, unlike overcooked ones that produce dry, rubbery meat.
The dessert included in the set menu was Sesame Buchi (P65). This was as good as any buchi can get. Crunchy, sesame-coated glutinous rice flour wrapped around sweetened mongo beans. It is really best eaten when warm, as it wouldn't have that same "crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside" effect if left for long.
As the night went on, with tummies full and appetites satisfied, my cousins and I went out through the back door to the open balcony at the back of the resto. With a breathtaking view overlooking Lakefront's community of Victorian houses and the cool Laguna Bay breeze providing us with natural air conditioning, it was certainly a perfect ending to a family celebration filled with good food and good company.