Ortigas is a least likely destination for a food trip, at least for me, because I prefer to stay within Makati area even on weekends. One Saturday afternoon though my best friend and I found ourselves at The Podium and got curious at a Chinese restaurant poster upon entering the parking area. Once done with work we had to do in the mall that day, we decided to search the mall and finally found Shi Lin tucked in the corner curve behind a post on the third level of the mall. The fact that it is quite hidden may seem like an outright disadvantage but for us it was an added charm.
We originally planned to taste and share one dish as merienda but upon sitting down we felt at home so we decided to have early dinner instead. Going through the menu, it only took minutes until I exclaimed “Din Tai Fung!” which is actually a good thing, because I have been missing my favorite picks for four months already. The bar has been set and I was hoping not to get disappointed. I was debating between ordering my favorites at the risk of being extremely critical, or try something new so as not to have expectations. I chose the first option.
Restaurant with a view
The primary test is the Xiao Long Bao (P230). Even if ten pieces is quite a mouthful, we still decided to go along with that. It was surprisingly pleasant. We actually finished all of it! The flavors are there, and I like that the thickness is just enough. The dumpling does not break when you pick it up because sadly, that happens in a lot of wanna-be Xiao Long Baos.
Xiao Long Bao
It is also a cute and thoughtful touch to have a small piece of paper suggesting how best to enjoy this best seller. Another interesting treat is to actually see how these pieces are made while eating them.
Take a cue
How to make Xiao Long Bao
After steamed dumplings, we moved on to our personal choices. For me it was my usual Fried Rice with Shrimp and Egg (P118) and for my friend Din, Noodles with Braised Beef Soup (P248). I was impressed with the big serving but there was so much rice and only a handful shrimps and egg. I was quite disappointed, but Din was smiling across me and so I sense redemption. And true enough, the noodle soup was a winner. The pasta was tasty and cooked well, and the soup runneth over with sumptuous flavors.
Fried Rice with Shrimp and Egg
Noodles with Braised Beef Soup
All through out dinner, we took sips of our delightful drinks. I got a pot of Organic Green Peppermint (P138 per pot). I love tea; although I am not so much of an expert, I know when a tea is good and this one is. Din, on the other hand, ordered on of their Organic Iced Tea (P60) and she quite enjoyed it too. We were too full for dessert but just had to try the Shi Lin Cheese Cake (Php 105). We decided to share just one slice, and it was probably the best way to end our meal.
Organic Green Peppermint Tea
Organic Iced Tea
Shi Lin Cheese Cake
There are so many Chinese restaurants around and admittedly most if not all are more authentic; but I am quite happy that Shi Lin does a pretty good job for a fast food set-up. With their reasonably priced menu and a cozy, clean interior, I will not be surprised if I will be coming back soon.
Photos by Dindin Cruz.