I am my friends' personal food directory. Where can I get the cheapest this, where can I find the yummiest that are just two of the questions they never fail to ask me whenever we get together. Aside from consulting me for their personal date ideas, planning our monthly gimmicks would always entail me enumerating the latest delish thrills I find. After my shortlist is done, in the spirit of true democracy, each of us would vote and elect our choice restaurant for that particular dinner night.
In the many times we've done that, Eat Well! Delicious Kitchen always was among the shortlisted. I've first tried (and loved) Eat Well! during last year's Chinese New year festival. How could I forget the day I've almost had food coma from a lauriat of 14 items? That said, ever since January of last year, I've constantly nominated Eat Well! to be our next must-try. My occasional dreams starring Eat Well!'s Crispy Pork make me. So just like any other publicist pimping a politician, I've sung plenty of praises for my friends to try Eat Well. I've enumerated all the delicious items they're missing out; I've lured them with the mouthwatering photos of Crispy Pork, Roast Duck and Hakao.
But futile, my efforts were. A year had passed and I still haven't convinced them well enough. Eat Well's being isolated right in the middle of the offices and banks at the Fort, blocks away from the malls, is what's turning them off from going there. 'So we'll park there then leave, then park again in High Street?" my friend muttered one time. I know. My friends are lazy, aren't they?
But at last! Eat Well! has put up another branch--a much nearer one in Greenhills. I've rounded up my friends and told them about it. This time, no democratic elections occurred. "Let's meet at Eat Well! next. They've opened another branch along Missouri St.," my text message dictated. Left with no more excuses to make, they obliged.
Eat Well! in Greenhills is located across Caramia. It shares the complex with Pancake House. The location is very easy to spot even from the back of a cab.
First thing that impressed me was its size-- way bigger and better than their box-like space at the Fort which gets full all the time. This branch can seat 50 in the first floor, around the same number in the 2nd floor, and an additional 60 inside their function room. However, I was told that even at this big of a size, they still get full during Sundays, thanks to the many families who come after mass from the nearby church.
Just like in their first branch, Eat Well!'s interiors isn't overbearingly Chinese. The color palette used for the walls--orange, brown, and white, gave the resto a muted Chinese restaurant feel. They also opted to use the sleek wooden furniture same as from the Fort. However, it was a welcome delight to find an open kitchen and a work station right beside the main dining area. A live-action Cripsy Pork chopping station? Visual wonderland, indeed!
As soon as we found a comfy place for our group, we proceeded on ordering. I already have this reflex of ordering Roasted Crispy Pork (P220) for appetizer but upon hearing the wait staff's recommendation of the Special Cold Platter (P280), I got curious and inquired further. According to him, their customers who come in groups usually order the platter which is already comprised of 5 different appetizers. "May crispy pork ba?" I had to ask right away because if he says no, then there's no way we're ordering this. Gladly, he said yes; so Special Cold Platter, it was.
Special Cold Platter
The platter landed on our table after a couple of minutes. It had century eggs, Roasted Barbecue Pork (Asado), Steamed Soy Chicken with Ginger Sauce, seaweed, and of course, Crispy Pork! The serving size, though way smaller than their regular portion sizes, looked just enough for the five of us.
The Crispy Pork, as usual, was great. However, it wasn't served with the mustard sauce so I had to ask for it. It was such a delight watching the faces of my friends painted with such ardor. Only a decent piece of liempo--expertly cooked, tender, not oily, and very crispy, can give one that. After they had each of their bites, they unanimously approved of it. Now I'm pretty sure that wicked pork frequents their cravings as well.
Among the rest of the platter, I think the Steamed Chicken dressed with ginger sauce is the next best. It's very much akin to the Singaporean Hainanese Chicken. And as someone who has many times fallen victim to bastardized versions of this delicate poultry, I can say that Eat Well!'s take on the dish is a safe and fine bet. If you're sharing this with others, make sure you get a decent portion of the ginger sauce. It adds extra awesomeness to the dish.
The next dish we tried reminded me why despite my usual nonchalant attitude towards Chinese restaurants, I love coming to Eat Well!. Presenting, the I-look-so-boring-but-wait-til-you-try-me: Homemade Beancurd with Asparagus and Bailing Mushrooms(P195).
Homemade Beancurd with Asparagus and Bailing Mushrooms
Okay, I did not order that. I forgot who ordered it but I'm pretty sure it wasn't me. Dishes with such healthy sounding names, much more the ones with a triple combo of beancurd, asparagus and mushroom in them, rarely get my attention. Fried, crispy, and roasted are more like my thing, so I was pretty surprised when a platter with 4 swimming tofu was served to us.
It may not be love at first sight, but it was definitely love at first bite! The melt in your mouth beancurd, crusted with nori, and topped with another melt in your mouth mushroom is every bit a gustatory nirvana. And the sauce! Oh that sauce works so well, it harmonizes every flavor and texture to a beautiful symphony. This definitely is the most addicting tofu I ever had! Notice that I just used 'nirvana' and 'symphony' to describe a tofu. That alone says something, right? Try it!
Next dish was the Fried Shrimp Puff with Wasabi Dressing (P288). Remember what I wrote about the words 'fried,' 'crispy,' and 'roasted?' You can bet I ordered this. I was kind of scared for the Shrimp Puff platter since it came right after one that wowed me, but in all fairness, this, too, did not disappoint.
Fried Shrimp Puff with Wasabi Dressing
It is impossible not to like a dish that is as straightforward as its name. The Fried Shrimp Puff with Wasabi Dressing delivers is exactly that: 8 pieces of fried puffs with hefty portions of shrimps in them, drizzled with properly spiced wasabi dressing. Tired of the usual dimsum in chinese restos? Then you might fancy this.
The last of our main dishes came in the form of Eat Well! Crispy Chicken (P240). This was again recommended as a best-seller. We girls love our chicken so we didn't pass up on this.
Eat Well! Crispy Chicken
Your P240 is worth half a chicken accompanied by crackling chips at Eat Well!. I thought the chicken was crispy and well-executed though not that extraordinary. For a moment, I wished we ordered for something else more mind-blowing. That is, until my friend gasped in delight and ordered me to dip a piece in the sauce provided. And boy, it's the sauce that gives the extravagance indeed! It wasn't normal hoisin, we figured. It wasn't also like any other gravy we tasted. When we can't somehow spell out the ingredient that makes this unique, we asked the server. He was quick to respond: duck drippings. Well, enough said.
After we had our fill from all the sinful dishes we tried, I had to make my friends try something else equally sinful: Masachi Balls with White Chocolate (P58), the best dessert I've tried from a Chinese restaurant so far.
Masachi Balls with White Chocolate
Just like the Crispy Pork, these devilish glutinous balls had been my default dessert every time I dine at Eat Well!. I think the gooey white chocolate inside is a bargain at that price.
Judging from the raves made after the meal, I can say that my 'dictatorship stint' worked well. Most of them were regretting how many times they've passed up and chose another restaurant. As for me, Eat Well! still holds a memorable place in my default restaurant list. It never fails to surprise me with an innovative dish every now and then. And coming from someone not too fond of Chinese restaurants, that says a lot already.