Yesterday was the 77th birth anniversary of my late father-in-law. The family gathered for dinner at the Xin Tian Di Chinese Restaurant on the 4th level of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. I was a bit disappointed that there was no dinner buffet—I was hoping to raid the dim sum cart. We ordered a la carte and I forgot my disappointment from the moment the traditional appetizer of assorted cold meat (below) was laid on the table.
The roasted suckling pig was perfect, the chicken was succulent (even the breast meat was moist and that’s a big thing with me) but, most of all, the transparent seaweeds were just wonderful. You know, in some Chinese restaurants, the seaweeds are either too tough or too sour or too salty (like you want to return them or demand that the item be stricken from you bill or even demand that the restaurant pay you for being such a martyr eating such lousily prepared seaweeds). But at Xin Tian Di, the seaweeds were tender and pleasantly sweet—just the way I like it! We had to order a second plate of cold meat because my mother-in-law felt bitin.
I can’t tell you anything about the pork siomai except that the kids were all over them. Four orders of pork siomai and I wasn’t able to eat a single piece. Must be good, huh?
Now the taro puffs (above), I feasted on. The kids weren’t interested in them. I’ve eaten taro puffs in so many Chinese restaurants and I must say I was impressed with last night’s taro puffs. They were newly cooked (I hate reheated taro puffs) and the centers were not soggy. It was the first time I ate taro puffs that had more than minced pork as filling. I don’t know exactly what the filling consisted of but based on the overall taste and texture, it must have been a combination of meat and vegetables. Darn, they were good.
The only dim sum item without a photo here was the hakaw. The photos were blurred, sorry.
I burned my tongue biting into the vegetable-stuffed bean curd skins (above). That didn’t stop me from having a second one though… and a third… Forgot how many pieces I had.
The birthday noodles (above)… simple and understated. The only vegetables were a few cabbage strips and the sauce was very subtly thickened (fans of pancit canton with thick sauce might not like that, I suppose).
Ah, the yang show fried rice. Too bad it was served late—I was too full. When it finally arrived, the joke was “Where’s the rice?” There was so much meat and shrimps that it was practically a meal by itself. Below, a tablespoonful of yang chow. Yep, there was bound to be some meat and shrimps with every tablespoonful.
The lemon chicken (above) with the sauce served on the side. The thinly sliced chicken fillets were tender and moist. The sauce was a shade too sour for my 14-year-old daughter though. I suppose she has gotten used to the sweeter version that I cook at home.
The garoupa fillets (above) came with a brown sauce and was served on a steamer basket. I enjoyed the fillets better than the steamed whole garoupa (below) with a light soy sauce which my husband preferred.
Dessert consisted of buchi (above) and egg tarts (below). The buchi was freshly-cooked—the crust was just so crisp. Excellent, excellent.
The egg tarts were small, about two inches in diameter. Well, small compared to the ones from Lord Stowe’s Bakery and the Portuguese Egg Tart Factory. The custard were a bit chewy which really made it quite different from the usual soft kind. Unlike egg tarts from Lord Stowe’s Bakery (with the hopia-like layered crust), the crust of Xin Tian Di’s egg tarts was more like the crust of flaky empanada. Although I was initially shocked at the small size, it turned out to be a good thing because it would have been difficult to finish a bigger tart considering how full we were at the end of the meal. Funny thing is, we had to order a second round of egg tarts. I was so busy taking photos that the first round was gone before I knew it. It was hilarious, really. I was looking for the egg tarts and my sister-in-law laughed and said there was none left. I thought she was joking until she ordered more. The kids, you know… the kids loved the egg tarts.
So, that was last night’s Xin Tian Di dinner. It was great. But I can’t help wondering how much greater it would have been if it had been a buffet. Ah… next time, we’ll go during lunchtime. Or, perhaps, the people who manage Xin Tian Di might consider serving a buffet at dinnertime too. Oh, that’s a hint—I hear the Crowne Plaza’s Executive Chef has been reading my food blog. hehehe
One more thing before I end this entry. This might not be a big deal for some but it is a very big deal with me. The lemon chicken, the taro puffs and the buchi were NOT greasy. You know, with deep fried dishes, the cook must know enough about the correct temperature to achieve that. I’m really very particular with that. That is where so many restaurants, Chinese or otherwise, fail.
Oh, the bill. The bill was about Php 8,000.00. Seven adults, three teenagers, a pre-teener and four kids with very healthy appetites…