I’m not really a fan of Chinese food. I have nothing against it, it’s just not my favorite thing in the world. There are, however, a few Chinese dishes that I do go nuts about and am willing to stand up in line, travel across the city or wake up early on the weekend (like, at 10 am) for. I’d do this for really, really good dimsum (Xiao Long Bao!), really good noodles and, my favorite, Hainanese chicken.
And it’s precisely this dish (and another, but more on that later) that brought me and my family to Hanobe restaurant in Quezon City. We’ve had food delivered from the restaurant to my aunt’s house before, with excellent results, so we figured it was high time we actually went to the actual restaurant. We finally went last Friday, the holiday, and what a difference it made.
While Hanobe’s Hainanese was good when we have it at home, the fact that it doesn’t have to travel on the back of a motorcycle to get from the kitchen to my plate makes a world of difference. This is, so far, the best Hainanese Chicken I’ve had in Manila (full disclosure: I have yet to try Chef Stevie’s). The meat was tender and juicy but cooked through, with none of the potentially-dangerous pinkness of uncooked poultry. It’s lightly flavored with the ginger, leeks and broth it’s cooked in, it’s good enough to eat without the ginger oil.
But any self-confessed Hainanese chicken lover worth his or her salt knows that this dish is only as good as the sauce it comes with. And Hanobe’s ginger oil is perfect, the ginger is not coarse at all, and the flavor is perfectly balanced between the oil and the ginger.
Hanobe, though, is not just about the Hainanese chicken. I also happen to love minced pork in lettuce cups, and Hanobe’s is outstanding. The combination of the pork, the veggies (carrots, and singkamas, I think) and fried noodles lends the perfect crispiness to the whole thing, even without wrapping the meat in lettuce. But of course, you HAVE to wrap it all in lettuce, that’s the point of the dish. But not without a few drizzles of sweet hoisin to bring it all together. Yum.
But Hainanese Chicken and pork lettuce cups isn’t all Hanobe has to offer. Their Yang Chow rice is good, and their steamed fish with garlic was a hit, even with my sister who generally doesn’t like fish. Their broccoli with garlic was great too with the broccoli rightfully the centerpiece of the dish, whereas other place just bombard the veggies with fried (and occasionally bitter) garlic.
So, I guess you could tell that our Hanobe experience was a good one and definitely one that I’m keen to repeat. The only bad thing I can say is that we ordered waaaaaaaaaay too much food. We had containers filled and heavy with leftovers to take home, particularly of the chicken and the pork (the fish and broccoli, which I ordered in smaller quantities, were wiped out). So, wait, I take that back. I don’t have anything bad to say.
Hanobe Asian (but actually, it’s just Chinese) Restaurant is located at Maria Clara corner Banawe street (near Jollibee), Quezon City