Monday, April 30, 2007

KING ONE – first visit: April 16, 2007

My friend Candy Dizon YM’ed me one day: “I’m an addict.” Knowing how kikay she is, I knew it wasn’t an addiction to regulated substances that she was referring to. True enough, she gave me the link to her blog, You should check it out: it’s breezy, funny and, yes, kikay. She’s been very prolific and in a week’s time, came out with blogs and content that rivaled mine – which is about a century old already. It’s because of Candy that I have been motivated to push myself into writing 6 blogs a day – as has she.

So Candy, thanks, and here goes:

My Monday Talk Holes Club has been on a mission to sample all the shabu-shabu/cook-your-own restos in town. And why not? One of group’s favorite places is LAU CHAN (on M.H. del Pilar off cor. Malvar – same block as the Pan Pacific Hotel). The food is cheap (count on spending about P300/person), the selection diverse and the service friendly (we once got away with free fruit platters when we (mis)represented one of our buddies as Col. Kamantigue. Little did they know that the only drilling this colonel does is drilling cavities. He is after all, a dentist). However, LAU CHAN is strictly for those who fancy holes-in-the-wall because the place is drab, harshly-lit, very noisy and always packed with happy Chinese diners. I emphasize Chinese because you know what they say about Chinese restaurants: if it is packed with Pinoys, then the food is no good (cf. Chow King).

Having tried Lau Chan, we ventured to the unusually-named Mall of Hobbies on Macapagal Avenue, fronting the PNB Building. The Mall in itself is interesting. It is taking up on Tiendesitas’ lead by putting up a section for pets (I got my nephew’s shih tzu a nice “Burberry” collar and leash for only P150), with a lot of shops catering to multi-level marketing, a spa, and a Census sub-office. Also located in the same complex is a branch of the popular Julia Vargas ihaw-inom place, Jay-J’s. The Mall of Hobbies is truly worth a visit – and perhaps a re-naming. But I’m going off course.

Upon entering the mall (open parking is free and abundant), we immediately sae several large and bright sign announcing: “KING ONE!!!! Eat-All-You-Can!!! Drink-All-You-Can!!! Only P399++” Well. How could we resist! It’s located near the Census office and has very few seats and no reservations. The place is nicely decorated and features a bar in the middle where all the ingredients for the shabu-shabu are prepared in the open and placed on platters on a conveyor, much like how most cheap and on-the-quick Japanese restaurants serve their food. We were 6 that evening and were told by the friendly staff that besides the shabu-shabu, a group of 4 is given a free ala carte item. Wow! Truly a bargain! In fact, we were given a dish of King Dao Pork (good) and squid teriyaki (too much batter but hey! Why should I begrudge this freebie?). The drinks are Quickly style: brain-freeze fruit-flavored slurpees with sago in the bottom, served bottomless style. Iced tea is also complimetary, but sodas and all other beverages are not. The selection of meats, seafood and vegetables is excellent, fresh and varied. We had fatty beef, lamb (both sliced very very thin), sweetish suahe (small shrimp), crab’s claws, an assortment of mushroom (including my favorite winter mushrrom), leafy vegetables, broccoli, caulflower, ad infinitum. Sauces were also plentiful, with sate being the favorite. What sets King One apart from the other hotpot/shabu-shabu restaurants is that it has the usual chicken, seafood, vegetarian and sate stocks to choose from PLUS, the Sichuan broth. Very aromatic, very savory and just spicy enough for the more adventurous diner. Moreover, the cooking plate is the microwave (?) type that won’t burn fingers – a very important factor for family diners.

What King One is missing are private dining rooms or alcoves for big groups and families that want some privacy for their celebration. A minor quibble, but hopefully will be addressed when King One branches out to a bigger outlet.

On top of it all, King One has clean bathrooms. And oh, did I mention that the service is very efficient and friendly?


Shabu-shabu is prepared by submerging a very thin slice of meat or a piece of vegetable in a pot of boiling water or dashi (broth) made with kombu (kelp) and swishing it back and forth several times. (The familiar swishing sound is where the dish gets its name. Shabu-shabu roughly translates to "swish-swish".) Cooked meat and vegetables are usually dipped in ponzu or "goma" (sesame seed) sauce before eating with a bowl of steamed white rice.

Once the meat and vegetables have been eaten, leftover water from the pot is customarily combined with the remaining rice, and the resulting soup is usually eaten last.

The dish is supposed to have originated in the 13th century as a way for Genghis Khan to efficiently feed his soldiers. Mongol troops gathered around a large pot and cooked together. Thinly sliced meat was used for its short cooking time, which allowed the Mongolian army to conserve its limited supply of fuel.


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