When in Manila, open your eyes wide as you walk along the narrow streets of Chinatown, you’d be greatly surprised with some exotic finds. Although I’ve been to Ongpin all my life -being born and raised in a Chinese family- I was surprised to spot a strange Fukienese jewel inside what seemed to be like a building under construction.
Behind the warmly-lit tall glass windows of this white Ongpin building is Emperor Kingdom Seafood Restaurant, a one-month old food place that looks like a dining hall for royalty. Its chairs are draped in gold embroidered cloth, the tables are spread lavishly with elegant china, the ceilings hold sparkling drop down chandeliers. The grumblings in my stomach instantly turned into butterflies.
I thought ordering in a Fukienese restaurant would be a cinch — since I can speak a little of their language. But when I saw their menu, it was like, umm.. where is your Sweet and Sour Fish? Or Beef Tendon Noodle with Soup? Or Yang Chow Fried Rice? The menu selection comprises more of exotic foods that may fit adventurers like you and me. The manager, fortunately, was a nice enough lady to help my parents and I decide on which dishes to order.
The first dish that we got to taste from Emperor Kingdom Seafood Restaurant was their peppered radish peel, a savory chewy appetizer. It was actually our first time to eat the peel and not the main meat of the radish. It was partly crunchy, partly chewy. It reminded me of some jaw-exercising snacks my grandma had been giving me when I was a child.
Then came the Kuchay Rice. It was served in an ancient-looking wooden barrel. Unlike the white rice with chopped greens I was imagining, it was brown rice with dark colored toppings such as mushrooms, black oysters, and nuts.
Next came something that gave me goosebumps. Although a little bit of me was thinking of recycling it too. Two slices of snake was served on the plate. Each piece is priced at Php 218. Since research has shown that snakes can do good cleansing to the body, I decided to give it a try. The meat was soft and tender; it resembled that of a native Tagalog Chicken. Whereas its skin, quite shiny and bluish, isn’t as scaley as it looks. It has the same texture as the stir-fried eel you’d order in a neighborhood Chinese restaurant. When in Manila, I suggest you give this a try! For certain, you’d earn some bragging rights.
If you are interested to drop by Chinatown, When in Manila, walk with your eyes wide open in Ongpin. When you reach Ongpin cor. Raon Street, you might just find Emperor Kingdom Seafood Restaurant at the least expected corner. But if you’re really lost, just call them at +632-5160000, they’d be happy to serve your adventurous palette.
Hidden Exotic Corner in Chinatown: Secret Ongpin Food Haven known as Emperor Kingdom Seafood Restaurant