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Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Birthday Lunch At Vikings

Having heard praises for its' gustatory lineup, as well as a constant presence in "Best Of" lists of must-try restaurants with a buffet concept, we decided to go to Vikings at the Mall of Asia for Art's birthday. I was forewarned to make a reservation way ahead of the intended day/time, and I am glad I listened, because despite its seemingly sleepy exterior by the bay, we were not prepared for the frenzied pace of activity that awaited us inside.

Batangas Beef with Truffle Sauce

Practically every inch of space was devoted to tables (there were tables very close to one of the buffet areas, the first time I witnessed this level of proximity), and I begin to understand why I have a subset of friends who loathe going to any buffet restaurant: there seemed to be this frenetic pace inflaming the customers to get more, more, more.

In a multicultural spread, I usually opt to start out with Japanese cuisine, as something about it just exudes clean and simple. While they were not reeking with top-of-the-line freshness, my tuna and salmon sashimi were certainly enjoyed, given my bias for them. I added tuna ceviche which was included in its list of appetizers, which I found to be quite palatable.

From there, I headed to Chinese cuisine, which I equate with dumplings. Judging by what was left on the serving wooden baskets, hakaw seemed especially popular (what you see in the picture is all that was left from a container that could probably house 300 of these delectable, translucent pockets of shrimp). I also liked the fusion of the pork dumpling (Chinese) with the nori wrapper (Japanese).

Continuing the Oriental theme, we both had the beef with broccoli as well as a pork dish uniquely named but would be called patatim elsewhere. The beef dish was so-so but the slowly cooked pork was quite lovely in its texture and softness, as well as having a mild flavor that I've come to associate with previous versions I've had.

I proceeded to the grilling station to have some seafoods cooked, but the line for the service was unbelievably long and harried, so I resigned myself to choosing from the already prepared foods, which left some (I don't want to say much) to be desired. None of the skewered meats were memorable, and the seafood combination, while visually appealing, tasted like it was covered in day-old breadcrumbs, steeped in even older, used oil. (I was really not happy with this dish.) Things looked a little better with the Baked Fish, although I would have preferred a stronger flavor. 

I could not even get to half of the dishes that were offered because people were just swarming over the trays like they were on their last meal on death row. I resolved then to just go to the dishes that would colloquially be called linalangaw  (literally, buzzed about by flies) and I ended up with grilled zucchini, their "pizza for the day" (I wasn't too sure what flavor it was) and Batangas beef. I was excited to see it medium rare by default and I haven't had a good hunk of bovine goodness in quite sometime, so this seemed like a good way to remedy that.

That pink-brown spectrum just sets my taste buds aflutter, and I had two servings, one without the truffle sauce (which I found quite tasty). When I looked at the way people were pushing and "navigating" I told Art that I would stay rooted in my chair, which turned out to be a bad decision because by the time I got up to satisfy my sweet tooth, a thousand other people had the exact same idea at the exact same time, and the scene at the savory dishes was only replicated by the dessert display, only in even more harassing a manner because they were only concentrated in one area.

The one dessert that people didn't seem to care for was the frozen yogurt, which I found strange given that so many yogurt-dedicated places have sprung up in our metropolis. Oh, well, more for us, then. 

I suspect that our lack of enthusiasm had much to do with the general atmosphere we experienced at Vikings. We never got to try the caviar that our friend Malyn told us to watch out for, and if there were oysters, they were probably blocked by 50 other people standing around it. 

The one bright spot was that we only paid for one meal, because birthday celebrants automatically eat for free (just present an identification card with your birth date on it). If only we could go on a day more relaxed, we might entertain the idea of returning again. But given the immense popularity of Vikings, that is one ship that I fear has sailed far and wide, never to return.


Vikings - Feast From The Sea
Building B, By The Bay, Seaside Boulevard,
SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City
(02) 8463888

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