There are restaurants that have a part of your life, where you’ve celebrated a special event, a milestone, be it yours or of someone dear to you. Gloria Maris is one such restaurant for me.
I recall having dined there, many times since it opened in 1995. Admittedly, over time, I’ve forgotten about it and the joyful experience that dining with them brings.
Thanks to my eating group of Xavier parents who live to eat (and to who I owe many food discoveries to), I’ve once again rekindled a new fondness for Gloria Maris Fine Dining where we recently had lunch.
When we’re together and opt for Chinese, I always leave the ordering up to them. I am so impressed by how they know the menus of the different Chinese restaurants by heart (amazingly both here and abroad), which one serves the best this or that and how they are fully aware of the little treasures—specialty dishes that are not on the menu but can be prepared for you.
This gang of mine is relentless in their search for delicious things to eat. In fact, 90 percent of our conversations are food-centered. Oftentimes, we find ourselves talking about our next restaurant adventure, while waiting for food to be served.
This time, I was truly excited. Christine Tan was raving about Gloria Maris Buko Soup, which is not on the menu and requires a day’s notice.
What I gathered from Lorenzo Dy of Gloria Maris, this soup is cooked for a long, long time. The ingredients (including chicken feet, chicken meat, a few pieces of cured meat, dried
scallops, superior stock and special seasonings) are combined and steamed together for hours until reduced and slightly thickened. And as though the four to six hours of cooking aren’t enough, the soup goes through a finishing process—another round of steaming—for approximately 30 minutes with the buko juice and the stock in its shell.
A very tedious process but one that was worth savoring. I haven’t found soup that’s both so simple and so complex. It was like nectar, so to speak, in its deliciousness.
I couldn’t quite describe it, though I tried and halfway through decided to just enjoy it. Truly worth a try. It’s a different experience altogether.
Misua, bean curd and spring rolls
Another dish we had that’s worth mentioning was the Cha Misua, the celebratory/auspicious noodle dish which I am usually not a fan of. Many of the misua I’ve tasted were bland, overcooked or tasted like cardboard! The one we had was delicious! The noodles were perfectly cooked, not soggy and altogether very flavorful. In fact, I went back a couple of days after just for the misua. I’m happy, I finally found one that truly excites me.
New to their menu and another must try is their Braised Homemade Spinach Skin Bean Curd with Scallop and Mushroom. I am a big fan of silky bean curd, especially when it’s soft with the texture of flan, chawanmushi and puffed Japanese cheese. I was pleasantly surprised to find this dish at Gloria Maris. So fine!
And there’s the Crispy Asian Spring Roll stuffed with shrimps and garlic. This is the ultimate “society” spring roll that must be eaten with your pinky up! A combination of shrimp and garlic rolled in a special net wrapper (that they get from Hong Kong) and deep fried. Crisp and delicate. Every table I saw seemed to have ordered this, too.
The other dishes we tried included US T-Bone that was so tender with Black Pepper Sauce, their fried chicken (the version we had was marinated in spices unlike their old recipe), sinful avocado sago and their special buchi with salted egg which I loved. Be reminded that when you order this buchi with salted egg, you must tell the server that you want the “special,” otherwise, they’ll serve the standard buchi.
Another item I’m going back to try is their fried prawn with applesauce. A couple of tables around us ordered that but we could only eat so much at a time!
Thanks to my friends Ellen and Angelo Ong, Joseph and Joy Tiu, Christine Tan, Melody and Chris Chung and, of course, Lorenzo Dy for ordering all their favorites dishes. This visit was a pleasant surprise. The food we had, was different from what I used to feast on, so I’ve decided to make new, mouthwatering memories at Gloria Maris.
Gloria Maris Fine Dining is at Greenhills, San Juan. Call 570-0913.
I will be having vegetarian cooking lessons at my culinary studio soon. Call 9289296, 4008496, 0908-2372346 and 0917-5543700.