Whenever you visit a province or another city, is there a restaurant or diner you must dine in?
Well, I have. I first went to Cebu sometime in the early ’80s for a shooting competition of the Philippine Practical Shooting Association. In those days, the organization had less than 50 members who had a passion for the sport. Free from petty intrigues, we had fun wherever we went.
Meals were always a bonding experience. One of the restaurants recommended to us was a Chinese dim-sum house called Ding Haw. You entered the place and you had ladies pushing dim-sum carts. I have always loved this concept, which was adopted from Hong Kong.
The moment those steaming carts passed your table and you checked them out, it was like opening a basket full of surprises. You didn’t know what was in store for you. Food was good and memorable, so this place became my sure destination in Cebu.
The place has closed since then, but has been resurrected in another restaurant with almost the same concept. Dimsum Break is the new dining place with all the popular dim-sum dishes of Ding Haw. If we have what we call Filipinized Chinese food, I would call these dishes Cebu-style dim sum.
The place is such a hit in Cebu that it has opened all over this bustling province. It now has 11 branches—an indication of something good and successful.
Recently, I got a call from fellow foodie Maricris Encarnacion about checking out a new dining place at SM North Edsa. Initially, I wasn’t too excited, because I thought it would be one of the the usual dim-sum places. But when I learned that behind it was the same group, with the same recipes of the old Ding Haw, my attitude changed. Cebu dim sum comes to Manila. This, I believe, will be a hit!
I walked in and was met with a variety of stacked bamboo steamers with various dim sums inside. As soon as I stood on that line and started opening those baskets, I couldn’t help gulping in anticipation.
Here are the dishes you must try: Crispy Crab Pincers—crunchy and tasty stuffed crab claws with sweet and sour sauce; sweet and sour fish; stuffed shrimps and stuffed taro; siomai, steamed fish, quail eggs siomai; chopped chicken feet (like eating atis with the bones and all); and Empress roll (a cabbage roll).
All these must be had with cucumber and radish salad, which neutralizes the richness of the dishes. The bestsellers of the Cebu branches are all available in Manila, but I understand the menu will expand as business picks up.
One dish I just had to take home to my kids was original steamed fried rice, or what the Cebu locals know as brown rice. This dish reminds me of the time kids were fed rice, sauce and some chopped-up meat. Looks very simple and sometimes not too attractive, but, boy, this will bring you back to your childhood. The inexpensive dish of steamed rice with gravy (that’s why it’s called brown rice), topped with chopped shrimps and meat, is so delicious.
I took some home, kept it in the freezer and just microwaved it for our midnight snacks. My son Franco keeps reminding me to get more of this.
Even the desserts are worth gaining a few pounds over. The coco cream and the mango custard are winners.
How nice to see restaurants from the provinces also do good in Manila. Check out Dimsum Break.
Dimsum Break is on the 3/F, SM North Edsa Annex. Call 5012469, 0915-9022569.
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