Two things that are unique about Zhu: a colorful interior and authentic Cantonese food
Anathema to the usual Chinese restaurant interior with a hot pink, yellow and black motif, you’d never think that Zhu Chinese Cuisine is owned and managed by a man.
Why choose yellow, pink and black, over the usual red and yellow motif of most Chinese restaurants? Owner Gervin Kaw clarifies that the “color motif of the restaurant don’t mean anything.” He tells the China Business team during a visit one rainy night that apart from him wanting to innovate on “the typical Chinese restaurant,” his cousin took charge of the interior design, including the color scheme. Even the utensils and plates in Zhu were purposely chosen to set it apart from other Chinese restaurants.
The concept of Zhu Chinese Cuisine is actually a family effort from the interiors to the food they serve. His family shares ideas to make Zhu stand out in a city where Chinese food, dim sum anyway, is standard fare. He says, “It is helpful to have a wife and family to contribute ideas and concepts.” The restaurant is even named after a grandmother who was known in the family as a great cook.
Made In China
The interiors may be non-traditional, but Zhu’s cuisine is rooted in China. The restaurant was born there, Kaw says, sharing that he got interested in Chinese food when he went there for a language course. A food lover even as an Economics student at Ateneo de Manila University, he searched different parts of China and the Philippines for good food. His love for food soon grew into the pink, yellow and black restaurant on 32nd Street.
Kaw, also explained that the stylized squiggles on the restaurant’s logo is actually “Zhu” (pronounced as “chu”) in traditional Chinese characters. The moon-like figure on the lower part of the logo, on the other hand, is two Cs representing Chinese Cuisine.
A Chinese chef heads Zhu’s kitchen, giving its Hong Kong-style cuisine authenticity at a time when even fast-food joints sell spring rolls and dumplings.
Tickling the Tastebuds
Staring at the yellow light, the aroma of a fresh cooked meal suddenly tickles my nose. “Wo yao chi (I will eat),” I say to myself. Different kinds of food continue to fill our table. The various delectable dishes placed before me leave me in a quandary. I simply do not know where to start!
Then our host offers me a plate of Yang Chow Fried Rice. Not too hot, just the right texture. Looking at me, he asks who ordered the Zhu Chili Crab. He says the proper way to eat it is with steamed or fried mantou, then dipped in some crab sauce. I choose the fried mantou. He is right. The crab is meaty, the sauce, not overwhelmingly hot, and dipping the fried mantou in it, a very good idea.
We move on to the Steamed Lapu Lapu prepared from our choice from the aquarium near the kitchen. Seasoned lightly with soy sauce, it is the owner’s favorite dish as it is one of the healthier options on the menu. Next are the Fried Spring Roll Sticks. Longer and thinner than you would expect, it is nonetheless packed with rich filling. Delicious!
By this time, the rice is all gone. So our gracious host serves us Seafood Rice With Chinese Shrimp Paste. Subtle, yet rich and mouthwatering. Then the freshly Steamed Fish Fillet With Garlic Sauce.
Excellent aroma. Tofu, my least favorite food, lines the dish. It didn’t matter. You could eat it all and the meal would still sit lightly in your stomach.
Our meal was drawing to a close. “People come here for dessert,” Kaw discloses. He presents us with a surprise: Taho! Creatively served in a little wooden bucket, it tasted just slightly sweet and completely wholesome; a perfect end to the scrumptious meal.
Next time you’re at the corner of 32nd Street at The Fort, drop in for a wholesome Chinese feast unlike any other. I promise you, you’ll keep coming back.
Print ed: 09/09