Last March 2, 2020, I was invited to witness Gloria Maris’ comeback in its Greenhills branch. I thought that this would be an exciting experience since I’ve known it to be one of the established Chinese restaurants in the Philippines featuring authentic Cantonese cuisine.
A little bit of its history
The restaurant was established 27 years ago with the famous Hong Kong Chef, Mr. Choi at its helm. He chose the staff, crafted the menu, and took charge of obtaining the freshest ingredients. He also formed Choi Garden, now owned by Frank Lao.
Mr. Lao then decided to buy Gloria Maris Greenhills and become a partner in its other branches. These new acquisitions now make him the king of the Chinese restaurant industry in the Philippines. Thanks to him, Gloria Maris revamped its look and now has a new and improved menu featuring the authentic Cantonese food it was known for.
Look and Feel
In the heart of Greenhills and located right beside the Greenhills Shopping Center, the exterior of Gloria Maris features a modern dome-shaped architecture with ample parking space. The 7,500 sq.m. restaurant is huge with five different areas: one for hotpot, another for dimsum dining, a Main Dining Room, a Banquet Hall, and VIP Rooms. You can’t cross-order if you stay at the Dimsum Dining and HotPot Dining areas but it is possible to do so in the VIP and Main Dining areas.
Now, for the true star of the show: the food! Food is the main reason anyone would visit a restaurant, anyway. It may be a small pub in a dark alley somewhere but if the food is good, you could expect hordes of customers. And from my experience, Gloria Maris does not disappoint and is well worth its fame. The new menu featured Western-inspired dishes which was quite the treat.
Here were the dishes I tried:
Two Toned Almond Seafood Soup
This dish was a beautiful sight. It had a yin-yang pattern which surprisingly did not get mixed up when I was drinking it. The orange side is made of squash and it is a good twist to normal pumpkin soup. The soup itself is creamy and had some seafood tidbits.
This was served was with wraps, cucumbers, and spring onions. The meat was tender. It was well-seasoned with the lechon macau crispy skin. The lining of fat and the crispy skin definitely created a dance of flavor on the palate
Salt and Pepper Shrimps with Garlic
This dish was served with fresh, peeled shrimps, topped with garlic and some other seasoning. I had to be careful of finishing this all in one go since I knew many other dishes would be served on the table. It was very crispy and it felt like I was munching on a snack. However, the tender shrimp meat brought me back to reality.
We were then served the lechon kawali. It was again beautifully presented with tall bite-sized squares arranged in a rectangular fashion. Chinese food is known for how it imbibes different textures in its dishes to add to the experience. I felt something similar with this crowd favorite. The top was crispy while the meat below it was soft and tender.
Next up was the dimsum. It features only 3 different kinds of soft rolls: Hakaw, Siomai, and Egg Tart. Hakaw and Siomai are a given in any dimsum menu. The Egg Tart was an interesting addition.
Mini Taro Basket with Prawn Scallop
This dish features fresh prawns and scallops carefully nestled in a fried taro skin. Each piece was a little bit smaller than a fist. It is presented with a little figurine.
Fried Lamp Chopped with Mint Jelly
This is one of the new additions to the Gloria Maris menu. The fried yet juicy lamb meat was well-marinated in brine. I tried adding a tinge of the sauce and the mint complemented the very salty brine.
This dish was a treat. It was wagyu beef sautéed with onions and black pepper. The meat was tender, as how you would expect wagyu beef to be. It still stayed true to its Chinese roots with its choice of pepper sauce.
This is an oldie but a goodie. This dish showcased thin salted noodles with of both hard and soft ingredients. I also believe there were some egg toppings. It provides quite a stark contrast of flavor from the rest of the dishes served to us.
Steamed Apahap with Taosi
This is a truly Chinese dish with steamed sea bass and preserved cabbage with garlic. It adds just a nice tinge of saltiness to the fish.
Frank Fried Rice
Named after and created by Frank Lao himself, it is fried rice with spring onions, pork and eggs. The eggs are mixed in the dish later on. It is really filling and is fantastic too if eaten with other dishes.
Braised Home-Made Spinach Skin Beancurd with Enoki Mushrooms
This dish had such an aesthetic appeal. The enoki mushrooms added a minimalist touch to the beancurd. We were all given a small serving of this dish and it was a pleasant palate cleanser.
Almond Shake with Mango Cubes
By the time this was served, I was stuffed. The almond provides a neutral flavor and tastes well with the sweet mango. It was quite the treat and it wasn’t too diabetic sweet at all.
The new and improved special buchi was a great way to end our restaurant experience. It was filled with some salty cream which was a great combination with the sesame seed skin.
This was quite the experience! I was delighted to see how the traditional Chinese menu was spiced up with some Western-inspired dishes. Many of the dishes are a must-try like the Peking Duck and the Mini Taro Basket with Scallop, and the Fried Lamp Chopped with Mint Jelly. Overall, the experience was great and I can’t wait to stop by again for a family gathering.
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