The interiors of Jade Garden. Photo: Handout
MANILA – The fine dining Chinese restaurant Jade Garden has made a grand comeback to the local restaurant scene after nearly a decade with the opening of its elegant restaurant at the New Glorietta 2 in Makati.
Jade Garden, which is part of the Hong Kong-based food group Maxim’s Caterers Ltd., used to have a multi-storey free-standing restaurant beside the old Greenbelt 1 facing the park. This closed in 2006 as the area was set to be re-developed to what it is now.
Like in the original Jade Garden, diners are welcomed by a hotel-like lobby in the ground floor with a grand staircase – as well as an elevator – to get to the dining area on the second floor. (There is also a rather discrete entrance from inside the Glorietta mall.) All in all, the 1,000-sq.m. Chinese restaurant can seat 450 people. Its six function rooms, each seating 24 persons, can also be combined for larger private parties.
Jade Garden, which started in Hong Kong back in the 1970s, specializes in Cantonese cuisine, which, restaurant manager Raymond Ho said, is characterized by “freshness.”
But while it pioneered the upscale trend in Chinese restaurants in the metro, the years of Jade Garden’s absence saw the opening of new opulent Chinese restaurants such as the sprawling Gloria Maris outlet in Greenhills and the modern Crystal Jade branch at the Bonifacio Global City.
Jade Garden, however, isn’t resting on its past success. Three Hong Kong nationals, led by Ho, were brought in to ensure “the full experience.”
Prawns and Dried Scallops with Beancurd Soup. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
Take the Prawns and Dried Scallops with Beancurd Soup, which despite its thick consistency, had delicately light and clean flavors – as is.
“What we do is encourage them to eat the food the way it’s eaten in Cantonese culture, which is taking it as it is without any additional flavorings. This opens up a different experience as they get to enjoy the food in more ways, and certainly not in the way they’re used to,” Ho said, noting that Filipinos tend to like to add dipping sauces to their food.
Sauteed Shredded Lapu Lapu with French Beans. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
Another dish that captures this purity in flavor is the Sauteed Shredded Lapu Lapu with French Beans. While the traditional steamed lapu-lapu is still a favorite as far as Chinese dishes go, this one has the fish meat conveniently served in bite-sized chunks for the chopsticks-challenged.
Executive chef Ho Chi Kwong, also from Hong Kong, added that the 60% of its menu are dishes that they haven’t been introduced yet. He also took further culinary training and visited restaurants at the former British colony to stay “up to date” on the latest trends and techniques.
One of the most notable changes with the new Jade Garden is the expansion of the menu to include Chiuchow dishes, which, like Cantonese food, are also known for their delicate flavor. Chiuchow cuisine is also well known for being “healthier,” as well as use of seafood.
Steamed Diced Chicken in Egg White Wraps. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
One such Chiuchow dish is the special Steamed Diced Chicken in Egg White Wraps, which must be called in advance with a minimum order of six pieces. These are little delicate crepe pouches made from egg white and filled with a mix of chicken, Yunnan ham, black mushrooms, bamboo shoots and singkamas.
Roasted Suckling Pig. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
Of course, a Jade Garden dining experience isn’t complete without either the Peking duck or the roasted suckling pig. The restaurant chose the pig when it hosted a small lunch for a few food bloggers and nothing could look more appetizing than this dish, with the crispy skin already artfully sliced. Again, the pig didn’t have that usual oily feel on the mouth and didn’t need the usual dipping sauces to pump up the flavors.
But one celebratory dish that deserves to be more popular among Filipinos is the Poon Choi, which originated in the walled villages of Hong Kong’s New Territories. This communal dish is usually served during special events and important occasions like weddings.
Mini Fortune Poon Choi. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
The one offered at Jade Garden comes with a minimum order for four persons and includes honey-glazed barbecued pork, soy sauce marinated chicken, black mushrooms, seasonal vegetables, fresh suaje, sea cucumber and beancurd stick, which are placed in a traditional wooden basin.
So who says Makati doesn’t have good Chinese restaurants? Jade Garden is definitely back and hopefully for good.
2/L Glorietta 2
Ayala Center, Makati