Last Sunday, after watching Cats, we went to the Mall of Asia to grab some dinner. There was a restaurant that I did not recall seeing before and, despite that fact that we had to wait a good twenty minutes to be seated (it was full), we waited patiently. The food seemed to be that good. But then again, I may be biased. If you’re a long time reader, you’d probably know how addicted I am to Chinese food. And the restaurant that we went to served nothing but Chinese food. It’s called Hong Kong Emperor Seafood Restaurant.
I’ve eaten chicken feet in, maybe, a hundred Chinese restaurants but these chicken feet rank among the best. Perfectly puffed, perfected steamed to tenderness, not too spicy nor the sauce too starchy.
The fried dumplings with Chinese chives were bursting with filling. We also ordered steamed pork buns (siopao) and since my daughters did not make any nasty comments, I will presume they were good. Same with the steamed pork dumplings (siao mai).
The fish lip soup was excellent. Speedy, Sam and I had second helpings.
The Kung Pao chicken was tasty but neither too sweet nor salty. The vegetables were perfectly cooked — still crisp but definitely not raw.
The dish I liked best was the honey pork spare ribs. Succulent, tender, sticky and sweet.
A surprising dish, these diced eggplants were dipped in batter and fried until crisp and golden. I’ve never had eggplants at a Chinese restaurant served like this before and the dish was excellent.
For dessert, we had egg tarts. The custard was perfect — creamy and rich. The crust was wonderfully flaky but… oh my, why did it taste of Star Margarine? That really ruined the experience for me. But then again, one unsatisfactory dish after all the perfect ones… that can’t be such a bad ratio. Maybe. But there were other things too. Like?
Okay, the service. Granted that the place was full and the turnover was fast, still, one would expect the dining table to be wiped meticulously clean before the diners are ushered in. I mean, we’re talking about an expensive restaurant with crystal chandeliers, not a street food stall. But our table still had traces of sauce when we were seated. I was just too hungry to make a fuss.
Then, there was the issue of drinking water. We had to ask for water five times, and wait for over fifteen minutes, before someone finally came over with four glasses of water.
Issues like that may not a big deal to some diners. The restaurant management might think they’re negligible and diners would just keep coming back since they would remember the place more for the good food than the not-too-satisfactory service. But. BUT. For diners who care about the total experience, and who expect the kind of service that is commensurate with the set-up of the place and the price tags on the menu (our bill was over two thousand pesos), those things matter.
Would I recommend Hong Kong Emperor Seafood Restaurant? For the food, yes, but with a clear warning that the quality of service is not as high as the quality of the food.
Would I dine there again? I’m still thinking about it.