November 12, 2009
I received a lot of raves from the Chinese community about this popular restaurant in Malate called Tao Yuan. Originally, they were only serving Hong Kong Cantonese dishes but when they brought in the Singaporean chefs, the word of mouth about their Hainanese Chicken spread like wildfire among the Chinese foodie community. A few days ago, I received a Facebook message from our foodie friends from the Singapore Embassy that Tao Yuan serves the Best Singaporean Food in Manila. I definitely agree!
I've eaten twice at Tao Yuan and I can't get enough of their Hainanese Chicken Rice. Tao Yuan's version has more fat, which I think makes it yummier than those offered at other restos that claim to serve the Best Hainanese Chicken in Manila. (Any other theory why Tao Yuan's version is so good?)
You can order a half-chicken, which is good for 2-4 persons. The color is a bit pale, and it is served neither hot nor cold. They serve it with tiny servings of the chili, garlic and soy sauce but you can get a refill of those as often as you want. You have to order the chicken rice with the chicken broth -- this combination is what makes the Hainanese Chicken Rice the stuff of foodie legend.
In Singapore, our Favorite Hainanese Chicken Places are Boon Tong Kee, Chatterbox in Meritus Mandarin along Orchard, and Wee Nam Kee in Novena. The latter is the closest one to the P&G Singapore Headquarters. Hainanese Chicken Rice was always on the agenda every time a Filipino visitor would go to Singapore.
Wee Nam Kee's version is served a bit roasted. The meat is tender and tasty. It is also served in half-chicken servings. They offer the best flavorful chicken rice, which you have to order separately.
What also makes the place special is this unlimited serving of garlic ginger, chili, soy and jalapeno sauce. How I wish Tao Yuan would have condiment offerings as yummy-looking as these!
Tao Yuan gets fully packed during the weekend, so you have to reserve in advance. The best time to go is during weekdays. To date, only Tao Yuan and Shou Zhou Dumplings are the only two restaurants worth visiting in Malate.
The Tao Yuan Menu (Most of the Singapore Specialties are off-menu items)
For starters, I recommend you order this Asado Tart -- crusty on the outside, with sweet asado sauce inside. Spanx couldn't stop raving about these tarts.
This is the closest that you can get to very good Chili Crab in Manila, with matching fried buns (although I still prefer Singapore East Coast's Black Pepper Crab). The sauce is quite thick and yummy by itself. In fact, we brought the sauce back home and used it as a rice topping.
We ordered the cereal prawns for the kids because of the cereal but, apparently, it had chili bits. Maybe you can order this for your kids and ask them to serve it without the chili. Overall, the flavors of this dish merged wonderfully, especially with the spicy kick.
Each time we ate here, we were served complimentary Mango Sago Cream dessert. (I wonder if it was because I was shooting the food with a big DSLR camera? Hmm...) Let me know if you have a similar experience or if they really serve complimentary desserts.
The Mango Sago Cream was very smooth, the sago was cooked very well, and the mango used was fresh -- just the way we like it.
Tao Yuan Restaurant
Lourdes Chu (Telephone: +632 489-7218)
508-512 General Malvar Street, corner A. Mabini Street, Malate, Manila
(below Reyna Isabelle Mansion and across Pan Pacific Hotel, beside Music 21 Plaza)
You can park in front of the restaurant or avail of the parking space along A. Mabini Street. If you pass by A. Mabini, watch out for Shou Zhou Dumpling on your left. Once you see it, you'll see the parking entrance on that left side as well. Tao Yuan is just walking distance from that place and you can show your receipt to get FREE parking.
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