Where to get a taste of the world in Manila?

Buffets as a dinner concept hold nothing special to me. I’ve seen the buffets all across the world and they’re all the same – heaps of food – generally lower quality ingredients and the same stale variety of food within the buffet itself. However it seems that hotel buffet dining is something of a sport in Manila, which I would have never really known about until talking to a few resident Manila ex-pats and they all insisted that I bounce around the luxury hotel circuit here and check out the offerings.

After staying at the Intercontinental Hotel, Manila and moving over to the Shangri-La Makati – the experience has been night and day in terms of difference. I would never recommend the “Intercon”, since the Shangri-La is a similar price point and it is just a better hotel with a great buffet at Circles.

That being said, going to the Sofitel Hotel in Manila and eating at Spiral, makes the Shangri-La look like a Holiday Inn. It is Metro Manila’s biggest hotel buffet, it serves almost 300 dishes from all over the world : China, India, Japan, Europe, Middle East, and of course, the Philippines.

Of course, it is the famous spiral staircase that gives the restaurant its name and it cavernous, I asked the main concierge about the space and it’s more than 2,000-square meters for the dining area with that high ceiling.

Despite very good number of reviews and recommendations, nothing beats seeing all the glorious food. I don’ think there was anything they didn’t have – except bland burgers and fries. Imagine that … a buffet with no basic fast food nonsense in there in an great natural surrounding.

The fresh crab, oysters, chilled shrimps were such a treat that I found myself going back for seconds –  everything came together well and I was impressed.

The Japanese food was fresh and tasty and for once in a Japanese buffet, there was just enough rice to ensure that you could taste everything in the Sushi.

Everything was well presented, the chefs were interactive and informative. There was no question I asked, that I didn’t get a prompt and polite response to. The grilling station was spotless – I can only imagine the effort that goes into cleaning that thing every day.

The Thai stations were again immaculately clean, excellent presentation and all round superior quality of the dishes themselves.

As for the charcuterie, cheeses (not for me), lamb dishes, shawarma, custom made pizzas and ACTUALLY authentic Indian dishes – I couldn’t attack anymore. Eating at Spiral is a contact sport, but just when you think you’re done with the restaurant experience, then you have the freedom to eat your dinner or walk about in the pool and gardens by Manila Bay.

If only, I could just enjoy that post prandial nap in the water or sipping a drink inside the pool.

Or enjoy the gardens and walk about the pool and Manila Bay at night.

So basically after all that great food, you can grab an included custom made drink and walk about the gardens and come back and eat again. Not that I did it, but it is possible.

Btw, I loved the SPIRAL staircase!

FHM’s Buffet Guide to Manila

  1. 7 Corners, Crowne Plaza, Ortigas
    Price range: Breakfast is at P750, Lunch at P1,200, Dinner at P1,400
  2. Paseo Uno, Mandarin Oriental, Makati
    Price range: Breakfast is at P1,150, Lunch at P1,530, Dinner at P1,600. Luxury buffet on Friday and Saturday at P1,990
  3. Mercado, Resorts World Manila
    Price range: Breakfast is at P96, Lunch at P388, Dinner at P688
  4. Dads/Kamayan/Saisaki, EDSA
    Price range: For all three to crossover, Monday to Thursday Lunch at P520, Dinner at P620.
    Saisaki solo: Lunch at P480 (M-T), P580 (F-Sun), Dinner at P580.
    Kamayan solo: Lunch and dinner at P350.
  5. Alba Restaurante, Tomas Morato
    Prince Range: Lunch is at P595, Dinner at P650
  6. Spiral, Hotel Sofitel, Manila
    Price range: Breakfast is at P1,018 (M-F), P1,218 (Sat-Sun); Lunch is at P1,488 (M-Sat), P1,988 (Sunday brunch); Dinner is at P1,688 (Sun-Thurs), P1,888 (Friday to Saturday)
  7. Escolta, The Peninsula Manila, Makati
    Price range: Breakfast is at P990, Lunch at P1,100. Dinner at P1,500
  8. Cafe in the Park, Century Park Hotel, Manila
    Price range: Breakfast is at P860, Lunch and Dinner at P1,215
  9. Heat, EDSA Shangri-La,
    Price range: Monday-Thursday at P1,200; Friday-Sunday at P1,400
  10. Brazil! Brazil!, Rockwell
    Price range: Monday-Thursday is at P628, Friday-Sunday at P777
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About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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