By GENE GONZALEZ
I have been a resident of San Juan for the past 28 years, enjoying hidden gems that supply treasure to every San Juañero’s food bank—his stomach. Such places like Aling Banang’s, Benson’s Barbecue, Tita Lulu’s Pancit Malabon, Big Scoop, Alan’s Makihan, and Charlie Wanton Special, are all institutions and though not well-known, have been wel lpatronized by the residents for generations. I thought I had unearthed all that’s discoverable, until my new assistant Joan Orquita, told me about a place she frequented while growing up. Tucked away on a side street, is a house where the garage gets converted into a restaurant called Greyson’s. It’s been around for over two decades.
I like the outdoor stir-fry burners with the cocky poised cooks ready to stir-fry a bunch of noodles. They take the pancit from huge plastic bags hanging from the rafters of the garage ceiling. This gives the place a daipai dong (open-air food stall in Hong Kong) vibe.
The menu reads like a novel, I guess remnants of an age of varied and several choices. Distilling my favorites required me to come back a number of times. What a task! The wait staff make eating here feel like being with family. They are casual and friendly, but still professional to the diner and customer.
Narrowing down my favorites was fun, knowing what and what not to order the next time. First and foremost, order the fried chicken, which has never let me down whether as a quarter, half, or whole. It’s moist with just a light dab of starch on the crisp exterior. The marination also does not cover the goodness of the chicken flavor, but enhances it fully. (I wish they would have an all chicken wing version of this as I am very much a wingman.)
If one does not like fried items, a great alternative is the steamed ginger chicken served with a ginger chive sauce. Similarly, those who like rice toppings, there’s this ultra-moist steamed chicken morsels with slices of Chinese mushrooms in a tasty sauce.
Order any pancit or stir-fried noodle dish whether you are a purist and want only one kind of noodle like bihon, canton, miki, or like to combine. The noodles are cooked home-style to a dark soya tint, and given a tasty touch of crispy morsels of pork belly, and some extra fat from the rendering of the pork lard.
Since the owner of Greyson’s started as a siomai supplier, I had to sample the dim sum. The pork siomai (their flagship product) was great with their fried chili garlic sauce, a standard table condiment of theirs. I also made a run for the chicken feet. What turned out to be a favorite many times was the Japanese siomai wrapped in nori. It was firm and juicy, almost sausage like, and got us ordering it again.
Since it’s a family-oriented place, for beverages, I saw a lot of people having lemon cucumber made, and milk tea with sago cooked in caramel. A homey, or rather, a home sweet home touch to end the meal.
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