My uncle had referred Darwin Cafe, a new cha chaan teng (茶餐廳/cafe/lit. tea restaurant) to my mom and I a few weeks ago and by virtue of curiosity we gave it a shot. This is coming from a man who can be very picky about food but if he likes a place, know that he will be very loyal to it. Also, who else could judge a cha chaan teng but someone from Hong Kong. Case closed.
But not really.
I was delighted to see that they had claypot rice on the menu and that they serve it in the actual claypots. Now we’re getting somewhere. I’ve probably only seen those in fancy Chinese restaurants and they use it to serve a whole entrée. My Chinese skills can only go so far but I did see lap mei fan (臘味飯/waxed meat rice) and that was all I needed to see.
The lap cheong (臘腸/Chinese sausage) was sliced thinly and evenly distributed around the rice. It was your typical lap cheong, sweet with a hint of fat in between. I do prefer the thinly sliced lap cheong to thicker cuts because I would get an even distribution with my rice. Speaking of the rice, my favorite part is always those extra crispy bits that stick to the bottom of the claypot.
The m fa lap yuk (五花臘肉/Chinese preserved pork belly) was the other variety of meat that was present. I was hoping for a liver sausage to pop up but it was just those two. I never really appreciated m fa lap yuk until this time. The obvious saltiness was a great contrast to the sweet lap cheong and while the meat portions of the pork belly were a little tougher to chew, the fat was quite soft!
Overall a bit oily but that’s claypot rice for you and it feels better than eating McDonald’s or Jollibee. Don’t forget to add special sauce and mix well!
I washed that all down with a tall glass of yinyeung (鴛鴦/Hong Kong milk tea with coffee). I’m not sure what great yinyeung is supposed to taste like but I like mine tasting more like tea with just a little after taste of coffee. I was impressed to see that they use Black & White evaporated milk and it definitely felt like I was transported to Hong Kong. Not to mention it woke me up for work too so that was a good thing.
Before Darwin Cafe, I haven’t found a decent cha chaan teng in Banawe aka New Chinatown. There are lots of dimsum and roasts places but sometimes I just want a snack. Of a whole claypot rice. This is definitely not the last time I’ll be visiting Darwin Cafe and I hope I can steer myself away from the lap mei fan to try other dishes too! Please add gai dan zai (鷄蛋仔/egg waffles) :3
港式逹人茶餐廳 Darwin Cafe Hong Kong Special
UG/F Z Square Mall
Banawe cor. Del Monte Avenue
Quezon City, Metro Manila
Phone number and hours to be updated when I find out