Longtime readers should know that I do not like Chinese food at all. In fact, it’s a big pet peeve of mind, and I lambasted the entire Binondo Food Scene because of my hatred of Chinese food.
However, there’s one Chinese restaurant that I recommend people to eat at and it’s the only Chinese restaurant where I actually enjoy eating things. It’s called Phoenix Court, found at the 2nd Floor of the Bellevue Hotel in Alabang, right smack in the Northgate Cyberzone.
I cannot say enough good things about Phoenix Court. Although it’s only open for lunch and dinner (11am to 2:30pm and 6pm to 10pm), matching your schedule for a meal here is a must, especially if you love Chinese food. It’s really the best Chinese food I’ve had.
Even better, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to eat here. Most people have this weird impression that it’s expensive to eat at a 5-Star Hotel. While that is true in most cases, the exact same people will say that eating at North Park is cheap and affordable.
That’s weird though. If you were to order, say, lemon chicken at North Park, you would spend about 250 pesos. However, you could order the same meal at Phoenix Court for 300 pesos. However, the Phoenix Court version is three times the size of the North Park meal and can be shared with 2-4 people.
I am not kidding. Judge for yourself from the pictures I will be posting; each of those are the “small size” of the viands and they cost anywhere from 250-400 pesos. Some of the more expensive dishes are 600 or more, but most of the pork, chicken and beef dishes are around 300 pesos each, and are huge servings good for 2-4 people. Then order some rice for another 200, and you’re set for a party of four. The dimsum though is another story and is much more expensive. But if you’re ordering the main viand entrees, they are really killer at price.
Phoenix Court is surprisingly affordable, and given its great ambiance and great taste, it’s really a no brainer to eat at. It’s not good for just one person, but if you are two or more suddenly you are getting economies of scale and it’s a very attractive option from a price standpoint.
Your dining ware is quite classy; there’s two bowls for soup, a glass, your napkin, a small plate, a soy sauce dish, and a soup spoon and chopstick holder. There is a round spinning table top in the middle of all the tables for you to easily share dishes with everyone around the table. I love that!
Anyway, we ordered so many dishes, I can’t even remember all of their names, and I wasn’t able to photograph everything. But here’s a quick rundown of what we got:
The Xiao Long Bao is very, very good. Unlike the molo-like Xiao Long Bao I had at Dong Bei’s in Binondo, this Xiao Long Bao has a much deeper, richer flavor that you can’t find just anywhere. The smooth, rich soup inside runs in your mouth and delivers all its flavor. My friend said it tastes like the Xiao Long Bao of Din Tai Fun. That’s high praise, indeed.
This is my absolute favorite dimsum. It tastes very fusion, but it’s incredibly good. The crust is like the best empanada you have ever had, flakey and crisp with lots of buttery goodness, very tender and breaks as your teeth chews in. Inside is a rich curry flavor, quite spicy, but not overly so, caressing the tender chicken meat inside which is juicy and savory. It’s an incredible dish, my favorite thing in the entire restaurant. It’s a bit pricey though; it’s 180 for those three pieces.
These are some really nice buns! Manjuu/siopao is a staple Chinese dimsum, and these are pretty good. I like them much, much better than the typical asado siopao you get around the metro. These have the same chewy mantao, but the filling is pork-filled and quite tasty with a zesty sweet savory zing.
An all time Filipino favorite, the Hakaw is a clear dimsum dumpling with whole shrimp meat inside. The last time I ate this at Binondo I felt deathly ill, so I passed on this one this time.
Now this one was really, really good. It’s like the Chicken Curry dimsum that I loved so much, but this is similarly good in the flakey crust that reminds me more of French cuisine than Chinese. It’s quite sweet, with the crust infused with honey, and the pork has a sweet barbecue sauce added as well. I cannot recommend this one enough. If you eat only two things at Phoenix Court, eat this and the Chicken Curry!
But it’s like Hopia with sesame seeds, but after you bite inside its crisp dough you get a rich porky flavor. It’s not really hopia as the inside is definitely a savory meat filling, but the dough reminds me a lot of Hopia. It’s good.
We got to try the soup. Each bowl has some tofu bits inside. Sadly, I did not like this too much. The soup was watery and felt like flour had been added to thicken it. It was not very pleasant.
I did not eat these as they were also sea-food shrimp rich. Or so I think. I am not sure. One of these days I will be adventurous again and eat known allergens. But for now I pass.
And sadly, as it had shrimp, I opted not to eat it. I also ordered some Yang Chow, which also has shrimp, and finally something I could eat: salted fish rice. Man, I’m a sucker for punishment. Thankfully the salted fish rice did not make me feel bad.
The rice is good, though. It’s typical wok-fried rice for Chinese food, but it doesn’t have the grimey, ugly taste I associate with Chinese food that I find at Northpark and other places. It’s a much more refined taste. Or maybe the beautiful ambiance just psychologically-influenced me. That’s fine. Dining cannot be divorced from the presentation, ambiance and the company you eat with. That’s what true dining is about, and it’s been scientifically proven that psycho-suggestion and perceptions greatly influence the quality of your meal.
This was a tender fish dish with that most prized of fish: Lapu Lapu. Well I still prefer Salmon, but this is good too. It is a very clean-tasting fish, but battered up here. The batter was not crunchy or crisp, though, which disappointed me as I ended up with a mushy texture, but the sauce was quite tasty, it’s a soy sauce with garlic overtones and onion taste going all around.
A Cantonese favorite, I love sweet and sour pork because of the contrast of tastes that brings out a better flavor than it would if it were just all sweet or all sour. The pork is a little tough though, not super tender, and is slightly coated iwth flour and is crisped and cooked with a slight crackly texture. I love it! Some of the best sweet and sour pork I’ve had.
Nice big serving, not that great a flavor but as you can see it’s a very generous portion. It’s very oily and greasy, though. As you’d expect from Chinese food. It wasn’t that great.
I liked this less than the other beef dish. It wasn’t as tasty.
I loved this! It wasn’t spicy as the Szechuan monniker would suggest, but it was very peppery and tasty, with a very strong garlic taste, lots of black corn peppers, and a sweet soy sauce base. Very, very good.
This is Phoenix Court’s Kung Pao chicken. To be honest, it wasn’t the best Kung Pao chicken I’ve had. The one at PF Chang’s is better to be honest. But it’s still a nice big tasty dish with lots to go for everyone, and it has that delicious Szechuan flavorful taste. Sadly it’s not as spicy as a Szechuan dish should be. They obviously toned down the spice meter here for local diners.
Is it bad that my favorite Kung Pao Chicken is the one at KFC?
This is the salted egg pork they have at Phoenix Court. It’s a much more tender taste compared to the one I had at Wee Nam Kee. However, because the saltiness wasn’t overpowering, you could eat much more of it. The problem though is the texture — since it’s swimming in some kind of soup (I think it’s the egg soup) the texture turned into mushiness. I don’t like that. I would much recommend eating this dish at Wee Nam Kee.
And, that ends my pictorial for the day. We actually even had some Lechon Macau at the table. I just missed out on it since it disappeared so quick! My biggest regret was that they didn’t have the Lemon Chicken on the menu at this time. Phoenix Court’s Lemon Chicken is the best Lemon Chicken, period. I have not had better anywhere else. They also had Orange Chicken, which was not so good, though better than Chow King’s Orange Chicken.
Anyway, the main problem with Phoenix Court is, it’s still Chinese food. That means, it’s drenched and swimming in oil and it made me dizzy after eating. Nothing a little water and a quick 10 minute break would do away with, and certainly nothing like the MSG Chinese Restaurant Scare everyone is always whining about, that’s just bollocks. The food was just too oily.
Anyway, if you are in Alabang and want some Chinese, grab a friend or two and have a taste of Phoenix Court’s fine dishes. I highly recommend it.
Open from Tuesday to Sunday
11:00am to 2:30pm
6:00pm to 10:00pm
For reservations, please call (632) 7718181 local 2211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org