Speedy celebrated his birthday yesterday — the first without the girls who stay at a rented condo near their school in the city. So, it was just the two of us. I asked him what he fancied for lunch — did he want me to cook his favorites or did he want to have lunch out? Out of the blue, he had a craving for binukakang dalag (deep-fried butterflied mudfish), so, a little after 11.00 a.m., we were off to Bulawan Floating Restaurant in the nearby town of Pililia.
We hadn’t gone a few kilometers when we started discussing one of the most tiresome, though inevitable, subjects this summer. The heat was terrible. Pililia was over an hour away and driving under the noonday sun is never pleasant, the airconditioning in the car notwithstanding.
We were caught in a traffic jam when Speedy asked if I wanted to eat Chinese food instead. What about King Bee, he asked. Sure, I said. It’s not like I’d say no to Chinese food, ever. But we’d have to turn back and drive toward the opposite direction. That was when we passed Hap Chan Tea House.
We’ve been to Hap Chan before, the food wasn’t bad (although not spectacular either), the place had airconditioning and it’s comfortable. Speedy said he was worried about the open-air setting of Bulawan. On a cool December day, it would be wonderful to dine by the fish pond al fresco but in this El Niño summer? I suppose not.
And so we had lunch at Hap Chan. And the things we ordered… well, it’s like Speedy didn’t do any of the ordering. My, my, no pork nor beef! We had chicken and fish.
Our meal started with the chicken feet appetizer. Well, we’ve had better chicken feet.
The eight treasure soup was delicious though. And it’s something we wouldn’t have ordered if the girls were with us because Alex doesn’t like tofu and the soup had lots of soft tofu. I would discover later yesterday that I have a recipe for eight treasure soup in one of my cookbooks and I do intend to make it at home one of these days.
If you’ve tried the salt and pepper pork that is popular in most Chinese restaurants, well, this is the fish version. Delectable! The coating was crisp and light and not greasy at all. There were just enough chopped chilis to give the dish sufficient bite without making the eyes water.
The Hainanese chicken was delicious too. And so was the fried rice. Too bad that we had to cancel the crispy oyster omelet that I was so hankering for (I had a mental image of the Shih Lin Night Market in Taipei, all of a sudden) but it turned out that no oysters were available so what could I do, really?
We had to bring home what we couldn’t finish (the rice, mostly). Then, for dinner, I cooked a noodle dish and leche flan. The girls will be home later today so I suppose that tonight’s dinner will be the real start of Speedy’s birthday celebration that will last all the way through Father’s Day on Sunday.