In the 1933 novel by James Hilton entitled “Lost Horizon,” the place named “Shangri-la” was a utopian sanctuary where one finds inner peace, love, fulfilment and longevity.
Inspired by the said novel, businessman Ramon Syhunliong came up with the idea of this gastronomical haven where one would find true happiness through one’s dining experience. “I want them to experience the utopian feeling of happiness like you’d never want to get out of Shangri-la” explained the 68-year old restaurateur.
Shangri-la’s humble beginnings dates back to 1981 when Syhunliong, having zero knowledge in the kitchen but overflowing zest for fine dining and merry-making, acquired a dying restaurant in No.4 Times Street, West Avenue, Quezon City. Similar to repairing a dilapidated house, it was just as hard as starting with a ruined restaurant than starting from scratch. The name had to be changed. The embellished chinaware had to be replaced with the fine, elegant Noritake porcelain. Situated at Times Street in Quezon City, Shangri-la began with a team of ten people.
Having no knowledge in the kitchen, Syhunliong took the first step by having Philippine immigration approve the papers of a Hong Kong-bred chef. Like many twists of history, the said Hong Kong-bred chef eventually succumbed to the excessive entertainment offered by the vicinity – being just a few blocks away from entertainment circuits. With the turn of such events, his subordinate Chef Fando had Syhunliong’s blessing and eventually took over the driver’s seat.
Running the business was never done by the book. Syhunliong simply guided his people with the philosophy to serve the food the way they want them to satisfy their own palates. With every dish dashed with love and every meal served the way their own taste buds would dictate, guests indeed would have every bite savoured. For him, eating is a form of art – an enjoyable experience.
Today, Shangri-la has been the strongest Chinese restaurant, armed with 36 years of fine dining prestige. What started with a man power of ten has grown to a hundred and ten. Its 400 seating capacity has grown to a 1,200 seat dining sanctuary that has catered to many milestones, including serving Blessed John Paul II in 1995. Syhunliong considers the pontificate his most memorable guest.
Shangri-la continues to create memories in the hearts of our patrons by providing the finest dining experience for their family and business milestones. More than anything else, Shangri-la will be known for its taste – that makes it a gastronomical haven indeed. True to its name, one finds true happiness by means of art of eating.