No other restaurant I have dined at has managed to make me think that they could improve so much with just a few simple adjustments except for Nowana U&I.
Yesterday, we planned to have a dessert buffet at Love Desserts (P199 dessert buffet) in Banawe, but were put off because of the general feel of the place and because we were 12th on the waiting list! The place was very crowded – they had even set up chairs and tables right outside the shop.
So we decided to go somewhere else. J wanted to go back to Sodam in Greenhills, while I wanted to try this similar Korean restaurant that I had been seeing selling vouchers at the online deal sites. The name of the restaurant was Nowana U&I. I was just using my phone for internet so I just did a quick check of its Facebook page – the pics looked good, so off we went.
Nowana is located on the second floor of a house converted into several restaurants. It is along Mother Ignacia Ave. near Leann’s Tea House, just a few blocks from Timog Ave. The dinner buffet is priced at P499, but they have a promo where if you Like their Facebook page & Share their promo, you get a P150 discount – our buffet dinner was now only P349/person.
I apologize in advance for the poor pictures. Somehow all my pictures ended up blurry and I had very few usable pics.
When we arrived, I was a bit taken aback by the ambience. It was like a bad party. First, the buffet table was decorated like it was for some debut, the music playing was Hip-Hop, and there was a green and red disco light thing flashing onto the food!
Please don’t play HIP-HOP, Hip-Hop! at a Korean restaurant! Maybe they should consider playing some K-pop instead?
And please don’t flash multi-colored rave lighting onto your food. I think they meant for it to “highlight” the food, but it really detracted, nay, distracted, from the food.
The chairs, the walls, the posters of the food – they were okay, the place looked newly renovated, but I just couldn’t get past the BAD PARTY atmosphere. It looks okay in pictures because the camera couldn’t capture the flashing green & red lights, and you can’t hear the HIP-HOP.
Knowing the price of their buffet, I wasn’t expecting a high-class ambience, but this is unsettling. Just don’t play music at all, or play some K-pop instead if you must. Remove that red & green disco light, and stick with the classic white, or red & white table cloths for the buffet table.
WE CAN’T GRILL MEATS
To be fair, you do get a lot for P349 – you can get your fill of the buffet dishes, you get shabu-shabu, and you also get grilled meats. For the beef – they use Angus beef! So that’s a plus.
However, WE COULDN’T GRILL OUR OWN MEATS!
They set up a small stove with a small wok and filled it with soup for the shabu-shabu, but customers are not allowed to grill. Something about ruining the ceiling or something. So all the grilling was to be done by the staff outside on the balcony. We asked if we could stay on one of the tables out on the balcony if that meant we could grill our own meats, but they refused.
Okay, this was a letdown, but having all the customers’ meats grilled by the staff caused delays. It took a very loooong time for grilled meat refills. We were there mostly for the grilled meats and there were long lulls during our meal when we were just waiting for grilled meat refills, maybe 15-20 minutes each time.
If they had just let us grill our own meat, this wouldn’t be a problem.
Our orders of Grilled Meats:
Then they also ran out of Angus beef cubes. But, but.. we were only the second customers to arrive at the restaurant! How could they run out of the beef already?
But again, to be fair, the grilled pork (samgyeopsal) was grilled very well by the staff – crispy but not dry.
The buffet spread was rather small and half of it was dedicated to shabu-shabu. You can get your fill of tofu, noodles, fish balls, corn, vegetables, etc… for your shabu-shabu. They also have various kimchi and lettuce.
The spread also has some fried rice, fish sticks, pork chop, beef with broccoli, and tempura. Their tempura is freshly fried – it’s actually not bad and worth eating while waiting for meat refills.
They also have a kimchi dish, some chap chae (Korean noodles), and a meat stew.
There is definitely room for improvement for Nowana U&I. However, if you don’t mind the party atmosphere and don’t mind not being able to grill your own meat (and have lots of patience), their buffet is very sulit. With the Facebook promo, their lunch buffet is only P209!
The food is okay – I have no complaints. I liked the tempura and the chap chae. The grilled pork slices were quite good! And they really use Angus beef – maybe not the most expensive kind or the best cuts, but more than acceptable for the price of the buffet.
Service – the staff were nice & attentive, and I found this helped make our dining experience slightly better despite the several disappointments we had.
The ambience problems can be easily remedied. My main issue is that we can’t grill our own meats.
For me, Sodam still has the crown when it comes to affordable Korean buffets.
#107-109 Mother Ignacia Ave., Quezon City
(02) 373 3010
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The Barat Queen
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