What’s the best place to dine this February?

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After Christmas, here’s another month of celebration opportunities with friends and family. For those who hate Valentine’s, Feb 10 is Chinese New Year. Ushering the new lunar calendar is a great opportunity to “change your luck” for the better. Chinese astrologists are fully-booked during this season by people who believe that charms and moving the furniture around will bring good luck. Personally, I’m OK with whatever gets you through the day as long as it doesn’t involve bothering or harming other people. Because Chinese New Year is a big celebration worthy of fireworks and dragon dances, dining is equally important and your choice of restaurants should match how far you are willing to stretch your wallet. So I came up with a personal list of 5 great places to dine for Chinese New Year. Here they are in no particular order.

My 5 best places to dine this Chinese New Year:

  1. Chinatown – On the eve of Chinese New Year, where else should you be but in the heart of the Filipino Chinese community. Hear mass in Binondo Church (if you’re Catholic) and start walking down Ongpin St and immerse yourself in all things red, fun and exciting. See some of my previous posts on Binondo’s Food Treasures, parts 1 and 2.
  2. Mien San – In the heart of San Juan lies this wonderful Chinese restaurant that doesn’t have enough parking (so be early), serves wonderful and authentic Chinese food and does not break the bank. Does not even make a dent. For a group of 5 persons, you can all be full for P2,000 or less. Highly recommended. See this link for more info.
  3. Chowking – Where there is something for all budgets, I love Chowking because it’s not too expensive and there is always one nearby. So you forgot to take your loved ones out to dinner, get some takeout and they’ll still be glad. Buy them Tikoy and they will love you for it. If not, there’s always the Sesame Balls that everyone loves. See more info here.
  4. The Strand Cafe – Are you a hotel buffet person? There’s a hotel in the middle of Makati that serves a mean Chinese food buffet at very friendly prices. The Strand Cafe’s Chinese Food Festival is something to consider, especially when you are looking to treat your friends and family at class place but is conscious enough not to spend too much. P2,000 for 4 persons in buffet is not bad at all, if you ask me. See more info on the Strand Cafe here.
  5.  Shang Palace at the Shangrila Hotel Manila – This place still remains to be my best dimsum experience. I love the ambiance, the service and best of all, the dimsum. There is really not much to be said about the dimsum here except that it is the best I have ever tried. Maybe the ones in the China are better, but for now, the Shang Palace is still at the top of my list. See my post here

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If you are not single and February is love month for you, then I have some special recommendations too. Here are my top 4 restaurants to take her out this Valentine’s day. This list is in particular order.

My top 5 restaurants for a Valentine’s date:

    1. Melo’s Restaurant - Yes, I sound like a broken record, but you have the admit, the ambiance and the food are beyond exceptional. The service is just as good, if not better. I like the fact that they remember you on your second or third visit and will call you by your name. THAT’S SERVICE! Your date will be very impressed. So when you decide to drop a knee and ask her to be with you forever, do it during a dinner date at Melo’s. The waiters are more than cooperative when you tell them what you have planned.
    2. Italianni’s – Who doesn’t remember Lady and Butch having spaghetti and meatballs at the back of Tony’s restaurant with Tony singing Bella Notte? No you don’t have to nudge the meatball with your nose, but Italianni’s can give you a similar experience with more than just spaghetti and a thunderous singing voice. Here’s the video in case you have forgotten. This should get you in an Italianni’s dating mood.
    3. One Tagaytay Place Hotel – It’s not a restaurant, but if you and loved one would like to take some time off far from the madding crowd, then this place is for you. I spent a night here once and I can say that this place is really nice. The rooms are wonderful and the food is great. Tagaytay is best explored at night and an overnight stay will definitely give your partner an unforgettable experience. It doesn’t break the bank to spend a night here, compared to the other luxury hotels in the city. Do give this place a try when you want to get cozy in Tagaytay.
    4. Metro Seoul Restaurant – Not normally considered a date place but I highly recommend that you bring your date here because it gives you something all the other restaurants can’t; privacy, at no extra cost. Yes, Metro Seoul has individual huts of various sizes to accommodate any number of people lower than 10. So if you don’t like the idea of other people looking at you while you make “porma” to your date, take her to Metro Seoul. You can kiss and not be so awkward about it. Oh, and the Korean food is heavenly at down-to-earth prices.
    5. Tapsi ni Vivian – I just HAD to make this restaurant part of my list. Why? Because every time I come here, the place is crawling with couples. I think it is Marikina’s secret date place probably because of the abundance of hotels in the immediate vicinity. However, I go there at 1 am because of the food, nothing more.

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