Dining Out

Lam Tin Tea House

Along Banawe Avenue in Quezon City is a relatively new restaurant called Lam Tin Tea House. When I say relatively new, I mean it is not yet two years old — or so. What’s interesting about Lam Tin is that it serves Noodle Feast, one of the signature dishes of Han Pao Tea House along Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City.

Han Pao Tea House used to have a branch along Banawe Avenue. According to the rumor mill, there was a falling out, the people behind Han Pao Banawe parted ways, one of them retained the Han Pao name while the other took the cook with him and put up Lam Tin.

I don’t pay attention to rumors but the fact that Lam Tin serves Noodle Feast — and, yes, it is very much Han Pao’s Noodle Feast — gives credence to the rumor and makes highly unlikely the other rumor going around that Lam Tin’s cook was pirated from Causeway Seafood Restaurant.

At any rate, whatever the rumor, which is true and which is false, is not really that relevant. The thing that matters is the quality of the food. And food at Lam Tin Tea House is good. And very reasonably priced.  

Although my husband had been there many times before (it is very near his former office), I had been there only twice. The first time was in late November. We ordered take-out to bring to my mother’s house. While waiting, we had a few dimsum items. I don’t remember much about the dimsum that day but what we ate at my mother’s house was a feast fit for the discriminating gourmand. The steamed white (Hainanese) chicken with the ginger sauce and fish fillet with black bean sauce were very much the same as the Han Pao versions. Unfortunately, I did not take photos that day.

Two weekends ago, we were back at Lam Tin. Not just take-out this time; we had dinner there too.

First, let’s start with the dimsum items. There was sio long bao which is soup-filled steamed dumpling. Although very tasty, there wasn’t enough soup in the dumplings. But then again, I am comparing them with the sio long bao of Din Tai Fung in Taipei which is, arguably, the world’s best.

The hakaw, or shrimp dumplings, were very good. I’m still not able to eat too much shrimps (I used to have a bad allergy), I only eat a little on every occasion but the single piece of hakaw that I ate at Lam Tin was very satisfactory.

The taro puffs were perfectly fried although I’d have been happier if there had been a more generous amount of pork filling.

From the texture of this dish, it appears that the spare ribs were first coated in starch then deep fried before they were steamed with the salted black beans. As served, they were tender, juicy and very tasty.

No Chinese meal is complete without tea. For some reason — and this isn’t psychological — tea helps digestion tremendously.

As you can see in the photo, there are enough shreds of birds’ nest to qualify Lam Tin’s soup as real birds’ nest soup. In some other restaurants, you wouldn’t find a discernible piece of birds’ nest.

Now, this was the star of the night. Deep fried spicy spare ribs. Perfectly seasoned, wonderfully tender and juicy with a lightly crisp exterior. Very meaty with very few pieces of bones. The pork meat itself wasn’t spicy; rather, the spiciness came from the chopped garlic and chili sprinkled over the spare ribs. Delicious!

In Taiwan, rice is not served until after everyone’s full, in accordance with what I’ve been told are traditional lauriat customs. But this is the Philippines where rice is eaten with the main course or courses. Naturally, we enjoyed the spicy pork spare ribs with yang show fried rice which came with a generous amount of small shrimps and pieces of char siu pork.

P.S. Forgot to explain why I said that the food at Lam Tin is reasonably priced. All the food you see in the photos, plus an order of fried spring rolls and two orders of siopao for take out, cost less than nine hundred pesos. Forgot the exact amount but the thousand peso bill came with some change that included a hundred peso bill.

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