I’ve been to Makansutra in Manila Ocean Park several times, and I have to agree with the others that it’s quite a letdown. The concept of having several hawker stalls in one cozy environment is nice, but the quality of the food is not something which will make me excited to go back there again. Case in point is the soggy wantan mee I got the last time and the teenie-weenie stick of chicken satay.
Same with the Malaysian restaurants in Manila. I still have to find one which will completely impress me, including the ones found in the malls.
So I’ve only been to Singapore ONCE and Malaysia three times and don’t claim to be an expert. But I just know when something tastes glorious, like this Hainanese chicken rice meal I had at Tao Yuan Restaurant in Malate the other night.
The bowl of chicken rice and the beautifully-presented Hainanese chicken plate with three dipping sauces was just exquisite. The chicken was immersed in its own juice with a savory oily flavor I can’t quite connect. My dinner for one cost me P280, but I didn’t mind. It’s really hard to find restos offering Hainanese chicken rice in my part of town, and not this divine.
Prior to this, the house served me a free appetizer of pickled vegetables which I really liked. I loved the crunchiness of the carrots and the turnip in their sweet-sour vinaigrette.
It is quite misleading though. Tao Yuan is essentially a Cantonese restaurant. The waiter or manager will just tell you their Singaporean offerings verbally 😀 although I heard their full-scale Singaporean menu will be ready soon.
Some of the things you can order here: the sought-after fish head curry and chili crabs with mantao which am saving up for my next paycheck. Hehe.
In the meantime, you can be satiated with their Singaporean beef hofan – P368 for a full plate. Flat rice noodles with scrambled eggs, bean sprouts,a generous topping of shrimps, clams, pork bits and (gasp!) chorizo.
The color is kinda off, but their mango fish fillet (P420) is also a must-taste. Fish slices in a combination of chili and mango sauce, topped by shredded green and ripe yellow mangoes. Flavor is a combination of salty, sweet and sour. You can order a whole garoupa or lapu-lapu for this, but that will be measured per 100 grams. 🙂
An indication that Taoyuan is the real deal: some of the owners are Singaporean. They have one Singaporean chef and three Cantonese ones. (I guess this is what’s wrong with Makansutra at the moment: I will trust a Filipino cook in whipping up real good adobo, and not some foreign dish. In the same way, a Chinese chef can prolly not make chicken apritada the way I’d like it.)
So even if I work in the Malate area, I really got to know about this resto through Reggie Aspiras’ previous column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It turns out she’s there on the day of my visit. The manager Benny (who I know from the defunct Fishing Village resto) told me she’s a regular patron. So yes, here’s my souvenir pic with Chef Reggie, one of the food columnists I really read 😀
Tao Yuan Restaurant
Location: 508-512 Gen. Malvar St.
corner A. Mabini (across Pan Pacific Hotel)
Tel. Nos. 522-7009, 522-7010