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Turning Cantonese

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Turning Cantonese

/ 12:10 AM January 15, 2017
The Steamed Crab with glutinous rice makes for a lovely meal —Photos by Margaux Salcedo

The Steamed Crab with glutinous rice makes for a lovely meal —Photos by Margaux Salcedo

I hope you haven’t reached your point of diminishing returns yet on Chinese food because, in anticipation of the Chinese New Year on the 28th, below is another glowing commentary on Cantonese cuisine.

The restaurant is Xiu Fine Cantonese Dining, which took over the home of the once popular Lugang Cafe.

Cantonese cuisine has a reputation—at least among that is more plebeian but when treated with respect as one of the eight culinary traditions of Chinese cuisine, you will experience food that is tasty yet not greasy, impactful but not overwhelming, and creative but always fresh.

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You will find this respect exemplified with the Double Boiled Black Chicken Soup. The black-boned chicken or wu gu ji is a highly prized white-feathered chicken that ironically has black bones. The imported Hong Kong chefs of Xiu double boil the chicken for several hours to create a delicious, umami-laden soup. The waiter, upon serving the soup, actually extracts the contents from the bowl and lays these out on a separate plate so guests focus on just the flavors of the soup.

Respect is also shown in the quintessential Cantonese dish, the char siu, by the restaurant’s use of the prime cuts of pork, sliced thicker than usual, bringing out the juicy savoriness of the meat and not just highlighting the sweetness of the honey glaze. Food writer and Asian hawker expert Maricris Encarnacion praises the portions as having the right balance of fat and lean meat, creating a “sticky rich and addicting” starter.

Another dish respecting the traditions of Cantonese cuisine is the Steamed Garoupa with light soy sauce. Maricris recalls why she loved this: The live fish is steamed exactly right and served in perfect slices. “Best in the city,” she ventures.

For Estrel’s Gina Navarro, the “best in the city is Xiu’s Sweet and Sour Pork. Describing it is crisp and perfect, the frequent traveler says that this is very close to the versions that she has tried in Hong Kong.

As a healthy contrast you might like to try the elephant clams. It comes with bit a hint of salt and pepper but the flavors of the clams, mushrooms and beans undoubtedly shine.

Respect is shown the quintessential Cantonese dish, the ‘char siu’

Respect is shown the quintessential Cantonese dish, the ‘char siu’

Creative Cantonese

Social media is full of raves over the prawns with salted egg and the restaurant’s mashed taro puff, which comes with scallops and truffles! Another hit has been the US Beef Short Ribs although this comes at a price: P2,280 per portion.

A pricey yet mighty option is the Baked Lobster with Cheese. This is P3,000/kilo but if you go today you may still catch the last day of their promo—the lobsters are at 50 percent off!!

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I personally loved the Steamed Crab with glutinous rice. The malagkit added just the right amount of sweetness underline the sweetness of the crab.

Finally, don’t go home without trying the Longevity Balls. It is not too sweet so you allow yourself two!

That’s a lot of eating so don’t eat alone. Especially on Chinese New Year!

The elegant interiors of Xiu Fine Cantonese Dining

The elegant interiors of Xiu Fine Cantonese Dining

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TAGS: Cantonese food, Chinese Food, food
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