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Chow Fun Modern Chinese Bistro
103 J.Abad Santos Street, Little Baguio, San Juan
Tel. No. 624-1009; 570-0826; 0917-550-1191
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) Boredom more than aptitude inspires the best of ideas. Whether or not it's a combination of both, believe us when we say that creativity arises from the desire to spruce up the monotony.
And when you spend most of your life eating pretty much the same thing day in and day out, inspiration (not to mention desperation) will eventually kick in. "Our parents [insisted] on eating at Chinese restaurants whenever we would eat out...the food we eat at Chinese restaurants is [also] the same kind we eat at home," says Danio Caw, owner of the newly opened Chow Fun Modern Chinese Bistro along J. Abad Santos Street. "At one point in my life I started detesting Chinese food," he adds with a smile.
Deviance seems to be the recurring theme in Chow Fun. No dragons or waving cats; no aquariums raising sea creatures for slaughter; red and gold at a minimum. Industrial rarely comes to mind with regard to Chinese aesthetic, but here we are—surrounded by dove-gray walls and standing on purposely cracked flooring. Eclectic chairs and a magpie of none-too-traditional lanterns play up the unfinished look while contemporary Chinese paintings maintain a hip and youthful vibe.
Caw intended to revamp common Chinese fare all right, but he was careful not to stray too much from the familiar—going only as far as merging crispy pata with pata tim (P595-P695) and serving fish balls fondue style with cheese-curry sauce (P155). Start with the Fried Duck Rice (P240), a dome-shaped spectacle of rice, veggies, duck bits just enough for two or three. The drizzle of plum sauce adds a novel honeyed layer that sets it apart from your run-of-the-mill chao fan. Pair it with Caw's personal favorite, the Chow Fun Chicken Fry (P290-P520). Though admittedly a touch sweet as well, the peppercorn seasoning provides a snappy contrast that's neither fiery nor cloying—just right. Another bestseller, the Sour Caramel Pork (P255), is also worth a taste. A modern take on sweet and sour flavors, this one's a stringy, candied-tangy alternative. Fair warning: If your palate's not up for the sweetly savory, order some plain rice instead to prevent the feeling of umay.
Finally, do not, and we repeat, do not leave without sampling the Dark Chocolate Buchi (P115). Rich, premium, bittersweet chocolate concealed inside your everyday Chinese dessert. Three pingpong-ball-sized treats that look deceptively ordinary—just like the restaurant they're housed in—but pack an amazing suprise. The only problem is, three just doesn't seem to be enough.
Note: Chow Fun is set to launch more dishes in the near future.
Photos by Sasha Lim Uy