Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
I’ve tried to keep this blog less personal, unbiased and objective. But there are times when family is involved and some things have to be stated. Nothing could seem to be more a source of conviction for my family than…food (LOL). Nearly every Sunday for the past decade or so, we’ve converged for lunch at Gloria Maris restaurant in Greenhills near Virra Mall. This is mainly because of my Aunt Lilia B. Yang’s preference for them. My brother Tim Bautista confessed last week alone, he went there five separate days for business meetings etc.
And yesterday Tim pointed out to Head waiter Andy Parel and Manager Polly Ong that they had been ranked ‘only’ no.5 in an article in Phil Daily Inquirer entitled: “My Top 8 Chinese Restaurants” by Clinton Palanca. While the Gloria Maris folk raised hell, I was however able to explain that the criteria was the overall experience in a resto such as ambience and service.
The no.1 ranked was Summer Palace at EDSA Shangri-La. Andy concurred that it was difficult to compete with the plush interiors of a prestigious hotel. Or the amount of training and dedication to service that Shangri-La is known for. I even have a previous blog entry about Circles restaurant in Makati Shangri-La. I myself as photographer have taken food shots of Shangri-La far more than any other establishment for no other reason than they are pleasing to my eyes. The photos here are evidence of that.
Even Makati Shangri-La’s Shang Palace is also impressive and has great attention to detail. Waitresses do not only have uniform cheongsams but also similar dark hairstyles with bangs. The food is authentic because of their chefs from Hong Kong. So if you’re looking for overall excellence, then they are the place to go. The point of contention was why Gloria Maris had fallen to no.5, not that it wasn’t no.1.
In the article dated Feb 3, 2011 (full article from PDI online), it described Gloria Maris as having “mall like chaos inside… tries to be everything to everyone and crumbles under its own weight…you get the impression their attending to a more important table somewhere else.” I completely agree with that but one has to wonder WHY so many people flock to them. They have an extremely long list of high end clientele. That same lunch we had was beside the famous cardiologist Dr. Rody Sy and his family out of pure coincidence. Large family groups, weddings, birthdays especially from the Fil-Chinese community fill their large interiors. On weekends you have to wait for a table and it does become chaotic and a little bit loud.
The simple reason for this is a testament to the quality of the food. My grandfather established one of the first Chinese restaurants in Sta. Cruz Manila, since early 20th century called Panciteria Antigua. So my aunt Lily evaluates food not from the perspective of a fan but from someone who produces it. Her face lights up talking about ingredients or the process of how even the simplest Chinese dishes are made. And more often than not she says that Gloria Maris is able to make it “the way it is supposed to taste.”
They do it with the most complex dishes like Xiao Long Pao (soup-filled dumpling) to Peking Duck and classic dishes like Sweet and Sour Pork. The article even praised the Duck and Watermelon Salad. There’s an improvement from mere authenticity. They have countless fans not just Fil-Chinese but everyone. You’ll see tourists, Caucasians appreciating their well prepared fare. Also not on the PDI list is Golden Unicorn along Kalaw street.
When I’m not with my aunt I can be found in the now ubiquitous Mang Inasal. I have a soft spot for authentic Filipino cuisine. That’s the char broiled chicken and what makes them so popular these days is the unlimited rice one can order for certain meals. They can be extremely sinful high in cholesterol and sodium. I can’t resist not putting the oil derived from chicken meat as its roasting. It’s just plain wrong but I love it.