A contender for the most underrated hotel buffet in Manila has got to be the Cafe Ilang Ilang, the all-day dining restaurant inside Manila Hotel along Roxas Boulevard. Though a deserving 5-star hotel buffet in its own right, it doesn’t get as much buzz as Makati or Ortigas hotels. During my staycation at Manila Hotel, I finally got to try out the dinner buffet at Cafe Ilang Ilang. Here is what to expect.
Entering the restaurant for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to see modern and almost hipster-looking decor. It’s certainly not what I had in mind for a traditional sounding name like Cafe Ilang Ilang.
The buffet here is one of the most extensive in Manila in terms of cuisine. During my dinner, there were sections catering to the following cuisines – Chinese, Western, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Indian, Thai and Italian. It would probably be impossible to sample everything unless you have an unusually large appetite. In my case, I concentrated on the Japanese, Filipino and Western dishes.
To whet the appetite, the all-day dining restaurant features a large selection of photogenic canapes – an unusual inclusion for buffets. Although nice to look at and easy on the tummy, one should probably concentrate on the hot dishes to make the most out of the buffet experience here.
Of particular note in Cafe Ilang Ilang’s buffet is the Filipino section. I encountered more Filipino dishes here than in other hotels buffets I’ve tried, with the selection extending to desserts. During my meal there, I spotted Rebosadong Sugpo – a rarely featured Filipino dish.
The Japanese section is quite extensive and was probably what I enjoyed the most. There are the usual sashimi and tempura but a highlight would be the various specialty rolls on offer. There were at least half a dozen types when I had a look!
For meat lovers, the Korean section does not disappoint. I had my fill of Bulgogi Beef there as well as my perennial favorite, Chap Chae or Korean Glass Noodles. Alternatively, there is also a carving station which has lamb, roast beef and baby back ribs. Of these, my favorite was the lamb rack which was juicy and tender despite being served en masse in a buffet setting.
While there are literally dozens if not hundreds of hot items in the Cafe Ilang Ilang buffet, the highlight has got to be the dessert station. There are so many kinds of desserts here that it can probably qualify as a buffet of its own! The hotel just hired a new award-winning pastry chef, Jerome Benda, who used to serve the royal family of Morocco and many of the dessert items have been revamped since he came in.
What I like about the pastries at Cafe Ilang Ilang’s buffet, apart from the variety, is that they’re made from natural ingredients so the quality is really evident.
While the ube or purple yam desserts here are not to be missed, the western desserts also deserve a mention. Of these, my favorites were the fruit tart and macarons – of which there are at least 6 flavors.
The wide selection at Cafe Ilang Ilang is bound to appeal even to non buffet lovers. There’s at least a few things that one is bound to like- whether it be the oven-baked pizzas or the sushi or even the spicy Thai dishes. Prior to coming here, I’ve always thought that Makati Shangri-la’s Circles had the longest buffet. Now I’m reconsidering.
Cafe Ilang Ilang Buffet Prices:
Monday to Saturday:
Regular Lunch Buffet Adult – PHP 2,150.00 NET (PHP 1,747.98+++) Sunday
Sunday Brunch Buffet Adult – PHP 2,400.00 NET (PHP 1,951.22+++)
Saturday to Wednesday
Regular Dinner Buffet Adult – PHP 2,450.00 NET (PHP 1,991.87+++)
Thursday and Friday
Special Dinner Buffet Adult – PHP 2,950.00 NET (PHP 2,398.37+++)
Cafe Ilang Ilang
One Rizal Park
Roxas Boulevard, Manila
Tel: +632 5270011