Shanghai Surprise at Jasmine in New World Hotel

Last week, Paul and I were privileged to be invited to an intimate dinner to sample a number of signature dishes which will only be available for a very limited time at the Jasmine Restaurant of the New World Hotel in Makati. From September 19 to October 1, that's a total of 13 days only, Chef Wong Kam Chung from Shanghai will serve his specialties to the patrons of the restaurant. Being the executive chef of the famous YUE 1525 in New World Hotel in Shanghai, Chef Wong is a veteran in preparing a number of Cantonese dishes including his special Double Boiled Whelk Soup with Chinese Herbs and a lot more.

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Since the drive from my office to Makati took a while, we arrived quite hungry and ready for our lauriat dinner. We began with two appetizers which were totally different from the usual cold cuts platter that we're all used to.

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We had Lotus roots stuffed with Glutinous Rice (Php. 480). A long platter where you get eight bite-sized pieces. It has a very sweet taste which I honestly wasn't expecting as I was looking forward to having a savory start to my meal. Still, it was good and the lotus roots blended well with the sticky glutinous rice.

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They also served a plate of Radish and Carrots in Sour Sauce (Php. 300) but I wasn't able to try this as I, unfortunately, am not a fan of radish and carrots. Others commented that it was good and refreshing though.

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We moved on to our dimsum fare and here's where I have immensely enjoyed myself. After our appetizers, out came a huge bamboo steamer filled with 8 Steamed Lobster and Vegetable Dumplings (Php. 320). This one was really delicious and I loved how well packed the dumplings were and despite that, the wrapper was sturdy enough that it didn't burst open on my first bite. You'll enjoy the crunchy veggie bits and the tender lobster meat inside. I highly recommend you try this.

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Moving on, we had the Wagyu Beef with Mango Roll (Php. 320) which Jane and I have been eyeing from the moment it was laid down in front of us but of course we had to wait until every one was able to take good photos of it. Well, I'd say it was truly worth the wait as we all enjoyed the crunchy cover filled with a thin strip of wagyu beef and sweet slice of mango. Yum!

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It was like a degustacion of some sort where we each get a small serving of every dish. Despite the small serving, degustacion dinners will always make you feel overly full at the end. Imagine, we were having carbs and meat one after the other! From the delicious dumpling and wagyu beef roll, out came the giant Steamed Shanghainese Pork Dumpling and Goose Liver a.k.a. Xiao Long Bao (Php. 250/piece).

I initially held back when I saw that they have added Goose Liver inside but that one huge piece of XLB sitting in front of me was loudly calling out my name. Paul was the first to try and he told me that he wasn't able to taste the Goose Liver. I guess they have just included a tiny piece and so I gave in. I still promise to stay away from sharksfin and goose livers but I'm giving this tiny piece an exception. I took a bite myself and out came the soup pouring all over my plate. I was still able to save some but I was quite surprised that the XLB was pretty but packed with meat and soup! Wow! This was delicious and Paul was right, I wasn't able to taste the goose liver too. Either they added in a teeny-tiny piece or the Chef forgot to put it in all together -- whichever way, I'm glad though as I'm not a big fan of goose liver anyway.

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After the Xiao Long Bao, we had a very mild dimsum item -- Steamed Scallops with Bean Curd (Php. 420). I actually liked this as I find it quite light and healthy. The scallop meat was huge and the bean curd was silky just the way we like it.

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Our main course opened with a huge plate of Pan Fried Razor Clams (Php. 780/100 grams). I tell you, I'm eating a lot of things that I normally would say no to in this dinner. From the foie gras, I just had a couple of fried razor clams which I hope were fresh and of top quality given the good reputation of the restaurant. It was good and it came with fried Japanese mushrooms (enoki) too. I enjoyed having this with my rice.

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We also had some Steamed Mantis with Egg White (Php. 1,180). Not really a fan of sea mantis and I find the egg white very bland but this was well received by my tablemates and even Paul who ate a lot of egg whites with our next dish.

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At first glance, the Steamed Sea Garoupa with Soy Bean in Lotus Leaf (Php. 220/100 grams) doesn't looked steamed at all and I actually thought it was grilled. Secondly, it looked like a regular Filipino grilled fish dish. However all our initial impressions have changed the moment we had a bite of the fish. It was delicious, the addition of soy bean has made it a bit salty which gave the fish a very oriental taste. Paul enjoyed the fish very much and ate this with spoonfuls of egg whites from the Mantis dish.

The next three dishes were my personal favorite that evening:

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Wok-fried Fillet of Beef with Wasabi Sauce (Php. 780). At this point, I asked the server for a bowl of rice because this goes perfectly with the beef. It was one of the most tender beef fillet that I've ever had. It's funny though, just like the XLB, I didn't have any hint of wasabi sauce here. Either there's something wrong with my taste buds or the chef did a little alteration that evening. :) Nonetheless, it was one of the best dishes that evening and I will definitely go back to Jasmine for this.

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I also loved the Shanghainese Chicken Curry in Clay Pot (Php. 600) well not to sound biased but I love anything cooked in clay pot! It gives a very rich flavor and the sauce is always so good that it forces me to eat more rice! Bad but yummy! :)

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Another interesting dish was the Assorted Seafood, Rice and Soup (Php. 1,380). We loved the crunchy rice mixed with shrimps and veggies. It actually feels like eating rice crispies cooked with the rich soup broth.

We all enjoyed trying the delicious dishes prepared by Chef Wong and exchanging food notes with our table mates (mental note: remember to try the mami recommended by Jerico). It was truly a fun evening and we ended our meal with a special dessert which was another unique creation of the Chef.

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Coconut pudding with Osmanthus and Bird's Nest (Php. 680) and a cup of Oolong Tea Creme Brulee (Php. 400). I love creme brulee so this was the first thing I tried. I never thought adding tea into this European dessert can taste so good! Had I not been so full from our meal, I would have cleaned out my tiny bowl but I really enjoyed every scoop of it. Meanwhile, the pudding was ok but not really something I'm totally fond of.

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This dinner truly showed me that even cuisines as traditional as Chinese food can modernize itself and come up with unique and mouthwatering creations that will continue to excite our senses.

Head over to the Jasmine Restaurant to try Chef Wong's masterpieces as he'll only be here until October 1, 2011.

*photos by: Paul Ang

Jasmine Restaurant is located at the 2nd floor of the New World Hotel, Esperanza street, corner Makati Avenue in Makati City. Call them at 811-6888 local 3338 for reservations.

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