I knew I was in for a different Chinese culinary treat as soon as I stepped into Jing Ting, City Of Dreams’ new Chinese restaurant.
The complex isn’t a slouch when it comes to Chinese food. It already has the upscale fine-dining Cantonese restaurant Crystal Dragon at the Crown Towers Manila; and Noodle8 for hungry gamers who don’t want to stray away from the casino floor.
Jing Ting fills the casual dining void in between the two restaurants. Stepping into its cool interiors lined with vintage Chinese gray bricks and adorned with oriental paintings and accoutrements, one immediately notices the modern open kitchen where the mad skills of the chefs in making dim sum and hand-pulled noodles are occasionally on display.
Jing Ting differentiates itself by specializing in Northern Chinese cuisine. This landlocked portion of China is heavy into meats and wheat. Wheat noodles and dumplings are prevalent in lieu of rice. Cumin, a spice more associated with Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, is also a distinct flavor in Jing Ting’s offerings.
City of Dreams brought chef Yang Chen Fie, affectionately called Chef Alan, from his restaurant in Beijing to be Jing Ting’s chef de cuisine. With his 15 years of culinary experience, this is his first time outside of China. This young and dynamic chef just needs two minutes to prepare a bowl of hand-pulled noodles from scratch and can prepare 600 dumplings in an hour.
For appetizers, I really liked the Cold Shredded Rice Roll. The almost translucent rice roll had a pleasant chewy texture to it that was akin to thick vermicelli noodles that nicely soaked up the spicy red sauce.
A visit to Jing Ting will not be complete without trying out the hand-pulled noodles and Jiao Zi dumplings. The wheat noodles are prepared as they are ordered and reach the diner fresh from the kitchen. The result is a somewhat thick firm chewy noodle that serve as a tasty bed for their stir-fried toppings.
The Jiao Zi dumplings are larger than the usual dumplings one finds in other Chinese restaurants For P378 for a bowl of 8 dumplings, this is excellent value for money.
These dumplings also come in a big bowl with 30 pieces for a larger group of guests. These come in the Beijing pork, poached pork and kimchi, mushroom vegetables and pork, and chopped beef and celery varieties. They also have a pan-fried version which reminded me of a Japanese gyoza.
The meats really highlight the savory and cumin flavor profile of the menu. The tender “Genghis Khan” Roasted Prime Beef Short Ribs has a thin cumin crust and was tender to the bite.
The “Xinjiang Style” Spicy Lamb Skewer didn’t have that gamey aftertaste that’s normally associated to lamb dishes. It’s served hanging on top of a dish of cumin and the drippings from the skewer mixed in with cumin make for a nice dip should a guest want more flavor.
The Chinese Burger uses flattened semi-fried Mantou bread with a filling of sauced minced pork.
Jing Ting has an array of desserts to end the meal. Check out the Palace Snow Skin Pastry Roll with Sesame and Peanuts. Instead of the mochi balls, these are rolled up with the peanut paste and cut up into bite size pieces.
The Chilled Honey and Red Bean Cake look like dark red sapin-sapin or maja blanca, firm gelatin-like cakes that are subtly sweet with that distinct flavor of adzuki.
The food at Jing Ting is fast, and relatively affordable compared to its neighbors. It is an excellent addition to the restaurants at The Shops of City of Dreams.
Jing Ting is located at The Shops at City of Dreams Manila. Restaurant hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.