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Boon Tong Kee 文东记: Tomas Morato

Posted on: March 27, 2014

Manila doesn’t have a shortage of places to try when you’re looking for something to eat. Apart from all the Filipino-owned businesses, there’s now a lot of foreign franchises coming in and trying their luck in the local food scene. Boon Tong Kee is a well-known Singaporean restaurant which specializes in Cantonese chicken rice. It wasn’t the first Singaporean chicken place to enter the Manila market, but it was met with a lot of positive reviews. My family and I wasn’t able to try their food during their first few months here, but was able to visit just last weekend.

BOON TONG KEE_facade photo BoonTongKeefacade_zps18787060.jpgWe visited the closest branch which was along Tomas Morato in Q.C. Parking wasn’t a problem since there were several slots available in front of the restaurant and there was also street parking available right across the street.

BOON TONG KEE_buffet area photo buffetarea_zps95026acb.jpgBoon Tong Kee’s Tomas Morato branch has an Eat-All-You-Can promo from Mondays to Saturdays. The buffet area is available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. It’s priced at Php388.00/person. This area wasn’t open when we were there since it was a Sunday, but you could easily see the staff preparing the chicken behind those chafing dishes.

BOON TONG KEE_shrimp crackers photo shrimpcrackers_zps1fcda918.jpgComplimentary Prawn Crackers were served while we waited for our food to arrive. These were nice and crunchy.

BOON TONG KEE_Poached Chinese Spinach with Assorted Eggs photo spinachwith3kindsofeggs_zps4bffcefc.jpgDad saw the picture of the Poached Chinese Spinach with Assorted Eggs (Php295.00) in the menu and said that he’d like to try their version. Unfortunately when the actual dish reached our table, we were all quite disappointed with the look and the taste. There was hardly any spinach in the dish and it was also a bit bland.

BOON TONG KEE_coffee spareribs photo CoffeeRibs_zps9357f5b4.jpgOne of the popular dishes people order from Boon Tong Kee is their Coffee Pork Ribs (Php295.00). I’ve only tried eating something like this during a close friend’s wedding reception at the Crowne Plaza Hotel a couple of years ago. I was curious to see if this version was any better. One bite and my Mom declared it to be overly sweet and rich. I had to stop after eating one piece as well and we decided to just have the rest packed for takeaway. We believe there might be a way to make this taste a little more mellow.

 photo CerealPrawns_zps00e245ef.jpgWhen I visited Kuala Lumpur last year, it was my first time to try the dish called the cereal shrimp. I enjoyed it back then, so I suggested on ordering it when I saw it in Boon Tong Kee’s menu. The Cereal Prawns wasn’t exactly the cheapest thing off their list, with their regular serving of three pieces priced at Php375.00.

The verdict? Dad enjoyed this dish, despite the slight sweetness of the cereal. I found it okay, but I wished it had the slightly spicy kick, similar to the ones in Kuala Lumpur. I’m no expert, but I think that would definitely help balance the flavors better.

BOON TONG KEE_signature boiled chicken photo BoiledChickenHalf_zps69ebc5fe.jpgOf course, we couldn’t pass the chance to try their Signature Boiled Chicken (Php455.00 for half, shown above). This was the best dish of the night. Slightly sweet light soy sauce was poured on top of the chicken and a bit of preserved vegetables were served on the side.

BOON TONG KEE_boiled chicken sauces photo BoiledChickensauces_zpsaae48985.jpgYou also have the option of using any of the three sauces with your chicken. From top to bottom, you have the hoisin sauce, chili sauce and ginger dip. I enjoy combining all three of them, Dad prefers just the chili and Mom likes using only the ginger dip. To each his own!

BOON TONG KEE_chicken rice photo chickenrice_zps6dc6b079.jpgFor our carbohydrates, Dad and I decided to go with their Chicken Rice (Php65.00) while Mom went with the plain white rice (Php45.00, not in photo). It was a pretty small serving, but we enjoyed them.

BOON TONG KEE_Choco Almond Jelly photo ChocolateGelatin_zpsa1c0833f.jpgJust like most of our meals, I wanted this one to end with a dessert which Mom and I could share. I initially ordered the Green Tea Creme Caramel, but was later informed that they ran out of stock. We decided to go with the Choco Almond Jelly (Php75.00) instead. This was basically a round almond jelly, smothered with chocolate syrup, then topped with crushed almonds and a single cherry. There wasn’t anything special to this, but it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good. Mom enjoyed this very much.

While not all the dishes garnered positive reviews, the overall dining experience we had was pretty good. We all liked the feel and the interiors of the restaurant. The girl who waited on our table was very nice and answered most of our questions, although some of the other servers could definitely use a bit of extra training on proper etiquette.

We noticed that there were several Chinese families dining that night and we had no problems understanding them when they used Cantonese to speak with each other. Although we could not say for sure if they all enjoyed their own meals just by watching them, just seeing that much Cantonese people dining there could be a sign that this restaurant may be doing something right. 🙂

***Boon Tong Kee currently has four branches all over Metro Manila, but the one we visited is located at #310 Tomas Morato Extension, Quezon City. Other branches can be found at Rockwell, SM Mall of Asia and at the U.P. Town Center. Click here for their official Facebook page (Philippines) and here for their Singapore site.


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