Monday, April 30, 2007

HONG TAI YANG RESTAURANT – first and last visit: April 30, 2007

For the 3rd consecutive week, my Monday Talk Holes Club will try yet another hotpot/shabu-shabu restaurant. Cheaper daw than King One, per our Chairman, CJ Tan. He was in China and couldn’t join us, so, off we went to Macapagal Avenue, again at the Mall of Hobbies.

Hong Tai Yang (which means Red Sun – rather Japanese in imagery for a Chinese restaurant) is set to the very back of the Mall. You can’t miss it: there are many signs that will lead you towards the right direction.

It boasts of all-you-can-eat hotpot food “WITH 100 FRESH INGREDIENTS!!!” for a mere P395. No free drinks, but it does have a free halo-halo/fruit platter/ice cream station which King One does not have. This is a huge place, accommodating up 10 150 diners at any given time. The décor is tacky and perfunctory: marble slabs looking like so many tombs in rows, with holes in the middle to accommodate gas-operated hot pot stations. The nice thing about Hong Tai though is that each diner gets to have his own hotpot (again, no Sichuan broth!) and unlike King One, also has an additional flat grill plate. There are indeed 100 ingredients to choose from: meats (not of the best quality though), fish, shellfish, shrimp, crab (there is also a chafing dish of stewed crab), dimsum (made mostly of flour and lard), veggies (no golden mushroom), eggs, variety meats, corn and bottomless rice. Drinks are not complimentary. The array is visually impressive but that’s just about it.

The 100 selections An 8-person table has 8 pots and 2 grills

Sadly, for all its variety and seemingly reasonable price, Hong Tai did not impress us. Goria Maris is expensive but you feel sulit. Lau Chan, on the other side of the scale, is cheap but good. King One is a really good bargain offering true bang for the buck. Hong Tai was just, well, cheap. Some of the shrimp had an off odor, as did the crab. The meat, despite being paper thin, was tough because it had no marbling. The “butter” that was given to us for the grill was actually just colored vegetable shortening. And not a good one at that. The staff was eager to please though, and the bathrooms clean, and parking free, but none in my group saw himself going back there or recommending the place to friends and family. One even made the dire prediction that the red sun would cease to be in 6 months. Sayang. It’s the first restaurant pa naman that I’m blogging about na may pictures.

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