I’ve been curious about Shangri-la The Fort’s Canton Road for a while now. Actually scratch that— I’ve always been curious about the restaurants at Shangri-la The Fort, period. Shangri-la is a pretty reputable brand in the hospitality industry worldwide. In the local setting however, I’ve noticed how it seems like their Fort branch has the best reviews when it comes to their hotel restaurants.
Considering how expensive it can get to eat at hotel restaurants, I am automatically nit-picky about it. External reviews have to be at least 4 out of 5 stars before I even consider it. Restaurants at Shangri-la The Fort happen to consistently be at the 4 star mark, so on the birthday of one of my younger brothers we decided to drive all the way to BGC for some fancy Chinese food.
Canton Road is an elegant version of your typical Chinese restaurant. While luxurious isn’t the word I’d use to describe the general feel of the place, it’s certainly not casual either. The floor is covered with a patterned carpet; there are chandeliers on the ceiling; and several expensive-looking vases act as accent pieces throughout the restaurant. However a great indication of the class of this restaurant is their menu, which has a beautiful cover that holds equally beautiful photographs of food inside. It’s like a magazine.
We ordered quite a few dishes and tried to pick things that would allow us to try a variation of things from the Canton Road menu. They have quite a lot of interesting dishes alongside familiar ones, but it’s interesting to note that things you might find familiar may be served differently in a restaurant like this.
Right off the bat, I will say that the quality of the ingredients used in the dishes here at Canton Road are superior from your usual Chinese restaurant, and I find the taste also fresher and better, minus the MSG.
I don’t know for sure if they don’t use any MSG at all because most Chinese restaurants do, but I will take a guess that the chefs here probably prefer to use natural flavors and other condiments. MSG makes you thirsty after eating a mere few bites of any dish, and I never got that sensation here. That already gains Canton Road one thumb up from me.
Let’s talk about the food now, starting with their Steamed beancurd rolls stuffed with assorted mushrooms (Php 228 for 3 pieces). This is one of the usual dimsum dishes we like, and this in particular had a nicely texture bean curd “skin” that absorbed all the sauces and flavors of the mushrooms really well. Each bite explodes with juiciness. It’s a contrast from the Baked Potato Bun with roasted pork, mushrooms, and sea cucumber (Php 298 for 3 pcs). This one actually underwhelmed me. I loved the pillowy soft bun, but the filling tasted rather typical.
The Simmered free range chicken with shallots and black truffle sauce (Php 688) was delicious. It’s quite similar to Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken, except with a hint of truffle added in. The tender and juicy chicken pieces were well-coated with flavor, but the truffle was a light touch that still allowed the natural taste of the chicken to come through. Even the vegetables within this dish tasted fresh and sweet.
However, this dish isn’t quite as memorable compared to their Iberico pork ma po tofu dusted with Szechuan pepper (Php 598). I’ve had my fair share of mapo tofu in my lifetime, but none were quite as playful to the tongue as this. It has a real punch to it thanks to the Szechuan pepper. Addictive to spicy food-lovers like me, although perhaps slightly saltier than it needs to be.
The Asparagus wrapped bamboo fungus and wolf berry in pumpkin superior broth (Php 528) is a really pretty dish that’s equally tasty. The bamboo fungus sucks in and traps all the flavors of the pumpkin broth, and it gives each bite a sweet-umami balance. The asparagus tasted as vibrant as it looked, which I loved.
Now this next dish arrived at our table with a bit of confusion at its tail. We didn’t order any Homemade soy milk tofu and asparagus in mixed mushroom gravy (Php 588) but somehow the waiter punched it into their system. My Dad decided to just accept the dish, and rightfully so because we would’ve missed out on it.
Canton Road’s homemade tofu is encased within a thin layer of deep-fried batter, and they sit atop a thick gravy alongside some asparagus. The sauce clings to the tofu but the batter never gets soggy, and when you bite into it, it crunches nicely but gives way to silky soft tofu inside. The mushroom gravy gives just enough umami. This is tofu done justice, you guys.
Now we come to the most unique and probably my personal favorite dish of the meal: the Szechuan style poached chili grouper fillet with pickled vegetables (Php 758). Right off the bat, I want to say not everyone is going to like this dish. If you don’t like the tongue-numbing feeling of Szechuan peppercorns (think mala) there’s a chance you may not enjoy this, but I find this dish rather delightful. It’s not a full-on tongue-numbing experience. They balance that aspect out with a tangy broth that has just enough acid to cut through the tingles.
I love fish so the soft grouper fillet was heavenly for me to devour, but with all the added veggies and that delightful soup, this ended up being quite a hearty dish. I was the one who ate the most out of this bowl, and I was also the one who had the last bite lol. So much love for this dish, honestly!
Another favorite of mine is the Wok fried sliced noodles with beef tenderloin strips and beansprout (Php 568). I’m a noodle fiend but sometimes I hate how oily stir-fried noodles can be. There’s an argument about all the flavors being there in the oil, but nobody ever said it had to be greasy, you know what I mean? This one had just enough oil coating each noodle to make it slurp-able, but nothing that leaves a sheen on your lips. And yet it hits you with some beefy, sweet, salty flavors. SO GOOD.
I also want to mention the noodles are perfect. They are just the right amount of thin to have a bite, but they aren’t thick enough to be dry or doughy. I mean for the price of this noodle dish, I was expecting it to be REALLY good.
The Fujian seafood fried rice (Php 588) is another good one. Normally, this type of fried rice is where a lot of MSG gets used, but I’m happy to report this didn’t dry out my throat when I ate it lol. The sauce is rich and flavorsome, but I wish there were more seafood bits.
Finally, we arrive at the dessert part of the meal. I had to order these Swan shaped taro puff pastry (Php 228 for 3 pcs) when I saw the photographs on the menu for two reasons: First, it’s pretty. Second, I LOVE TARO. Frankly speaking, this was underwhelming in the taro flavor department. I find that the puff pastry is a little thick compared to the taro filling, but I can’t argue it’s a high quality dessert. The puff pastry is crisp but melt-in-the-mouth!
On the other side, the Crispy durian puff pastry (Php 288 for 3 pcs) is a delightful little treat. It’s got just enough durian flavor– arguably an amount that non-durian eaters may be able to tolerate. It’s not that “offensive” sort of durian that hits you hard in the face, but a more “delicate” sort that really complements its fragile puff pastry housing. (I love durian so it’s hard for me to judge for non-durian eaters lol.)
Between this and the taro, the durian flavor shines more in this pastry because its shell is obviously a lot thinner based on the pictures. For me, this was more true to its name since it really gives you that flavor you expect.
I think you can tell from the way I wrote my review that I enjoyed pretty much all the food I ate here at Canton Road. My complaints were mostly minor, except for the part where the waiter entered the wrong order for our table. Nonetheless it ended up being a “blessing in the disguise”. To make a long story short, the food was great.
As for the price, there’s really nothing I can say since I think you should expect, going into a hotel restaurant, that the average price for the dishes would be around Php 500. Frankly, for the level of quality they serve up at Canton Road, I can see why the pricing is up there. Although I am telling you all this, you can really only experience the difference once you see and taste their food. Overall, this restaurant met my expectations, and then some.
Full disclosure: This post is NOT sponsored in any way. I paid for this meal on my own and received no compensation for writing this feature. All opinions stated above are my own.