And before you can say, "What? Why/How were those two conceived to be a match for each other?" let me present to you Exhibit A.
Dark, sweet, caramelized, meaty...it was certainly the highlight for me and my very good friends Liza and Malyn when we decided to partake of the 1st Year Anniversary (in the country) offer of the famed Singaporean eatery, Boon Tong Kee.
I was glancing distractedly at my Facebook News Feed when a poster in red caught my eye, and it turned out to be a list of foods that were included in their eat-all-you-can anniversary promotion. I had to blink because I wasn't sure if I read it correctly, but the price for this (wow!) offer was PhP 488++. You can understand my incredulity if you knew that a regular, whole Signature Boiled Chicken from BTK costs over PhP 800 here. And before I could entertain more doubts, I picked up the phone and made a reservation.
While waiting for the rest of my party to arrive, I decided to start off with the Bacon Meatball Soup; throw in the word "bacon" and I'm there.
The bacon was much more subtle than I expected (it seemed to be grounded in) and hoped for, but it was drizzling outside, and set me up for a good experience, since I find any soup dish is best enjoyed on rainy days. (Is that just me?) I was also served their "appetizer" of pickled vegetables, so I will give fair warning: do not partake of it if you are not a fan of spicy food.
Innocuous looking, it was. You bite into it, and think, okay. But as Malyn pointed out later, it's the kind of spiciness that "blooms" and creeps up on you.
By this time, both of my friends have arrived, and we started with the Crispy Chicken Salad, which has quite a spicy kick (maybe you could ask the server to place the sauce on the side if you don't like it hot). It was crunchy and had the token, er, salad, and believe me, no one in our table was complaining that the ratio of meat to vegetables favored the former.
We then moved on to Stuffed Beancurd and Deep Fried Stuffed Fritter, both of which were quite enjoyed by everyone. The fritter was for me the best of the three "official" appetizers (on the anniversary list), which was much more filling than expected.
Pretty soon, our main dishes arrived, and while you go to Boon Tong Kee for their Signature Boiled Chicken, we were looking forward more to the Coffee Pork Ribs, which admittedly on first bite had that "let me wrap my head around this combination first" quality.
The more we dug in, the more the combination felt right. It was not too sweet but definitely was a central flavor, but the burnt coffee with the pork was quite sublime. I understand the restaurant is also having a promotion over Deal Grocer for this exact dish, and it is now teetering closer to being the reason why one travels to eat at this famed Singaporean eatery.
Of course, what most people come here for is this:
Light but flavorful, this must-have never lets you down, and paired with their own ginger sauce, must simply be eaten with their equally famous Chicken Rice.
This is a dish that can honestly be eaten on its own. It's that good.
Malyn opted to order the Birthday Noodles, while Liza went for the Sambal Fried Rice.
I was surprised to see so much sauce with the noodles, as I am used to the usual variety served in Chinese lauriats, with those matching cute little pink colored eggs. The sauce was flavorful, but Liza swears the Sambal Rice was even better than the Chicken variety, especially when paired with the Coffee Pork Ribs. What I loved about it were the dilis and peanuts that adorned it.
We took on the Fish Fillet with Spring Onions and Ginger as well as the Fried Beef Fillet with Black Pepper Sauce, and this was where some improvements could be made. The fish did not taste too fresh (I thought this would be a steamed, light dish) while the beef dish left me wondering if they just slathered the sauce in the last few minutes of cooking, as the taste did not seem to permeate through the bovine center.
We couldn't leave without trying the other chicken variation, Crispy Roast Chicken. It might have been a mistake to have this after the pork ribs and boiled chicken, because it's quite delicious, but somehow did not have the same luster as the other two as far as taste was concerned.
Then again, I know a few people who cannot stand any variation of Hainanese chicken, and this would be the superior version of the fowl for them. (It was crispy, indeed.)
And again, the Imperial Pork Ribs falls into the "should have served this beforehand" situation: it seemed like a slightly "lesser" version after the Coffee Pork Ribs, and I'm pretty sure I would have been quite satisfied with it had they served it first. Oh, well. There are just some things that stand out.
The award for "pleasant unexpected surprise" goes to...gasp!...the vegetable dish!
Labeled Poached Spinach with Assorted Egg, we ordered this as our FYI dish. (As in "FYI, we also eat _________, you just don't see us do it.) We were surprised to see a soup-like concoction, and we had to admit, it tasted good, which was a nice surprise. When we were ruminating over it, Malyn even exclaimed, "It's spinach, and it's poached! Why don't you just kill me now?"
The promotion works on a per-order basis (it's actually an "order all you can" scenario) and the serving sizes are for one person, two at the most. Leftovers are charged double (our server repeated this at least thrice) and our thought balloon was "tell your chefs they will be working hard today!"
Curiously, we seemed to be the only table enjoying the promotion: no one was looking at the "red" menu, and were paying full price for everything. More for us, then. And for you. But don't dawdle - this promotion only lasts until July 21, 2013. At 488++, you are definitely getting more than your money's worth.
By the way, we had at least five orders of the Coffee Pork Ribs.
That's all I'm saying.
A special shoutout to Miguel Aranaz, Marketing Manager for Boon Tong Kee Philippines, who cleared up a confusion in the schedule of their promotion. This is the way I wish companies would respond to consumers: prompt, clear and efficient. I hope BTK Philippines knows they have a valuable asset in you.
Boon Tong Kee
3/F (Near Cinemas)
Power Plant Mall, Makati