MANILA, December 29, 2005 (STAR) By Joy Angelica Subido - After the frenetic atmosphere of the shopping centers and malls, the relative quiet and laid-back atmosphere of Remedios Circle in Malate was a relief. The mad jostling by harried shoppers was nonexistent, and pedestrians walked unhurriedly on the sidewalks. An occasional pedicab slowly plied the streets, untroubled by honking vehicles madly competing for road space. One could leisurely park right next to his favorite restaurant without fear that his automobile would be towed away by another overzealous traffic enforcer. Best of all, the constant buzzing noise that reached grating decibel levels in the malls was absent. Surprisingly, one could actually hear the twittering of an occasional bird!

We were in the Remedios Circle for lunch at Ang Hang recently. The original Ang Hang was established 20 years ago at the Sunvar Plaza on Pasay Road in Makati. After some years, however, the place closed since the old site was sold. Ang Hang has since relocated to M. Adriatico St., which was, once upon a time, a quiet residential area.

The restaurant is part of the LJC Group of Restaurants, the company headed by Larry J. Cruz, who is widely known as a man of impeccable taste. Knowing that, we already knew beforehand that Ang Hang would stand a step above the usual.

On the day of our visit, a promotion called "Hong Kong Inspirations: Dine Your Way to Hong Kong" was under-way. Until Dec. 31, guests have a chance to win a trip for two to Hong Kong by trying Ang Hang’s special lunch buffet of Hong Kong Inspirations (P395+). Alternatively, those who want to join the promotion but feel that they cannot manage another major eating spree in this time of feasts, can order Hong Kong-inspired dishes in the restaurant. Available are Whampoa Chicken (P295+), mandarin fish with spiced tofu (P285+), suckling pig (P395+), and sweet and sour pork (P220+).

The Whampoa Chicken is a piquant dish generously garnished with sweet garlic cloves and pepper. The mandarin fish is a serving of mildly salted fillets of fish cooked in a light, uncomplicated broth that allows you to appreciate the firm flesh of the freshly caught fish and its delicate flavor. They go perfectly with Ang Hang’s spicy theme.

The promotion is a collaboration between the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and the LJC Group of Restaurants. It is in line with Larry J. Cruz’s participation as an international judge in this year’s Best of the Best Culinary awards competition, organized by the HKTB and the Hong Kong & China Gas Company Limited. As an annual event that aims to identify the finest examples of Hong Kong’s representative dishes, the competition is designed to promote Hong Kong’s culinary scene.

Restaurateur Larry Cruz is a well-known industry leader. In addition to overseeing his group of dining establishments, he has also alternatively served as president and chairman of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines for 14 years. Thus, it is perhaps in recognition of Larry Cruz’s discerning taste that he was the first Filipino invited to judge a major culinary competition in Hong Kong. Along with nine other international judges from different market regions, he was asked to give his expert recommendations

On the day we dined at Ang Hang, a busload of Thai tourists had reservations. They constantly took photos of the attractive buffet table and helped themselves to generous servings of the tasty food. Like them, we enjoyed the visual and gustatory stimulation, and were pleasantly surprised that none of the dishes were extremely hot. We were perhaps like some local diners who link the name of the restaurant with hot food. "Anghang," after all, is the Filipino word for hot and spicy, associated with flaming hot chili peppers and burning sensations. The food at Ang Hang could be "hot" indeed, but only in the colloquial sense that the word is used.

Lunch was a casual and relaxing interlude in this season of haste. My only regret was that soon enough, it was time to go back and rejoin the rat race. Sigh!

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Hong Kong Inspirations: Dine Your Way to Hong Kong is ongoing until Dec. 31 at Ang Hang Restaurant at 1900 M. Adriatico St., Remedios Circle, Malate. Call 521-6682 for reservations.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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