We were in Market! Market! and we decided to eat at a Chinese restaurant since it was almost Chinese New Year the time we were there. We chose from the restaurant directory right at the entrance of the mall, near the car park, and we spotted Hap Chan! I’ve never been disappointed eating at a Chinese Restaurant anywhere so I knew it was going to be a good lunch, and I was right!
About the Restaurant
Hap Chan in Market! Market! is located right outside the mall. I’m not familiar with Market! Market! mall so I can’t describe accurately where it was but it’s in the ground floor, near one of the exits of the mall with the cool rock water fixture.
Somehow, the outside of the restaurant looked so inviting. I don’t know if it’s because it looked so festive with all the lanterns and lights, or if it’s because of the 2 huge round tables outside the restaurant that were just waiting for people to occupy them.
We were welcomed at the door (everybody was so polite) and we were seated immediately (that was around 2PM). We chose to be seated on the couch type seats, instead of the huge round tables which were for big families. It was just me and Mario that time. Although the seats were comfortable, there wasn’t a lot of space between the seats and the table. Mario’s big
tummy chest had little wiggle room but we didn’t switch places. He was too lazy and too hungry to do that.
Other than distance to the table issue, everything else was perfect. I love the solid furniture (tables and chairs). They’re just like the ones I see on TV at Chinese Restaurants in New York! The chairs, especially, are the same things I’ve seen a couple of nights before we visited in one of the food shows at TLC. Because of the bulky-looking furniture, it made the place look small and cramped, but it wasn’t like that at all. There was enough room to stand, go to other tables, socialize, or share some stories with folks at the other end of the table. It’s almost old-style looking that gave me a feeling that Jackie Chan was going to jump into one of the tables and do his moves, just like in his movies that involve restaurants.
What We Ordered
I’m glad that although they had an extensive choice of food on their menu, the way they presented it wasn’t overwhelming. I wanted to order sea cucumber but I’m sure Mario would be scared to try and it might just be wasted, so we stuck to safer choices – Minced Pork w/ Eggplant (I almost always order this in a Chinese Restaurant if they serve this), Braised Taufu w/ Asado, Yang Chow Fried Rice, and Hong Kong Iced Lemon Tea.
Minced Pork w/ Eggplant (230php)
You can never go wrong with ordering Minced Pork w/ Eggplant! Hap Chan’s version is skinless eggplant! The eggplant was perfectly cooked and it’s still a mystery to me how they were able to peel off the skin without subjecting the eggplant meat to a lot of stress and end up mushy, because their eggplant had the perfect texture and firmness. They probably used a blowtorch and ice cold water to peel of the torched skins…. ^_^ Or maybe not blowtorch… I wanted it to be little more spicy but the mild heat was good enough for Mario. It was a tad salty for Mario, but it was perfect for me. ^_^; Serving size wasn’t bad either (good for 2-3 people).
Braised Taufu w/ Asado (210php)
Ah, yet another hit! Although we both agreed we liked the Minced Meat w/ Eggplant more, this dish wasn’t trailing far behind. I love how the Chinese put so much flavor into everything! The winning ingredient for me in this dish was the Taufu! It was still moist and soft at the center, by which you can tell that they used quality tofu, and the outside was firm and properly browned. Oh I love when a restaurant pays attention to these little details. I hope they read this so they know that people appreciate the good value they put out on the table, but being in the business for a long time, they probably already know. As for the rest of the dish, the sauce was mildly sweet (which is ok), the Asado was a little tough (which is a minus), and the mushrooms are juicy (a definite plus)!
Yang Chow Fried Rice (195php)
This one was just ok. I don’t remember anything special about it, but what I do remember is how it looked so plain compared to the photo on the menu. In hindsight, it would have probably been better if we had ordered plain rice for P30 each.
Hong Kong Iced Lemon Tea (70php)
I don’t usually include “normal” drink selections and Iced Tea is quite normal in a restaurant but I really liked this one. Mario ordered it, but I, of course, get a sip (or 2) before he takes a sip. ^_^ He lets me take a sip first so that we can discuss the taste… Ah, yes, we are a match made in heaven. Anyway, this is more tea than sugar, plus hints of lemon. I can still taste the bitterness of the tea and it wasn’t drowned out in sugar which I liked very much. Next time I’ll order that for myself. I just wished they had bottomless options.
FREE HOT TEA!
We love the whole experience. We enjoyed the hustle and bustle ambiance (every once in a while it’s a welcomed environment), we loved the old China town feel with some modern fixture, we love how quick our orders arrived and how polite the crew were, we love a couple of our orders and even the humdrum Yang Chow Fried Rice couldn’t dampen our mood. The serving size was also good! We’d love to go back and try the rest of the dishes on the menu! Especially the sea cucumber dish!