A couple of weeks ago, we had lunch at The Manila Hotel’s Cafe Ilang-Ilang. It is one of my favorite hotel buffets and our default place to go because:
- the food is good with a varied selection, they have several food stations
- either we, or someone we know, has a Prestige card so we get discounts,
- parking is easy, and
- it has a central location that’s accessible to most of my friends / family
My family has been going to The Manila Hotel for decades. I still remember attending debutante balls there, and I also remember when the hotel kind of went into a slump, and then around 4 or 5 years ago, I witnessed its transformation into a reinvigorated, happenin’ place again.
After that rejuvenation a few years ago, The Manila Hotel is now embarking on another update. Have you seen their new, modern logo? I don’t mind the modernization, it seems that The Manila Hotel is very mindful of keeping its historic charm and I’m certain that that old world class is safe.
Anyway, let me go ahead and share my latest experience at Cafe Ilang-Ilang’s lunch buffet!
Here’s the Salad Station:
Here’s the Seafood Station right beside it. You can ask the chefs to cook the seafood – you can have the seafood broiled with cheese, etc…
On the other side of the Salad Station are the cocktails and cold meats:
There’s smoked salmon, beef wellington, duck pate, seafood terrine, etc…! I wish I had the stomach capacity to try them all. The smoked salmon is best with some lemon and capers.
Next is the Bread & Cheese Station. They look so tempting, but I had to pick my battles!
Here’s the Grilling Station where you can ask the chef to grill some meat for you. You can specify if you want it rare, medium, well done, etc… That day, they had Baby Back Ribs and Roast Beef available. They can also grill seafood for you, and I asked for some grilled lapu-lapu! There are many sauces available, but my favorites are the chimichurri and the grilled pineapple.
They also have Indian and Persian food, and certified Halal food!
Here’s one of favorites, Mutton Rogan Josh (Goat Meat):
They also have Mattar Paneer (another one of my favorite Indian dishes), Samosas, etc..
On the other side of the Indian food, there’s a Shawarma Station!
Something new is the Burrito Station:
They also have Filipino, Chinese, Thai & Korean Stations:
The rolled Peking Duck did not have any green onions. Without green onions, it seemed a bit lacking. There was no fresh, crisp, sharp contrast to the duck and the hoisin sauce. If I had more time and more tummy space, I would have gone back and requested for another roll, this time making sure it had some green onions But that’s the beauty of Cafe Ilang-Ilang’s buffet, as long as they have the ingredients, and it’s within reason, they can usually accommodate requests.
They have US Roast Striploin!
If you are looking to try venison, they have it here, too!
Here is another favorite, the Japanese Station:
The sushi and tempura are very popular! They have various kinds of sushi and tempura.
They also have cold soba. Here is my small bowl of soba with tempura and tamago.
Saving the best for last, here is my favorite station, the Italian Station! I love this because I can ask them to cook some mushroom risotto and request for some truffle oil to be added, and I was so happy that day because they had fresh ravioli! I know some of the other food is pricier and should be given buffet priority, but the fresh spinach ravioli is my favorite and I can happily eat several servings!
The Italian Station has pizzas and antipasto:
And now, on to everyone’s favorite, DESSERT!
You’ll want to spend some time lingering on dessert. Not only does Cafe Ilang-Ilang have a variety of cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, etc… they also have macarons now! Can I just spend forever here? Unlimited macarons, FTW!
I think they also have Sugar-Free options, but I seem to have missed taking pictures of them.
There’s bibingka & puto bumbong, too!
And here’s where you can request for some crepes:
They also have ice cream. Their ice creams are good!
I really wish I can eat as much as I want without any consequences! But, I have to pick my desserts so I ended up with these. I liked the mille-feuile (the crispy, multi-layered custard cream cake on the right side of the macarons). I can’t get enough of the macarons, of course!
Here are some fruits if you want to pretend to eat healthy I like that they also included some grapefruit and dragonfruit. You know, the diet/healthy fruits It’s all good. Fruits provide fiber and they could help you avoid getting indigestion. We should always aim to have several servings of fruit every day.
QUALITY OF FOOD & SERVICE
Cafe Ilang-Ilang maintains the level of quality that I’ve come to expect of it’s food. There are so many different dishes that it’s going to be difficult to describe how each one tastes. I’ve been coming here a few times a year, every year, in recent memory, and it has never failed me.
If ever there is any concern, all you have to do is ask the staff. They have always been very helpful. I really like the a la minute stations where they cook what you want to order, you can even tell them to drown your pasta in butter, if you so desire sometimes I just tell them I want something with cream and ask them to surprise me! It always turns out well. Want it spicy? Tell the chef. A creamy, mushroom/truffle risotto used to be my favorite thing to ask for, but now I think it’s been supplanted by the ravioli! And keep that grilled lapu-lapu and grilled salmon coming!
I like to pretend I’m a judge on one of the food shows like Iron Chef, hahaha! So many chefs cooking me what I want to eat! I’m happy!
Unlimited coffee and tea is included with the buffet. I like having hot tea during the buffet (helps with digestion?), and then switching to coffee with dessert.
BUFFET PRICE & PROMOS
One of the reasons we also like The Manila Hotel is because they know how to treat senior citizens right! My dad and his buddies love coming here for breakfast. Senior citizens get 50% OFF on weekends!
Here are the buffet prices and the buffet schedule:
Breakfast P1,450 net
Lunch P2,150 net
Dinner P2,450 net
Sunday Brunch P2,400 net
Thursday Surf & Turf P2,950 net
Friday Seafood Night P2,950 net
Open Daily 6:00 AM – 10:30 PM
For inquiries & reservation, call 527-0011 local 1261
If you go to Cafe Ilang-Ilang, you must be prepared to feast. There are many food stations, but it’s not overwhelming. After not having been back for a few months, I’m glad to see that they have made some improvements and additions, like adding a Burrito station, a Shawarma station, having fresh ravioli, and adding more dessert options like macarons!
The best advice to tackle buffets is this: pick your battles! We can’t eat everything we want. We will try our best, though. Take a look around, make note of things you want to try or eat, and pare them down to what you can reasonably eat. Get very small portions of each dish, and just go back for your favorites if you still have room.
For me, it’s not about eating the most expensive food like the beef, salmon, the lobsters, etc… I tend to focus on food that is difficult/uncommon/pricey for me to find elsewhere. And I really do love those “cook-to-order” stations.
The choices available at Cafe Ilang-Ilang make it so hard to choose! Or you can just promise yourself that you will come back for those dishes that you missed trying!
If you have become a fan of The Manila Hotel, I really suggest checking out their Prestige membership to get discounts and privileges, like regularly getting up to 50% OFF on this buffet!
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The Barat Queen
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