Friday, May 3, 2013

Modern Chinese Feast at Mu Noodle Bar, Wilson Street

From one foodie mecca to another.

Putting cleanliness, ease in mode of transportation and security aside, Manila and Singapore still share a couple of similarities most especially in being the best place to be for food lover's like you and me. Back home, our neighborhood alone is quickly becoming a go-to place when you're in the mood to try new homegrown (a.k.a. local) food concepts. One thing we have to remember is that it was in San Juan where the country's milk tea pioneer, Serenitea, first opened shop. San Juan is also known to be the modern-day Chinatown. Here, you'll see a number of Chinese delis, Chinese specialty shops, three Filipino-Chinese schools, a Buddhist temple and a lot more. In the past year alone, more restaurants opened and one of those was Mu Noodle Bar.

I must have been out of the radar but I felt like Mu Noodle Bar opened so quietly that it was only through hearsay that I found out about this modern Chinese restaurant. What prompted me to try it was after hearing my sister telling us that she and her boyfriend E have been desparately attempting to dine here three times but to no avail. She complained that there was always a waiting line and it would take them hours before they can finally get their table for two since Mu Noodle Bar is not a fast food restaurant in the first place.

Well, when one wants to dine there that bad, the entire family gives our all-out support by attempting to try it with them one more time. So there we were just right on time for dinner but was surprise that we had to wait outside for a good 30 minutes as the entire restaurant was filled already. Finally, we were ushered to our table by the open glass that overlooks the kitchen. My dad is the world's biggest neat freak and we were all so nervous as our table was right beside the washroom and he also has a good view of the kitchen from his seat. One wrong (read: unhygienic) move and we might be forced to change restaurants.

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Just a piece of advice to restaurant operators and owners -- Before you "open" your kitchen to be viewed by your dining guests please ensure that you have the best hygiene policy and system in place. Sadly, Mu Noodle Bar failed miserably in this department. My dad was totally ignoring us already as he was busy guarding the kitchen staff like a hawk. He would shake his head numerous times as he saw pots and pans being left unwashed, chefs using their bare hands while cooking and preparing and the utensils being mixed from one dish to another. I'm so glad though that he decided to still stay put despite seeing all those. He must be in a good mood or he was just as hungry as we were already.

So let's move on to the food shall we?

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It's rare that Mommy makes a special request so whenever she does, we definitely give in to her request. This time she wanted to try the Kwachay Rice (Php. 70). I had a strong feeling it was similar to the Vegetable Rice of Delicious Kitchen in Hong Kong and... I was right! The flavor was spot on and we were pretty happy with it.

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We had the rice with the 3 Cup Chicken (Php. 220) and it was just okay. I just find the cuts too small as I think I had more fried basil more than the chicken in this dish.


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Everyone in the family loves radish cake, that's why we didn't pass up the chance to have the XO Radish Cake (Php. 180) which was so good! I highly recommend this when dining at Mu Noodle Bar. The radish cake was crunchy on the outside and it had just the right chewy bite inside.

We also tried the Char Siu Pork Noodles (Php. 220) as Mommy thinks any restaurant with the word "noodle/s" in it must have superb noodles. Well, it was okay. Nothing quite exciting about it, the noodles were "al dente" and the soup base was thick, creamy and flavorful but I think what I loved more was the...

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Egg Fried Rice (Php. 130). Forgive me but I am a BIG fan of fried rice. It's my weakness actually, offer me a pot (take note, not a bowl but a pot) of fried rice and you're halfway through in winning my heart. I like my fried rice simple, not too many fillings but one that's bursting with the right flavors. This one was a really simple fried rice dish but admit it, you'll never go wrong with egg + rice + seasoning combination. I also love that the serving is so big! One order was good for all 6 of us and some (myself included) even had second servings of the rice.

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We also tried the Oyster Cake (Php. 180). Just a quick background story here, we were initially hesitant as oysters can sometimes give you a tummy ache if not kept in the right temperature or cooked properly. I have the world's most sensitive tummy, you see, so I am extra cautious with that. After seeing the less than satisfactory kitchen set-up from the window, Mommy was not quite sure if we should go for the Oyster Cake. We just decided to be brave after seeing that most tables that evening had this and the guests seem to be enjoying it a lot. Well, we're glad we gave it a try as it was really good! I had this again on my 2nd visit (yes! there was a return visit) and my friend Rowena described it as a "deconstructed Oyster Rockefeller" dish. She's right! It was so cheezy, gooey and really yummy. Also, I can guarantee you that nothing happened to my tummy on those two visits so Mu Noodle Bar's oysters are pretty much safe to enjoy.

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Lastly, we had the Brocolli with Dried Scallops (Php. 180). Noticed how reasonable the prices at Mu Noodle Bar are? If I'm not mistaken there were just about 2-3 dishes that's above Php. 300 and everything else averages at Php. 180. I loved this! I was so happy they have included three kinds (chicken, century, salted) of eggs in this dish too. This was one of our favorite dishes that evening.

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Despite the slight hygiene issue, we all enjoyed our meal at Mu Noodle Bar. Even Papa was pretty pleased with the food. As for Pan and E, it was a successful night as they finally were able to dine at Mu Noodle Bar and loved it too.

...and we returned to Mu Noodle Bar

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During our quick visit to Manila, Paul and I met up with our dear friend Peter and Rowena at Mu Noodle Bar. We had the Oyster Cake, the XO Radish Cake, my favorite Egg Fried Rice and the Dong Bo Buns (Php. 220). The pork was very very very tender, a bit fatty but definitely tender. It came with four pan-fried buns, mustard, wansoy and sugar/peanut mixture. We happily constructed our own Dong Bo Buns and ate it with gusto. Just like our dinner, we loved the food and luckily got a better table far away from the wash room and the kitchen too. Read more about our lunch double date with the Leis at Mu Noodle Bar as narrated by Rowena.

Visit Mu Noodle Bar at 197 Wilson street, San Juan City. Call them at 451- 2681. 

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