I agree with Anthony Bourdain‘s sentiments in the San Francisco chapter of A Cook’s Tour: a cornstarch-thickened faux Chinese dinner has its own brand of charm, its own intrinsic appeal.
Normally, I’d go for authentic Chinese food (dai pai dong-style noodle bowls and congee at North Park; Hokkien specialties over at City Best) or localized Chinese food (say at Panciteria Lido or Classic Savory). In a pinch, however, I’d eat the cornstarch-enriched stuff hawked over at the nearest food court. To be fair about it, some of these food court stalls actually serve up good food.
President Tea House Express over at Glorietta 4’s Food Choices is one such stall. Shown above is one of their combo meals which features two viands, some sauteed veg, prawn crisps, and Yang Chow fried rice. For this case, I opted for the salt-and-pepper squid and the fish fillet in corn sauce.
The squid was excellent: crisp tempura-style batter coating toothsome, tender squid. It was well-seasoned, so dipping it in the dish of chili-infused vinegar seemed unnecessary. The fish fillet, however, raised my eyebrows – it was actually a steamed dory fillet smothered with Chinese-style corn soup. (You know the sort that you make at home with an instant Knorr packet and an egg? That‘s what it was.) Not bad, but if I wanted to smother my food in corn soup, I’d rather eat at home!
Nevertheless, it was quite a steal at P 145.00. Besides, there was plenty of it and it was most satisfying.