Restaurants

A Little House called Su Zhou

By franco on 10 July, 2007

The Food from Su Zhou Dimsum
From top left, clockwise: Steamed Xiao Long Bao, Banana Nuggets,
Salt and Pepper Fried Tofu, Tofu with Century Egg and Shredded Pork

Connecting Shaw Boulevard to Wilson Street, A. Mabini could be mistaken as as just another road of old homes and shop houses; nothing more than a street that gets you from Mandaluyong to San Juan.

To avoid the daily grid of Manila traffic, I occasionally go down this one way road, with nothing really catching my eye except this little green bungalow with a small wooden sign. It looks like a Chinese restaurant but the owners don’t seem too concerned about letting the public know that they exist. I’m intrigued, but not enough to try it.

 

During a random text conversation with Sharky about restaurants to visit, I ask her about this mystery restaurant along Mabini pretending to be a house. She informs me that this restaurant is very popular with local residents, a community secret that is not openly discussed in mixed company. The place is called Su Zhou Dimsum.

She immediately texts me a list of the dishes I must try. Like a child listening to an all knowing parent, I gratefully take it all in.

I must eat there soon. And I did. The very next day…

 

Su Zhou Dimsum is a small, green colored bungalow on the corner of A. Mabini and Araullo Streets. This 70s styled building probably has not seen much exterior renovation in a while, except for the open, three-car parking lot, the glass doors and the wooden signage with the restaurant’s Chinese and English name written on it.

The interiors are pretty much the same as the exteriors. The walls are painted with a similar shade of mint green. The table tops are covered with easy-to-clean, white Formica and the wooden, dark brown chairs don’t quite match. Beside the door is a slim fish tank filled with small gold fish (for decoration, not eating) and a clump of misplaced, Japanese paper lamps hangs from the ceiling. It reminds me of a ‘hole in the wall’ Bionondo restaurant, but a lot more sanitary looking.

Obviously, this place is not about design. But I’m not here for interiors. I’m here for the food.

Spying on our neighbour’s tables, the popular dish is obviously the Xiao Long Bao (P75). It is after all the house specialty. Xiao Long Bao (translated literally as little basket buns) are soup dumplings. What makes these dumplings unusual is the soup surprise within. During preparation, these dumplings are not only stuffed with meat fillings but also a gelatinous cube of broth. Thus, as the Xiao Long Bao cooks, the gelatin cube melts, creating the soup within the bun. By the way, Su Zhou serves them either steamed or fried. We preferred the fried version because of its crispy bottom.

After two orders of the Xiao Long Bao, we decide to have two Tofu dishes.

The first was the Tofu with Century Egg and Shredded Pork (P125). Honestly, this dish was so pretty on the menu, I could not resist ordering it. In the taste department, it did not disappoint. The silken tofu is dressed in oyster sauce then garnished with sliced century egg, shredded pork flakes and spring onions. The mix of the salty egg and the sweet pork, the peppery spring onions and the milky tofu make this a must order; a visual and culinary treat.

Next, we had the Salt and Pepper Fried Tofu (P80). A pretty straight forward dish. Cubes of silken tofu are covered in seasoned bread crumbs, deep fried and garnished with spring onions. Dipping the tofu in a sweet and sour sauce, A. fell in love with this dish. As for myself? It was good but not unique enough to order again on the next visit.

To round up our lunch, we ordered the Banana Nuggets (P70) for dessert. I first heard about this dish, reading a review of Su Zhou in Yummy Magazine. This dessert is made up of golden brown pillows; light and crispy on the outside and a warm, oozing banana puree on the inside. In a word, lovely. Simply lovely.

If you are looking for stylish and elegant Chinese dining, move on. But if you seek honest-to-goodness Chinese dishes that you won’t soon forget, navigate your way to Su Zhou. Drive slow. You just might miss it.

 

SuZhou Dimsum
A. Mabini cor. Araullo Street
Mandaluyong City

Tel (02) 721-6105

Ground Floor Food Court
Promenade Greenhills
San Juan
Tel (02) 744-3846

 

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  • JULY 11, 2007 3:15 AM

    Sharky said...

    I LOVE your pics! Su Zhou should use them on their menu! : ) Great review, Franco. I want to eat there. NOW.

  • JULY 11, 2007 4:27 AM

    M.Tan said...

    I've eaten at the takeout branch in Promenade. Their garlic noodles with braised beef, and their dimsum selections are a good afternoon treat.

  • JULY 11, 2007 11:24 AM

    christine said...

    I've never eaten here, gotta add it to my ever growing list of places to check out. Especially since I'm in the area often, my sister lives nearby.

  • JULY 11, 2007 11:36 AM

    Franco said...

    Hi Sharky,

    Thanks for recommending the place.

    Su Zhou is definitely on my list of favorite restaurants.

    Hi Mila,

    Never been to the Promenade branch but honestly, I like the fact that the Mabini branch is no where near Greenhills. Traffic can be murder.

    Hi Christine,

    Go. Go soon.

  • JULY 11, 2007 4:42 PM

    katrina said...

    I showed this to my bf, who can eat dimsum every day. The moment he saw the first picture (this validates Sharky's comment), he asked, "Hey, where's that?!" :-) He said he's heard about Su Zhou from a friend who lives in the area. We will definitely be checking this out. Thanks!

  • JULY 13, 2007 7:58 AM

    Franco said...

    Hi Katrina,

    Thanks for the compliment.

    It's easy to take pictures of something you love. :)

  • JULY 16, 2007 2:43 AM

    Socky said...

    My business partner is a next door neighbor! I must tell him to check it out. Better yet, to bring me along. :-)

  • JULY 19, 2007 10:32 PM

    wysgal said...

    I like your photos! =)

    Now I'm saddened by the memory that one of the meals during my last week in Manila was in this truly awful restaurant in Fort Bonifacio called Zhu. Ick.

  • JULY 19, 2007 10:52 PM

    Franco said...

    Hi Socky,

    ...or just go without your partner. :)

    Hi Wysgal,

    Thanks.

    The new Chinese place beside Secret Recipe? Read about it in Anton's blog. Was not very impressed.

    Oh well, you will be back soon enough to make up for it. :)

  • JANUARY 11, 2010 11:02 AM

    Gerhard said...

    Hi! After seeing your blog we went straight to their branch in Promenade. Your photos did it. Thanks!

    But maybe too much hype and/or our failed attempt to eat Xiao Long Bao in HK gave us high expectations. It was good but not as great as we expected. But man oh man the Tofu with Century Egg topped with Mahu was great!

    Thanks and more power to your blog.

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