There are two types of Chinese restaurants in the country: the Filipinized version, and the authentic, Hong Kong-standard type.
The first is classified as the typical panciteria serving pancit canton, lumpiang shanghai, fresh lumpia, pata tim, shrimp with green peas, and anise-scented fried chicken, among others. The second has Peking duck, fried pigeon, steamed lapu-lapu, salted fish fried rice, tender, glazed beef dishes, and lightly coated crispy sweet and sour pork.
I can count on one hand the restaurants in the second category.
It’s sad when one dining place that started as a Hong Kong standard regresses after a few decades. A huge restaurant in Greenhills was once very good, but many others have surpassed its quality. It still has a few authentic-tasting dishes, but its quality has generally gone down.
Hong Kong chef
How does one set Hong Kong-standard quality? The key lies in hiring a chef who hails from Hong Kong. Without one, it is going to be difficult to set a standard. This goes for the main dishes, as well as the dim sum fare.
A friend texted to say that we were to meet at Xiu for dim sum. I try to skip dinner nowadays, so my immediate response was, “I’m on a diet and not eating.” Who was I kidding? I have never been to Xiu for dim sum.
The first dish that landed on our table was a fried radish cake with XO sauce. Crispy, soft, mildly spicy and so delicious! What diet?
Then came the SF dumpling. Authentic-tasting, it was also well-made. The siomai consisted of pork chunks rather than ground pork. With some chili and soy sauce, it was elevated a notch higher.
Fried spring rolls were also good. The elongated elephant clams with truffle sauce and French beans was new and also a must order. I usually have these clams with sotanghon where the drippings of the clams and garlic are absorbed by the noodles, resulting in a flavorful dish. Sarap din!
Xiu’s version of sweet and sour pork had a coating of crispy batter. It also makes an outstanding barbecue pork. This is comparable to Kam’s or Yatlok in Hong Kong.
The braised tofu in spinach in a clay pot was also a winner.
A dish you shouldn’t miss is the soy chicken! This is made with Hong Kong yellow chicken which has a yellow layer of fat that simply melts in your mouth. With a dab of grated ginger and spring onions, I could eat the whole chicken by myself.
When the salted fish fried rice arrived, it was so good, I couldn’t help but ask, “Do you have a Hong Kong chef?” The answer was yes. No wonder, the quality that comes out of its kitchen is so good.
Xiu is one of two authentic Hong Kong-standard restaurants outside the five-star hotels. I feel better when I say I’m not having dinner even when I know I will.
Xiu Fine Cantonese Cuisine is at 115 Connecticut St., Northeast Greenhills, San Juan.