Growing up on a steady diet of “Iron Chef” reruns, I would chuckle a bit when the challenger would choose to go up against Iron Chef Chinese, Chen Kenichi. If you’ve watched the show, you might recall how Chef Kenichi is often one who struggled with the time limit and would profusely sweat during the cook-offs (but would still eventually win the taste tests).

There were two others who seemed to work better under pressure: The masterful Iron Chef Japanese, Rokusaburo Michiba, and the technical Iron Chef French, Hiroyuki Sakai. There were other Iron Chefs in the earlier and later seasons (the show ran from 1993 to 1999), but Kenichi, Michiba and Sakai were the three I grew up watching.

In the end, Kenichi “fought” the most among all Iron Chefs with 93 matches under his belt, eventually retiring with a win-loss-draw record of 66-24-3 (72.6 percent winning rate).

I bring this up because I feel strongly about Chinese food the same way Kenichi’s record looks after almost a hundred games: Sometimes you lose, but most times you win (and win by a wide margin).

There’s something about Chinese food that’s supposed to be prepared with a pinch of frantic energy. It’s unlike the restraint in Japanese cuisine nor the flamboyance of the French. Why do you think most Tsinoys cook without measuring ingredients? Recipe books only become a thing when starting a business comes to mind.

It’s different in business when everything has to be replicated to be consistent; when you have to be able to prepare and serve quality fare day in, day out. That’s where I tip my proverbial hat to Luy’s Classic Tea House located at APM Mall.

The place just feels like any other classic Chinese restaurant. No modern plating. No fancy marketing ploys. No gimmicks. Families go to Luy’s for the familiarity of good food. It’s walking into a place already knowing how its pork siomai bursts and crumbles in your mouth after biting into it.

Some people would be quick to argue that there are better dim sum places or Chinese restaurants in Cebu. And perhaps, on some nights they might be right. This is what happens when the focus is something as subjective as food.

But true to the spirit of just keeping on in the kitchen, Luy’s is all about the flavor first. It’s liberating to be able to sit down and not have the urge to pull out the phone for photos because of some fancy plating.

Sit down. Eat to your heart’s content: Fried rice. Dim Sum. Pork. Noodles. Fish. Grab a soda or two. End the meal with buchi. It’s as simple as a Chinese feast gets.

There is another restaurant in town that gives off the same vibe, and is able to serve its tasty take on Chinese food consistently as well. That’s for another article. But for now, congratulations to Luy’s for winning Best Dim Sum and Best Chinese Restaurant in SunStar’s Best of Cebu 2022 list.