I’m no stranger to local restaurant Wangfu Chinese Café given that its co-owner – actor Richard Yap – is a mainstay in Philippine television. I previously featured the joint in a triptych post from 2020, highlighting the celebrity connection via Yap – known to Filipino audiences as Richard “Sir Chief” Lim from the drama series Be Careful With My Heart.
Another co-owner, Lester Pimentel Ong, is an athlete and martial artist-turned-director and stunt choreographer. Incidentally, Ong also owns the RBX and Kyukyu Ramen 99 franchises under the Binondo Food Group – named after the district where the world’s oldest Chinatown is located.
Wangfu takes most of its pegs from the Chinese side of Singaporean cuisine, which also shares some similarities with Filipino-Chinese culinary traditions. The joint’s reputation for serving exceptional dishes prompted its expansion, in the form of various branches throughout the metro.
This visit to Wangfu is the closest thing I can have over an actual trip to Singapore. My passport, unfortunately, expired in May of this year – but not without getting stamps for my two trips to the Lion City in 2017 and in 2019.
A feature for Wangfu had been in the works for some time now, and the opportunity came when I had my driver’s licensed renewed in September. Thankfully, there was an open branch of the restaurant in Eastwood City so I took the chance.
Wangfu’s interiors mirrored the old hawker joints in the Little Red Dot, with a few modern twists. The chairs were brightly colored, but not to the point of screaming vibrance. The restaurant’s walls were decked with mementos of the Lion City alongside murals of everyday life there. The attentive wait staff was quick to respond and exercised patience, something a person like me who takes time to choose my order appreciated.
Now that I’ve laid down the introductions, let’s talk about the food I tried out.
Let’s start with the Hong Kong Milk Tea (P148). This rather pricey beverage was worth the money as it reminded me of the Cold Nai Cha from Tuan Tuan I tried before. Local milk tea joint Serenitea also offers this drink.
The secret to this beverage lies in the Black & White Condensed Milk used in it, which is imported from the Chinese special administrative region. The condensed milk lends the right amount of sweetness and creaminess, neutralizing the strong black tea base.
Next up is the Emperor’s Chopsuey (P198) which features broccoli, carrots and two kinds of mushrooms. I loved how this vegetable dish is a contrast of textures. The broccoli and carrots retained their crunch, while the straw mushrooms and button mushrooms remained tender.
If I could suggest, maybe some umami-rich scallops can add that imperial touch. But with or without the scallops, this flavorful dish is nevertheless perfect for diners who don’t eat meat!
The Hokkien Fried Rice (P188), meanwhile, is a full meal in a bowl. Part of Wangfu‘s Hawker Rice Tops, this dish is a take on the traditional Singaporean dish Hokkien mee – but using rice instead of noodles. Carrots, ground pork, shiitake mushrooms, celery, and shrimp were stir-fried in a soy-based sauce and topped onto a bed of Wangfu’s chicken rice.
This alone would have made my visit to Wangfu just looking at the ingredients. The rice topping was substantial, with the shrimps serving as the stars of the show. Every bite of this dish guaranteed an equal balance of chicken rice and the stir-fried topping.
Wangfu is known for its Salted Egg Fried Chicken, which I ordered during my two earlier visits. This time, however, I ordered its seafood counterpart: Salted Egg Fried Squid (P598). Chunks of squid were coated in batter, deep-fried, and then dredged in salted egg sauce before being served hot.
I liked this version mainly because the cornstarch breading ensured that the squid remained crunchy. Wangfu seemingly mastered the art of frying squid as it remained tender. The salted egg coating worked equally well with this one, but as with the chicken counterpart – salted egg gets cloying to the taste after you have one too many.
Filipinos like me can never have a complete meal without ordering extra rice. In this case, I ordered a cup of Wangfu‘s Chicken Rice (P78). The price is for a la carte, but this comes free with the joint’s Hainanese Chicken Rice set – which Tatler Asia named as one of the best in Manila.
Wangfu‘s Chicken Rice went nicely with the main dishes I ordered – from the Emperor’s Chopsuey to the Salted Egg Fried Squid. Oh, and did I mention that this was the base for the Hokkien Fried Rice?
To sum up, I definitely recommend Wangfu not simply because of the celebrity connections it has, but because the dishes are the next best thing to what you can taste in the Little Red Dot.
Until the next review, bon appetit!
Wangfu Chinese Café
LGF, Eastwood LeGrand Tower 1
Eastwood Palm Tree Avenue, Eastwood City
Brgy. Bagumbayan, Libis, Quezon City 1110