Friday, September 2, 2016

First Bite: DaTang Jardin

I was planning to head to Baguio last long weekend but an invite to a restaurant opening made me skip vacation in a heartbeat. This time around, it was for a Taiwanese restaurant’s grand launch in Burgos Circle. 

Hello, DaTang Jardin.
Named after the Tang Dynasty which is also known as the Golden Age of ancient China and era of prosperity for literature and food, this new and only Chinese restaurant in Burgos Circle boasts of its extensive menu that features all eight Chinese cuisines— Shandong, Cantonese, Szechuan, Jiangsu, Hunan, Zhejiang, Fujian and Anhui. 
As a treat, its multi-awarded executive chef, William Liu, prepared DaTang Three Cup Chicken, one of the restaurant’s recommended dishes, for the guests and curious bystanders to try. 
I tried a piece and it had a slight barbecue sauce taste to it. Nothing extraordinary. 
After 10 or 15 minutes, we were asked to go inside for the actual food sampling.
I was pretty impressed with the restaurant’s interiors as it doesn’t look Chinese-y at all. The place was not as flashy or decorated as other Chinese restaurants I know. 
It also had a nice and light ambiance to it. 
First served to us were some cold appetizers—Simmered Beef Shank in Homemade Sauce (PHP350), Homemade Kimchi (PHP130), Tofu Salad (PHP130) and Tomato in Plum and Red Wine Sauce (PHP130). 
As a person who did not read the menu, I was surprised that the beef shank bits were cold. It’s still uncommon in the local scene to serve cold meat. But this one was pretty good. Each chunk was flavorful and quite spicy. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you. 

The Homemade Kimchi was something else. W was hesitant to try it as he is not fond of kimchi… at all. But the color enticed him and he finally gave in. We were all delighted by this one as it was different from your usual Korean red kimchi. This one was mildly spiced and had a sweet taste. Quite weird to be included in line up but we were glad that it was. 
The Tofu Salad had a light taste and interesting texture. Actually, scratch that. It was quite bland and forgettable. 

I liked the Tomato in Plum and Red Wine Sauce best though. I’m a bit biased here as I love tomatoes. The natural tangy taste of tomatoes was offset by the sweetness of plum and slight bitterness of wine.
After a couple of minutes, a plate of Baked Eggs & Basil (PHP200) was served.

In terms of look, it would remind you of the usual fried egg. But this one was made fancier with bits of basil. Make sure you get a lot of basil per mouthful to enjoy the herb’s flavor with the fried egg. Honestly, I find this a rip-off dish. 

For our mains, we were served Quick-Fried Squid in Honey Sauce (PHP280), Sweet and Sour Pork (PHP150) and Deep Fried Chicken in Thai Chili Sauce with Seasonal Fruit (PHP200).
They say that a Chinese restaurant's Sweet and Sour Pork is the best way to measure if it is good or not. DaTang Jardin sure passed the test. The pork bits were soft and flavorful. It also had a great balance of sweetness and tanginess. The way it was served was unique. However, the wrapper was quite tough to chew and made the dish less enjoyable. 
The battered chicken and drizzled with Thai chili sauce was served on top of a slice of melon and apple. The taste was quite light and could work as an appetizer. It’s definitely not good for sharing though as one order comes with just two battered chicken balls. 
The quick-fried squid had good texture as it was not gummy at all. This dish is not for those who try to avoid rice as its sweet sauce made me crave for some carbs. 
Looking at the menu, you’d think that the dishes are affordable but you’d get it why the dishes are priced as such once the dishes are served. The serving sizes are quite small for a Chinese restaurant and none except for the homemade kimchi stood out. Service was also so bad. We had to wait over an hour for our other dishes. Also, I lost count on how many plates and glasses broke that first night. 

Will I come back? Definitely not anytime soon.

DaTang Jardin is located at Ground Floor, Bellagio 2, Burgos Circle, Forbestown, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

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