A brasserie is definitely French although it has of course already evolved the world over. Case in point: a Chinese brasserie, which TuanTuan touts itself as.
TuanTuan Chinese Brasserie offers Hong Kong comfort food in a French-inspired setting. Part of a restaurant chain, the Power Plant Mall restaurant in Rockwell is their fourth branch in the Philippines. I've first tried it in November last year and have been there at least two more times since.
Interiors and ambiance
The restaurant is designed as a single brightly lit space where everything and everyone are in full view all at once. That said, I wish the layout was thought out better, like maybe throw in a couple of partitions here and there. But hey, it serves its purpose as a place where people dine; just not ideal for dates and stuff.
Other than that, I like how the walls come in varying colors and finishes, all adorned with clusters of framed photographs, while chandeliers hang from the exposed ceiling, providing an instant contrast of chic and industrial.
TuanTuan serves some familiar Chinese fare like noodles, congee, and rice meals, and also curry and Macanese style dishes. But they most probably take pride in their signature halibut noodle soup (Php 498-528), which come in several variations.
With their "build your own" option (Php 368-398 solo, Php 428-468 large), diners get to choose their soup (original fish soup, Szechuan spicy soup, laksa, etc.), their noodles (flat rice, ramen, vermicelli, etc.), toppings (sliced beef, pork, luncheon meat, prawns, mushrooms, dumplings, etc.), and drink (Nai Cha or Cantonese lemon tea). There's simply a lot that you can do here.
We tried the original fish soup with ramen noodles. I think I picked prawns and squid balls as toppings. The soup was light, both in consistency and flavor, which explains why an assortment of toppings (at least 30) can go with it. Not my favorite soup out there, but I'm okay with it.
TuanTuan's signature halibut noodle soup.
I've had their fish fillet with pumpkin and crabstick in creamy sauce on rice (Php 288) on one occasion and liked it. Their pan-fried pork chop with sautéed onions in Maggi sauce (Php 158 as side dish to their "build your own" offer) was really nothing but pork chop with Maggi Savor topped with a little paprika but oddly enough, I enjoyed it.
On the other hand, the prawn curry (Php 548) was just okay. Though the prawns were swimming in mild curry sauce, the dish wasn't bad at all. The honey garlic spareribs (Php 298) was a tad better, though.
Pan-fried pork chop with sautéed onions in Maggi sauce.
Honey garlic spareribs.
One thing I really liked here was their Snow Buns: soft but crispy thin sweet buns filled with either pork barbecue, minced duck, pineapple, or molten custard. Think Tim Ho Wan's pork buns except that they don't sport a golden yellow color. It's just frustrating that after enjoying it once, it was always sold out during our next two visits.
Iced tea's also good. And oh, they also serve Horlicks milk!
As with most Chinese restaurants, service is fast--well, at least in two out of three times we were here. I don't know why but the last time we were here, service was below par. Everything from our food to our bill, to our change, took surprisingly long. The waitstaff weren't as attentive as they used to be either. It was as if they were too preoccupied with getting off their shift.
If you want want a lighter alternative to Japanese ramen, then TuanTuan is worth at least a try. Though I really haven't tried anything that blew me away just yet, I think it's safe to say that their dishes are just fine. With a couple other options like curry and Macanese style dishes, this restaurant goes beyond familiar Chinese food. I just hope they keep their staff in check to ensure consistently good and efficient service.
Never mind the busted light bulb because isn't this overhead lamp so pretty?
TuanTuan Chinese Brasserie is located at the R3 Level of Power Plant Mall in Rockwell, Makati City. Open daily from 11am to 10pm. Other branches are at SM Megamall, Greenhills Promenade, and SM Aura.