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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The 499 Lunch Across CCP

Who knew there would be a quaint place that served good food at a moderate price, right across the country's premier center for culture and the arts? (CCP-Cultural Center of the Philippines)

This is Latitude, in Traders Hotel along Roxas Boulevard in Manila. Please see my previous blogpost for the first part of the review.

After literally taking in the appetizers, we moved on to the main courses. We knew right away that the selection for the main dishes was not extensive - no complaints given the price tag - but we were at least hoping that they would be more than just palatable. The Traders Hotel website describes the buffet to be mainly Filipino, but with some added cuisines. (I'm glad that they were upfront about this. See my previous blogposts on Jeepney Cafe as to why this disclosure is important to me.)

You can't describe a buffet as Filipino without Kare-kare.

I actually liked the sauce, and Art said it was great, although I found mine to be a little tough. I must have gotten an aberrant part because Art went back for seconds and he won't tolerate anything being overcooked.

Next to it was Sweet and Sour chicken, which is supposedly a Western take on Chinese food. Nonetheless, it isn't a Filipino dish, so at least they weren't embellishing when they said they had other cuisines. The chicken was tender with a crispy coating, and the sauce was not that sweet, which some people may not like, but I prefer it that way.

This was the one dish I really went back for seconds: Baby Back Ribs. The marinade was enticingly smoky and the meat was succulent, and no burnt aftertaste, just that right hit of "barbecue-ness". I can't remember the last time I had this dish...that's right, I don't like this dish. But I went back for seconds in Latitude's version. (I still hate the fact that I had to spit out bones after each bite of ribs, but it was worth it.)

Their version of Bicol Express was really spicy - I suggest pairing this with rice to alleviate some of the spicy effects. Not too remarkable other than the spiciness.

Local fish known as hito, deep fried. I have never tried this and I still didn't. It turns out, this is one of the few Filipino dishes that Arthur hates so we both can't tell if this was done well.

This was my other favorite dish from the main courses: Sole in Garlic Butter, topped with Garlic Bits. It's Sole. Garlic. Butter. I don't think this warrants any more explanations or qualifiers. An enjoyable dish to have, just don't get the portions that are at the bottom (practically sinking in butter).

Cheese-filled cannelloni. Lately, due to the "demonizing" of carbohydrates in popular media, I have tended to take less of anyone hawking them. This carbohydrate dish was actually great tasting, if I wasn't so darned stuffed from all the salad I had taken already.

Vegetarians, fear not: This spread takes care of you. Aside from the salad, they offered at least three different dishes that would cater to this particular segment of the dining public. I did not care for the zucchini - it tasted rather bland - but the chunky chopsuey was really something, aside from the flavors, it had texture and was actually filling.

Aside from white rice, they also offered the fried variety, which tasted just a step up from generic. I only tried one spoonful as this would not be something you come back for.

I do not have pictures of their other Chinese selections, which included a meat filled pork bun (siopao), as well as two dimsum choices: Spare ribs and chicken feet. The chicken feet was really good, it reminded me of how Summer Palace prepares it. (Arthur didn't bother trying as he is grossed out by it, period.) He did, however, sample the spare ribs dimsum I had and went back to get his own serving.

They had a single pizza, and because I am not using a high end camera, do forgive the picture's quality.

The pizza looks better live, I assure you. But skip the pizza, you won't miss it. (Neither will your waistline.)

Did I mention that we haven't even tackled desserts? The closing entry for this spread will be in the next post.

So, yes, at 499, this buffet spread satifies both the palate and the wallet.

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