Monday, July 8, 2013

Suzhou: Eastern Chinese Cuisine in Metro Manila

There's this new restaurant in Bonifacio Global City that serves eastern Chinese cuisine which has been open for a few months now. Eastern Chinese cuisine is a lot different from the usual Chinese restaurants we experience here in Manila. It's a place where you can have modern Shanghainese comfort food.

But as I talked to the owners, I realized that this is not that new after all! In fact, I've already been to Suzhou restaurant a lot of times without noticing the brand because they've already rebranded. It's my first time in this branch but I frequented the one inside Promenade Greenhills the most! They usually have the hole-in-the-wall type of restaurants in the past and this branch is their first upscale restaurant and a few more coming soon. Makati is their next target location as per the owner.

The pronunciation might be a bit challenging if you read the english counterpart but it's pronounced as "soochow". Having lived in Shanghai before and also visited Suzhou in the past makes me not a stranger in this cuisine. In fact, it did remind me of my Shanghai days the moment I tried out some of their dishes. On some dishes where "Kiam Chai" is present, you'd definitely feel the Taiwanese influence on the food as Taiwanese food has a huge influence in eastern Chinese cuisine.

Interiors
Located on the second floor of the Crossroads Complex (where the first branch of Starbucks drive thru is), they took advantage of the fact that they are more private than the ones on the ground floor. Because of this, a lot of people do their meetings here and in fact, they have small VIP rooms using curtains as dividers (check out the photos below).

Minimalist yet has the upscale feel, you'll love the Chinese vibe inside and they even cater to business people, families and couples! For meetings, check out one of the 3 VIP rooms which you can combine into 1 big VIP room. For couples, there's also a section where you can have a semi-private space while having a view of the outside. On Saturday nights, you can even catch a soccer practice game or two!
Entrace of Suzhou in BGC
Inside Suzhou
Private date spot with your own divider. Soccer field seen from the window.
One of the private VIP rooms.
The Food
We were privileged to have been invited to try Suzhou out. Because of that, a lot of dishes was served so we can taste a little bit of everything and it gave us an idea of the food they serve in just one dinner.
Pancake with Spring Onions | Php 130.00
If I didn't know what this was, I'd call this a Chinese pizza. It really did feel like I was eating a thin crust pizza. Crunchy and flavorful, I recommend that you order this as an appetizer before you eat your main meals.

Pan Fried Xiao Long Bao | Php 130.00
As I've mentioned, I've been to Suzhou a lot of times already and 100% of the time, we order Xiao Long Bao. We usually order the steamed one and finally, they let me try another version, Fried Xiao Long Bao. XLB (Xiao Long Bao) are sometimes referred to as soup dumplings and are steamed buns which usually contain a bit of soup inside. If you notice, there are no carrots below this XLB. They do this so the skin wouldn't tear easily and the soup inside will stay. By frying it, the base will be crunchier and it is double purpose as it holds the skin better to keep the soup intact.

Definitely one of the best XLBs available in Metro Manila. Even the owners told us that it's just now that XLBs are gaining popularity in Metro Manila buy they've been serving this for 7~8 years already. The first time I visited Shanghai was the time I got to try one of the bests XLBs and this, definitely comes close.

Salt & Pepper Fried Tofu | Php 130.00
Tofu usually doesn't have taste but the crunchy breading seasoned with salt and pepper made it a lot more interesting. It's really not that special as any restaurants can do this but the right amount of salt and pepper will make or break these kind of dishes. Suzhou got the right combination and it did make every bite of this dish tasty.

Suzhou Fried Rice | Php 180.00
We were served two fried rice that night. The "Suzhou fried rice" and the "pork and vegetable fried rice". I wasn't able to take a photo of the latter but that's the fried rice I highly recommend. Other than the "pork and vegetable fried rice" being tasty, it is also unique unlike most restaurants who just served yang chow or salted fish fried rice. This is something new and a must try. [Pork and vegetable fried rice | Php 180.00]

Spicy Fried Chicken | Half Php 240.00 / Full Php 480.00
It did look like the famous chicken from Sincerity the first time I saw it. The basket looked like Chicken Charlie's basket. Even though this dish looks familiar because of some similarities, it's the first time I've tried a spicy chicken that is just right with it's own unique spiciness. Those who cannot tolerate spicy food should avoid this dish but if you love spicy food? This is good because that dinner, I got 3 pcs of this chicken and this was one of my most favorites other than the XLB.

Steamed Beef in Garlic | Php 310.00
Stacked on top of each other, this dish is enough for 3~4 pax (if you order other dishes). Tender and full of flavor, this goes well with the hoisin sauce provided. Mixed with the sauce, it gives a nice contrast of sweet and salty that blends well in your mouth. This dish was my wife's favorite that night and mind you, she is not a beef eater. It must be that good. For me, I didn't eat a lot of this because I was concentrating on trying out everything.

Stir Fried Noodles | Php 180.00 ~ Php 190.00
You can opt to not order this if you don't really like noodles very much but for the price, yes, it indeed is very affordable. Actually, all their dishes are very affordable if you consider the location, the ambiance and the quality of the food. You can say that this restaurant is indeed a bang for your buck.

Special Taiwan Beef Noodle Soup | Php 200.00
Since I was already full because this dish came out second to the last, I only got to try a small piece of beef and the soup. As you can see, there is Kiam Chai in the soup and this is where Taiwanese cuisine is very evident even without reading what this dish is. The soup is not that thick for me and I would've loved it to be thicker but this might be up to your own preference. This dish is also good as a complete meal for a quick lunch or heavy snack.

Spareribs& Pickles in Sesame Oil | Php 200.00
I was also able to try a little bit of this and the beef in this noodles tasted like the beef inside the beef noodle soup. Other than that, I wasn't able to try the quality of the noodles and the sauce was okay. Comparing the two dry noodles served that night, I would've loved this better because it is tastier.

The Dessert
Fortune Cookie | Complimentary
Every time I see a fortune cookie, it reminds me of the show "Freaky Friday". Also when we visited a number Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles, majority of them gives out fortune cookies after meals. Funny thing was, we never even got a single fortune cookie when I was in Shanghai for months and neither did we get such in the nearby provinces. Fortune cookie is a western thing.

Just a little bit of trivia, fortune cookies are often served as a dessert in United States but not in China. It was popularized by immigrants around early 20th century and in summary, they usually say, "Introduced by the Japanese, popularized by the Chinese, but ultimately ... consumed by Americans." That explains it.

Fried Banana Nuggets | Php 130.00
Overloading with chewiness inside
My favorite dessert for the night. I love bananas and I can definitely relate to the minion-craze now as they also love bananas (If you're reading this from the future, July 2013 was the date where people have gone minion-crazy because of the movie, Despicable Me 2.)

It tasted like they mashed the banana inside wrapped in a semi-crunchy wrapper (Far from turon, a famous Filipino dessert usually with banana and jack fruit inside). I would've eaten the whole basket but I was shy to ask for more. If you also love bananas, don't forget to end your meal with this!

Almond Jelly with Mango | Php 110.00
This dessert is just normal for me. An alternative for the usual mango sago or almond jelly desserts usually served in Chinese restaurants here in the Philippines, the almond taste overpowers the mango taste so it's like eating almond jelly in a way.

The Drinks
Ice Fruit Tea | Php 80.00
They brew their own iced tea here and for Iced Tea lovers like me, yes, this iced tea is good for the price.

Grape Fruit Shake Php 100 ; Wintermelon Milk Tea Php 90 ; Iced Fruit Tea Php 80
My friend got the grape fruit shake but I wasn't able to try it. It sure looks very similar to the grape fruit shake of Italiannis. The wintermelon milk tea was also just ok but for the price, it's all good if you're tired of drinking the same milk tea drinks from other milk tea shops.

Wintermelon Milk Tea | Php 90 

The Menu

Conclusion
Other than some familiar fare dishes, I still think that majority of the food they serve here is unique and this assures you that this is not the usual Chinese restaurant. It's eastern Chinese cuisine and for the price? It is definitely worth it! It's a place where you can almost eat daily because it is affordable compared to a lot of other restaurants in the area that are not fast food!

Other than the price being very competitive, they also serve uniquely good food! This restaurant will definitely be on my list of restaurants that I will go back to in the near future so I can try out the other dishes and maybe order 10 orders of XLB!


    Suzhou Eastern Chinese Cuisine
Address: 2/F Crossroads Complex, 32nd St Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
Phone: (02) 551-1680
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/suzhouxlb

Operating hours:
Mon - Thu: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Fri - Sat: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm - 12:00 am
Sun: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Cheftonio
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