Dining Out

Great Asian food at every price range

Two weeks ago, my husband and I went to the Dapitan Street flea market for a little shopping. If you haven’t heard, Dapitan is a haven for bargain shoppers. Everything from furniture to Christmas wreaths can be found there. But that’s another story. What I want to share with you is where we had lunch before we went to Dapitan. It was a weekday, traffic was bad and I was already bracing myself for a humid and dusty shopping experience. My husband, Speedy, suggested lunch at Shuin along Araneta Avenue, a place frequented by the residents of the nearby Chinese community.

My first Shuin experience over a year two years ago was not related to dining. Shuin sells food products from ready-to-eat roast duck (a practical idea for the Noche Buena or New Year’s Eve dinner) to peanut oil to loose leaf tea. I’ve shopped there a couple of times but never had a meal there despite repeated pronouncements from my husband that the turo-turo style fare was really good.

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That day we went to Dapitan, I figured it was time to try a meal at Shuin. I ordered a bento box with roast duck and, to my surprise, I was asked to choose a vegetable dish to go with it. When my bento box was served, not only did I have roast duck, the eggplant dish I chose and rice, there was a dark hard boiled egg as well that looked like it had been simmered in sauce after it was shelled. The price? P140.00 (it’s the most expensive bento box meal in Shuin). And everything was delicious. If you plan to try a Shuin meal, however, let me warn you that it is a small no-frills place and the rest room is a nightmare. If you can live with that and just focus on the food and the great price, you’re in for a treat.

The weekend after the Shuin lunch, we were back in the Quezon City area. This time, to bring our girls to Subic Apex, a warehouse along Quezon Avenue that sells everything from Chinaware to blue jeans. We dropped by on the day we went to Dapitan and branded blue jeans were on sale “? buy one, take one. We figured the girls would have a ball so we took them there. And have a ball they did. I almost ran out of cash.

It was almost dinner time by the time the girls called it quits. Speedy suggested a place which specialized in fusion cooking. The restaurant is called Asian Twist and it is located at the corner of Amoranto and Speaker Perez streets in Quezon City. The restaurant interior is slick and modern with a mint green and white motif. The menu?

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Try the bibimbop (Korean bibimbap, literally, “mixed rice”) with bagnet, the Ilocano lechon kawali, served in a stone pot (which really makes Asian Twist’s bibimbop a variation called dolsot bibimbap) with kimchi, mung bean sprouts, kangkong, gosari (brackern fern stems) and raw egg. How much? P175.00 “? the average price of Asian Twist’s bibimbop meals.

Fast forward to December 12. It was our 18th wedding anniversary and we had already agreed that we would have dinner at Miyabi Restaurant at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Malate, Manila, a place suggested by a reader (thank you, Nats Lee!) after reading my review of Sumo Sam Restaurant.

What makes Miyabi different from the gamut of Japanese restaurants in the metropolis is the wide, wide, wiiiiiddddeee array of dishes. The menu was several pages long and there were about twenty items on each page. We were so overwhelmed that we couldn’t decide. My older daughter, Sam, wanted to take the easy way out by proclaiming, “I want everything!” That would have been impossible, of course, unless we were prepared to be hospitalized afterward for sheer gluttony.

So, we chose. Carefully. Forgive me if I don’t remember the Japanese names of the dishes. So much food and it got totally confusing. But I can describe each dish we had “? all seven of them. Asparagus with a spicy mayo dressing garnished with chopped hard boiled egg. Gyoza. Nylon clams with a buttery sauce. Rice rolls topped with generous heaps of roe. Rice rolls wrapped in tuna and salmon and stuffed with mangoes, cucumber and cabbage strips. More rice rolls with prawn, egg roll and crisp crumbs. And a last platter of rice rolls wrapped in bean curd skins. The seven-course dinner for four, with drinks, cost a little over P1700.00. What a feast!

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