The lesser Orchard Road

I had my Valentine’s celebration early this year.

It was my boyfriend’s first time to visit me in Manila, over a year and a half after we got together, so it was nice to tour him around and let him decide if life here is his cup of tea.

The verdict: he likes the shiny lights of Cubao, hates traffic and the heat, dislikes some modes of public transportation, but will live here if he can set up house inside the Mall of Asia.

Anyway, so Valentine’s day and Chinese New Year (Sunday, Feb. 14) was reserved for a date with the family.

We chose a new place in Megamall called the Orchard Road, named after the posh shopping district in Singapore.

Tonight was their soft opening.

The restaurant is huge, with wooden fixtures and cozy, semi-circular booths, plus an open-air kitchen area in the middle where you can see some of your food being prepared.

The smells and smoke from the kitchen waft everywhere, so you come out smelling like sesame oil.

They have a unique way of getting orders. They give you a pamphlet printed with their menu selection and beside each item is a circle that you shade if you want to order it.

Sort of like practice for this year’s automated elections.

Mom, filling out the menu order form

The prices are pretty affordable (less than P200 for every dish). After you fill out your form, you bring it up to the cashier and pay.

They have a pretty decent selection of Indian/Chinese/Japanese/Malay (thus, Singaporean) cuisine.

They’ve got dumplings, noodles, rice meals, curries, soups, congees, and those fruity drinks and fusion teas.

We didn’t get to explore everything at the restaurant, but our experience could pretty much sum up the whole Orchard Road experience.

The highlights:

Seafood Crispy Noodles – P165

When you put this dish under your “Stir Fry Noodles” selection, you naturally expect your customer to think of dry and crunchy egg noodles fried to perfection and sitting on a bed of good sauce.

But no, “Stir Fry” for Orchard Road means crispy noodles dunked in hot broth. Mom did a double take, just to make sure the waiter didn’t give her another person’s “mee” (noodles) by mistake, but the waiter assured us this was her order.

The noodles kept their crispiness even after being in the soup for so long. It was okay, said Mom, but not spectacular.

Milo Dinosaur – P75

Ever try growing up with jazzed up Milo? Just put some ice and chocolate powder over a tall glass of the drink and voila. Milo Dinosaur.

They had other specialty drinks too, like Bandung (milk flavored with rose cordial, but it was unavailable).

Dad got Chin Chow, a black jelly drink, which he thought tasted like the gulaman they serve in the streets, only more expensive.

Their Iced Peach Tea was good though, but I’m not sure about their fruit shakes.

Black Pepper Chicken & Rice – P145

The meal came with a fried egg. They also have Beef and Pork versions of this. The meat is overwhelmed by pepper, but tastes savory enough. I asked my brother if he liked it and he said, “It’s okay, but not ‘Holy shit it’s delicious!'”

Finally, this is what I got:

Oyster Omelette – P145
At first brush, I thought I was looking at oyster testicles. I mean, look at it close up!

Then I realized Oysters don’t have testicles that big. Anyway, the oyster omelette was salty and gooey. I think the goal was to pair something salty and coppery-tasting (oyster) with something mild (egg).

But in between, there was this gooey, translucent substance in the consistency of bird saliva that held the dish the together. As I chewed, I felt crunchy bits that made me feel uncomfortable. Am I eating eggshells, sand or semi-crushed pearls?

The dish was tasty, but a little too overpowering. I would prefer that the oysters be fried until crispy, before it is scrambled with the eggs.

I won’t have this again, that’s for sure.

My brother Miggy got the best meal of all our meals.

Roast Chicken Rice – P165

The chicken was crispy on the outside but tender on the inside, just like good old Max’s chicken. Then again, if the best tasting dish you have tastes like something someone else cooks better, that doesn’t impress, does it?

My humble opinion is that Orchard Road is nice to try, if you want a hankering for Singaporean fare. And the ambiance (sans the oily air) is actually nice.

But we won’t be going back there again, no matter how fun it was to vote for food.


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