Go to Yue Lai Seafood and Hot Pot Restaurant for Cheap, Delicious ChineseMarch 10, 2015
Malate’s Mabini Street may carry the infamy of the red light district, but residents-slash-regulars like me treasure its diverse dining out options. From the unique late night grub at cheap prices to the diverse range of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean restaurants, Malate is home to establishments worth discovering and rediscovering during each visit. Among these not-so-popular/hyped gems is Yue Lai Seafood and Hotpot Restaurant.
Like its neighboring restaurants, Yue Lai screams for attention with its neon sign at night but the exterior fades into the afternoon light during the daytime. Yet at 12 in the afternoon on a weekday, the restaurant is half full with a mix of families, couples on a date, and Chinese visitors or tourists staying in the area. Yue Lai is setup like a typical classic Chinese restaurant, with its eight -to 12-person circle tables, aquariums of fish and other seafood, and tables set with hot tea cups and soup spoons. Expect to enjoy large servings at reasonable prices; it is not a restaurant for solo servings.
Families and large barkadas are sure to enjoy all kinds of Chinese food favorites. Their menu offers anything and everything from live seafood such as Steamed Crab, Steamed Shrimp, and Baked Lobster w/ Cheese; an entire section for abalone dishes such as Braised Local Abalone w/ Seasonal Vegetables; classics such as Sweet and Sour Soup; seafood selections such as Fried Oyster Cake and Sauteed Curry Squid; and even frog items such as Baked Frog Leg w/ Ginger and Onion. Their dishes in pot include Braised Beef Brisket, Spicy Eggplant with Minced Pork, and Superior Mixed Seafood. Most orders come in small, medium, and large sizes; the prices ranging between PHP 350 to a maximum of PHP 1,000 (depending on the order and the seafood’s availability).
I made the unfortunate mistake of only having the photographer present for lunch, so we couldn’t pig out on larger sizes or as many dishes. For our visit, we ordered the Crispy Pork with Raspberry Sauce (PHP 340 for small), Braised Sea Cucumber in Pot (PHP 490 for small) and a Stir Fried Beef Hofan (PHP 270 for small).
The “small” label is in comparison to the other two servings. “Small” is more than enough for four or even five individuals sharing all three dishes. Each order was money well spent for the quantity alone, given that a PHP 300+ dish gets you half the size of what you’d normally spend in the posh areas of Manila. The Crispy Pork with Raspberry Sauce dethroned my love for sweet and sour pork. The raspberry sauce gave the fried pork just enough sourness without overpowering the fruit’s slightly sweet side. Unlike sweet and sour sauce, the raspberry sauce did not leave that “umay” taste in the mouth. There were even raisins mixed in with the pork. If I didn’t have to try the other two dishes, I’d probably finish half the plate.
The Stir Fried Beef Hofan did not fail in delivering a tried and tested classic. The hofan noodles were soaked in the beef’s juice and the beef pieces more than enough given the incredibly cheap price. The MSG left an odd aftertaste, but it also contributed to the dish’s extra punch and addicting flavor.
The Braised Sea Cucumber in Pot was also money well spent, but more for its quantity rather than quality. The sauce wasn’t too salty or sweet like other braised dishes, but there wasn’t much variety with the sea cucumber and mushrooms’ similar textures. It wasn’t a dish I’d crave for, but I wouldn’t say no to eating it either.
Like most favorites in the Malate area, Yue Lai proves how well foreign cuisine can be done without over pricing the meals. This is definitely a place nearby families can enjoy lunch together or a great pit stop for the barkada after a drinking session.
Have you been to Yue Lai Seafood and Hotpot Restaurant? What are your favorite dishes from the restaurant? Tell us in the comments section below!
This review was conducted solely by the author, who did not accept any form of cash advertising, invitation, sponsorship or payment. It was paid for by the author or Pepper.ph, and the views represented are purely the writer’s own. It is based on several anonymous visits to the restaurant.
Yue Lai Seafood and Hotpot Restaurant
Address: 1668 A. Mabini St., Malate, Manila