Mandarin Palace - April 1, 2012

We went to church and today is Palm Sunday. We usually attend the 12PM mass in a church in BF Paranaque which has few people and the time is convenient for those who wake late.  With this schedule, we often have lunch after the mass.  This time though, we can't decide where to eat and chose blindly to eat at a newly opened restaurant along Aguirre Avenue, corner N. Jacinto St. called Mandarin Palace.

Not only is the name Chinese but the facade is found to have live fish in aquariums which is typical very typical of Chinese restaurants. One's inside, the impression is of a higher end Chinese restaurant with expensive materials and finish.  With those characteristics, a restaurant of similar setup came into mind which is The Legend.  Read my simple review of it here.

Now that's been mentioned, I would like to inform you that it has a lot of similarities with The Legend in terms of menu and setup which somehow is a carbon copy of it.  It is a possibility that these two restaurants could have been copying another restaurant that we don't know of.
I'm pretty sure the owners are of Chinese descent which I could easily tell by the two girls at the front desk that seems to be daughters or relatives.
The setup is Shabu-Shabu or hot pot.  Unfortunately, their hot pot doesn't work yet according to the waitress.  I checked under table and found it to be true for the long and thick electrical wiring is dangling and not connected to anything.
This table is made of the synthetic granite and at the center is the electric stove that I haven't seen before from any restaurant till now.  
With the expensive table, I'm not too surprised with the costs of food in their menu.  Please click for enlargement.

That is all of the tissue/Napkins for a table of four. I don't know why they opt to limit customers on this. Bad.

For a new restaurant, their menu from card board is worn out and is filled with various patches of paper to block some items in the list. It is ugly. Bad.

Here's another example of their menu.  They seem to be offering a lot of food choices but sometimes is not good for starting a new restaurant.

I'm not sure what this but more likely, it's Hototay.  Upon delivery, it only presents itself as not any different from the one you can have at home.  The server will make an effort to fill the bowls with the soup though which I think doesn't add value. She doesn't have the finesse while doing it.   Bad.

For a soup, it is pretty salty.  The texture and quality of the ingredients and overall taste don't add up to make it more valuable than we can have at home.  I'm sure a good restaurant could make this dish a little better or different.

While having soup, a person arrived with our Peking Duck.  One thing I forgot to mention is that most of the dishes we had here were already tried back from The Legend which makes of a good comparison.
Anyway, the guy appeared not experienced enough slicing the duck in front of us.  He was struggling as though the knife he had wasn't sharp enough which I doubt.
A waitress joined him to prepare the meat inside these wrappers.  First thing I noticed is the color of the wrapper which is darker and looks soft which appears to be moist in contrast to what  I'm seeing in The Legend.
She's struggling with preparing this dish using chopsticks. One stick fell to the floor which she had to take another pair.  She looks helpless and the dish she prepared is not presentable. Bad.

Here is what it is supposed to look from The Legend:

Unfortunately, I was correct that the wrapper is soft and moist.  It is pretty similar to the Lumpiang Sariwa wrapper only slightly thicker or denser.  The texture is really bad compared to slightly crisp and dry wrapper of the competition. It is like eating soggy potato chips. I just have eaten it without the wrapper to make it better. Bad.
While the two server were struggling with their jobs, they are found to be conversing loudly with work related issues and stories.  They're loud enough that we did not had a chance to converse in our tables.  
Simply, all the crew were inexperienced as I observed all of them.
This is buttered fried chicken. At first, I thought it is just plain fried chicken when I tried it but my sister, overheard me, defended it as unique as it is buttered. Anyway, it is not better than the fried chicken we can have at home. They could have made an effort to make the skin more crisp or add some spices to it but no.  It is not even presentable. Bad.
I don't know what this is but is like deep fried shrimp but chopped chilis underneath. It is spicy good but doesn't taste anything other than salty and slight hint of shrimp. To me, it presents itself as just "pulutan" in drinking sessions. Bad.

The rice is not bad but is bettered by cheaper Chinese restaurants.  It is rather moist and soft than the typical that is harder and less moist which I prefer.

This dish came from the pieces Peking Duck earlier.  It is not bad and is comparable to which you can have in The Legend but the textures of this could be made even better.
I didn't know they serve tea but my sister was observant enough to see it on other tables.  We had tea halfway through our meal. Bad.
Our glasses of water is not filled automatically once empty, that is again, in contrast to The Legend. Bad.

This is the men's comfort room which really is comfortable and clean.  This is one thing Mandarin Palace made them better to The Legend.
In The Legend's setup, to get to the comfort rooms you will have to come across with rushing food servers, the kitchen, and various restaurant related objects. Here in the Mandarin Palace, the comfort rooms has its separate area which is clean and quiet.

In conclusion, it was a disappointing experience.  It was a waste of time and money wherein the value of our experience is only at the knowledge of avoiding it next time.  If you felt this is useful, then I thank you.  If there is hope for this restaurant, then it would be their Shabu-Shabu. See, with that setup, a customer has somehow have more control with his food, avoiding the inconsistencies which we had today.  I hope they have it when you decide to try it. To end, I would rather eat at The Legend located near World Trade Center in Pasay rather than a nearby restaurant who doesn't seem to be interested in food and service.