To be honest, this isn’t my first time dining at a Hap Chan, but it is my first time actually dining at the place from the point of view of a pseudo food critic. Last time I ate at one of the restaurant’s branches, I remember the food being delicious, so it wasn’t really with apprehension that I went with my family a few weeks ago, this time at the BF Parañaque branch.
If you’re a fan of Chinese food, you’ll feel right at home in Hap Chan; their menu consists strictly of the food you’d normally find in this sort of restaurant. The place is pretty spotless and hella spacious; you could easily fit a hundred people in there. The servers were very friendly, too.
To start with, we ordered a bowl of crab and corn soup. I would’ve been fine had they labeled it corn soup but they didn’t; my tastebuds needed a magnifying glass to find the flavor of crab. We also asked for a couple of orders of shark’s fin dumplings, which had some pretty good-tasting stuffings, but ones you can only get to after gnawing at the dry, gummy wanton wrapping. Washing them down with their watermelon shake wasn’t any better; I couldn’t find the taste of watermelon and the sweetness tasted pretty artificial.
After having my spirits dampened a bit by these less-than-satisfactory starters, I was ready for some good food, which came in the form of yang chow rice, beef and broccoli, lechon Macau, fried chicken, lumpiang shanghai, kaylan with garlic, and sweet and sour pork. But before I get to these dishes, let me talk about their servings. Don’t believe them when they say a serving is good for two or three; each one can easily feed four or more people. We knew this, yet idiots that we were, we ordered enough to feed a small army because we were hungry. By the time the servers had finished putting down the food (they actually had to add another table to ours), diners passing by probably thought we were waiting for other adults (there were just me, my sister, my brother-in-law, and my two young nephews).
So, back to the food. The yang chow was delicious; well-seasoned and loaded with bits of egg, veggies, and meat, you could probably eat it alone, but where’s the fun in that?
Beef and broccoli is a dish we always order whenever we go to a Chinese restaurant because it’s very rare that they get this dish wrong. Hap Chan doesn’t, either; the beef strips are tender, the broccoli’s not overcooked, the sauce tasty and the mushrooms plentiful. I was excited to sample the kaylan because simple as it was, I love the taste and texture of crunchy garlic. This one, turns out, wasn’t so great because the sauce was sweet.
The fried chicken was, as always, a delight with its crunchy skin and tender meat, as well as its overall flavor. The same can’t be said for the lumpiang shanghai, though, which was indeed crispy but was subpar, flavor-wise. In contrast, the lechon Macau, which is pretty much the equivalent of Filipinos’ lechon kawali was indeed tasty, but it kind of missed the mark in the texture department.
Then came the sweet and sour pork. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Don’t you hate sweet meat? What the hell are you doing eating sweet and sour pork?” I dunno; I just figured, why not? So yes, I knew what I was doing when I gave it a shot. And as expected, I didn’t like it because of its sweetness, but I discovered something else about it which made me dislike it even more: it was quite a task to chew those tough pieces of pork. Would I have given it another chance if the meat was tender? Probably not.
So… I definitely have plans of coming back and I’d absolutely suggest that you check this place out. On top of the affordable prices, the lure of the place isn’t just the menu that offers dishes we know and enjoy, but ones that are actually good. Well, some more than others.
Overall rating: ★★★✭☆
6A President’s Ave. cor. Monserrat St., BF Homes, Sucat, Parañaque City
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