It was 1030am on a Friday morning and we just walked a mile or more in sweltering tropical heat, finished our purchases at the Arranque market and were a bit peckish. Too late for breakfast and kind of early for lunch, we decided on this brunch, which actually was an early lunch… :) Me and two crew members headed to the corner of Salazar and Benavidez Street, where the “Happy Delicious Kitchen” is located. I am not sure if the place has recently changed ownership, but I think it has housed an eatery or perhaps even a classic panciteria for many, many decades. Today, the food on offer is described as “Taiwanese Chinese”…
At 1030am, a lot of the dishes had JUST been cooked and laid out for viewing. Hardly anyone else was dining in, but several takeout orders were already being filled. We picked out half a dozen dishes and settled down to the one table (the rest are raised counters with highstools) to wait for them to be served.
There must have been at least 40 different viands on offer, and heavy on the vegetables and seafood to boot. Not many meat dishes, and I found this pleasantly appealing.
Most customers apparently take a plate with a cup of rice, and 2-3 different viands, for PHP150-180 ($4-$5) to eat-in or take-out. We opted to get several dishes instead and intentionally ordered more than we could eat, so that we would have extras to take home with us for the rest of the crew…
There were four soup choices but I ended up ordering a favorite, hot and sour soup.
We got some broccoli, green beans, polonchai or chinese spinach, some sweet and sour fish, steamed shrimp, pork chops, and rice.
The soup was only so-so; a bit of a letdown actually. Hot (temperature wise) and a bit sour, but not spicy and it lacked depth of flavor. A watery tasting hot and sour soup doesn’t get high marks. A healthy sprinkling of wansoy or cilantro on top means you either love it more if you are a cilantro fan, or are truly turned off if you don’t like cilantro. Apparently, people’s reactions to cilantro are often at polar opposites on the like/dislike spectrum.
The steamed shrimp were SUPERBLY done. Perfect on their own or with a chili spiked dipping sauce. The sweet and sour fish fillet was as expected, the vegetable dishes delicious and the pork chops were very good as well. Overall, it was a great lunch considering the cost of the food and modest surroundings. A meal that would have easily fed five people came out to roughly PHP220 per person or $5 each. We left just as the the lunch crowd was building… I suspect the place is packed by 12 noon.