New Restaurant Alert: Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie at SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong
SPOT.ph exclusively shows you what to expect from this pork bun and noodle haven opening on October 25.
Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie
3/F SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.*
(SPOT.ph) The cult of Chinese food has always been comfort in the familiar: trusty Peking duck and dumplings, the convenience of stir-fry and noodles. Cantonese cuisine, with their street style and laidback service, especially puts this kind of reliability at the forefront.
Tuan Tuan though, with glinting chandeliers illuminating a space adorned with bicycles on the wall, photographs of people eating merrily, and French references like a framed "Bonjour," feels like a place completely unexpected. You imagine the servers-in their berets and red scarves-to greet you in French. They don't, at least not until you leave and they graciously send you away with a "merci."
French interiors aside, the Chua family, who also helms the widely popular Lugang Café, knows their Cantonese food well. In the end, Tuan Tuan is a dependable, people-pleasing combination of fast Chinese comfort food in a more ornate setting.
House Special Trio (P398) of baked seafood, wild mushrooms, and pork chop over rice.
Honey Garlic Spare Ribs (P298)
Thai Milk Tea
A meal at a Chinese restaurant usually connotes value for money, with portions that are meant for sharing and flavors that are generally appealing. Congee, for instance. Tuan Tuan takes longer than usual to cook theirs, patiently waiting for the rice to bloom and for a texture that could almost be described as creamy. A variety of toppings is available, but even a simpler pork meatball (P148) is enough to satisfy three average appetites.
Congee with Meatball; try dipping the fried bread in the sesame-sauce-spiked soup.
Other Asian flavors make their way onto the trilingual English, French, and Chinese menu. The big bowl of Laksa (P518), extra flavorful from a halibut-based broth, is the kind of dish that makes you unsure whether you should eat it slowly and quickly-the careful heat from the intricate combination of herbs and spices is the kind you want to relish, but also the kind you want to keep to yourself.
Curry with Ribs
Tuan Tuan, according to the newspaper-styled menu, takes its cue from Mui Garden, which is a popular franchise in Vancouver specializing in Cantonese and Malaysian food. Their curry has won them numerous awards: It has a subtle yet bold blend, with coconut milk infusing just the right amount of decadence into the mix of over 20 spices. US Premium Beef Ribs (P498) perfectly soak in those flavors. The pieces of beef disappear in your mouth, with only the lingering spiced notes proving they were there in the first place. On a canvas of white rice, this dish slings flavor until the very last drop. Owner Katrina Chua recommends a side order of Grilled Ox Tongue (P488) to stretch the curry when you’ve finished the ribs.
The menu warns you about the crumbs.
The trend nowadays leans towards pillowy buns filled with sweet barbecued pork. Tuan Tuan's Snow Buns (P128/three pieces) have a noticeably paler, crumblier bun that reminds one of exceptionally thin, dome-shaped broas. The bun isn't that sweet, pushing the spotlight more toward the modestly sweet charsiu filling. It's a dish worth lining up for, but with Tuan Tuan’s takeaway counter near the front door, you won’t have to wait hours for your bun fix.
The faux indoor garden
You can get the coffee for free when you make your own Tuan Tuan Noodle Soup Set
Tuan Tuan is the pet project of Katrina's father, Peter Chua. He self-studied for months to perfect their famous coffee, which is the only kind in the country to feature Hong Kong's famous Holland’s Black and White milk. It has a more concentrated milky flavor that sticks out with every sip. The far end of the spacious restaurant is styled like an indoor garden. It’s here where you can sit back as if in a French cafe , with your cup of joe or a glass of Thai Milk Tea, and definitely a plate of deep-fried mantou buns and condensed milk.
*Tuan Tuan opens on October 25, Saturday.