The past few weeks, I’ve been trying to cut down on my food intake. I so badly want to fit into my pre-Abby clothes which are gathering dust in the closet. But you know dieters, they fall off the wagon a couple of times before they achieve their ideal weight. And so last week, I decided I wanted to fall off my wagon…for two consecutive days, that’s June 17 and 18.
Saturday last week, I had a most wonderful merienda with Dondi, Abby and Dondi’s parents at Bon Appetite in Shangri-la Mall. Everyday, apart from their lunch and dinner buffets, Bon Appetite has another buffet offering which they call “Merienda Fiesta” from 2:30pm to 5:00pm.
There are two buffet spreads. The first includes arroz caldo, sotanghon, dinuguan, several kakanin: kutsinta, sapin-sapin, bico, palitaw and puto, turon and fresh lumpiang ubod. I have to be honest, this is the 3rd time Dondi and I had merienda at Bon Appetite in the past three months and I was a bit disappointed that there was no fried lumpia. And to think that all morning, that’s what I was looking forward to eating! Since we’re practically regulars at this joint, we knew already that we have to ask the friendly coffeshop staff to steam the puto, before we dare dip it in our dinuguan. I especially like the palitaw! It was very malambot that you could easily slice it with your fork (as opposed to slicing it with a knife).
The second buffet spread is very exciting. It’s a selection of streetfood! There’s kikiam, squid balls, fish balls, and kwek-kwek (for the benefit of the closet jologs, it’s hardboiled egg covered in this orange thingy) with authentic “street sauce” to boot! So if you’re afraid to catch hepatitis if you dare “make tusok tusok the fishball” on the street, this is the place for you! :) Just get a bowl and fill it up with all the “street balls” you can eat and the chef behind the counter will gladly fry them for you…as in deep fry!
If “street balls” are not your thing, you may choose to have a hamburger and/or hotdog sandwich…or just the hamburger patties and hotdogs alone (which are lined up next to the fish and squid balls). ;) The hamburger is enough to fill you up!
I think its s.o.p. for restaurants which have merienda buffets to offer free drinks. In this case, it’s sago’t gulaman. There’s a bowl in the middle of the buffet spread where you can help yourself with all the sago’t gulaman you can drink!
What’s a fiesta without halo-halo? That’s exactly what we had for dessert, halo-halo! The macapuno is just soooo good, just the right sweetness. And the leche flan? Soft, smooth and absolutely yummy! You may choose to forego the halo-halo and just have leche flan alone. Nobody will care! It’s just too bad that they don’t offer ice cream anymore. Last we heard, the sponsor withdrew already. Sayang!
The damage on your wallet? Just 145.+ per head! Very sulit! I suggest you have an early heavy breakfast and skip lunch if you want to have a merienda this heavy. Otherwise, sayang!
We had the chance to also try Bon Appetite’s “Merienda Fiesta” at its Glorietta branch (which is right beside the perfume department of Rustan’s). The obvious difference is that instead of native kakanin, they had 3 different kinds of cakes. I personally think that the Shangri-la branch’s buffet is better because the place is bigger and you can actually see your food (the street kind) being cooked, unlike in Glorietta where you hand your bowl to the servers, they disappear with your food, and come back after a few minutes with your food already cooked. Not very exciting.
Weeks before Father’s Day, I already knew where I wanted to treat Dondi and my Mom (who is a Father in her own right!) for lunch come Father’s Day, Alba in Eastwood City. I don’t know if I chose Alba to satisfy my own personal craving for Spanish food, basta that’s where we found ourselves on June 18. :)
I made reservations as early as Friday to secure our seats for lunch, a smart move, because that Sunday, the restaurant was packed with people. There was hardly any space to move in. I was glad I made the reservation, otherwise, we would have been very disappointed in ending up somewhere else.
The buffet selection at Alba isn’t very extensive. This is the classic case of quality not quantity. We were there for 5 dishes: the cochinillo (suckling pig), paella, callos madrilena, lengua sevillana and the canonigo. And we did have our fill of all of these!
For appetizers, there were 3 kinds of pate, kilawin with fresh prawns(as garnish), chorizo, mushrooms, chicken lollipop, chicken wings and rolls. I almost forgot about the baked oysters topped with melt-in-your-mouth-cheese! Yum! There was also seafood soup. I’m not a big fan of chorizo (Dondi is, but not the Chinese kind which is like longganisa!) so I concentrated on the cochinillo. The skin is perfectly crunchy and the meat was just right! I could have eaten the entire baby pig! :) There was also barbecued pork belly but it simply can’t compete with the cochinillo. It’s a shame that “jamon serrano” is not included in the buffet. Ok lang!
For main course, there were two kinds of paella: valenciana and regencia. Paella Valenciana is an old favorite of mine but the Paella Regencia was good as well…sticky and very tasty. Yummy! There was also penne pasta (I forgot the sauce), pato and our sentimental favorites, the callos and lengua. Nobody makes callos as well as Alba. It was very chewy and the sauce, to die for. The lengua is very tender and the gravy, rich.
For dessert, there was canonigo, tiramisu, fresh fruits and jello with lychees. Abby loved the jello (next to the big prawns on the kilawin). I don’t consider fruits as dessert, so canonigo and tiramisu were “it” for me. Canonigo is like brazo de mercedez without the yellow filling…just a thick slab of fluffy egg whites with caramel on top. It came with a thick sauce which would otherwise be the filling of the brazo de mercedez. The tiramisu was also heavenly. Not so sweet, not bitter, just melt-in-you-mouth goodness. Hmmm. God is really good! :)
The price of the lunch buffet is 475.+ and a few pesos more expensive for dinner. And since it was Father’s Day, we got a coupon for a 50% discount on one lunch or dinner buffet on our next visit. What a treat!
Alba has three branches, Eastwood City, Polaris St. in Makati and Tomas Morato in Quezon City. Alba is an old favorite of mine because as kids, my parents used to take me and my brother at the then lone outlet in Polaris St. I was very happy when they started having buffets which used to be offered only on weekends. Fans of Spanish cuisine can now have a fill of all their favorite dishes any day!
Now, when can I fall off my “diet wagon” again? ;)