A cantonese twist

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Friday, October 14, 2011

CHOI CITY dubs itself as a seafood restaurant but what makes it unique, aside from the quality Cantonese foo if offers, is that it has a vision ("to be the leading authentic Cantonese and Chinese restaurant in the country"), a mission ("to serve excellent food in quality and taste, prepared with love by the best foreign and Filipino chefs') and core values (genuine customer care, efficiency and proficiency, and honesty). All this one can read at each Choi City table.

Choi City was conceptualized by a man named Choi Tak Pui who has the Choi City chain of restaurants in Manila. He is the one who creates the menu, and it is he who travels to Hong Kong regularly to see what’s new or worthwhile bringing back to his restaurant chain. Though operating under Choi, the restaurant in Cebu (at the Banilad Town Center) is owned by Jay and Sheryl Tan, Frank Lao, Walter and Sharon Ong, and Marilou and Norman Condon. Sheryl says the place specializes in roasting and dimsum and live seafood. Because of the demand for it, it now offers shabu-shabu, on weekdays.

Elmer Santos, assistant manager, says Choi City has been around since November last year. Manager Lun Chee Li explains they have four chefs, all handpicked by Choi in Hong Kong. All of them make use only of the finest ingredients (mostly imported from China) and will touch seafood only if it is live (usually from Bohol and Zamboanga).


This makes for top quality Chinese food some of which can be pricey but there are a lot others which are affordable and competitive. Besides, says Sheryl, Choi City has big servings, with the “small” serving able to serve four, the “medium,” eight and the “large,” a dozen people.

Among its appetizers are fresh shrimp pork siomai and fresh shrimp dumpling or hakaw, roast layered pork (the Cantonese equivalent of lechon kawali) served with mustard sauce and siao long pao, which is a bit tricky to eat because if one doesn’t watch out, the juices trapped inside will spill out. The trick is to carefully nibble the top off, pour a bit of black vinegar on the inside of the cone, then savor slowly all its goodness.

It has a special chilled lobster salad, on a bed of melon. The rest of the lobster can then be made into lobster soup with tofu and celery. Another really fine soup is shark’s fin with pumpkin and seafood. Other seafood are steamed sea mantis with garlic (which tastes like crab), fried lapu-lapu with mango sauce, Singapore style crab and fried rock lobster with salt and pepper. A specialty is Hong Kong fried pigeon. If one wants it, there’s also Chinese style suckling pig. To go with all that, one can have Fookien fried rice with mushroom sauce. Dessert can be hot taho, egg tart or Malay cake.

Choi city is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, and from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner. It has facilities for events like baptisms, birthday parties and anniversaries, and meetings which come with the free use of audio visual equipment and sound system. For these events, Choi City can make a special menu for the customer. Soon, Choi City will also go into catering.

Dining in Choi City is always a great experience, not only because of the food but also because of the staff, all of them trained to treat customers with genuine care.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 15, 2011.


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