Two restaurants offering different cuisines so impressed us with excellent food and service that we resolve to return.
One belongs to a big chain, thus a grand Chinese meal is expected, and the other is like a hole-in-the-wall diner serving delicious Japanese dishes plus more.
Tao Yuan Restaurant
2/F, Lucky Chinatown Mall, Reina Regente St., Binondo, Manila; tel. 5220842, 2088973
This is one in a chain of restaurants in Metro Manila. The advantage here is the mall shopping.
Dining area—Huge with round tables spread out. The typical red dominates the place, with typical décor like lanterns. One walks in and anticipates a grand Chinese meal.
Service—A couple of ladies, including the restaurant manager, welcome the guests. Even without reservation, our group was immediately given a table. No long wait. The food came in quick succession.
Staff—Efficient and gracious. The top lady goes around and checks on the diners.
Suggested orders—Nobody should miss the collection of dim sum, including the now very popular dumpling with soup, the Xiao Long Pao. It is hot, and one must wait until it cools a bit, then slurp. Simpletons as this group was on that day, the choices were as simple—dim sum, fried rice, soft and flavorful, the Chinese Fried Chicken with that delectable unique seasoning, the noodles. There are other special dishes—Steamed Fresh Fish, perfectly done with sauce, Peking Duck, Steak in Vegetables, etc.
Because the menu is quite extensive, it could be quite difficult to order. Ask for the staff’s recommendation. The usual Buche and fruits are offered for dessert. Ask for tea, not coffee.
Usual charges/taxes are included. Senior cards are honored.
Nemoto Japanese Restaurant
321 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave., Pasay City; tel. 8315128
It was most unexpected to find a good Japanese restaurant in Gil Puyat Avenue, an old district where the buildings are dated and where jeepney drivers run their vehicles like kamikaze pilots.
But this one, the Nemoto, is the treasure in the area. Very Japanese, like its owners, a couple who attend to guests.
Dining area—Tables are of hardwood. The counter includes a big array of soy sauce, nearly 50 bottles by our estimate. They were not for sale, but only for the restaurant’s use.
Behind the counter, the sashimi and sushi are prepared. Japanese lamps are part of the décor. By the door is a shelf of Japanese DVDs for sale. Smokers can go to the enclosed smoking room.
Service—not too quick, but cordial nonetheless. The lady of the house checks on the diners intermittently.
Staff—They’re quick and fast.
Suggested orders—The usual sushi and sashimi, very fresh pieces of salmon, sea urchin and tuna plus yellow tail, which not one of us, strangely, did touch. A very savory soup, the Sukiyaki broth warmed the stomach and prepared us for more to come—Shrimp Tempura, the shell fish was of large size, the Sliced Tenderloin Beef with stir-fried vegetables, the Teriyaki and grilled squid. Fruits cap the meal.
Service charge and government taxes are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.
Rating- 2 Spoons.