The bee wears a Mandarin hat here

2 07 2009

UBIQUITOUS DOESN’T even come close to describing just how easy Chinese cuisine can be found and had.  And here in the Philippines – from decades-old family-owned places in Ongpin, to hole-in-the-walls, to Miele Guide entrants Shang Palace (of the Makati Shangri-La) and Li Li (of the Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila) – they really are everywhere.

King Bee - Steamed Lapu-Lapu in Brown Sauce

Steamed Lapu-Lapu (Grouper) with Brown Sauce – my fave at King Bee!

But here near the office, there is one community landmark that has come to mean really affordable and really satisfying Chinese cuisine.  The place is called King Bee Restaurant.  This is where I’d run to to appease a persistent hankering for food mastered by the people who’ve taught us the concept of balance and whenever available, provide us with cookies to break at the end of the meal – not so much to enjoy the crumbs but more so to send us off with good luck on our way.

A constant dinner companion to this place would be Spider-man.  Sometimes, others would join in.  But for me, King Bee dinners have come to mean serious bonding time with one of my best friends.  When he’d be out to lunch with the team he manages, I would always be guaranteed a “pasalubong” of the Hot & Sour Soup we usually order to start our meals.  Apart from the hot & sour soup versions at a seafood restaurant in Batu Ferringhi in Penang, Malaysia, and at China House in Folsom, California, this one by King Bee happens to be my most favorite!  I love that the big bowl it comes in literally runs over with chunks and chunks of heart of palm, mushrooms (button, shiitake, wood ear), and strips of lean pork.  I love the “sweetish” notes in the sourness of the soup, as the undeniable spiciness hits you like a punch.

King Bee - Hot & Sour Soup

Hot & Sour Soup

For this particular spread I’m sharing here, we followed up the soup with lots of dimsum – ha cao (fresh shrimp – no, make that prawn! – dumplings), shark’s fin siomai (dumpling), and chicken feet.  I’m not wont to extol the virtues of dimsum anymore, but King Bee’s need special mention as they are really substantial, flavorful, and quite fresh.  Especially the ha cao.  I’ve asked for ha cao some places else – much to my disappointment.  King Bee’s chicken feet too were really tender.  The meat – skin and ligaments actually – do literally fall off the bone.

King Bee - Hacao

Hacao - Fresh Shrimp Dumpling


King Bee - Shark's Fin Dumpling

Shark's Fin Dumpling


King Bee - Chicken Feet

Chicken Feet

For our main entrees, we asked for the Shrimp with Cashew Nuts, Yang Chow Fried Rice, and the star of the spread (if you ask me) – the Steamed Lapu-Lapu (Grouper) with Brown Sauce.

The Shrimp with Cashew Nuts was subtly divine.  The shrimps are always fresh and they literally burst in the mouth with sweetness.  And as you see in the picture, the serving is very generous.  No scrimpring on the shrimps here!

King Bee - Shrimps with Cashew

Shrimp with Cashew Nuts

The Yang Chow Fried Rice, while a bit oily for my taste, is always consistently good, just the same.  The bottomline for me has always been the perfect doneness of the rice.

King Bee - Yang Chow Fried Rice

Yang Chow Fried Rice

Whenever there is enough budget (Hahahaha!), we’d ask for the Steamed Lapu-Lapu (Grouper) with Brown Sauce.  There will never be doubt on the freshness of the fish as it is literally “fished” out of one of their aquariums when you place your order.  Placed in a bucket (think your average pail of water) and then shown to you by the kind waiters, the fish will have to get your approval first before it is sent to the kitchen.

The fish ends up dramatically presented in a large white serving platter.  Swimming in the tasty “brown sauce”, it gets a pretty confetti of julienned onion leeks.  I always – always – ask for a lot of the onion leeks.  I get a piece of the tender white meat, douse it with a little of the sauce, and crown it with lots of the onion leeks before I put it in my mouth.  Sarrrap!

King Bee - Steamed Lapu-Lapu in Brown Sauce Deboned

Deboning the Steamed Lapu-Lapu (Grouper) with Brown Sauce

Oh, I almost missed out on mentioning the cuapao!  This is simply a “loaf” of their special bread, served with condensed milk on the side.  I get a slice, and tear it into bite size pieces as I go.  I dunk each piece into the condensed milk before I pop it in my mouth.  The best thing that hits you about this seemingly simple – almost “lowly” – bread is just how creamy it tastes in your mouth.  And that is not taking into consideration the milk!

King Bee - Cuapao



King Bee - Cuapao Condensed Milk

The condensed milk that comes with the cuapao

Prayer request

2 07 2009

To anybody who reads this blog, I’d like to ask you to please include former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino in your prayers.

I believe that nobody deserves to go through the pain and suffering of cancer.  But it happens.  It happens to just about anybody.

Our beloved former president has endured this for the past year and my heart breaks for the kind of pain she must be going through.

Please pray for her.  And for her loved ones who are on her side through this difficult time.

I’m praying for you, Tita Cory.  I hope you get well soon.