Knowing how "mall-y" we get on Sundays as a metropolis, Art was adamant about getting to SM Mall of Asia well before the lunch hour, and sure enough, we were parked even before 11AM. We were supposed to exchange one of the apparatus of our water filter (so this was officially a "working" visit) but owing to our fear of crowds, we thought it best to have an early lunch.
Since it was the choice we decided to forego the last time we were here, we decided on Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe while it was still space-friendly. (We were their first customers for the day.)
Knowing this to be a place that features Hong Kong, Singaporean, Shanghai and other fusion cuisines, I worried about having option paralysis when it came to choosing our dishes. So, I decided to use the most scientific method to make the most assured choices: gut feel.
We started with Deep Fried Mango and Prawn Roll (PhP 100) as our appetizer. Three pieces of a fried delight, and having had Hot Prawn Salad from countless Chinese lauriats, I was at least assured of this being a more-than-okay dish.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the sesame coating, something that I personally like flavor-wise. It arrived with a thin sheet of paper, presumably to strain the oil, and true enough, the only quibble we both had with this dish was the oily feel it had, because it was perfect, otherwise. The crunchy exterior easily gives way to a delectable combination of both sweet and savory, ably represented by the mango and shrimp in equal turns.
Now, if they could find a way to accomplish this dish without the heaviness from the oil but still maintain its' flavor, this would be a recommended staple if you dine here.
Art decided on a healthy option, the Sampan Congee (PhP 155), which was described as having "fish, peanuts, pumpkin bits, cuttlefish and other seafood" and it was served in a clay pot.
Maybe it was just me, but with a description like that, I was expecting it to be a little more chunky. (Blame the picture on the menu for the expectation.) The rice base itself was a small step up from ordinary, but Art had no complaints about the dish other than wishing it had more "laman". I read a few blogs before I wrote this and there seems to be a common thread of their congee being described as not being too "malaman" so hopefully, they can consider adding more of the ingredients that are advertised.
I decided on the 'YMT' Special Sauce Chicken Rice (PhP 225), as I am a fan of this particular fowl and since they advertised the sauce as "special" I was hoping that it would be a dish to satisfy.
Thankfully, this one does.
There is a token "vegetable side" that frames the otherwise carnivore dish - let's get rid of that first - and skip the more-than-usual spicy sauce that comes with it if you are not a fan of anything hot. The fried egg seems to be an ode to the "fusion" label but once we take those apart, the stars of this dish, undoubtedly, are the chicken itself and the rice.
The chicken had a crispy skin that would delight fans of 'the crispy' and while a small sacrifice of moisture on the meat was observed by Art (which I didn't mind), the sauce - soy-based, savory and did I detect a hint of peanut in there? - complemented the meat quite well. (I am not a fan of chicken drowning in sauce and prefer to let the fowl, er, cluck for itself.)
The best way to eat this is to have parts of the meat, skin and sauce in one spoonful, paired with the fragrant chicken rice, one that would give Hainanese chicken places a run for their money. I had to stop myself from ordering another serving of their chicken rice by reminding myself of the (food) carnage that we participated in a week earlier, and I think I savored this order even more because I left the table while I wasn't too filled up.
Prepare yourself for indecision when you get the menu because there are so many items on it that we firmly decided on ordering one dish each and one to share in order to keep things simple and focused. I enjoyed our visit here (especially my order) and I'm looking forward to sampling the other delights that will continue to tease, and I inherently adhere to Oscar Wilde when he says that the only way to overcome temptation is to yield to it.
Until the next temptation, Xin Wang.
Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe
Ground Floor, North Wing, SM Mall of Asia