Cucina at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila has been known to innovate every couple of months with fresh ideas in their food line-up. Although typically known for its excellent buffet selections, the all-day dining restaurant recently released a set of signature fruit-based set menus that take pride in the country’s natural bounties. A collaboration between the different Marco Polo Hotels in the Philippines, these new set menus are based on famous fruits located in the three main island groups in the country. For Luzon, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila contributes the Piňa Mania, a pineapple centric menu. For Visayas, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu debuts the signature Mango Bango. Lastly, Marco Polo Davao brings in Oh! Pomelo which is inspired by the citrus fruit.
During a recent media invite, I was fortunate enough to try the Piňa Mania and the Mango Bango set menus. From the plating alone, there is a distinct difference between the two selections. Piňa Mania uses leaves for its plating, catering to a more traditional style but with a twist. Mango Bango on the other hand looks more western in presentation.
The Piňa Mania starts with Grilled Tiger Prawns with Pineapple-Mango Salad and Tamarind Vinaigrette Dressing. With the tiger prawns grilled to perfection, the texture and flavor comes out naturally. The addition of pineapple and mango makes the salad refreshing while the Tamarind Vinaigrette balances everything out perfectly.
One of most popular and “deadly” (known for being high in fat and cholesterol) Filipino dishes, Crispy Pata is served as our main entrée. Far from the traditional crispy pata, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila’s version makes it even more deadly and flavorful by adding Foie Gras as a stuffing. Instead of using the traditional vinegar and soy sauce dip, it is complimented with a Pineapple Salsa to balance it out. Cooked perfectly, the pork skin and the foie gras are crunchy in texture while the meat remains tender. Did I forget to mention that it is boneless? Definitely a must try.
For a perfect sweet ending, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila creates Pineapple Tamale, a pastry crust filled with a wonderful pineapple filling and shaved coconut, served with mango custard and minted coconut jelly on the side. The pastry is made just right, and not too brittle. The fruity mixture complements one another and is something to consider.
For the Mango Bango, the first course is the Pasta Ravioli with Crabmeat and Mango. If you’re wondering what it tastes like, it is served al dente with a burst of contrasting flavors inside your mouth. The mango gives the sweet addition to the tomato sauce. The ravioli is bite sized, giving your mouth a taste of the crab meat all at once.
For main course, we have the Mango Surf and Turf. Panfried to medium rare, the tenderness of the beef is apparent in the first slice. The mashed potato is whisked and seasoned flawlessly. Grouper fish or locally called Lapu Lapu is cooked with a slightly crunchy skin with mangoes on top and kangkong adobo on the bottom. Definitely worth it for the taste and the filling factor.
Save the best for last. On paper, the Cheesecake & Mango Jam Crème Brulee already seems a handful. To actually see and eat it is simply a delightful experience. The crème brulee is slightly burnt on top but soft in the inside. With the addition of the cheesecake with strawberries and mangoes, it ends the meal on a satisfying high note. If these won’t satisfy your cravings, then nothing will.
While the focus is on food, the drinks aren’t left out in this innovative fruit-based menu. Having had an iced tea contest between Marco Polo Hotels before ultimately deciding the drink to serve, the Signature Earl Grape Iced Tea emerged as the winner. It’s certainly not your typical iced tea as it has frozen Elderflower and earl grey tea cubes inside the drink. This prevents the taste from being diluted despite the melting of the ice and keeps the drink cool and refreshing at the same time. It has grapes inside and is served with Turkish delight. Try it and judge for yourself. Just staring inside your glass is satisfying enough.
Cucina is Marco Polo Ortigas Manila’s all-day dining restaurant. Open daily for lunch from 12 noon until 2:30 in the afternoon, dinner from 6 until 10:30 in the evening.
Buffet price starts at 1,100 pesos net per person, children 6 and below are free, children 7 to 12 years old are half priced.
Mango Bango is only available this July while Piňa Mania is available this July and August. Oh! Pomelo will be made available in August. Set Menu for eat Fruity Flavors is priced 1,680 pesos net per person.
Contributed by Lawrence Ong