Monday, November 12, 2012

Vegetarian Comestibles at Mabuhay Palace

When considering a Chinese cuisine, it is also thought that vegetarian practices date back to ancient times. This means the Chinese have had centuries to perfect flavorful combinations found in vegetarian dishes, from sweet and sour to hot and spicy.
Known to be a very sophisticated art, Chinese cooking has been sought-after even in Manila.  Many consummate foodies have found Chinese cuisines one of the best.  With this in mind, Manila Hotel's Mabuhay Palace have had a serious study of revamping their menu with famous vegetarian dishes from China.  
Confucius once said "everyone eats and drinks; yet only few appreciate the taste of food.   A definitive summary of what to expect with the newly added vegetarian choices.   More than the usual, steamed vegetables, or congee which lacks tastes and distinction, is but a fore-shadow.  
To delight into a complete health-giving meal, with careful conceptualization that Executive Chinese Chef Sun Bing have put into, begin with a hot cup Sweet Orange Tea.   One can never be recklessly extravagant on a lunch or dinner here.  After all, isn't it that health is wealth?

While you're at a pace with  your choice for the table, these crunchy mound of Wanton Chips will be a good conversation piece.   Sprinkled with white sesame seeds, this house-made wantons are fried and caramelized to prepare your palate for a voracious meal.
How can anyone be more timely preparing a plate of Vegetarian Beijing Duck with Confucius' statuette, than Mabuhay Palace.   Food plus work of art can be a true delight for all the senses.  The miniature Confucius piece is made from salt, mixed, colored then compacted on a mold to form as is.
The wrap on the other hand, had set about our culinary journey with faux duck meat.   A veggie meat delicately seasoned to taste like an authentic Beijing duck.  Comes with a brown, subtly tangy and sweet sauce.
 A veggie meatloaf in it's own right, the Steamed Lotus Root with Glutinous Rice Glazed with Sweet Osmanthus Sauce.   If this doesn't intrigued you enough let me give out the salient details.  Medicinally, it is said to flush out toxins in the body such as mucus.   I only knew lotus flowers as moon cake flavors and fillings but I never really knew that the whole plant can edibly be used.   When boiled and mashed, the texture resembles  a sweet hint of taro (or gabi in our lingua).  This can be a bread or rice replacement, since the mix has glutinous rice already.  Sweetened even more with sugar-roasted, dried Osmanthus petals, used as a tea.  The strong floral fragrance of the topping and flavor serves to remove the disgust giving a loss of appetite from eating a certain food (in simple Filipino term,"pangtanggal umay").
Another salt statue of a lucky dragon emblem on the middle of the aforementioned dish.
For a light starter, a bowl of Yin Yang Winter melon and Spinach Soup is a sure stopper.   I love the thickened combination of the purees of winter melon and spinach.  This simple, less salty soup can be eaten in two ways: develop a mixture of the two soups or eat it sparingly on its own ingredient.
And a crowd-pleaser, the Stir-fried Oyster Mushrooms with Salt and Pepper.   A must in your table.  Living up to its name, a big mushroom that smells, looks like and tastes like oysters. Seasoned only with the basics, battered and deep-fried till crisp.  Served with a smackingly good sort of Chinese vinaigrette.

Our lunch getting way even surprising, as a plate of an unusually shaped baby squash was served in our midst.  The Stuffed Baby Squash filled with Vegetarian Meat and mushrooms.   The imported baby squash were baked, opened up and served as a bowl for sauteed chunks of veggie meats, prunes, water chestnuts and button mushrooms.   With these way of preparing the squash, the sweetness from it's meat will be loved even by kids, and did I tell you how good their veggie meats taste.   One actually would taste a pork meat such as Spam inside.
Now here is something for the spiced-mouth and unsuited for silent treatment.  As Chinese as could be, the Stir-fried Celery with Black bean curd and Chinese Wolfberry will change your views of preparing typical stir-fried veggies.  The julienned celery, and veggie meat was made more  delish and vitamin-packed with Chinese wolfberries.  Also known as Goji berries, the wolf berries are considered as a superfood.  Traditional Chinese uses wolfberry fruits to improve eye condition, to support liver functions, to maintain healthy blood pressure, to maintain healthy immune system, to control blood sugar, to maintain body beauty against aging. 
Well, here is the thing, I'm not a vegetarian, though I love vegetables knowing the benefits you get from consuming it.   And turning into something I'm not going to be happy about will mean an entire difference but as we can see, Mabuhay Palace have been so gracious enough with their profound styles in using vegetables.  Say for example, this plate of Braised Wawa Chai with Chestnuts.  It's simplicity may not entice you but once you sip the milky sauce an entire light of change appears.  Again simply putting it this way, they were able to magically bring out a meaty flavor in their veggie dishes.  The soup actually taste like chicken brought though getting your protein from the chestnuts.
If you're fond of eating taho, you will definitely like these, Deep-fried Bean curd with Broccoli Flower in Brown Sauce.  Bean curd, known also as Chinese tofu a soy-bean by product can be deep fried when minced, battered and shaped like eggs.  The mix also contains minced spring onions and smothered with clear yet thick sauce, might be Worcestershire or XO sauce.
Another "wow-factor" in the menu was the manner of how the rice can be served.  From a far you can smell the aroma of a cooked strong brewy leaf with the rice.  I was taken a back when this was brought to our table, having a bit tummy-filled already, I still took a few  spoons of this Vegetarian Lotus-wrapped Fried Rice.  All along, I thought that Lotus plants merely are for aesthetics only, something to please the soul with its bloom's beauty floating on rivers or pools.  Centuries prove that Chinese culinary is as endearing as Confucius' sayings.  The aromatic fried rice, amber-colored without any hint of curry, wrapped carefully with the lotus leaves, is a perfect match to any veggie meats or seafood flavored meat substitute, like the Stir-fried Oyster Mushrooms with Salt and Pepper.
To end a glorious, health-giving meal sweetly, how about a traditional Steamed Sweet Taro filled with Red Bean Cream.   This dome-shaped dessert is another heavy stuff for the tummy so make sure you have ample space before you slice a serving from it.  A layer of the sweetened mashed taro and red beans garnished with dried fruits and heavily scattered with pulverized peanuts, can be a better alternative to the sugar-laden dessert ( without trace minerals our body needs).
All these can be enjoyed at the the Filipino version of  the Imperial Palace, Mabuhay Palace, garbed in hues of red, orange, and gold; chinoiserie -carved dividers; padded panels of dragon-pattern fabric; and glass and jade panels depicting the life of Chinese philosopher Confucius. 

 On the picture are Manila Hotel's Executive Chinese Chef Sun Bing and Executive Chinese Sous Chef Joy Tanganco-Candelaria

Mabuhay Palace is located at the historic Manila Hotel.
Open for lunch from 11 AM - 2:30 PM and dinner from 6 -10 PM.
For inquiries or reservations call 527-0011 local 1261.

1 comment:

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