Rumor has it that an International Master Chef (IMC) working for the Chinese restaurant in Heritage Hotel started his own Chinese resto in Jupiter Place (replacing Malacca). It even got the approval of foodies with discriminating taste, who love Chinese cuisine.
We satisfied our curiosity last night. Now I understand why the foodies are raving about it...
IMC Kavino is always full in the evenings, especially on weekends. They retained the same interior ambiance of Malacca, just with minor revisions (like putting covers on top of the chairs and adding more lights around the restaurant).
Instead of investing on the ambiance, the owners decided to invest on high-quality kitchen equipment, which is essential in providing really good Chinese food.
HK Chinese Chef Lau has 8 years of experience here in Manila at the Heritage Hotel. He guarantees the quality of food is as good as the Chinese hotel restaurants. He should know; after all, he manages the kitchen operation. :) He adds that he doesn't have any vices (like playing in casinos), but he is passionate about windsurfing, kitesurfing, and scuba diving, which has kept him here in Manila for a long time.
Wilson Tan has 10+ years of experience managing a 10,000+ seat-banquet every weekend in Century Seafood. He is a passionate foodie with whom you can have an endless chat about food not only in Manila but also in Hongkong.
The menu here is different. Its core foundation is Cantonese cuisine, which is the specialty of Chef Lau.
Recognizing that foodies like to try something new every time and that they easily get bored with the same Chinese menu, the owners decided to modernize some dishes by giving them a different twist. They introduce something special every week to keep foodies coming back for more.
The pricing is reasonable, considering the quality of food. You can customize your meal by just ordering a cup instead of a bowl for the soup, or you can order 2 pieces instead of the 6 pieces if you just want to try a particular dish (ex. the Pork ala Beijing).
I always love it when a Chinese restaurant serves complimentary and really good hot tea with unlimited refills. A kimchi salad appetizer will be offered to you immediately, and if you choose to accept it, you'll be charged P50.
Also, the wet towels provided are charged at P10 each. You can request to remove it from the bill if you don't use it.
My wife loves Hot & Sour Soup. It is one of our gauges to determine if a Chinese restaurant is good or not. It passed the test with flying colors! It is one of the best Hot & Sour soups we've ever tasted. It has just the right spiciness and smooth consistency we're after.
This is a simple soup with egg and seafood bits. I like how the clear taste of the soup lets the flavor of the seafood shine.
The Takoyaki, one of the bestsellers of the house, came highly recommended. We were expecting the usual takoyaki balls, but instead we got this open-faced lumpia in a cabbage wrapper. Breaded cuttlefish topped with Katsuobushi (bonito flakes), mayonnaise and chopped onion leeks make up this dish.
It's really good -- and it had better be, because of its price.
We tried this pork wrapped in lumpia wrapper with hoisin sauce. It was a good try, but it failed on the overall taste. I'd recommend that you order other dishes instead.
This one provides interesting flavors. The soft and tasty spareribs meat is served in mayonnaise and Chinese white wine, separately. Both are a bit sweet though. We liked dipping the mayonnaise-coverd spareribs in the wine sauce and vice versa. The serving size is good to share with 2-3 people.
This is the signature dish of Chef Kavino Lau. I love the sauce, which is a combination of ginger, onion, and a special ingredient. It's a bit oily but still great to mix the sauce with the rice. The secret of this dish? They use Hongkong chicken, which is yellowish in color and has a fatty layer in between the skin and the meat.
Highly recommended! Don't forget to order it.
Mango Sago with Sea Coconut and Pomelo (P118 +5% service charge).
To end the meal, they serve complimentary dessert (similar to Tao Yuan) in a small cup (left photo). Instead of spending on advertising for the restaurant, the owners decided to put the money in good service and surprises like free desserts and discounts throughout the week.
The complimentary serving was a bit bitin, so we decided to order one more (right photo). This is one of the best mango sago dishes I've ever tasted with its yummy addition of pomelo. Their version is creamier, with more liquid than the bits and pieces of fruits. I wish it had generous servings of sago, though.
I agree with something that Wilson said, that the medals don't mean anything -- what matters most is consistently delivering really good Chinese food, only then can one earn the title "International Master Chef" in every first-moment encounter with the customer. :)
International Master Chef Kavino
(Formerly Malacca Restaurant)
136 Jupiter St., ground floor Jupiter Place, Makati City
Telephone: +632 964-7545
Kavino Lau, Chef Owner: +63917 591-2168
Wilson Tan, Owner: +63917 851-9926
Lhea Badenas, Manager: +63923 809-8006
Facebook: IMC Kavino
Monday to Sunday: 11.00am to 2.30pm, 6.00pm to 10.00pm
Parking: Basement Parking available in Jupiter Place
TIP: You need to have a reservation to eat here, especially at night. This is perfect for a 75-person private event like a Birthday Party or Christening Party.
Live an Awesome Life,
Full Disclosure: Nothing to disclose. We paid for our meals. I'm not related to, connected with or compensated in any way by the restaurant featured in this blog post. I'm not connected with, compensated by, or represented by any PR firm.
P.S. They have a current promo: 20% discount from Monday to Friday, and 10% discount on weekends until April 16.