Late last year, Henry Cheung (he happens to be our close relative) invited us to his new restaurant, Henry’s Place in Burgos Circle. I don’t really frequent these parts much since my heydays back at the old Embassy.

Tita Rosemarie, Henry’s wife, happens to be one of the foremost interior designers here in the Philippines. It’s no wonder that Henry’s place reminds me of an ethereal environment. With nice beautifully soft lighting, but still enough to clearly see the food and have a casual dinner. If you’re looking for a classy date place without hurting your pocket, this is one of those places. Light and airy, not too romantic, but enough to make your date go “Wow”.

Down to dinner…Chef Henry showed us the menu, but of course, Chef Henry would personally be cooking this meal for us. Here are the most memorable:

Crispy Duck Roll – Crisp roasted duck skin and soft flat crepe. This is Chef Henry’s ode to the Peking duck. Aren’t you glad that you don’t have to order an entire duck to get this scrumptious dish?

Tunaquitos – delicious mix of saucy, crisp, salty, sweet, creamy and tangy all in one. The shells were perfectly bubbly, adding a different dimension of “crisp” to the dish. The sauce had a slight wasabi note to it, and the flesh of the tuna was so tender that it provided layers of textures in every bite.

Hainanese ChickenΒ  – done perfectly, the hainanese chicken shows Chef Henry’s technique for steeping. The chicken was perfectly cooked and juicy, it was almost like it was brined. The chicken was steeped perfectly in their secret liquid to be able to have those delicate flavors even without the sauce. And of course the sauce, there’s the typical ginger, and the hoisin based…but the one i enjoyed the most was this fragrant vinegar based sauce which looked like strawberry juice…it was sour with a whiff of rose. Where did that come from?

Panfried Mantis – Frying it in this style turned the mantis shrimp into a soft shelled crab…everything was edible to the last skin part. The sauce had a whiff of the most fragrant wine which was just a feast for the senses and a great guessing game for people who like to break things down and think, “Hmm, what is it that gives it that taste?!”

Lobster Supreme – Suddenly a surge of culinary school memories came over me…This was Henry Cheung’s style. He taught this to us in Chinese Cuisine day. The eggwhites that where quickly beaten into a hot sauce that caused it to look like nice crustacean fat…This was him…and the best part about this was, unlike Chinese cooking, which makes use of lard, peanut oil and sesame oil…This baby was cooked in glorious butter! Which gave it that almost french touch. The lobster’s juices mixed with the fat which was found all over the plate, just right under the lobster. I don’t know what I enjoyed more..the lobster or the buttery soup and egg whites that came after. This was one of the best lobster dishes I’ve had in years.

Icy Hot Banana – I’m not much for dessert, but this one was delightful! It had all the components of a classic individual dessert — hot and cold, crisp and soft, creamy & tangy, saucy and dry…and the flavor reminded me so much of those odd desserts i used to cook up when i was a kid.

Overall, Chef Henry, with his years of experience and creativity, definitely has the greatest finesse in creating fusion dishes but still very characteristic high-class Chinese touch. Delicious!!!