I have a love-hate relationships with buffets. I love them, but I hate myself afterwards. But hey, I insist on abusing my body at buffets, so that’s the price to pay the piper. Anyway, I consider myself a sort of buffet
connesu- conniues- expert. I eat at a lot of buffets, and I eat at them often1. However, Circles at Makati Shang has always been a little too steep (P1,671.00 or $37.10 net for Monday-Saturday lunch) for my price range. So when they offered vouchers for buy-1-take-1 dinner buffets, I was pretty excited to see what the fuss was all about.
First up, the cold cuts. I’m not big on cold cuts and cured meat. I always wonder, “What’s wrong with the meat that it had to be cured?” A little food blogger humor there. Lester, on the other hand, is a big cold cuts guy. Let’s just say he said “Wow.” a lot. I’ll never understand that guy, but let’s assume that the cold cuts and the cured meats were great.
I immediately looked for the prawns and the crustaceans. Most people who go to buffets gorge themselves on the prime rib roast, and that isn’t a bad thing. The delights of roast beef are well-documented, and a good prime rib roast deserves to be the centerpiece of any spread. However, to get your money’s worth, you’ve got to go for the seafood. Circles doesn’t disappoint with a pretty good selection of prawns. Not as fresh as I would’ve liked, but not bad at all.
Up next, the Chinese station. I don’t really know how to write about this thing. Every time I went to get some siomai or spareribs or hakao, there was none to be had. It was weird because I saw waiters carrying trays of food to the station. Every time I got there, though, there was nothing! Eventually, I was able to steal a few dumplings to taste. I didn’t see what the big deal was. Tasted like normal, regular Chinese dimsum to me. Right next to it, the Indian station. Again, we turn to Lester, who was satisfied with the spread. I’m not much for Indian cuisine. It just smells a little too Indian for me.
Now we have something more my speed, the Japanese station! The sashimi was… OK. If you’ve ever eaten really good sashimi, you’ll never be able to go back to the regular stuff. Fresh sashimi smells like the ocean. There is no fish smell, there is no slimy component to it. The fish is fresh and firm, like it came straight from the sea. The sashimi they served wasn’t bad, not at all, but it doesn’t measure up to the golden standard we look for in fresh sashimi. Not bad, not great. Just OK.
The ebi tempura, though, that was something else. The batter was light, crisp, flavorful. The prawn was cooked through, and it just tasted really, REALLY good. I wish there were some other way to say it, but that’s what it was.
Like most buffets, Circles has a pasta station. My personal theory on this is that carbohydrates are cheap. Breads, grains, pastas, all that stuff doesn’t cost a lot, and it fills you up, fast. Hey, the more carbonara you eat, the less crustaceans you’ll be filling up on, right? Anyway, the pasta station was manned by a female cook who looked like she weighed less than my right leg. She looked pretty overwhelmed by all the orders2, and probably wasn’t able to pay as much attention to cooking our food as she would have liked. That being said, the pastas came out just OK. Nothing spectacular, but just OK. Some of us had white sauce, while others had red sauce.
Now, the piece de resistance. The crowning glory. The main event. The prime rib roast. I love a good prime rib roast, and I mean it. I’m using the word love here, for a piece of cow meat, crispy on the outside with salt and caramelization and rosemary, while red and pink and tender on the inside. I always have very high expectations for prime rib roasts, expectations that are rarely met. I approached the steak. It was pink, which was good. There was decent marbling, which was good. But it looked like it had been left in the oven maybe just a few minutes too long. Which trepidation, I sliced off a small piece and popped it into my mouth. Success. The beef was tender, it was moist, it was delicious.
It looked lonely, so I got some roast lab and potato wedges to go with it. Perfect. They were like old friends on my plate, happy to be there, ready to bring me to epicurean paradise. And they did.
After the meal, Lester suggested dessert, which I didn’t have any of. I’d just eaten caveman serving of still bloody red meat. I had a reputation to protect, but here are the photos for all the ladies out there. Of the desserts, not myself.
Overall, Circles at Makati Shangri-La is a decent buffet place. Will it usurp Sofitel’s Spiral as the premiere buffet destination in Metro Manila? No. Would it be worth it without the 50% discount? No, but what buffet is? But it’s a good selection of good food, which a few exceptional standouts in the prime rib roast and the Japanese selection.