Comida China de Manila offers the finest Chinese dining experience outside of Chinatown
Comida China de Manila is a new and upcoming restaurant comfortably located along E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue (C5). While it officially opened its doors to the public on July 2011, regulars are more likely to be familiar with the establishment’s former name, Panciteria San Jacinto-Pasig. Who wouldn’t be, for it has in the last 15 years served as Pasig City’s acclaimed dining hub for celebrations, gatherings, and of good, authentic Chinese food. With such a loaded history why change names at all, one might ask.
The Torres Family chose to take a different direction from the old panciteria concept of the Pasig restaurant by opting for a more formal and upscale ambiance, says Benny V. Torres, President of Comida China de Manila, Inc. Almost immediately, the question of price comes into mind. To this, Benny happily reported that despite the upgrade in facility, service, and food quality, the price remains unchanged.
The finest Chinese food outside of Chinatown
The thick, 12-page menu features a huge selection of dishes to tickle your palate. There are eight (8) varieties of rice to choose from, and that’s just a start! From there it’s pretty much an all-out battle royal of delightful dishes. To make things easier I’ll just focus on my personal top three:
Fried Shrimp Balls – Minced shrimp coated in bread crumbs and fried until golden brown. The outside is fried to a perfect crisp while the inside is soft, tender, and moist.
Camaron Rebosado Con Jamon – Another classic Binondo dish, it is deep fried battered shrimp with ham.
Comida China Chow Mien – Their signature dish, it is a combination of Chinese brocoli leaves, black mushroom, pork, shrimp, and special sauces over freshly cooked canton noodles for an interestingly different and delicious dish. So popular is this dish that it can be found in all of the set meals.
Beyond the culinary
Comida China de Manila goes beyond the culinary by offering function rooms that can accommodate up to 270 guests. The main dining area can accommodate up to 130 guests, for a total of 400 guests all in all. The function rooms are top notch. Each room is well air conditioned. Every room is full of ornate photos and sculptures that bring to life Manila’s glory days of the past. Each room is distinct — there is even a Coca-cola room!
In addition to the spacious front, the establishment also offers covered parking. Guests will be delighted to know that parking is free. The site is still undergoing renovations. Expansion plans are underway to accommodate even more guests. We were told that guests would often ask about the possibility of opening a branch in other areas, but there are no such plans at the moment.
Backed with over a decade of experience, excellent service, and an passion for quality food, Comida China de Manila is positioned to rise to the top as one of the premiere culinary destinations in Manila.
Panciteria San Jacinto-Pasig is now Comida China de Manila
Filipino culture is richly embroidered with both Spanish and Chinese influences, with cuisine as the centerpiece attraction.
How the two cultures have blended perfectly in its host Filipino country is revealed in the names that Chinese dishes were called around the 1900s, with some names surviving through the present era.
Ever heard of Morisqueta Tostada? Pueco con Agreo Dulce? Camaron Rebosado, Ampalaya con Carne? All these Spanish sounding dishes are actually delicious, authentic Chinese food. Fried Rice, Sweet Sour Pork, Shrimps in Batter and Bitter Melon with Beef are what they are, respectively. And certified foodies of yesteryears did not go hunting for “Chinese Food” when they had food cravings or wanted to eat out with family and friends. They looked for “Comida China” (literally Chinese food in Spanish) which to old Manilans referred to that distinct style of panciteria fare in Binondo from the early 1900’s to the 1970’s.
Now, Panciteria San Jacinto – one of the favourite Chinese restaurants of Manilans in the pre-war and post-war era which has survived to this day – has changed its name to Comida China de Manila. Located along E. Rodriguez, Jr. Ave. (C5) in Pasig City, the present-day Panciteria San Jacinto is a favourite destination of Chinese food aficionados in the metro. Big Chinese families, Pinoy families on weekend feasts, regular foodies, office workers in the area and seekers of good Chinese food pay regular pilgrimages to the place to satisfy their palates. The lure of bountiful lauriats, all-time Chinese favourites and the discovery of new things on the menu (like dimsum and the unique, flavourful Comida China Soup) have lured them to Panciteria San Jacinto-Pasig since it opened in 1996.
“Panciteria San Jacinto was one of the famous and favourite destinations for “comida china” since the pre-war years (it was first established in 1894), and we have been privileged to keep its legacy going through the years. We are happy to have revived the name and identity of the famous restaurant. We are also proud that we have taken its cuisine to new heights and made Panciteria San Jacinto’s comida china available to younger generations, thanks to our joint venture with its original owners,” explains Benny V. Torres, President of Comida China de Manila, Inc.
But Panciteria San Jacinto is only one of several Chinese restaurants that catered to old Manilans in that bygone era, Benny says. Only very few have survived to this day. In July this year, the Torres family, which runs Panciteria San Jacinto-Pasig and other restaurants like Mom and Tina’s and The Red Rickshaw Restaurant in Pampanga, decided to change the name of Panciteria San Jacinto to Comida China de Manila.
“We want to keep history alive and get younger generations in touch with the glorious past of Chinese restaurants along T. Pinpin street in Binondo, which by the way was originally named Calle San Jacinto. We chose Comida China de Manila as our new name because it is representative of all the panciterias of that era. Besides, the restaurant has evolved into something more than a panciteria. To begin with our Pasig branch, a full service 400-seater restaurant, is well appointed and comfortable. Our menu remains faithful to the classic Cantonese fare served in Binondo, complemented with new dishes put together by our Chief Cook who began his career in the very first Panciteria San Jacinto restaurant along T. Pinpin Street. The new name will also suit the vintage Manila look of our interiors, which is in the works.” Benny adds.
The Torres Family chose to take a different direction from the old panciteria concept of the Pasig restaurant by opting for a more formal and upscale ambience, says Benny, but the food at Comida China de Manila remains affordable to its clientele. Served in desired portions to match both pocket and appetite, old favourites and new fare are offered in poquito (half small or grazing portions), small, medium and large serving sizes.
Catering and in-house feasts are all still part of the Comida China de Manila offerings.
Younger generations who may not have even heard of the term “comida china” are suddenly discovering the charm of experiencing Chinese food with Spanish titles, observes Benny.
“It’s part of our mixed culture. The food itself and the names of the dishes are all part of our history. Perhaps through our new name we will be able to make younger generations become more aware and proud of our colourful past and the interwoven influences in our history,” he concludes.
For more details about Comida China de Manila, visit Comida China de Manila on Facebook or call 671-5942, 914-0832 and 914-0830.
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