Wednesday, July 11, 2018

First Bite: Fantaste

I've been frequenting China for the past few years and each starts as a business trip and ends as a gastronomic adventure. We'd visit several provinces and key cities, each having unique dishes and flavors I've never had before. And I have to admit, all these trips made me appreciate Chinese cuisine in a whole different level. Needless to say, when I found out that a new Chinese restaurant was opening in Makati, I was giddy and couldn't wait to check it out. 

Hello, Fantaste
Located at the ground floor of Easton Place, corner Valero and V.A. Rufino, one could easily spot Fantaste with its bold red signage with a panda which would remind one of Po from Kung Fu Panda. 
They chose a panda to represent the restaurant as the cuddly animal is strongly associated with China. As a restaurant that aims to deliver delectable Chinese dishes, this black and white bear is deemed apt to be Fantaste's icon.
Fantaste came about when the owners had a light bulb moment while traveling abroad. They were at the airport and were looking for a place that offers quick quality meal that is not necessarily fast food. They've encountered this restaurant that offers great clay pot rice at pocket friendly prices and figured that it is something Manila doesn't have yet. With months of planning and preparation here and there, Fantaste was born. 
I visited Fantaste during its grand opening last week. One of the staff welcomed me to the restaurant and pointed me to one of the vacant tables on the side. Being less visible to the wait crew, it took a while before I was assisted. The place was also packed with guests so it was quite understandable.
I was curious with its clay pot rice and opted to go with Mushroom and Chicken Rice (PHP260). J, the marketing officer of Fantaste, also suggested that I try its house specialty The Best Fantaste (PHP220) and Stir Fried Cumin Beef (PHP300). I never say no to suggestions so I had those too!
First served was my piping hot bowl of Mushroom and Chicken Rice and I was pleasantly surprised by its generous serving. 
One bite of the hefty rice bowl would give you an impression that you get your money's worth. The rice was fluffy and Fantaste definitely did not settle for mediocre grains to cut on costs. The chicken bits were tender and there was a generous serving of delectable mushroom too which I adore. 
I really enjoy Mushroom and Chicken clay pot rice because of its delicate flavors. However, if you wish to add more flavors to your dish, you might want to ask for rice sauce to give each mouthful a lovely balance of sweet and savory flavors. 
The Best Fantaste is a delightful combination of Chinese ham bits and veggies that would remind one of the festive spread we get every Christmas morning. 
The smacktacular balance of sweet and salty flavors, well complemented by salted egg makes this a great dish to have for lunch or dinner. Again, do ask for rice sauce if you prefer bolder flavors as this one tend to be on the light side in terms of taste.
If you want some spice in your meal, this bowl of Stir Fried Cumin Beef is the one for you. 
Packed with chili bits and cumin, each spoonful will fire you up! It was so good that despite it being too spicy, I couldn't help myself from having more. It was that addictive!
I also enjoyed this clean tasting broth with chicken while wolfing down my rice bowl. 
Aside from the clay pot rice bowls, I also sampled its Thin Meat Porridge with Preserved Eggs (PHP120) which is part of its breakfast menu available until supplies last. Again, it was hefty in terms of serving size. However, I found it very bland. It may be because I'm used to the gingery kind of porridge we have in Manila. I would have enjoyed this more with some seasoning to add taste. It wasn't as chunky too and wished that they added more meat and century egg for a nice contrast in texture. 
Other breakfast dishes were Dry-Fried Noodles with Beef (PHP180), Fried Noodles with Three Shreds (PHP150) and Glutinous Rice Ribs (PHP140). The two noodle dishes are only available from 6:30 to 9:30 am. I wasn't able to try any of these dishes as I was too full from my rice bowls. But judging from its serving size, it was again, bang for the buck! 
If you wish to have your Fantaste meal delivered, they offer free delivery for a minimum of PHP500 within Makati and PHP1,500 within Taguig and Pasay. PHP1,500 is a steep amount to reach if I'd like to have more of that Mushroom and Chicken rice delivered but I was told that the owners are finding ways on how else they could cater to other cities at lower prices. 
Overall, I had a great meal at Fantaste and I can't wait to be back for more. I heard that they're already planning to branch out with BGC as its target location. 

Fantaste is located at Ground Floor, Easton Place, 118 Valero Street corner V.A. Rufino, Makati City.

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