There are 4 magic words that we Filipinos love when it comes to food: All. You. Can. Eat.
Buffet restaurants are the ultimate tease. Nothing sings to our kuripot nature more than the thought of a good bargain, and it’s this very principle that these restaurants bank on.
“Can you really eat enough food to call our prices sulit? And look, we have a cheese room!”
If the lines outside these establishments and the number of reviews they get on the looloo app are any indication, our collective answer seems to be a resounding “yes!” According to YOUR reviews, here are the best buffet restaurants in Manila for the first half of 2014:
10. Chef Laudico Guevarra’s (San Juan)Average Rating: 3.93
Number of Reviews: 52
Upon entering the restaurant compound, one can’t help but be charmed by the place’s vintage vibe. The house-turned-restaurant’s exteriors give off that Old Manila feel with its beautifully restored old school architecture. Walking into the place makes you feel like you’re visiting your lola’s house, with the smell of home-cooked Filipino food wafting throughout the hall.
The menu put together by the well-known Chef Rolando Laudico consists of Filipino favorites like Kare-Kare, Pinakbet, and Adobo, but elevated to a standard that coincides with his family’s name. You’ll find that many beef dishes are made with high-quality Angus beef, which reviewers so far have been keen to point out. You’ll also find a hefty selection of seafood, pastas, and vegetable dishes to round everything out.
A tip for those who wish to dine here: make reservations in advance and come on time to make the most of the 2-hour seating schedules that are strictly imposed. Enough time to fill yourself up, if you ask us.
9. HEAT (EDSA Shangri-La Hotel)Average Rating: 4.10
Number of Reviews: 29
The first upscale hotel buffet restaurant on the list, HEAT takes buffet dining to another level with its upscale appeal at one of the metro’s best hotels. With a very resort-like ambiance, it’s easy to forget that the place is along the busiest avenue in all of Metro Manila, right in the heart of the Ortigas Business District.
Their unique “open-theater” buffet stations are a feast for both the stomach and the eyes, resulting in a truly personal a la minute dining experience for anyone looking for a culinary getaway for when the hustle and bustle of city life is just too much to handle.
8. Dad’s/Kamayan/Saisaki (Mandaluyong)Average Rating: 4.14
Number of Reviews: 26
There’s no beating the classics. This triple threat buffet restaurant is probably one of, if not the pioneer of buffet-style dining in the city. You can choose to eat at any of the three distinct buffets, or go big and have a bit of them all — Dad’s “World Buffet,” Kamayan’s Filipino, or Saisaki’s Japanese cuisines.
Competition may be heating things up for this old-timer, but it doesn’t seem likely that this place will kick the bucket any time soon. A lot of newer places have the appeal of novelty, but places like this have a history and sense of nostalgia that can’t be bought or replicated.
7. Circles Event Café (Makati Shangri-La Hotel)Average Rating: 4.20
Number of Reviews: 35
The second buffet restaurant from the Shangri-La hotel group on this list, Circles is and has always been one of the clear-cut favorites when it comes to upscale hotel buffets. Cousin to its EDSA Shangri-la counterpart, HEAT, this Makati-based buffet joint lures diners in with its food and modern day chic.
Also featuring “open-theater” kitchen stations, chefs and staff prepare servings of just about any cuisine you can think of, right in front of you. Their offerings range from Filipino, to Southeast Asian, to Western, offering diners both quality and variety in their meals.
6. Buffet 101 (Seaside Blvd., Pasay)Average Rating: 4.21
Number of Reviews: 29
One way that Buffet 101 stands out is with their decor. Reviewers can’t help but praise the sosy vibe that comes with dining at one of Buffet 101’s 3 branches. Bright lights and crystal chandeliers bring that “five star hotel feel” for about half the price you’d pay at a hotel. The buffet spread itself is a sight to behold, with over 300 different dishes from almost any kind of cuisine you can think of.
5. Seven Corners (Crowne Plaza Hotel, Pasig)Average Rating: 4.25
Number of Reviews: 18
Many buffet restaurants bank on variety, some tout their decor, but then there are the few that truly focus on the food. Buffet restaurants like Seven Corners may not have the largest selection of viands, but signature dishes like their steak alone, for a lot of users, is worth the price of admission.
The gastronomic shining jewel on Crowne Plaza’s, well… crown, Seven Corners is at first glance, a typical hotel buffet restaurant. It has staples such as a diverse Japanese sushi and sashimi selection, a pasta and pizza station, and an array of oriental food fare. What people keep coming back for though, is their grill station, and more specifically, their STEAK. Browse through their reviews, and you’ll find (as many others have) that this place’s meat is worth the trip, no matter what corner of the globe you’re from.
4. Sambo KojinAverage Rating: 4.27
Number of Reviews: 78 for all branches
Korean BBQs and Japanese buffets have been around for a while now, but no one’s put the two together with the scale and technical execution of Sambo Kojin. Their large selection of marinated raw meats ready for grilling is complemented by a number of other Japanese and Korean mains and appetizers. They’ve even recently begun serving in-house katsu! It’s this very targeted approach to cranking out quality Asian food that has diners getting in line. And trust us, there will always be a line. Making reservations is highly recommended.
Targeting mostly the mainstream market with its sub-₱1000 pricing, Sambo Kojin has become the place to go to when you’ve got a Korean/Japanese craving the size of Godzilla. A word of warning, prepare to hear a LOT of birthday haranas when eating here.
3. VikingsAverage Rating: 4.35
Number of Reviews: 141 for all branches
Balance and restraint are concepts that don’t necessarily come to mind when one thinks of all-you-can-eat buffets, but they’re certainly two things that have given Vikings a clear edge over its competitors — balance in terms of variety and quality, and restraint with their pricing. This winning formula has made Vikings the number one non-hotel buffet restaurant in Manila, besting out its competitors in the industry.
Many reviewers are often surprised at how good the food at Vikings is, given its price point of as low as ₱688 for weekday lunches. For that amount, you get a huge selection of international and local dishes, from seafood to grilled meats, to mouthwatering desserts and refillable beverages. At this restaurant, your inner viking can ditch the axes for knives, and trade your horned helmets for bibs and napkins… you’re in for quite the feast.
2. Cafe Ilang-Ilang (Manila Hotel)Average Rating: 4.49
Number of Reviews: 14
For truly special occasions, there’s always Cafe Ilang-Ilang. Located in the historic Manila Hotel (as one reviewer put it, “Yes, THE Manila Hotel… The same hotel that (hosted) The Beatles, Michael Jackson, JFK, and General MacArthur!”), visiting the place is an experience in itself.
The place doesn’t show its age though, especially after its recent makeover. The interiors are luxurious without being tacky, and exude a charm and personality backed by its rich history.
As for the buffet itself, in both quality and service, Cafe Ilang-Ilang sets a standard that is hard to beat. There’s freshly-grilled lobster, oyster rockefeller, and as much meat as any carnivorous diner can handle. While yes, it is a buffet restaurant, servers will go out of their way to bring you food at your request. If fine dining isn’t up your alley, but you still want to impress, this is the place to be.
1. Spiral (Sofitel Manila)Average Rating: 4.67
Number of Reviews: 61
The king of buffet restaurants.
It took more than a year and a whopping $11M, but Spiral’s resurrection has only solidified its place as being the ultimate buffet experience. Covering almost 3,000 square meters of floor space at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, and featuring 21 different Ateliers, you’re basically guaranteed that no craving will go unsatisfied! Even the idea of it can be quite overwhelming.
Spiral screams decadence. After all, the place has an entire room solely dedicated to cheeses and cured meats. If you’re a fan of foie gras, you can have as much as you want (for dinners, at least). Duck, prime rib, lamb, it’s all there. As soon as you’ve had your fill, their Chocolaterie and dessert spread will surely please any sugar-crazed fan. Because yes, the people at Sofitel know… there’s always room for dessert.
Spiral is all about the exorbitance. They’re the largest, most diverse, and unfortunately, probably the most expensive buffet restaurant out there. After all, it ain’t cheap being the best.
So tell us, which of these places are in your crosshairs for your next cheat day?