This time I had to treat my co-workers for my birthday and I chose a restaurant that I’ve been wanting to try right in my neighborhood. J. Abad Santos in San Juan is our little restaurant row with it’s ever changing tenants.
Chow Fun is located right next to Tong Ren Tang and across Serenitea and Ristras on both sides.
The place was empty since we were there at 3:30 in the afternoon. Quite an eclectic set-up.
If you are vertically challenged do sit on the banquette seating since it’s higher. It’s a bit awkward since the person sitting across you seemed to have shrunk.
Chow Fun menu (click to enlarge)
Some blogs I’ve read had positive opinions about these next three dishes so I ordered them. I absolutely hated them. A big reason was the old oil used for frying. All these fried dishes had slight rancid taste.
The Chinese fondue should have been a good concept. Take your favorite snacks like squid, vegetable cakes & seafood balls and use them as dippers for a cheese and curry dip. The presentation looked nice too. If the oil was fresh I would have enjoyed the fried dippers more. I didn’t like the artificial taste of the cheese and curry sauce. I could taste the not fully melted cheese powder in the sauce.
✖ Chinese fondue P155
The spring rolls could have been filled with anything since I didn’t taste the little amount inside as duck. It was greasy and not crispy. The three dips were fantastic though. We all loved the Mandarin orange, chili and vinaigrette. We even used them as dips for the fried balls above and they tasted better.
✖ Oriental duck rolls P165
They chose the wrong group to serve over cooked fried chicken to. I was with a group who were experts in cooking fried chicken and this was a big fail. The chicken meat was too rubbery and tough to eat. The vinaigrette was again excellent.
✖ house fried chicken P520 (whole)
The duck fried wasn’t bad at all but nothing special.
✔ duck rice P240
In my opinion they didn’t need to deep fry the pata tim. What was the point since it wasn’t ever going to be crispy. Pata tim was meant to be soft and fatty. By frying it some parts became rubbery. Too bad the flavor was quite good although it was a tad salty.
✔ crispy pata tim P495
Everyone loved the Shanghai ribs and the portion was quite generous too. The meat was fall off the bone tender and I loved the black vinegar glaze which added a contrast to the sweet marinade.
✔ ✔ Shanghai ribs P325
My favorite dish of all was the super tender beef short ribs. Think Korean beef stew but made with Chinese spices and coffee. When I ate the beef stuck at the bottom of the pot I could taste an intense coffee flavor which made me swoon. An order of this and a bowl of rice and you’re set.
✔ ✔ ✔ coffee beef hotpot P275
Their version of mapo tofu was sheer genius. Usually mapo tofu is made only with soft tofu. Theirs was a mix of fried and soft tofu which I loved to death. It added a great texture to the dish. The spice level was just right, milld heat and not too overwhelming.
✔ ✔ ✔ mapo tofu P185
They gave us all samples of their homemade sweet plum ice cream to try. I was surprised that I liked the flavor of sweet plum in ice cream but the texture of the ice cream tasted like wet bread. No kidding! I’ve never tasted such strange texture in ice cream before. Too bad since the flavor had promise.
✖ sweet plum ice cream
The fillings for both butchis (sesame balls) were quite good but I felt that the chewy dough still overwhelmed the filling. If you like butchi then do try these unique balls.
✔ dark chocolat butchi P115 Reese’s chocolate butchi P120
I only ordered 1 haw flakes pastry since I didn’t know what to expect. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten haw flakes and I wasn’t sure how it would translate as a filling to a pastry.
✔✔ ✔ haw flakes pastry P85
The server told us that the haw flakes took 15 minutes to prepare so I suggest you order it when you’re about to finish your meal. This pastry is what happens when French and Chinese flavors collide and it’s a collision that makes perfect sense. The first bite was hot, crisp, flaky, buttery puff pastry then your tongue hits the sweet, tangy haw flakes puree. OMGGGGGG!!! It was freakin’ fantabulous!!!! I’m literally drooling while I write this.
I just wish they had some good Chinese tea that would go great with this instead of only the designer apple or apricot tea that they have.
I’m definitely going back for the coffee beef hotpot, mapo tofu and the haw flakes pastry.
Not bad for 14 people. Everyone was so full most of us skipped dinner since we finished our lunch at 4:00 pm. Knowing now what to order I can cut the bill by 1-1.5k without a difference in happiness and fullness.
✖ skip it
✔ not bad
✔ ✔ do order
✔ ✔ ✔ MUST order
CHOW FUN Modern Chinese Bistro (closed)
Ground Floor 103 J Abad Santos St.,
Little Baguio San Juan, 1550
3 thoughts on “Lunch at CHOW FUN Modern Chinese Bistro”
i love your new checks and x icons!! 🙂 shucks how sad your fondue was a disappointment its one of my favorites pa naman. however i got to agree with you for the haw flakes and coffee ribs! love love love! 🙂
and this is why i read your blog, i feel your palate is more knowledgeable than other or most food bloggers in manila or in philippines, food should be tasty, fresh, and look presentable in my opinion before you can call it good food; unless, we are talking about junk food of course (that’s a different categoy)
Wow Erin thanks for the uber flattering words!