Quantcast
Latest Stories

REVIEW

From Lugang’s eat-all-you-can ‘xiao long bao’ to Saboten, how can one go wrong?

By

SABOTEN katsudon

Several sources of intelligence have confirmed the existence of a Korean grill restaurant in the Fort Strip, where you eat all the meat you can within one hour of the first dish. My curiosity about this place was tempered by pictures of its wait staff dressed as, you guessed it, Korean pop stars, and of a huge stage with laser lights.

My younger cousins seem to enjoy the place, and since they aren’t into K-Pop, I can only guess it’s the idea of 60 minutes’ worth of unlimited meat for P500 that lures them. I’ve never known of any 20-year-old who can turn down the challenge of beating the house when it comes to promotions like this, but restaurants don’t run promos they can’t make money on, so somehow, I’m sure, there’s a wily businessman rubbing his hands with glee and raking in the cash.

Eating out with friends or family means deviations from the usual: a tacit understanding that when you take a seat in a restaurant, you will pay for the food; the food is cooked in the kitchen, served, and then eaten; and then finally one pays, leaving an excess that is in proportion to how one is pleased or displeased with the service.

I don’t like buffets. I don’t like having to strategize about my meal or leap up mid-conversation because a new platter of oysters has appeared. They bring out the worst in all of us, especially me.

I’m usually a stickler for queuing and I believe that queue-jumping is indicative of moral degeneracy. But if the queue is getting longer from the middle because of people “just passing through” and the person in front is balancing three tiers of plates hoarding all the juicy middle bits of the roast beef, then all bets are off.

Perfect food

Lugang Café has introduced a variation on the buffet where one doesn’t have to run back and forth from one’s place to replenish one’s plate. I haven’t participated in an eat-all-you-can since college, when I tried to beat the house in Saisaki’s unlimited prawn tempura.

But this was eat-all-you-can xiao long bao! For P588! How could one go wrong?

The xiao long bao is as close to perfect food as one can conceive: it has the essential food groups (meat, carbs and soup) in a perfect package, and pops in one’s mouth as addictively as bubble wrap.

I discovered, about 10 baskets later, that there is such a thing as too much xiao long bao, especially with roast pork, roast duck and fried prawns in mayonnaise on the side.

We ended the meal with a peanut smoothie dessert and rolled out of the restaurant.

Gloriamaris

Down the street, Gloriamaris was doing a promo for its first anniversary in its cavernous new building. I’ve always preferred its more intimate rival, Choi Garden, on Annapolis Street, but the promise of 30-percent off allowed me to be swayed.

I can imagine that the principle behind shabu-shabu—of dipping one’s food in a communal pot and cooking it to one’s liking, thus allowing one to be participatory yet individualistic—once made sense for Chinese families huddled around a warm stove in winter. I’m sure they didn’t have my family in mind because there are four generations of us, everyone cooks, and everyone has an opinion.

Exhausting activity

We first argue about the broth, then the ingredients, then, while cooking, we battle about the heat, the order in which ingredients go in, whether it should be at a rolling boil or a simmer, whether kidney can be eaten pink or must be cooked through, and so on.

I’m sure it’s an enjoyable activity for people who meekly boil their beef and eat it without criticizing others’ tofu, but with my family, it’s an exhausting activity.

My wife and I ended up at Saboten to try and have a normal meal that did not involve buffets, eat-all-you-can or promos. We had in mind something of a detox-cleanse kind of meal that involved fried pork.

Better service

Saboten was very good, with snappy service and impeccable standards that make you forget about assessing. You just have a good time. That said, if one must compare, I still think that Yabu has stronger, more satisfying flavors when comparing like with like, i.e., the basic pork chop.

But Saboten has more interesting combinations and better service. The only things, fortunately, that were unlimited were the cabbage and the soup, and you’d have to eat a lot of cabbage to try and beat the house.

The food was cooked in the kitchen, by chefs, as one would expect in a restaurant.

There were no long queues, and no one picking through the leftover to see if you’ve hidden any unfinished meat under the vegetables.

We’d never been so happy to pay the full price of our meal.

Lugang Café is at 115 Connecticut St. Call 5420196; promo until end of June.

 

Gloriamaris Shark’s Fin Restaurant is at Missouri cor. Connecticut St. Call 5700921; promo until July 17 (weekdays only)

 

Saboten is at G/F Serendra Mall, Bonifacio Global City. Call 6252000 (no reservations).


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: dining , Food , Gloriamaris Shark’s Fin Restaurant , Lifestyle , Lugang Café , Saboten

  • AllaMo

    Please do not patronize any restaurant that serves shark fin soup.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. World bids Gabriel Garcia Marquez ‘Adios’
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  5. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  8. Garcia Marquez left unpublished manuscript
  9. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  10. Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  5. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  6. This is not just a farm
  7. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  10. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer

News

  • Maid confesses in killing of 2 and stabbing of employer in Laguna
  • N. Korea finally offers condolences over ferry tragedy
  • 16 CADPI sugar refinery workers now out of danger after toxic shower in Batangas
  • PNP denies Purisima’s involvement in questionable deal with courier firm
  • Pro-Russian insurgents hold journalist hostage
  • Sports

  • UP nips St. Benilde; Adamson blasts RTU in Filoil women’s caging
  • Kevin Garnett responds to Raptors’ GM F word
  • Albert Pujols hits 500th HR of major league career
  • UST posts twin kill in Filoil pre-season cup opening day
  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Bollywood Oscars, film stars come to Florida
  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Business

  • SM to rebuild Tacloban hospital
  • PSEi slips after 4-day rally
  • Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles, outselling GM
  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • Technology

  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Brazil passes trailblazing Internet privacy law
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • China won’t budge, wants PH gov’t to apologize to HK
  • Cha cha train to follow Obama visit?
    Marketplace