Saturday, October 29, 2011

With Dad at Yue Lai Restaurant Manila

I had the opportunity to dine with Dad one-on-one this month. Some time during the meal, he just smiled and said, "It's (Eating this and eating like this is) so simple, right?" I marveled at how opportunities for appreciating the grace of eating with the family were so rare nowadays and how simple a happy day can be created. By the end of this simple Chinese meal, I finally realized where my love for food, traveling, China, the Chinese language and music came from. I actually can't believe that I had forgotten at all. It was no accident that I chose to be a travel blogger and it has been brewing ever since I was a child.

Do anything except refuse to eat a meal in front of Dad. I will often tell him what I would like for him to take out and he will buy it especially for me. He will remember it next time and I'll find it waiting for me at the table. Dad knows to order the best Chinese dishes in Manila (That's decades of experience!). Here's a favorite: Clams in Tausi Sauce. It has to be fat clams of this species or flat and long bamboo shells cooked the same way.

Veggies cooked this simple is a staple whenever Dad is around. In my family, Dad reminds us to eat our veggies, not our Mom. 

How can I refuse fish when Dad cuts a piece especially for me and puts it on my plate or when he pours hot tea for me before he refills his? It brought me back to the time he taught me to tap the table twice to say when and thanks for tea. I was so happy and teary-eyed. I felt like a kid again.

Maybe Yue Lai Seafood and Hotpot Restaurant reminds him of the restaurants in Hong Kong and of home just like most of the frequent customers of this restaurant. This is a traditional Chinese restaurant in Manila complete with hanged ducks and white chicken, fish tanks and swimming live seafood. Dad took me to a place he's most at home with and where he knows I'll love the food just as much as him.

I grew up eating Chinese food. When I was young, it was such a treat to go to a hotpot restaurant like this in Manila called 168 with the whole family. As I grew older, the wear-all-red celebrations became frequent and I looked forward to the set "panto" meals and the birthday noodles in Gloria Maris. In each of our family trips, it was an everyday quest to be on the hunt for the Chinese restaurants all over the world. I would occasionally complain and suggest some openness to other cuisines. One thing is for sure, I am tied to the patriotism and loyalty to Chinese food by blood and I have never really grown tired of it. There are just times when the hustle, bustle and glamour of modern Manila makes me forget about simple living. Experiences like these, initiated by the older generation and where I only have to take the ticket, will pull me back to what's important to me. The whole "dreaded and outdated ordeal" only took 30 minutes of my time and it was one of the best times with Dad. The great thing is that it is actually still the Manila I know and it has been patiently waiting for me to grow up and wake up to what's already there.

Store Details:
Yue Lai Seafood and Hotpot Restaurant
Open Mondays to Sundays 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
1668 A. Mabini St.
Malate, Manila
400-6395, 400-6491

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