RED ONION CAFE (红葱头 Hong Cong Tou) is a Taiwanese Restaurant specializing in Taiwanese Beef Noodles (the Ramen of Taiwan), Crispy Dumplings, and Taiwanese comfort food favorites like Lu Rou Rice and dumplings, or chicken with Sichuan Mala Chili Oil.
The name is a tribute to Red Onions or Shallots — the ingredient that gives flavor and is present in most Taiwanese food. It is proudly conceptualized here in Manila by Taiwanese Wen-Szu Lin and local partner Mark Endaya, who plan to expand the concept both locally and the rest of South East Asia.
We tried Red Onion Cafe with my YoYo Master friend, Pat Cuartero — who gave a YoYo exhibition at the end of our meal. 🙂 Check this out!
✮ Taiwanese Crispy Dumplings (P198). Half pan fried and half boiled, our crispy dumplings are simultaneously chewy and crunchy, yet the savory filling complements our house sauce to complete this dish.
This Taiwanese dumpling is inspired by the gyoza. I like the crispy flat bottom with a nice chewy dumpling skin and generous amount of pork meat.
The dumpling skin is a bit thicker and chewy and has a simple pork taste.
I like this better, with the Sichuan Spicy Mala Oil to give the dumpling a different edge.
The Sichuan Mala Chili Oil can get a bit addicting. I would recommend getting the Original variant (P288) with a good chili aroma. The Extra Spicy version has a numbing effect, with a spicy “traitor” kick at the end.
We like the Taiwanese Beef Noodle, which is the Ramen equivalent of Taiwan, with their signature 39 spices.
The noodles are usually served thin, but you can also request the shaved version, which is “handcrafted” by their robochef.
This thicker noodle has visible edges and is chewier with a good bouncy texture.
The Lu Rou Rice is not yet that popular in Manila, but the quality of the Lu Rou Rice is usually the benchmark of overall quality for any Taiwanese restaurant. It resembles an adobo with soy sauce and spices but without the use of vinegar. Red Onion Cafe uses lean pork meat but some other restos add a little bit of fat to make it yummier.
This is one of my favorite chicken dishes in Manila with the Sichuan Mala Spicy Oil. 🙂
✮ Double Fried Sweet and Sour Pork (P228). Experience the balance of flavors (sour, sweet, salty) and textures (crunch of skin, tender meat) as it was originally intended in Canton when it was invented.
This is sweet and sour pork but cooked Korean double-fried chicken style. The boys loved this!
This was inspired by Din Tai Fung’s fried rice and is best paired with the spicy dishes. 🙂
We loved this dish because of the sweet, crunchy texture of the shrimp and the walnut flavor to balance it out. But I think it was a bit expensive for the serving size.
Yes, a Taiwanese meal is not complete without a vegetable dish like this.
This was just OK. Nothing unique.
✮ Iced Lemonade (P88). Made from freshly squeezed lemons. Refills are 50% off.
Winter Melon Tea (P78). Favorite cooling drink in Taiwan to beat the hot weather.
✮ Hand Squeezed Almond Roca Lemonade (P108).
I love the Iced Lemonade, which tasted like Auntie Anne’s, and the Almond Roca Lemonade, which is similar to the Sicilian Limonata of Rambla. Although it’s a bit sweet, so make sure you request for less sugar.
Loved this spiced milk with coffee cubes. Make sure to fill the glass half full only so you don’t dilute the flavor of coffee.
This was a fitting Taiwanese dessert ending with Mango-flavored smooth shaved ice. 🙂
Presenting YoYo Master Francis Patrick Cuartero! I hope one of my boys got inspired to become a YoYo Master someday too like Tito Pat. 🙂
Make sure to order the Taiwanese Crispy Dumplings, 39 Spices Beef Noodle, Sichuan Mala Chicken, Double Fried Sweet and Sour Pork, and Walnut Shrimps. Note that the burnt taste of shallots in the fried rice and other dishes takes some getting used to and might not be to the liking of some diners.
For drinks, we love the Hand Squeezed Almond Roca Lemonade and “Spiced and Iced” Coffee Latte and recommend the Mango Taiwanese Snow Ice for dessert. Budget is P500-P700/head.
RED ONION CAFE (红葱头 Hong Cong Tou)
Home of Taiwanese Beef Noodle – Crispy Dumpling
G/F Ayala UP Town Center, Katipunan Ave.
Operating Hours: Sunday to Thursdays:10am to 10pm, and Friday and Saturdays: 10am to 11pm.
Telephone: +632 955-2263
Facebook: Red Onion Cafe
Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: Our meal was courtesy of my Yoyo Master friend Pat. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.
P.S. I’m starting a Taiwan Food Trip series in OAP. Let me know if you have any tips on your favorite Taiwanese restos in the Metro. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.