THE world looks at Asian families, more often than not, as tightly-knit. There is an unwritten yet respected sort of hierarchy observed within this domestic setup—Dad is the general manager, Mom is the resident manager, and the children, usually outnumbering their parents, are the members of the board of directors. So when it comes to the question: “Where do we eat?,” the votes have already been cast.
Now, there’s another spot worth taking note of—one of the country’s best Cantonese restaurants recently opened its sole branch outside of Metro Manila here in Metro Cebu. Hai Shin Lou (Seafood King) Restaurant is located at the ground floor of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, and has been the talk of the town since opening August—especially among local Cebuano-Chinese families. With three chefs from Hong Kong leading the way in the kitchen (one pays attention to detail when it comes to the dim sum; the other makes sure the marriage between flame and flavor is just right as he handles the wok; and the last chef, and certainly not least, is responsible for all the roasting, making sure each slice of meat has that perfect balance of crisp and tenderness), authentic Cantonese food awaits diners.
Hai Shin Lou uses the best available local and imported ingredients. And christened with the name “Seafood King,” it’s almost as if this Cebu branch was the fulfillment of a foretold prophecy. Cebu is not only known around the country for its succulent roast pig but also for the abundance of fresh seafood around the proximity of the island. Offering the best of the land and sea, the restaurant offers over 300 items on its menu, and the live seafood available is definitely one of the restaurant’s main highlights.
In keeping with the Hong Kong lifestyle, dim sum is served for lunch only. These tasty dumplings are best had with tea and slow conversations. Should the occasion for feasting arrive, one can expand his orders while browsing through the menu’s variety of soups, appetizers, fried rice, noodles, meat dishes, drinks and desserts.
Authenticity is a tricky word, especially when it comes to a tradition spanning hundreds of years like preparing Chinese food. But that’s the way of the world; a flurry of creation, adoption, innovation. Sometimes, to learn something new, one has to unlearn the old—even if it is just for a brief moment. Take, for instance, the most striking thing one notices upon entering the restaurant—there is hardly a shred of red on its interiors. Perhaps, the brand logo and flowers account for 99 percent of “red” one will ever find in this Chinese restaurant. Designed with blue instead, the restaurant’s look takes on a bold, cool and confident statement: culture goes beyond what speaks to the eyes but is also about what moves the soul. And in Hai Shin Lou’s case, what delights the heart through taste.
And may the tongues speak for themselves. At Hai Shin Lou, one notable thing it prides itself on is the absence of MSG in all its recipes. The flavors come solely from the ingredients and are brought to harmony through fine culinary technique rooted in tradition.
Christmas is a time for celebration, and the holidays bring all the more reason to celebrate the gift of love and good food with loved ones. While lovers and families have their place, solo gastronomes are just as welcome. With its extensive menu, there is surely something for everybody at Hai Shin Lou.
Hai Shin Lou (Seafood King) Restaurant at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu is open from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 to 10:30 p.m.