Enjoy one of the best xiao long bao in the Philippines with the ‘reopening’ of this restaurant

Published November 25, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Jules Vivas

Once more, you can dine in Paradise

ALL STEAMED AHEAD Paradise Dynasty’s famous eight flavors of xiao long bao

In Shanghai, the comforting aroma of xiao long bao lingers in the evening air, in street corners crowded by diners seated at low-set tables surrounding busy vendors who serve the specialty. The soup-filled dumpling that originated from Jiangsu province in China is normally steamed in a small bamboo basket, hence its name, which translates to “little basket bun.” This dish, while bite-sized, has an enormous impact on Chinese culture, as it is listed by the Shanghai government as a protected national treasure.

In the Philippines, only a handful of food establishments offer authentic xiao long bao, one of which is Paradise Dynasty that specializes in traditional Chinese cuisine.

I first chanced upon the Singaporean restaurant franchise when it opened its second branch in the Philippines at the Podium in Ortigas four years ago. I remember loving all the eight unique flavors of xiao long bao, and being impressed by Paradise Dynasty’s modern interiors that are at once a nod to China’s imperial elegance.

BREATHTAKING VIEW AND FOOD Clockwise from top left: Chilled Jellyfish amd seafood in vinaigrette, close-up of the spicy Schezuan crispy chicken, double-boiled chicken soup, and the interior of the restaurant at Conrad Manila

At the time, there was much hype over their xiao long bao, which a lot of people described as “legendary.” Admittedly, I am part of the many who raved and are still crazy about their exquisite and approachable food—a mix of northern and southern Chinese specialties.

Having learned that the luxury restaurant recently reopened—with safety measures in place that go above and beyond the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolutions (IATF-EID)—made me both happy and hungry.

With the national government slowly easing restrictions throughout the country, Paradise Dynasty now welcomes customers, fully vaccinated or not. In their branch at S’Maison at Conrad Manila, fully vaccinated guests are allowed to dine in, while partially vaccinated or even unvaccinated customers may dine al fresco. As per the IATF’s recommendation, a total of 80 percent occupancy is permitted for indoor dining, while 100 percent for outdoor venue capacity.

PULLED PORK Stir-fried shredded pork in black bean sauce served with Chinese crepe

In all of their branches, Paradise Dynasty has implemented exemplary safety protocols for patrons and staff alike, all in accordance with community quarantine standards. Wearing of face masks is mandated for both workers and customers. Upon entry, guests have their temperature checked through thermal scan and are required to accomplish a health checklist form and contact tracing information. Alcohol dispensers are everywhere, including at each table.

The staff are all fully vaccinated. And they not only wear face masks, but also face shields, despite the recent announcement that the PPE is no longer necessary, as well as gloves for good measure. Meanwhile, utensils are kept and disinfected in a sterilizer storage unit in the manner of a giant refrigerator.

So, yes, right now, Paradise Dynasty at S’Maison is one of the safest restaurants to eat at when you’re around Pasay City. If that’s not reason enough, I can give a list of things that would convince you otherwise, starting with the eight colorful flavors of xiao long bao: Signature Original, Garlic, Ginseng, Foie Gras, Szechuan, Cheese, Crab Roe, and Black Truffle.

AT THE FOREFRONT OF SAFETY AND TASTY A Paradise Dynasty employee holding a basket of xiao long bao

The Stir-Fried Shredded Pork in Black Bean Sauce served with Chinese crepe is among my favorites. The spicy, sweet, salty, garlicky, and savory bean sauce appeals not only to Chinese northerners but also to the Filipino palate. Wrap the pork in crepe to tone down the flavor.

If being one of the safest restaurants in which to dine is not reason enough to visit this restaurant, I can give a list of things that would give you the push you need, starting with the eight colorful flavors of xiao long bao: Signature Original, Garlic, Ginseng, Foie Gras, Szechuan, Cheese, Crab Roe, and Black Truffle.

A hot bowl of the Double Boiled Chicken Soup soothes the soul and keeps the pandemic blues away.

Any of the Szechuan dishes is a winner, but the Spicy Szechuan Crispy Chicken and Poached Chicken in Szechuan Style are the must-tries. The Szechuan plates are Paradise Dynasty’s pride with deep and rich flavors, highlighting, of course, Sichuan pepper taste.

SPICE IT UP A NOTCH Pork dumpling with hot chili vinaigrette

The Paradise Crispy Chicken is also worth noting with its tender and sapid meat.

For dimsum, the Pork Dumpling with Hot Chili Vinaigrette is an appetite-boosting starter or satisfying main, spicy and loaded with umami. On the other hand, another favorite of mine that is the opposite of the spicy pork dumpling is the Charcoal Custard Lava Bun, which I always order for dessert. There is a generous amount of custard filling that is just the right sweet with a hint of salty.

Paradise Dynasty is on the second level of S’Maison, Conrad Hotel, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. It is open daily 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a limited seating capacity. Al fresco reservation starts from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., while indoor reservation beings as soon as they open. | 8 8288333 | (0977) 6010530 | @paradisedynastyph.

Also visit the Podium and SM Aura Premier branches.