Two unfailing crowd-drawers | Inquirer Lifestyle

Two unfailing crowd-drawers

Some friends once stood for three hours waiting for a table in a new restaurant. In another part of the city, meanwhile, a continuing flow of men and women, young (even babies!) and mature customers, are always seen entering a huge eat-all-you-can outlet that serves an endless array of buffet food, practically everyday.

Conclusion: Any place that is new, or one that offers value-for-money meals, will always  attract diners.

P.F. Chang’s Global Restaurant

The Street, Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa City; tel. 8697837/9810

This is conceptualized as a Chinese Restaurant-Bistro, “imported” from its main base in Arizona, USA, and now said to be drawing some 700 diners a day from Alabang and nearby places, making it often difficult to get a table without reservations. Because the strip is called The Street, one hazards the guess that people are encouraged to walk, thus there is no curbside drive-through. Either one goes up the steps or go via the mall, the most ideal passing through Makati supermarket, up its escalator at the back and down where the fountain is, to street level, then across that toward the left. By that time, the tummy must already be grumbling  for food.

Dining area—One enters through the door guarded by two big war horses and Chinese terra cotta soldiers. Inside, more such typical décor are scattered. The interior is a departure from the typical reds, but done in the elegant tones of black and brown. And no round table. An impressive 11-ft mural on the wall depicts life in 12th-century China. There is a second floor, which seems more private.

Service—Three gracious receptionists in sleek uniforms alternate in welcoming the guests, handing them the menu folder then escorting them to the tables. The waiters, mostly men, then take over.

Staff—Excellent. There is Manny, who suggests that you make the “M and M sauce” (from the trio on the table)—the Manny Mixed sauce, which is a combination of vinegar, soy sauce and chili, resulting from the proportion he himself has perfected. Other servers would promptly come once you wave your hand or anxiously look for one.

Suggested menu—The lineup is contained in a clear folder with photos of each dish, done the Mandarin way of wok cooking. Anything named after Chang encourages the diner to try the dish. Start with Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps; the leaves are crisp and huge, but we found the minced chicken, mushrooms, water chestnuts and green onions a bit lacking in flavor. Hoisin taste is missed. This is where the M and M comes in handy.

The Wonton Soup, with fresh shrimps, chicken and water chestnuts, would make anybody’s day. Its chicken broth is so delicious.

There is logic perhaps in taking the suggestion of the staff, such the Dan Dan Noodles, instead of the Double Pan-fried Egg noodles, which came salty and very soggy. But chef Abet would be kind enough to do the dish as your taste buds required.

The super dish is the Oolong (tea) Marinated Sea Bass—a perfect piece, broiled and served on a bed of spinach. However, this will make a dent in your pocket.

Desserts are mostly American, huge and for sharing. Gluten Free and Kids’ Menus are also available.

Usual service and government charges are collected.

Rating **

Sambokojin  Yakiniku Smokeless Grill

Eastwood City Walk, Eastwood Cyber and Fashion Mall, tel.  4210145

The steps leading to the restaurant will challenge the weak-kneed, but the awesome display on the buffet table will more than compensate for the expended energy. Reservation must always be made, and it is held only for 15 minutes. Understandably so, given the continuous flow of diners.

Dining area—Huge. Bright and much better-designed than the other restaurant-members of the chain. It is more elegant.

Service—The staff can immediately explain the various sauces on each table. Buffet-style of serving food is, of course, the fastest way to satisfy a hungry group.

Staff—Quick to respond

Suggested menu—After the attendant switches the griller on, one can make his/her merry way to the buffet, a huge display of Japanese and Korean grillers. Start with the Sushi and Sashimi, get a bowl of soup, choose from the barbecue meats and seafood. Fill up your plate with Mix Tempura or simply concentrate on the thinly sliced US beef. Can one go wrong when such choices are laid out for your picking? Certainly not.

Usual service and government charges are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.

Rating **