Whenever I’m on my way from Century Mall to A.Venue along Salamanca St. in Poblacion Makati, I’d always pass by this restaurant that was always—as in always—filled with young Chinese patrons. It’s off the main thoroughfare that is Makati Avenue, and so as a hole-in-wall, I assume it’s as good as a Chinese restaurant gets, especially given its loyal patronage.
Last Wednesday, I was in the mood for Hap Chan, but remembered this place at the last minute. And so Jamie and I decided to have a little adventure.
At about 6:30 p.m., we were lucky to have stumbled on a table as the place filled quickly shortly afterwards. I have to say though the interiors were as depressing as I imagined it to be: plain brown walls, fluorescent lighting, and no windows. And as always, it was filled with Chinese customers.
Upon receiving the menu, it was a surprise for us to learn that this is a hot pot restaurant and not like Hap Chan. (It’s curious though that Eat First advertises itself as a shabu-shabu restaurant, which is Japanese in origin.)
The menu is in English and Chinese, so no problems there. (It is also staffed by Filipinos.) It has a respectable number of entries, and even offers set dishes for up to four persons:
After selecting from the broth options (we went for the combination of Szechuan Spicy and Pork Bone), we got beef, chicken, shrimp balls, and watercress, along with rice. The waiter later informed us that watercress wasn’t available but kangkong was, so we got the Tagalog version :-D.
They serve complimentary toasted peanuts and their ‘special’ sauce, which included spring onions and chili. I thought it was weird that they charged for other condiments and spices, like wansoy, garlic, and chili sauce, as you can see in the menu. In any case, to me, the free one, which is part salty and sweet, is fine enough.
We had to wait for about 15 minutes to receive all our items, but otherwise, the staff was fairly efficient and pleasant.
Except for the frozen item (dumpling), everything was fresh. The chicken slices were pink and thinly cut they looked like salmon. The kangkong was leafy, very green, and crunchy.
Once we got cooking and tried the Szechuan broth, man, we were on fiiiiirreeeeee. That brew is hoooooot. I’ve tried Szechuan cuisine, but this one seemed hell bent on burning our stomach lining. Nevertheless, the intense flavor was so good, we just had to keep going with the culinary S&M, never mind that it burned our tongue and lips. My suggestion is still to order this combo broth, cook everything in the clear broth, then before eating, dip it into the Szechuan.
The restaurant is air conditioned but had to be supported by electric fans. We sweated like we ran a marathon (our hair were practically dripping wet)—I had to pop my shirt open and Jamie had to put her hair up.
Our bill ended up at around P750+, plus tip (including drinks; no service charge). We could’ve had a better deal with their set menu, and we’ll grab just that as we’ll definitely be back.
4756 Salamanca St.
+63 2 553 8605