Get a taste of Ding Hao’s steamed fried rice, a Cebuano go-to meal
In 1969, Henry Uytengsu brought the idea of dimsum from Hong Kong tea houses to Cebu, subsequently opening a restaurant called Ding Hao, which is Cantonese for “the best”. With the right insight on his intended market — that Filipinos are big rice eaters — he began to innovate on dimsum.
“He invented the steamed fried rice, which sounds like a misnomer,” says Steven Kokseng, Uytengsu’s nephew and current marketing manager for the group that includes a suite of several brands, all offering similar fare but are differentiated from each other by service concept. Ding Qua Qua (Cantonese for “the best of the best”), which opened its doors in 1987, features a buffet. Harbour City Dimsum House, established in 1993, is patterned after traditional teahouses where the dimsum is served in roving carts. Its most recent outlet, Dimsum Break, opened in 1996 and is a strictly fast food affair, with the dimsum offered canteen-style. “White rice is fried separately in a set of spices, then portioned into what’s now become iconic rice pots (more commonly used in other Chinese restaurants as soup bowls), then served in steamers. Thus, steamed fried rice.”
The Cebuano version is topped with a thick sauce made with pork or beef bits and vegetables, and this makes it a complete meal in itself. Enjoyed with a side of spring rolls (known locally as lumpia Shanghai) or a dish of siomai (steamed dumplings), steamed fried rice is a Cebuano go-to meal, at least for those born after 1970.
This article first appeared in the April 2017 issue of Smile magazine.