Spring by Ha Yuan’s Ka-Pao!


Rockwell UTT Winner #6: 


155 foodies rated 5- Awesome! I would recommend it!
148 foodies rated 4- I love it!
101 foodies rated 3- We had a good time.
  28 foodies rated 2- It is OK.
  10 foodies rated 1- Thanks, but it could be better.

Spring by Ha Yuan is a healthy and youthful take on Chinese Cuisine by Suzy Lee. She is reinvigorating the Chinese comfort food classics and introducing them to the new generation. This is my Chinese food favorite in Mercato Centrale specially their yummy classic taho 🙂 

In Rockwell UTT, she introduced exciting flavors of the classic cua pao branded as Ka-Pao (cua pao with a punch)! I personally like the Braised Short Rib and Lychee combination and if you are looking for the healthy kind, try the Sesame-crusted Teriyaki Tofu

Recently, I tried the most famous food truck in the Bay Area in San Francisco called The Chairman (formerly called Chairman Mao). It specializes on cua paos and Spring’s steamed Ka-Paos are definitely better. Although, the Chairman food truck is more popular for their baked cua paos more than their steamed version.

Congratulations to Spring by Ha Yuan for winning the Rockwell UTT! Good luck Suzy with your first ever store 🙂 (…. and maybe a food truck in the future perhaps?)

The Story of Spring by Ha Yuan
by Suzy Lee

I grew up shaping siopao dough, rolling buchi, scooping slivers of taho, and watching mesmerized as the noodle machine churned out golden strands of mami. My grandparents started Ha Yuan, the 55 year old Binondo-born Chinese restaurant known for its Maki Mi and Lumpia – and since my parents gave up the banking industry and took on the management of Ha Yuan – the kitchen was my playground.

Had I taken everything seriously and listened closer to my A-ye (grandpa in Cantonese), or shown any interest at all, I would have been a Chinese master chef by now. But in my post-Boys to Men pre-Eminem teenage years, being a restaurateur was not the most glamorous career option. I wanted to be as disassociated from the restaurant as possible, so I ended up 1,500 miles away (in Singapore) working in I.T. as an IBM consultant.

Little did I know that I was just taking one big U-turn to discover and come home to my roots. Being exposed to the foodie cultures of Singapore and Thailand, the need to satisfy my cravings for food back home, cooking for hungry housemates and reading food blogs like Our Awesome Planet (naks!) all made me realize the food business was the business I wanted to be in. I gave up my day job and went to New York to learn how to be a better restaurateur. It was here that I got inspired by how Asian food has slowly been elevated from cheap, greasy, egg roll and chow mein fast food to hip status by up and coming chefs and restaurateurs like David Chang. I wanted to do the same thing here in the Philippines.

I set out to create a concept which would offer lighter, fresher, more upbeat, and healthier versions of classic Tsinoy favorites such as taho, cua pao, mami, siomai, and lumpia. Ha Yuan, being a household name was something I could not touch so I created “Spring”, an offshoot of the Ha Yuan name which loosely translates to a spring garden. Soon after coming back, I learned about Mercato Centrale. This turned out to be the perfect market for me to test out products such as Tahooo! – hot and chilled taho with various toppings such as Mango Sago and Sweet Taro Tapioca, Gourmet Fortune Cookies, Mantao Fries, Soy Smothies and the KaPao’s.

I chose the KaPao’s for the Ultimate Taste Test because they embody what Spring is all about – healthy and fun takes on the original, yet still decidedly Chinese. Cua Pao, colloquially referred to as Chinese burgers, are traditionally steamed mantao filled with slow-braised pork belly slices. I loved eating them growing up but in the era of the Subway sandwich, it’s something most people won’t want to have every day. With the KaPao’s, we (me+ ever supportive mom + willing to try anything dad) try to make the fillings healthier and more balanced. We have even created a whole-wheat version of the bun!

The Pulled Pork which has been our bestseller is the lighter version of the classic, with lean pulled pork asado, house-pickled cucumbers and greens. While the KaPao’s are not intended to be high-nosed sandwiches we try to make each variety as artisan as possible – we select the choicest meat, we make all condiments and sauces from scratch and we (me + skillful dim sum chefs borrowed from Ha Yuan) still hand-roll each bun.

The KaPao’s are currently available weekends at Mercato Centrale and soon at Ha Yuan Signatures in the new Madison Square Granada. A limited variety is available at Ha Yuan the Kichen in Mother Ignacia and Cobo in Tomas Morato. We also have KaPao platters (30 party sized sandwiches each) for parties, available throughout the week through City Delivery.

About the product/ Pricelist:

Pulled Pork – P60
Braised Short Rib and Lychee P80
Sesame-crusted Teriyaki Tofu – P60

Foodies’ Comments:

  • tofu needs more flavor. pulled pork was good
  •  genius!
  •  filling! i like the pulled pork
  •  okay but slightly weird & not blended
  •  lychee was unexpected yummy without it
  •  something new (lychee salsa) but it’s sweet. no hint of cilantro
  •  great flavors loved crunchy bits
  •  very delicious combination of pao buns & eclectic mixes of meats & veggies
  •  pulled pork fabulous. soft delicious pork, bun complimentary. love it!
  •  good concept. lychee was good contrast
  •  it’s interesting
  •  yummy pulled pork<3
  •  pulled pork is good
  •  very chinese! give better portions!
  •  mouth watering
  •  too much bread
  •  braised short rib & lychee- interesting & excellent!
  •  excellent!
  •  bland
  •  fell in love w the rib & lychee. savory & clean
  •  yummy braised rib!
  •  good flavors
  •  always been great! never changed! stay the same!
  •  superdelicious! texture & flavors blend so well
  •  love the taste
  •  slow
  •  the pulled pork <3
  •  yum! i’d buy this!
  •  it’s good!
  •  very tasty
  •  great! but i wish the tofu was warm
  •  great kuapao
  •  monk’s choice is okay!
  •  pulled pork was good & full of flavor
  •  sweetness of leche flan is overpowering
  •  tastes like beef pares
  •  in all my travels, this is the first time i’ve tried this
  •  YUM
  •  love the combo of everything from the beef, lychee & cilantro
  •  nice combination of bread and filling
  •  fresh, hot, party in your mouth!
  •  tastes like usual chinese food but better
  •  braised short rib & lychee was good combination
  •  exelent
  •  it’s delicious
  •  monk’s choice- nothing great
  •  very good
  •  awesome!
  •  delicious!
  •  great kaPao!
  •  mice
  •  very good
  •  yummy!
  •  party in your mouth!
  •  pulled pork in lychee is best!
  •  oily!
  •  pretty good tofu KaPao!
  •  milk tea is good
  •  pork very tasty
  •  like it except for the cucumba
  •  party in your mouth! if only i wasn’t so full
  •  i like how the pork mixed well with everything else in the delectable Kapao!
  •  got the vegetarian-EXCELLENT!
  •  tasty & flavorful
  •  braised shoort rib & lychee – better without the lychee- add more sauce to BBQ
  •  refreshingly good
  •  pulled pork very good. short rib just ok
  •  filling very tasty
  •  loved everybite!
  •  well prepared, very tender & tasty pork.
  •  strong taste
  •  i like it!:) 
  •  unique
  •  pulled pork not my taste
  •  enjoyed the short rib
  •  short rib works w lychee
  •  the lychee blends in perfectly w the other ingredients
  •  lovely combination
  •  unique combination of ingredients
  •  pulled pork so yummy
  •  good combination of beef & lychee
  •  pulled pork was savory, tasty:) 
  •  like a dessert with it’s sweetness
  •   it’s good
  •  my favorite
  •  it was very good
  •  loved the braised short rib & lychee
  •  the lychee actually works well with the short rib!
  •  lychee w beef very good!
  •  delicious
  •  teriyaki tofu is good
  •  creative but too peanut-y and shiitake’s too strong
  •  the lychee salsa is unique & tastes good. the pulled pork also tastes good
  •  had tofu option – very tasty!
  •  whole wheat bun! even the tofu was good
  •  OKAY
  •  yummy short ribs & lychee
  •  SARAP!
  •  monk’s choice rocks!!!!
  •  it was very flavorful
  •  enjoyed it
  •  could’ve used more lychees
  •  short rib was very tender
  •  just ok
  •  it was ok
  •  i like the monk’s choice
  •  i liked the lychee with braised ribs. such a refreshing combination
  •  pork is great! each bite has a crunchy feel to it making it enjoyable
  •  love the monk’s choice
  •  buns were a little hard but flavor of pulled pork is good
  •  bread was good even on it’s own
  •  meat was tender, the lychee has nice contrast:)
  •   yummy bread
  •  a bit nakakasawa but good
  •  yummy!
  •  messy!
  •  good:) 
  •  yummy new product:) braised short rib & lychee
  •  YUM YUM
  •  love the combination of crunch & sourness of lychee
  •  very very very good
  •  beef and lychee what a combination, different!
  •  classic chinese with a twist!
  •  pulled pork better than braised short rib lychee- a little weird with lychee
  •  excellent fillings, found the dumpling pork a little too doughy
  •  KAKAIBA!!!
  •  not so chinese
  •  liked their bestseller-very good. hope they have a spicy variand
  •  ordinary taste
  •  vegetarian pao needs more flavor, overpowered by bread
  •  braised shortribs mmmmm!
  •  love all the textures and flavors
  •  super taste
  •  bsrl is the best!
  •  flavorful; mix of fruit+wansoy + spareribs = awesome!
  •  average kind of combination
  •  great for people on a diet
  •  good but i think it’ll be better if there’ll be no lychee
  •  the best kuapao
  •  love it!
  •  <3 cua pao
  •  nice concept, great food
  •  good stuff
  •  monk’s choice is delicious
  •  not usually a fan of sweet tasting meat but this was ok
  •  great flavors
  •  nice pulled pork!
  •  yummy!
  •  fresh taste
  •  very tasty:)
  •  yum! think i’m chinese!
  •  very tasty!:)
  •  fresh, flavorful, great!
  •  delish!
  •  better if the filling is enclosed in a bun
  •  new taste experience, really nice
  •  fried shallots are awesome
  •  less bread
  •  nice pulled pork, yummy!
  •  short rib!
  •  short rib yummy!
  •  it was great!
  •  fresh new flavor is great!
  •  monk’s choice!
  •  i like the flavor and the meat is so soft!
  •  pulled pork is great!
  •  pulled pork is so good!
  •  excellent! love the lychee!
  •  pulled pork is yummy!
  •   good use of cilantro, could go with whole wheat buns
  •  the cilantro changed the taste of it
  •  yummy!
  •  I will definitely eat this again
  •  so good!
  •  it was tender
  •  pulled pork was good. nice taste and texture
  •  braised short rib was tasty
  •  short-rib&lychee, great combo!
  •  very good!
  •  KA-POW!!!! Food comin’ YUM!
  •  soft short rib
  •  kapao steady!

    Ground Flr. BSA Mansion, Benavidez St., Legazpi Village, Makati.
    KaPao’s will also be available at Ha Yuan Signatures at the new Madison Square Granada.
    Telephone Number: +632 372-1050

    Live an Awesome Life,

    Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com
    Call or Text Me: +63917 5683-627 (LOVE-OAP)
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    P.S. Each UTT winner will receive:
    • a Rockwell UTT Winner Certificate;
    • a winner feature in Our Awesome Planet; and
    • a guaranteed spot in any of the Mercato Centrale markets. 🙂

    P.P.S. The next Ultimate Taste Test 7.0 event will be held on November 17  7pm in Mercato Centrale.

    For more info about UTT 7.0, check out: Your Ultimate Taste Test 7.0 Checklist. Are you ready?

    Related OAP Blog Posts:
    OAP | The Ultimate Food Trip happens in Rockwell on September 3
    OAP | The Foodies’ Guide to Rockwell’s Ultimate Taste Test
    OAP | My Cheers Moments @ Rockwell’s Ultimate Taste Test

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    4 thoughts on “Spring by Ha Yuan’s Ka-Pao!

    1. congrats to Spring and the Lee family! I have tasted almost everything ontheir menu and can attest that they are one of the best Chinese restauranteurs in the Philippines. I have lived abroad and missed authentic Cantonese fare. I got my fix from Ha Yuan mother Ignacio. Believe me, I have tried many more expensive places. HY was the true winner. I also got my Tsinoy comfort food from them. Excellent. Their stall in Mercato is also a must go over the weekends.
      clearly, these are people who know food and do it right all the time.

    2. Thanks Anton! We enjoyed being part of UTT 6.0! 🙂 And definitely eyeing a food truck in the future! By the way, if not too much trouble, kindly update Spring’s details: Spring’s new home will be at Ground Flr. BSA Mansion, Benavidez St., Legazpi Village, Makati. KaPao’s will also be available at Ha Yuan Signatures at the new Madison Square Granada. THANKS!

    3. congratulations, suzy dear!!! 😀 so proud! your fresh take on all the tired, greasy fare we grew up with is true genius. kris aquino and famous blogger marge think so 😉

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