It has been four long years since college friends Daff, Anne, Tim, Len, Paul and yours truly shared a meal together.
Call it falling out. We've had our own drama episodes in the past until little by little we've learned to pull down our pride and agreed to start on a clean slate.
After all, that's what friendship is all about, right?
Paul and I would regularly double date with soon-to-wed Len and Tim and last Wednesday night was no different. I sent Len an SMS to ask how she's doing and she invited me out to dinner. Only this time, she asked if I am game to invite Anne and Daff to join us. Without hesitation, I texted back, "sure, why not?!" I haven't seen them for a long time and it would really be nice to catch up with old friends..after all, we've known each other for more than a decade already. Looking back, they were all seated at the front row as they watched my love story with Paul unfold.
We agreed to meet at Shi Lin at the Podium Mall after me hearing Didi rave non-stop about it. I am still currently on a look out for the best Xiao Long Bao in town and after listening to Didi's experience with Shi Lin I was very excited! Prior to my visit to Shi Lin, HK Choi holds the top spot of having one of the best Xiao Long Baos in the Metro..let's see if Shi Lin can beat that.
I called Shi Lin a day prior to our dinner date and made reservations. I was surprised that they had two seatings : 6PM and 8PM. Wow! The restaurant must be jam-packed just like in Crystal Jade or in Singapore's Din Tai Fung! All the more, I was excited as I chose the 8PM slot for me and my friends.
All of us arrived an hour early and while Paul and I were on our way up to the 3rd floor, we bumped into Len and Daff who were also walking towards the restaurant. We decided to take a peek and hope that there'll be a table ready for us. I was shock that the restaurant was empty. Apparently, no one took the 6PM slot or it was just a slow day for Shi Lin that day. We were quickly ushered to our seat by the window as I admired the pretty modern Chinese interiors. Just like any Xiao Long Bao / Noodle restaurant, there's a show window where you can see the kitchen crew at work.
Similar to what other bloggers have commented, Shi Lin has a very simple, straight-forward menu. It was quite easy for us to choose what to order. Of course, I was there to try their Xiao Long Bao (Php. 210/10pcs) so this was the first thing that we chose from the menu. We also got the Shrimp and Pork Siomai (Php. 145/6pcs), Fried Chicken Chops (Php. 160), Noodles with Sesame and Peanut Sauce (Php. 130) and lastly the Fried Rice with Shirmp, Pork and Egg (Php. 115).
Let me talk about them one by one:
Xiao Long Bao
I was quite disappointed that the wrapper was very thin that it broke the moment I tried to pick it up with my chopsticks. All I got was the very thin wrapper and a small meatball-like filling. It would be great if they can make the wrapper a little bit mnore thicker and to add more soup in just like Din Tai Fung's famous Xiao Long Bao.
On the up side though, I like the fact that they have step-by-step guide on how to eat Xiao Long Bao. This is because not everyone has ever encountered this type of dimsum and for those unaware on the proper way of eating, it can be pretty messy.
Pork and Shrimp Siomai
I was attracted to the pretty photo of this dimsum on the menu. I'm glad that the siomai came looking exactly like that but I noticed that the wrapper was a bit dry however I was surprised that there was actually soup stock in the siomai. It actually had more stocks than the Xiao Long Bao. Which made us wonder why was there soup inside the siomai?
Noodles with Sesame and Peanut Sauce
This is one dish that I highly recommend ordering here at Shi Lin. I love how al dente the noodles were and the sauce was creamy and nutty making every bite enjoyable. They have a spicy version but everyone in the table unanimously voted for the non-spicy one. It was very good that I think I can finish up an order all on my own.
Fried Chicken Chop
When we first arrived at the restaurant, Len commented that the name reminds her of the famous night market in Taipei. Hence, in Taipei, they are famous for their Chicken Chops. We did not pass up the opportunity to try this out however we were quite disappointed as the chicken chops fell short from our expectations. It was rather bland and the meat was not very tender. This is something we could have done without.
Fried Rice with Pork, Shrimp and Egg
I've mentioned quite often how much I love fried rice. This could have complemented the chicken chop and the dimsum. I love the fact that they have added in a generous amount of shrimps more then pork strips and egg. The fried rice was just ok, nothing spectacular about it but I'd probably get the one with porkchop next time.
Over-all, the food in Shi Lin was pretty satisfactory. Except for the noodles, everything was just a-ok. I will go back though for the delicious noodles and maybe next time I'll try the other meat and vegetable dishes. Furthermore, Shi Lin charges for their tea, no service tea available here and their hot tea comes in unique flavors. Better perhaps to just enjoy your meal with a can of Coca-Cola. I'm glad though the the price was pretty reasonable, we just paid Php. 185 each after dividing the total bill by 6. Not bad.
What made our evening though were the stories shared just like old times...yes, just like old times. :)
*photos by Paul Ang
Shi Lin is located at the 3rd Floor of the Podium Mall, ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City.