Like a circle in a Spiral

1 05 2011

My first seafood plate, Spiral at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel

I’M NOT about to burst into song.  But that line played on and on in my head while I negotiated the dizzying array of cuisines spread out at Spiral, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s international buffet.  Never ending or beginningOn an ever-spinning wheel.

And I said I wasn’t to burst into song.

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel


I love how this part of the hotel is covered in greenery.


This way to Spiral!

I’ve long been meaning to pay this much-talked-about buffet – which I used to almost always call Spirals – a visit.  But everything had been nothing but a series of close calls.  I’d see the restaurant signage, acknowledge the use of a simple font in a calming shade of green, stark against the backdrop of a metallic tablet finished in matte gray.  Then my party-organizing or emceeing duties would call me to the nearby ballroom.

But last Tuesday night – coming all the way from way south of the city – all roads led to Sofitel.  And all excited, hurried steps from the parking were radar-locked to Spiral.

Finally... Spiral!

It was a special gathering as we were there to properly send a couple of my colleagues off to their new and exciting careers in Singapore.  One of them has been one of the most dependable and trustworthy engineers I have ever had in my team, not to mention a great friend of long-standing, enough to earn the monicker “The Tycoon.”  Yes, he is my MSNBC/Wall Street Journal business analyst and panel resource person incarnate.  But he is as “real” as it gets – suffering through my subtle snoring in the moviehouse, right smack at the middle of the action scenes in Transformers, and at one point, tolerating to a fault when he agreed to see that “Yaya and Angelina” movie (not my choice though!).

For someone as unique and special as he is, only the best options for dinner would do.  As a group, we’ve done the rounds, running a gamut of price points and dress codes – but never a buffet.  So for this send-off dinner, we realized only Spiral would do.

Ready for the buffet!


Attacking the (iced) seafood spread.


The cutlery were quite heavy, substantial stainless steel with silhouettes that allude to the restaurant's name.


Gotta love the stylish place setting.


"A spiral runs through it." My drinking glass.

When it comes to buffets – a couple of memorable ones being Paseo Uno at the Mandarin Oriental in Makati, and recently Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts in Singapore – I’ve imposed a personal injuction:  “eNTeNG, don’t stuff yourself like crazy.”  And that was exactly what I did.

So I limited myself to just five – may I say, “moderate” – rounds.  The first three were seafood, then followed by a couple of soups – tom yum goong (Thai hot and sour soup with shrimps) and Hong Kong noodle soup.  I totally snubbed the dessert spread, save for what I highly suspected as homemade coffee ice cream.  Not that they weren’t any good because they sure looked so tempestuously tempting.  I just didn’t espy any French macarons.  Those sure could make me lose whatever remaining sense of propriety I had.

The tom yum goong was a bit of a disappointment.  It tasted really authentic, actually bringing me back to meals I had at the Bangkok International Airport and at this huge seafood restaurant at Batu Ferringhi in Malaysia, but the shrimps were just so overcooked.  They must’ve been literally boiling to death in the claypot for hours.  But the broth was true to the classic tom yum, laced with roasted chilis in oil for that Southern Thailand kick.

I caution to call my first three rounds as “sashimi plates”.  I think that only the three thick slices of Norwegian pink salmon had relation to that reality.  All the others were some kind of steamed or poached – curacha (spanner crab), local lobster (called in the vernacular as “banagan”), shrimps, crabstick, and mussels on the half shell.

“These mussels don’t look local, most likely Australian,”  I thought to myself just when a wait staff passed by, stopping to replenish the curacha.  “Are the seafood from Capiz?”  I blurted out.  He gave me that deer-caught-in-the-headlights look.  I smiled and turned away.

On my plate: three thick slices of salmon sashimi, three shrimps, half a lobster ("banagan"), seven crabsticks, half a curacha (spanner crab), two mussels on the half shell, and three wedges of lemon.


The hollow that remained. This local lobster was so sweet!


I call this my sashimi plate. Eight slices of crabstick, three thick slices of salmon, three slices of tamago, five shrimps, and what was left of a pile of lapu-lapu (grouper) sashimi I had started to devour before realizing I forgot to take a photo.


Tom Yum Goong


My Hong Kong noodle soup only had noodles, Taiwan pechay, and onion leeks in the clear broth.

Buffet dinner at Spiral at Sofitel doesn’t come cheap.  We went on a Tuesday night which goes for the “Sun – Thur Dinner” rate of Php 1888.00 per head.  Good thing we came armed with the Accor Advantage card that slashed 25% off the buffet dinner rate and another 15% off the drinks, which, at Php 260.00 for my Drink of the Month – a heavenly blend of fresh bananas, ripe mangoes, and lychees – wasn’t exactly cheap as well.  If that long-running joke were true, then we probably paid for the ambiance.  We were, after all, seated at a recessed area of the restaurant, almost like our own dining room.  We had a long oblong-ish table framed on one side by a floor-to-ceiling china cabinet and on the other by the glass windows of the Thai exhibition kitchen.  Above the head of the table hung an expensive-looking artwork.  So the cost of the dinner probably accounted for the ambiance.

Dinner didn't come cheap... but so worth every peso!

But as it has always been my belief, we should never put a price tag on certain things – family, friendships and food, foremost of all – so when I looked down on the right pocket of my worn-out years-old gray jeans, I didn’t mind that it was threatening to burst at the seams from the cash I had to withdraw for my share of the bill.  The Tycoon, Dennis, Iron Man, and myself took care of this evening out.

And all the servers who stopped by and bussed our dinner table likewise took really good care of us.  The last one actually was hovering in the corner, waiting for that perfect timing to offer coffee or tea.  I asked for coffee to cap off another wonderful night out with the boss, colleagues and friends.

I wish I could go on and on with the buffet.  But I was no wheel within a wheel.  I guess I will just have to return to Spiral soon enough.

Coffee Ice Cream


Drinl of the Month, a smoothie of fresh bananas, ripe mangoes, and lychees. This made me a smoothie convert!


One of my few talents... Tying a cherry stem in my mouth, in less than 10 seconds! You know what they say about people who can do that. Hahaha!


Having my coffee ice cream in front of the restaurant's simulated waterfall.


Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.



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