Catching up with a dear friend from way back is always a joyous occasion, especially when it’s over good food. Wilson Chua, who has been a close confidant for more than 30 years, invited me to dinner last week to catch up and reminisce about our yesteryears.

I left it to him to decide on the venue but told him I wanted to try a new restaurant. Wilson chose Shanghai Saloon on the ground floor of Podium. Though I am a Podium regular because its walking distance from my condominium, Ive never been to Shanghai Saloon even if its located beside my favorite restaurant, Mamou Prime.

Shanghai Saloon didnt strike me as a typical Chinese restaurant. Despite its huge chandelier surrounded by several tinier ones, the place is dimly lit. Even the velvet seats are upholstered in muted tones of lavender and royal blue. I guess I shouldnt have been surprised since it specializes in modern Chinese cuisine. Since Wilson is a regular, restaurant manager Roel Boado attended to us personally. Wilson also left it to Roel to order for us.

Homemade spinach bean curd and scallop fuyong.

The food was delicious. We started with the assorted dim sum platter, which had pork siomai with mushroom, scallop dumpling, ham sui fried dim sum with shrimp and duck and hakaw.

After all these, I was already nearly full because the dim sum platter is massive. It was followed by a large cup of thick and tangy hot and sour soup. The third dish was Peking Duck, which was served two ways. Roel apologized that their duck was imported from China and not from the USA since there have been supply problems with the USA. Nevertheless, he assured us that their Peking Duck was tasty.

The “first waywas sliced duck with the skin crispy and moist, with more duck meat served with a nice, thin pancake, hoisin sauce, cucumber and onion leeks. The “second waywas minced duck with salt and pepper, and ginger and onions served with fried bread cups on the side instead of the usual iceberg lettuce.

For our vegetable dish, Roel recommended the homemade spinach bean curd and scallop fuyong. The healthy dish, consisted of broccoli and mushrooms, liberally added to the bean curd and scallop. I was glad I didnt order rice, otherwise they would have had to roll me out of the restaurant. And because I always leave room for dessert, I was able to sample their duo of chilled grass jelly with fresh dragon fruit and apples with buchi on the side, which were well worth the extra calories. The grass jelly was not only refreshing but was a tasty palate cleanser as well. And the buchi was freshly cooked and not at all oily.

After our flavorful meal, Roel then shared that every day, Monday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., customers can eat all they can for P888 per person and can choose from 48 different types of soup, dim sum, noodles, main courses and desserts. Even the local beers and iced tea are unlimited. To me, this is truly good value for your money, especially if youre a voracious eater.

When we were done, I regretted taking my car. Had I known I was going to eat that much, I would have walked home to burn off those calories

Minced duck meat with salt and pepper, ginger and onions served with fried bread cups.

Refreshing dessert of chilled grass jelly with dragon fruit, apples and delicious fried sesame ball..

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