Our family’s traditional pre-Christmas dinner did not push through this year due to scheduling and other problems. I cannot remember a Christmas without such tradition taking place since I was a kid; from Jollibee kid heaven to Dampa seafood pig-outs, it’s a yearly thing for a family like us who really doesn’t go out that much. I was delighted then that a day after Christmas, an impromptu dinner at SM North Edsa’s President Tea House suddenly materialized.
The original plan was just to tour our cousins from Cabanatuan City at the mall and maybe shop a bit. A few hours after, it seemed everyone from our clan was already at SM North Edsa. And what’s the best thing to do after hours of shopping, eating of course! My father, who hates going out, surprisingly volunteered President Tea House for dinner.
The original President Tea House branch resides in Binondo, Manila. It has been serving our Chinese brethrens for more than thirty years already. For such an institution one would expect a Chinese-themed motif for the restaurant, it was a shock then as we walked through its all-glass portal. Everything was so modern and chic; Chinese food is the last thing you’d expect them to serve.
The dining area is divided into two vicinities. The first part is dominated by soft-cushioned half-moon shaped booths surrounded by red and vertical stripes superimposed on light-colored wood. Huge tubular lanterns float above each table giving out warm and cozy glow across the room.
The second part is where the big tables are for larger groups. The curved walls are still lined up with booths, only smaller than those at the first chamber. The only indications of any Asian origins in the design are the beautifully painted flora silhouettes on the walls.
A word of warning; I found it weird that their floor, which looks like any other tiled floor, was really very slippery. I advise those with kids in tow to keep an eye out for them.
We were a big group, twelve to be exact, and trying to fit into the table was a challenge since they are set for only ten individuals. But we persevered and eventually everyone was able to take a seat.
President Tea House has set meals for large groups. They have sets for four (Php1,100.00 to Php 1,250.00), ten (Php3,000.00 to Php 4,200.00)and twelve persons (Php4,600.00 to Php 5,980.00). Since ordering has always been a chore, we opted to have these instead of digging deep through the pages of their menu.
We ordered two varieties of their four-person set. Set Menu A (Php1,100.00) which consists of crabmeat green soup, lumpiang shanghai, sweet and sour fish fillet and buttered chicken. And Set Menu C (Php1,200.00) which has bird’s nest quail egg thick soup, spare ribs salt and chili, fish fillet with Thailand sauce and crispy fried chicken. Both sets include four glasses of iced tea and huge servings of pancit canton and yang chow fried rice.
Again, we were twelve in the group but we figured it was enough for us since the servings were huge according to guys who already tried the resto before.
The complimentary tea with honey syrup arrived while waiting for our dishes. Soon to follow were the soups. The crabmeat green soup looks more interesting than the bird’s nest quail egg thick soup but I’m a sucker for quail eggs, so I chose the latter. My choice was on the spot though as I found it more appetizing than the crabmeat green soup which was a tad too bland for my taste.
Moments later and a barrage of dishes clanked down on our dinner table. It seemed we got everything covered; pork, fish, chicken, beef, rice and noodles. I’ll spare you the details of each dish and just let you feast on the photos. Please pardon some of the out of focus shots as I was totally unprepared for this and was only using my phone to document everything.
One of my favorites among the bunch is the crispy fried chicken which has a really bone-deep soy-like flavor that I really love on chickens. And of course, it is really really crispy. I also dig the lumpiang shanghai, although its serving size left us wanting. Their sweet and sour fish fillet and buttered chicken are also winners. I usually don’t like fish fillets, but theirs are made just right, crunchy on the outside, soft and firm on the inside.
Everything on our table is good, but if I have to choose my least favorite among the bunch, it would be the pancit canton. My father adored it for its heavily loaded toppings, but I found it to be too saucy with the noodles a bit on the dry side. How can that be, right? I know, but that’s my weird take on it.
The total for our group was at Php2,300.00; about Php190.00 per person. Considering how good the dishes were and the ambience of the restaurant, it’s not a bad deal at all for our annual Christmas Dinner. And even though it’s housed inside a mall, President Tea House deservedly lived up to its Binondo roots.
President Tea House
Address: 2nd Floor SM North Edsa Annex, Quezon City
Open Hours: Mall Hours 10AM to 10PM
Menu: Click Here
Other Branches: Binondo, Glorietta 4, Alabang Town Center, San Miguel by the Bay, SM City Novaliches
GPS Coordinates: 14.656669,121.028313
View on Google Maps: Click Here