Thursday, May 3, 2018

First Bite: Bai Nian Tang Bao

Xiao Long Bao is one of the most popular Chinese dishes in the world. Though it gained popularity in Manila just a few years back, it is undeniable that this dish is here to stay with more and more restaurants offering this delicate soup dumpling. But it turned out that most of the xiao long bao we see in Manila are not exactly the ones you'd get in China as these are based on Taiwanese recipes. And one new restaurant claims to be the first in Manila to offer authentic Chinese xiao long bao.

Hello, Bai Nian Tang Bao.
I had a hard time finding this restaurant as one address directs me to the 38th corner 9th while another says it should be 36th. Technically, both are correct and incorrect. Bai Nian Tang Bao is located along the strip of restaurants behind Denny's so it doesn't really have a street name of its own and it is in between 36th and 38th.
While waiting for the others, I indulged in a refreshing glass of Dark Plum Juice (PHP65). 
Plate after plate of mouthwatering dishes were served soon after everyone arrived. 
First served were various xiao long bao baskets. Unlike other restaurants that highlight pork xiao long bao, Bai Nian Tang Bao features its Special Crab Roe Xiao Long Bao (PHP288). Other variants served were Chicken Soup Pork Xiao Long Bao (PHP158) and Golden Corn Pork Xiao Long Pao (PHP168). Each order comes with 6 pieces. 
Everyone seemed to be very hungry that I didn't get a single xiao long bao aside from the Giant Tang Bao (PHP258) which everyone got one each. 
I'm not exactly a fan of giant xiao long bao as I like to have the broth burst inside my mouth than enjoy it separate from the meat. But Bai Nian Tang Bao's not bad at all. Stuffed with crab broth and finely minced pork, each bite (or slurp) was oozing with the crustacean's delectable flavor blending harmoniously with ground meat. The broth was thick and slightly chunky because of the meat. And sip with caution as it'll surely be served piping hot. If you want, puncture the top a bit to allow the broth to cool down. 
I managed to try its Chicken Soup Xiao Long Bao when they served another batch and let's just say I'll stick with the classic. 
One interesting dish served to us was Special Sticky Rice & Pork Siomai (PHP138, 4 pieces). I never had sticky rice in dimsum wrapper before so this was new to me and I quickly took a bite. 
I liked how this dumpling is like a meal of its own as it combines our love for carbs and pork. However, its taste didn't particularly stood out and I found the wrapper a bit too tough to bite. Then again, perhaps it was intended that way? 
Aside from dumplings, Bai Nian Tang Bao also offers other dishes such as Shanghai Special Braised Pork (PHP329), Sweet and Sour Pork Spareribs (PHP279), Bokchoy with Mushroom (PHP199), Special Sausage Fried Rice (PHP219) and Signature Crab Meat Fried Rice (PHP239). 
The braised pork is a must-order dish! Aside from it being a smacktacular treat for the taste buds with its sweet yet savory flavor, this dish is rich in collagen! It's good for the tummy and skin!
Sweet and Sour Pork Spareribs were not exactly the usual sweet and sour we're used to. Darker in color and with deeper flavors (if I remember it correctly, it uses black vinegar), this dish was close to being my favorite dish during this visit. (Braised pork still takes the top spot.) Tender and with delightful contrast in flavor, this dish would definitely impress those who enjoy savoring rich flavored meats. 
One thing to remember though with these two pork dishes is that it is best to enjoy it with rice or else it might be too overwhelming on the taste buds. 
And I highly recommend that you go for Special Sausage Fried RiceIt had that wonderful smokey taste that goes superbly well with the heavily glazed meatsBut if you want something lighter in flavor, they also have this crab fried rice or you could also try its veggie fried rice. 
Don't forget to grab a plate of greens to complement your meats! The fresh bokchoy added texture to our dinner.
If you prefer seafood over pork, you might want to try its Steamed Snake-head Fish or Shanghai Style Fish Fillet (PHP199). 
The steamed snake-head fish would be a hit for those who like milder flavors while fish fillet will be great for those who want crunchy dishes. 
Taking office workers into consideration, Bai Nian Tang Bao released quick dishes such as rice toppings and noodle bowls with pocket friendly price range of PHP228-PHP238. 
These recently launched meals are bang for the buck as one rice meal comes with a hefty serving size and could be shared by two light eaters. 
However, I found the rice toppings too salty for my liking. I've addressed it to the owner who was very open to our feedback. 
Overall, it was a pleasant dining experience. Though I still prefer the Taiwanese kind of xiao long bao, I'll be back for more braised pork and sweet and sour spareribs paired with its sausage fried rice!   

Bai Nian Tang Bao is located at Ground Floor, Uptown Parade, 9th Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. (It's behind Denny's.)

Bai Nian Tang Bao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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