A jolly bee and Spidey

24 07 2009

TWO BIRTHDAY boys deserve a break.  And since our breathlessness in anticipation over the supposed opening of Pepper Lunch at Alabang Town Center went kaput yesterday, off we went to our trusty neighborhood Chinese restaurant – King Bee.  While waiting for the food to arrive, I played with the desk top ad and noticed that this Mandarin hat-wearing bee happens to be a jolly one.  Dinner with a jolly bee, and Spider-man – definitely not a bad idea at all.

Funny that for someone craving for great steak dinner with lots of plump rice, we decided to totally do away with our requisite Yang Chow Fried Rice.

King Bee - Hot & Sour Soup 00

Hot & Sour Soup... in the smallest bowl!

We started with the Hot & Sour Soup, the smallest bowl size, which was still quite a lot.  The store manager who took our order repeated a couple of times that we might want to consider individual servings instead, as the smallest was – as I have said – still quite a lot.  Spider-man, squinting his eyes, managed a chuckle as he knows just how much I adore this soup that he would almost need to wrestle his way to get himself a cup.  Hahaha!  After sending dagger looks towards the store manager’s way, as if saying “I know what I’m asking for,” I was appeased to see that she finally took the order down.  She was extra attentive to my special instruction “no bell peppers please,” especially since a single julienned strip of bell pepper in the soup would have made me send it back!

King Bee - Hot & Sour Soup 01

Ladled to my own cup – my favorite Hot & Sour Soup!

Having placed the soup order, I went back to perusing the extensive menu, something that to me was actually an exercise in futility.  Absent-mindedly, I was thumbing thru its pages, but with full cognizance of what Spider-man and I would want for full dimsum-only dinner.  Of course, we asked for Hacao (steamed fresh prawn dumplings).  While deliberating the pros and cons of Kutchay Dumpling – which we later decided against ordering – Spider-man asked for Asado Siopao (steamed buns with Chinese pork barbecue filling).

King Bee - Hacao 00

The best Hacao


King Bee - Asado Siopao 00

Spider-man suddenly wanted the Asado Siopao!

To round everything up, we asked for the Sea King Roll.  The very very hot house tea was quite good already that we didn’t feel the need to wash everything down with something else.  Besides, the wait staff were so kind to provide us with complimentary sugar syrup to fix the drink to our liking.

King Bee - Sea King Roll 00

Sea King Roll – the most royal of them all

Apart from the soup that has always been consistently satisfying, the stars of our dimsum spread were the Hacao and the Sea King Roll.  King Bee’s Hacao remains unparalleled as far as I’m concerned.  Each dumpling has just one thin layer of dough that enrobes inside it really fresh, plump, and naturally sweet prawns – always two in every dumpling!  Each actually appears so full that I would fear the pinched end that holds everything in place would just burst.

King Bee - Hacao 02

This Hacao is sitting prettily on my plate – only to be devoured minutes after I took this shot.


King Bee - Hacao 05

A Hacao cut open reveals fresh, plump, really juicy prawns.

The Sea King Roll deserves such a royal name.  And it’s really a work of (edible) art too.  It’s undoubtedly Chinese, but something about the “obi belt” thing going on with the napa cabbage tying everything together – a crab stick, a thick fillet of white fish, a jumbo prawn, and a brocolli floret – just looks Japanese to me.  But the very moment I’d sink my teeth into one, there is no denying the deep-rooted origins this roll has to all its Chinese kin.  As noted by my Spidey dinner buddy, the Sea King Roll is just literally bursting with the natural juices of each seafood component that the resulting melange of a broth is just too good to put to waste.  We just have to take sips of it!

King Bee - Sea King Roll 04

Each Sea King Rolls boasts a huge crab stick, a thick fillet of white fish, a jumbo prawn, and a brocolli floret.

Spider-man and I enjoyed this light but really filling dinner.  We even asked for one more each of the hacao and the sea king roll.  The latter was packed to-go for his midnight snack while he watches Chuck.  But more importantly than the fantastic food, we had the chance to really catch up with each other’s goings on.  Till the next time best friend!

King Bee - Spider-man



King Bee - The Bee

...and the jolly bee!


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