Ever since having my first taste of xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung in Singapore, I have yearned to taste them at restaurants that really specialize in making the soup dumplings. My colleagues apparently have the same love for these juicy steamed buns. One day after work, we came to Tien Ma’s Taiwanese Cuisine in Libis, Quezon City with the main goal of trying out their XLB. Fortunately, this restaurant is just a couple of blocks away from our office.
Review of Tien Ma’s Taiwanese Cuisine (Libis, Quezon City)
Class, pattern, color—Tien Ma has it all. The interior design is quite focused on the modern Asian look, offering a funkier alternative to more traditional Chinese restaurants in the metro. Minimalist decor and bright spaces are most appreciated. Chairs are cozy and the arrangement of tables on the side create an essential volume of area at the center and the perfect ambiance of elegant celebration. Nothing was oddly out of proportion.
Service was efficient but not friendly.
We have been eyeing on the steamed xiao long bao (R1) on the menu, but for some reason, I mistakenly ordered the fried xiao long bao (R2). Whoops! We couldn’t just have it exchanged since it was already served, and it would be bad to push the blame on the service attendant. Fault acknowledged. The thing that was not so pleasant was the way the order-taker motioned to our table confronting us on the issue in an “in-your-face” manner without subtlety. No regretful face, no smile. I felt somewhat attacked. 🙁
So it was Fried Xiao Long Bao (PhP 200) then. We were excited anyway since it was our first time to taste the fried version of XLB. Made with stretchy wheat dough, the bun had a juicy and tasty meat filling. The best part was the crispy, crunchy, fried bottom of each dumpling. We were surprised to find that it still had soup inside we could slurp. Despite that it was fried, it did not end up saturating the dumpling walls. Yummy!
Hot Prawn Salad (PhP 200) is one of my favorite dishes of all time. Fried with a thin batter, the prawns were sweet, crunchy, and moist all at once. The creamy sauce accompanied with fruit cocktail was quite refreshing. The rainbow sprinkles on top were somewhat inappropriate though, as they reminded me of candies and desserts.
Taiwan Style Fried Rice (PhP 200) was okay but not any better than the classic Yang Chow Fried Rice. If you absolutely prefer flavored rice than plain white rice, get this. If not, feel free to skip.
Served on a hot pot, the Seafood Tofu Pot (PhP 199) was a nice bite but not the most memorable part of the meal. There was nothing fancy here; no schtick, no bells, no whistles, and no exotic sauces but just textbook execution. The squid was so chewy and rubbery that is was hard to eat. Palates that await superior seafood tofu pot won’t revel.
Supposedly a Taiwanese home-style favorite, Tien Ma’s Three Cup Squid (PhP 200) was disappointing. Cooked with salty and sweet soy sauce, the squid was largely rubbery and uninteresting. Its awful texture surely was a telling sign that it was overcooked. While the distinctive flavor of squid failed to shine through, the leaves managed to ratchet up the savory quotient.
Price for Value: ★★★★☆
With this experience, I thought dining at Tien Ma’s Taiwanese Cuisine can be a hit or a miss depending on what you order. I recommend getting the xiao long bao for sure. Prices of food on the menu average at PhP 200-PhP 250 and are pretty reasonable based on the serving portions.