Sunday, October 16, 2011

H.K. Choi by Choi Garden

I had a fairly fast and traffic-free trip from the province back to Manila on a cold and rainy Sunday night and because I had some time to spare, I decided to get off at Megamall to have a well-deserved dinner.
Unfortunately, because it’s a Sunday evening and many families were dining out that day, almost all of my favorite restaurants in Megamall were chock-full of diners, so I decided to go to the Megamall Atrium as I believe there are fewer people around this area. Here, I stumbled across a restaurant called H.K. Choi.
I was instantly lured to eat here as the signage says Choi Garden - a now favorite restaurant of mine. I didn't really bring a lot of cash that time but, knowing that this restaurant is being run by the same owners of Choi Garden, I didn’t anymore mind the price, shut my eyes close, and went in right away regardless of what awaits me inside.
The interior's set-up is quite similar to its mother company, minus the hanging Chinese lanterns, the grand tunnel-like entrance, and the dominant red hues inside.
Also, unlike in Choi Garden, there’s not a lot of people when I went in and the place was very quiet.
Interestingly, they have these hanging lamps, which are rotating on their own.
And while there may have been some signs of deterioration in this place, it was evident that the management pays so much attention to the cleanliness of the store. In fact, as can be seen in the photo above, the floor was very clean and well-mopped.
Having said all of that, I think that, overall, this establishment looked very warm and inviting, especially for a restaurant located in a mall.  
Satisfied with the place, I ordered a lot of food but first, they welcomed me with this free house tea, which was okay but not really my cup of tea.
I thought of ordering one variant of dim sum, two kinds of rice toppings, and one for dessert and I swear I really felt the need to go to confession right after this meal - I really am a glutton!
Sio Long Pao (P 95.00)
For dim sum, I had their Sio Long Pao. This was served steaming hot and I guess it had to be eaten really hot as it can get too dry and gummy if it’s left to cool for a while. Compared to Choi Palace's Xiao Long Bao, the wrapper of this dim sum is a bit thick and gummy. Nonetheless, the soup inside was superb. This was gone in a flash.
Braised Beef Brisket Rice (P 195.00)
I took a risk and ordered something that is not recommended, which was the Braised Beef Brisket Rice. This was okay but not stellar. What’s good is that there was a hint of ginger in the sauce and the beef was super tender. However, though it was pleasant, it can get too salty if eaten without rice. I am not a fan of this dish but it was okay.
Roast Layer Pork & Soy Chicken (P 210.00)
Since I know I can’t consume an entire platter of cold cut combination, I just had a rice topping with two cold cut variants from that set. By the way, there were 4 slices of pork in this dish but, because I got too excited to eat this, I mistakenly ate the first slice without noticing that I haven’t taken a photo of the dish yet.
Soy Chicken
The soy chicken did not disappoint as expected. It was as good as the ones from Choi Garden. The meat was tender and it was very juicy and flavorful. 
Roast Layer Pork
I was, however, slightly disappointed with the Roast Layer Pork. It was alright because the taste was still spot on and the skin was really very crispy. However, the meat was not as tender and is a little tough and chewy. It’s still good though but not the best one I’ve tasted.
Free Soup
Every rice topping order comes with a free bowl of soup, which was a good value to me. This one's delicious. I have a hunch that this is somewhat similar to the Chinese Egg Drop Soup with the beaten eggs floating on the soup’s surface but I can't be too sure. 
Buchi (P 65.00)
This one’s tasty too. It’s so big, I can’t stuff the entire thing in my mouth. I really enjoyed eating this. It’s not too sweet but it can be a little filling. 
Good food coupled with excellent service is what most diners are looking for in a restaurant and I think this establishment has both of these qualities. Servers here are very attentive, responsive, and professional (except for a few of them who are chitchatting during business hours). Service was also very fast - there was almost no wait time here. Ten minutes was all I needed to have everything served hot and complete. 
Overall, there is good value for money here. I didn’t really think that the price of the food here is at all affordable, but it is. The serving size is big and the food was enjoyable. For everything that I ordered, which, of course, wasn’t all consumed, I only paid more than P 500.00 and that’s a meal for two or three. For a quick and quality meal while in the mall, I’d definitely recommend this restaurant.
Ambiance - 4/5
Food - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Value - 4/5
TOTAL - 4/5
H.K. Choi by Choi Garden
(02) 470 4233
2nd Level SM Megamall Atrium
EDSA cor. Julia Vargas Ave.
Mandaluyong, Metro-Manila


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