Starve two days for this buffet
Many diners cannot get enough of a good, sumptuous buffet. They will go without lunch to have that dinner spread.
But in the Philippines, there's an amazing spread which will require you to starve a good two or three days if you want to fully enjoy its offerings.
At first glance (and I could not see everything they had on the tables with just one look), NIU by Vikings looked to be the best buffet spread in South-east Asia.
I am not discounting major foodie nations like China having something better, but I have yet to see anything coming close.
I had heard about this amazing buffet in Manila through friends for a while now, where customers queue over an hour to get in.
At first, I did not know what the fuss was all about. A buffet is a buffet, right?
I also thought I had seen them all.
This Vikings buffet could be the mother of all buffets.
I will give the bill (the price) at the end of this piece. But for now, savour the dishes on offer: wines and cocktails (with whiskey sours and all), foie gras, roast beef, chicken and pork, seafood tempura and garlic crabs, for starters.
I tried to count the number of items on the fancy set up, but gave up after 35. And that was because I was blocked by the hordes that went charging for the food after they had been allotted seats.
"Frankly, I have no idea too," said head chef Kavino Lau about the number of buffet items available.
He's a Hongkonger who has been based in Manila for over 12 years.
"We keep changing the menu every day and after a week, you probably want to come back for a brand new menu," he added with a grin.
If you tally up the food cost, which included Spanish paella, Italian seafood stews, local Filippino fare like sisig (pan seared chopped pig's head), lechon (suckling pig), kare kare (a peanut and fermented shrimp sauce meat stew), it can add up to 50 per cent of the price, way higher than the industry's standard of 33 per cent.
"But not all customers can eat (these items). If you average it out - the kids, cheating weight-watchers, dainty ladies and old folks, it comes back to about 30 per cent, so we're all good," Chef Lau said.
He showed me what else they were capable of churning out in their kitchens for the buffet line.
He whispered to a server and next, a plate of soft beef tenderloin coins, wrapped in roasty bacon with a seared little piece of foie gras showed up.
It was as good as it sounded.
Next, was a seafood dumpling soup with crayfish.
And now the bill: The weekend dinner buffet costs 1,388 pesos (S$41).
NIU by Vikings
at SM Aura Mall
26th Street Corner
Bonifacio Global City , Manila, Philippines.
Makansutra, founded by KF Seetoh, is a company that celebrates asian food culture and lifestyle. It publishes food guides in and around the region, produces a food series, develops interactive mobile content and services, operates foodcourts and eateries, organises food tours and events, and consults on culinary concepts.