I have a longstanding love-hate relationship with buffets. I love the feeling of getting rattled and confused whenever I see a spread. But I almost always hate myself for eating more than I intended to.
It’s amusing to see how foodies approach buffets. I usually walk around the spread and see what I like, then go back and sample all those that I have targeted.
After going through everything, I then go back with a new plate and focus on those that made an impact on my palate. I look at the cold meat section and tell myself, “leftovers.” Many times, I have just enough left to satisfy myself.
But I really go overboard when I hit the dessert section. Having a sweet tooth, I even go back for more. After this meal, it is almost certain I will play a lousy afternoon game of badminton.
The full feeling will carry on all the way until the evening. I love it, for this means I will be skipping dinner.
But just before I hit the sack, I get hit with the hunger pang. And I, again, start to hate myself for having overeaten. I tell you, life can be complicated at times.
I experienced all these last week when I checked out a buffet at one of the hotels. Hotel buffets are the popular ones these days, along with the buffets offered by Saisaki, Yakimix and Viking at MOA.
What I look for in a hotel is whether it has restaurants that offer Japanese, Chinese, Thai or any kind of cuisine. If so, it would almost be certain the hotel will have foreign chefs manning the kitchen. Therefore, tastiness and authenticity are almost certain, and the buffet will be most interesting.
At the Manila Pavilion, the buffet at Season’s is interesting because the chef is a real foodie—Roger Perez of Mexico. On his first day in Manila, he went out with his staff and tried the most dreaded Filipino food to foreigners—balut! And he loved it.
Another foodie, Sol Vansi, attests to the creativity of Roger, especially his Mexican evenings.
As I walked to the spread, I noticed something. The buffet was divided into the usual different cuisines, but there were only a few items in each. And I liked what I saw: Spanish, Pinoy, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Middle Eastern, and others.
I started with a salad and seafood roll, then moved to the Chinese dim sum and sushi.
From there, I just went crazy over everything.
I tried the black paella, a hot prawn salad, crispy fried chicken, tiny appetizers on Chinese soup spoon appetizers, a la Bouli-style; there was a huge whole wheel of cheese with other delicious cheeses, and many others that so confused me and my son even more. I loved it.
And just when I thought I had finished, my son Arturo came to me to make me try his spring roll stuffed with leche flan. That made me get up and visit the dessert section.
I asked the pastry chef what her favorite was, and she just pointed to a tiny chocolate cake called Majestic Cake. OMG. The dessert would become the culprit in hindering my movement in badminton that afternoon!
But it was well worth it. Super sarap.
I hear there are times when chef Roger has a whole tuna for fresh sushi or to be grilled on the spot. Talk about freshness.
What a memorable experience. The hotel was also known to have one of the best Roast Prime Ribs in Manila. Rotisserie Grill and Prince Albert of InterCon were known for this.
Check out Seasons at Manila Pavilion, United Nations Ave., Manila; tel. 5261212 ext. 2318.
Jasmin Restaurant at the New World Hotel just flew in a chef from Shanghai. I sampled some dishes and must say, they are a must.
These are not your ordinary Chinese dishes. These are the items you see on the tables of the Chinese and wonder what they are. Or, you tell your waiter by pointing and trying not to be noticed, “What’s that?” after you’ve finished your meal.