Taste the f*cking food! We’re not just any buffet place.
The head chef’s commanding voice echoed through the unoccupied hall as he briefed tens of subordinates for The Food Club’s second opening night. That comment made me stop, not because of the expletive, but because if the staff is that adamant about food quality, it surely meant we were in for a treat.
Meanwhile, we – I and five other handpicked lifestyle bloggers – heaved a collective sigh as we flicked away our cameras. The Food Club’s interior is nothing short of mesmerizing. The extensive buffet stations, the bonsais, the bubble chandeliers, the glittery centerpieces, the Zen-inspired dividers and floors. It sparkles and awes. The kind of sparkle that would wow a woman on a first date.
Really, the head chef ain’t kiddin’. The Food Club isn’t just any buffet place. This 400-seater (or so) buffet installment in the Blue Baywalk Complex (or what we oldies used to call Blue Wave) in Macapagal Avenue is is the newest addition to the burgeoning ranks of luxury buffets. Put together luxury and buffet and who in their right minds would resist?
|The Food Club is across the street from the Blue Wave Complex.|
Being that it boasts luxury as a selling point, I was expecting a lot in terms of the taste. Of course, presentation matters and certainly they didn’t underperform in that. Stations were placed strategically and in the right appropriations. In the middle, the dessert and candy station. Next to it, a cold station that features cold appetizers and a bevy of sushi rolls, cheeses and salads.
There are also sections for Oriental/ Asian cuisines (a nice mix of Indian/Pakistani, Japanese, Chinese and Filipino), Western/ European, and Mexican- which is limited to self-made tacos and nachos – all surrounding the two central stalls.
Cold station and salads
The cold station showcases a variety of fresh catch including lobsters, shrimps, oysters, mussels plus sashimi. This section alone could make up for your money’s worth. You could request for them to be cooked whichever way you like, though many prefer to have the crustaceans sauteed in butter.
The Food Club’s sushi selection is exciting, but Vikings still tops my book when it comes to sushi. Nonetheless, theirs is decent and worth a try.
There are at least three salads to partake, all excellent starters. My vote goes to the the chicken and grapes salad though, which is perhaps one of the best salads I’ve ever had.
Oh and don’t forget the yummy spring rolls and fish cake. Loved those too.
Breads and Soup
I try to stay away from carbs when I go to buffets, so I didn’t eat any of the breads, but there are plenty. Looks fun too when others reheat theirs with select cheese on top.
Soup of the day was pumpkin soup (not sure if it is every day), a rather gritty and bland one. Guess I was just expecting something like Punta Fuego‘s version, which is downright smooth you could finish an entire shooter in a second.
Focusing on Japanese and Chinese specialties, this station boasts restaurant favorites like dimsum and duck, plus some exotic finds like strings of marinaded jelly fish. Hakaw, tender shrimp wrapped in a soft, glutinous shell, seems to be a crowd favorite. It runs out pretty fast and often you need to take a number and have it delivered to your table.
The ebi tempura is one of the top dogs, along with the hakaw, lechon kawali, the cold station and desserts. Every plate in that area was wiped out like mad ALL THE TIME despite frequent replenishment – and understandably so. The meat is soft, the batter neither too thick or too thin, yet crisp and tasty.
Filipino and Other Asian cuisines
One of the things I like about The Food Club is that despite being predominantly Western, it takes regional Filipino specialties front and center. Among them are beef caldereta, ginataang tuna, Lapu-Lapu fish fillet, pinakbet (topped with crispy lechon kawali slices, yay!), and lechon kawali.
Now those last two you should really try. The lechon kawali itself should be part of the carving station along with the lamb and beef. Well-seasoned meat and brittle skin that breaks into splinters when you bite – surely things to love in lechon kawali, yes?
A flurry of other Asian dishes are on the counter as well. Aloo gobi, pork loin and grilled blue marlin in teriyaki sauce. If you ain’t a lover of sweet sauces, those two are pretty good.
Basically this section offers four, five Western dishes, two of which are made of beef (one was a stew). Sadly, despite the upscale taste, the beef dishes are rubbery. For the chicken, they had chicken cacciatore and baked chicken, the latter swathed in a heartwarming butter-cheese-cream mix.
European cuisine is Italian-centric, consisting of pizza and pasta. Six sauces are available for choosing. Guests pick the pasta and sauce, obtain a queue card, and have the pasta delivered to their table. Mine, a just okay penne in alfredo, took quite some time to arrive.
My assumption is that the carving station is the star of any buffet, or at least one of the main ones. So while I appreciate the prime beef and the lamb (which surprisingly is quite enjoyable considering I HATE lamb), I do hope they implement improvements in terms of the warmth (for both lamb and beef) for they were verging on cold; and on the flavor and tenderness (for the beef). Much of it was on the medium rare side and quite insipid and tough to chew on. The peppercorn sauce needs to be improved too (too thick and the pepper, still raw).
I did enjoy the desserts though particularly the petit fours. Be sure to grab the chocolate cake and mango shortcake. They aren’t too sweet but they do retain that toothsome, decadent flavor for all ye sweet-toothed devils.
|Oh my sweet babies. Lovely petit fours. Chocolate, lemon and tiramisu.|
|There’s Pinoy kakanin too!|
If you aren’t up for cakes, there’s crepe (made upon ordering), fruit jelly, dessert shooters (mango and strawberry panacotta), ice cream, a chocolate fountain, and mocha creme brulee, which is just to die for. I would take home another spoon of that if it were possible.
|Fruit jelly, mocha creme brulee and dessert shooters.|
The fruit-topped meringue is one to love. Works if you hate the toothache-inducing sweet kind. It is airy, flaky and flirtatious.
On the far end of the station are drinks, which are pretty much the same as those available in Vikings. There are four kinds of juices (cranberry, mango, orange, pineapple), iced tea, coffee, and various Dilmah teas. I wish they didn’t separate that station from the soda refilling station though (it was next to the Asian station), but that’s just the anal in me talking.
Eating out at The Food Club’s as costly as doing so at Vikings. They impose cash-only transactions and a 5% service charge, both of which I hope they scrap off ’cause they’re a pain. They do have a 50% introductory promo though until tomorrow in light of their grand opening. Below are the updated prices:
*Lunch – P800.00 + 5% service charge
*Dinner – P1,000.00 + 5% service charge
*Kids above 3.5 ft. – P580.00 + 5% service charge
**Kids 3.5 ft. and below – FREE
Fridays – Sundays:
*Lunch / Dinner – P1,188.00 + 5% service charge
*Kids above 3.5 ft. – P600.00 + 5% service charge
**Kids 3.5 ft. and below – FREE
If The Food Club is to seriously compete with major league players like Buffet 101 and Vikings, they might have some catching up to do. But the potential is there. Service is friendly and swift most times though slower in a few like the pasta, dimsum, and tempura. It’s apparent the chefs are easily rattled (thus the occasional delays), but they are so accommodating and nice. Dishes can still be improved (the carving station, most especially) and expanded.
Granted that we visited on their second opening day (opened January 24, will officially kick off tomorrow, January 30th), it was a good enough start. I mean, the place was packed with scores of guests within 15 minutes from opening and that says a lot about their marketing team and consumer expectations. And if they would have that head chef in the long term who’ll always remind them to taste the f*cking food, I am sure they can make it up there with the top dogs.