With buffet restaurants seemingly popping up at every mall, mall extension and commercial establishment, there is no questioning our love for eating…and eating a lot. What should be asked though is, in the fight for size and price, are we being fed well or just being stuffed senseless?
Even at supposedly premium buffet places, like hotels, quality often takes a back seat to quantity. Focusing on being the biggest and longest, most places end up placing “fillers” in their buffet aisles. It’s as if the chef spreads out everything he knows how to cook and tells the diner to just pick whatever he likes. While an endless array of food may represent value to some, those who really love their food would put a premium on the quality rather than quantity of dishes served.
Cucina at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila takes the guesswork out by offering only the best of the best. From salads, seafood and sushi to cheeses, charcuterie and its carving stations, the chefs of Cucina have done their homework in order to serve their guests a well-curated spread. They have realized the need to not only provide diners with variety, but that part of dining is trusting chefs to be able to pick which items are worth serving and which ones are just a waste of space.
Our trip to Cucina in June coincided with its Filipino food fest. Having gone to a few other places prior, we had the advantage of having tried what other places were offering, too. Admittedly, most hotel buffets serve a lot of the same items, differentiating themselves mostly on size—bigger hotels justify higher prices by serving more, it’s that simple. But our experience at Cucina highlighted an important point that others can learn from, that being better trumps being bigger any day. Fresher salads, fresher sashimi, better cheeses and cured meats that are aged properly and not just salty meat, great entrées served in gorgeous cast iron casseroles, better desserts—all in a size manageable enough for diners to be able to try everything. There are little details in each station that speak to the fact that it tries to make each dish taste good, as opposed to just dazzling the diner with choices: It has slipper lobster at the cold station, Manchego and Roquefort at the cheese and charcuterie, and I also appreciated the pickled produce that serves as palate breaks. It uses croissant in its bread pudding, and it needs to be said that its dessert table has better quality than most, because there is a tendency for buffets to treat desserts as an afterthought. Even the layout of each station, the serving ware used, the décor, all speak of attention to detail and quality of careful thought.
Cucina at Marco Polo Ortigas, Manila offers one of the best dining experiences around. Better food, better choices and better value, what more can diners ask for?
Cucina is on the 24th floor Marco Polo Ortigas, Manila.