Located on a quiet neighborhood in San Juan, Moon Rabbit is a house-turned-restaurant and its dining area feels like it was designed specifically for big, lively groups of diners. The energy was abundant when we came, since many Chinese families celebrated Chinese New Year on the actual CNY day. It was our first time here and we were thrilled to find excellent dishes on the table. Through and through, we were served with delicious Chinese food that looked great as they tasted. By the way, we discovered Moon Rabbit through spot.ph’s list of the best restaurants in Manila in 2019.
Review of Moon Rabbit Cafe and Restaurant (San Juan)
Moon Rabbit seemed a fun place to hang out. Its location is a bit off-the-grid versus the “restaurants area” like Wilson Street, Missouri Street, or Little Baguio in San Juan, but that’s only one part of what makes it more special. Its big parking space outside is a plus so you don’t have to worry about parking.
Upon entrance, we were greeted with a tall shelf of figurines, which served as a room divider to enhance the ambiance and add a touch of flair. It’s great because it doesn’t completely block the view from one side to the other, allowing the spaces to still be connected. There’s a main dining area which felt casual and homey, and a cozy bar area on another side for coffee and cocktails (where we stayed). High ceilings and sleek lighting fixtures make up this modern space. Love the indoor plants and, Chinese lanterns, and colorful pillowcases that act as creative accents! Tables filled up quickly at around 7pm and there were lots of reservations that night. A little more guidance: make a reservation if you don’t want to wait.
We started dinner with the appetizing Black Pepper Beef (PhP 320). It’s something that might not pop out to you at first when you see it on the menu, but you need to get it! It ended up as one of our favorite food at Moon Rabbit. Filled with peppery goodness and really tasty, it’s made with black pepper sauce and onions. Eating rice with it is a must. 🙂
Their Crispy Squid (PhP 280) was one big exclamation mark. The tiny pieces of squid were super crispy and flavorsome, especially with the accompanying sweet black vinegar sauce. It’s a totally safe option, and one that’ll ease you into a meal here.
Ama’s Homemade Meatballs (PhP 220) indeed tasted like “homemade” with the same familiar taste of my mom’s or grandmother’s cooking. Tender and moist, these savory meatballs can be addictive. They’re great alone but for a little oomph, tangy ketchup helps welcome a bright finish.
Cooked in a clay pot to tender crusty perfection, Duck Claypot Rice (PhP 260) looked like a glorious mess. The duck breast was aromatic and meaty, the Chinese chorizo was yummy, and greens provided a nice crunch.
Definitely a crowd-pleaser, Moon Rabbit’s Singaporean Noodles (PhP 320) were a fab affair, with a combination of spicy and savory. We’re so glad that the serving portion was enough for all of us six people. Made up of curry noodles, asado, bell peppers, and seafood, the noodles were far from bland or dry and the ingredients were generous.
Scallop Fried Rice (PhP 180) was another dish that didn’t scrimp on ingredients and flavor. It was immensely comforting and pretty filling, bringing fried rice to another level.
The Orange Spare Ribs (PhP 280) was interesting since it’s not often that you come across pork spareribs cooked with orange sauce. The taste of orange though was tad overwhelming so make sure to pair rice with it. The spareribs remained juicy and tender. We thought it’s worth a try!
For desserts, both the Moon Rabbit Panna Cotta (PhP 175) and the Grass Jelly with Red Bean (PhP 95) were enjoyable. Made in the shape of a rabbit, their panna cotta was on point. It was frozen and the texture was quite hard then the vanilla cream melts in your mouth. Inside, we were surprised to see a crimson-colored strawberry purée with just enough sweetness to suit our liking. The inherent sweetness of the red beans was beautifully conveyed. Augmented by the pleasantly chewy grass jelly, this light dessert was creamy and satisfying. It’s the type that fills you up without weighing you down. 🙂
Price for Value:
Moon Rabbit Cafe+Restaurant in Greater San Juan doesn’t stick to the traditional definition of authentic Chinese cuisine, and that’s what makes it alluring. It offers a good balance of classic Chinese food and unique elements served in a modern style and setting. Overall, the dishes we tried were decent and good. Prices were not modest considering the serving sizes, but not too extravagant either. I think you get what you pay for.