For my birthday a few weeks ago, I didn’t really plan a big and grand celebration. I wanted to save money and I just had one simple wish: to eat sushi! Lots of sushi! Well, I got my sushi, all right… but I got so much more than that. I got to feast on all sorts of delicious local and international dishes… for free!
Vikings is one of the biggest affordably-priced buffet restaurants in Manila, and is a popular choice especially for birthday celebrants because of their “birthday promo,” wherein birthday celebrants can dine for free. Mike and I have eaten at Vikings countless times already, so I thought that we could “level up” for my birthday this year by dining at the more upscale version of Vikings: Niu By Vikings!
“Niu” is a Viking word meaning “nine,” and the restaurant is named as such because the owners want customers to feel like they are on cloud nine as they indulge in the food on the nine buffet stations.
If you’ve been to Vikings before and are seeing Niu by Vikings for the first time, you will really feel the difference as soon as you walk in and see the elegant interiors of the restaurant. The plush violet seats, chandeliers, sparkling crystal ornaments, and the live music being played on the grand piano really give off a more deluxe feel.
I was one of the lucky bloggers who got to do a food tasting when it first opened many years ago, and I remembered it to be quite impressive. It was Mike’s first time to try it, and also my first time in a really long time, so for both of us, it was a “niu” (new) experience!
Like I said, all I wanted for my birthday was to eat sushi, so the first section I went to was the sushi section, of course!
I didn’t get to take too many photos of the sushi section because every time I went back to it, it was always almost empty and just about to be replenished. I guess it’s one of the more popular sections!
The sushi selection was a bit limited. In fact, it seems like there are more choices for sushi in Vikings than in Niu. It’s fine though, because though they don’t have much, what they do have are mostly tasty. It’s all about quality over quantity, right? Also, the salmon sashimi (the most important item in any sushi section, in my opinion) is really good and juicy! We could really taste and feel the freshness, as compared to the ones we had in Vikings just a few weeks before visiting Niu. I’m not sure if the price difference had anything to do with it, or if it was that way because we went to Vikings a little later, which meant that the food wasn’t as fresh as it probably would have been had we went earlier.
For appetizers, they also have these:
For New Year’s, Mike and I went to Spiral at Sofitel Manila, known to be the best and classiest buffet restaurant in Manila. One of the reasons why I was willing to pay PHP 2,000++ to have dinner at Spiral was the foie gras! I don’t approve of the unethical method of preparing foie gras, but I can’t deny it — it’s really heavenly! (Sorry!) Good news for those who want to have foie gras but do not want to shell out so much cash for it: this luxurious delicacy is available in Niu! It wasn’t on display when we went (probably because it’s so expensive that it’s by request only), but you can just ask for it and the waiters will serve it to you.
After all that food, did we still have room for dessert?! What kind of question is that? Of course we did!
It seemed like the biggest section at Niu was the dessert section. We Filipinos do love our dessert, so this section is like a wonderland for us! Too bad we were already stuffed, so we couldn’t try them all!
At Niu, you can drink to your heart’s content because they have a wide assortment of beverages.
But when I say “drink to your heart’s content,” the drink I had in mind was more like these ones:
If you came here to eat, you’ll surely be satisfied. If you came here to eat AND drink, then you’ll definitely be getting your money’s worth because you can enjoy unlimited wine, cocktails, beers, and sake. I asked for a glass of Moscato and Asti. A bottle of Moscato would cost PHP 500+ or more, while a bottle of Asti would cost around PHP 700+. With that alone, I already got back whatever we paid for. Haha! So if you really want to maximize your trip to Niu, just keep coming back to the drinks section!
I’ll be lying if I said that I was not expecting some sort of birthday tribute from Niu. After all, from what I remember about Vikings, the waiters would put a Viking hat on you while carrying a huge “Happy Birthday” sign and singing and dancing for you (which is fun or awkward, depending on how you see it). After all the sweets I’ve eaten, yes, I was still hoping that there would be a special birthday cake. Haha! Well, just like Vikings, the staff at Niu also gave us birthday celebrants a nice birthday tribute — but their style was more toned down and sophisticated! No wearing of Viking hats, big-ass happy birthday signs, or gyrating and loud singing here. Instead, the lights were dimmed, and the waiters were all in formation as they walked slowly around the restaurant, with classical music playing in the background while bringing a plate of cake with a birthday candle on it. When the lights were turned back on, everyone — the waiters, receptionists, and chefs — sang “Happy Birthday” for all the birthday celebrants in the restaurant. And then the chefs went around each table to personally greet us and shake our hands.
Here’s how Niu celebrates with the birthday boys and girls!
I wasn’t expecting much from the free birthday cake. After all, it’s free! Surprisingly, it was good! It was like chocolate mousse that was soft and fluffy, and not too sweet. We only got to eat it the day after we went to Niu but it was still good.
Before we left the restaurant, I went to the bathroom first and I was so amused to see that even their bathroom / powder room was classy! I love the feminine, romantic, and Victorian details of the bathroom!
So did Niu really transport us to Cloud Nine? You bet! This might just be our NIU favorite affordable buffet restaurant now! Overall, this is what we think of Niu:
- It’s a great place to celebrate your birthday! If you go on your actual birthday, you only need to bring one full-paying adult to be able to eat for free. Mike only paid PHP 1,509, so basically, he just paid for his dinner because I didn’t have to pay for anything. So that’s only PHP 755 per person if we split the bill!
- Vikings or Niu? Niu all the way! Of course, it’s more expensive, but it’s also more stylish and exquisite, and it’s definitely cozier. There are less people dining at Niu, so we felt more relaxed, we enjoyed our conversations more because we didn’t have to fight through the noise, there was more room to walk around, and of course, there’s foie gras and unlimited wine and cocktails! You can’t get that in Vikings! Also, it seems easier to make reservations at Niu. Every time I try to make a reservation at Vikings, we’re always on the waiting list and when we get there, sometimes, we don’t even get a good table until I talk to the manager in charge.
- If you love fine dining or eating at hotel buffets, you’re going to love Niu. While it is still not as fancy and luxurious as eating at 5-star hotels, it is a good alternative for those days when you feel like having a meal in a more formal and posh environment without having to pay a ridiculous amount of money.
- Is Spiral in big trouble? Okay, Niu is excellent, but it’s still no Spiral. Between the two, of course Spiral is still our favorite because there are more food choices, the ambiance is still more magnificent, and the quality and taste of the food are unbeatable. But we’re not millionaires, and we can’t just keep eating at Spiral all the time!
- Vikings is perfect for friends and families. Niu is perfect for friends, families, and dates! I’d say that it’s a better place to bring your older companions, as there is more space for them, especially if they’re in wheelchairs. Less waiting time for them too! It’s also a nice date place, since the mood here is pretty mellow, plus, there’s a pianist who can play your favorite love songs for you!
- Dinner starts at 5:30, and it’s advisable to go as early as you can so you can pace yourself and eat as much as you can without having to rush and gorge on everything in a short amount of time. Also, the earlier you come, the fresher the food will be.
Have you eaten at Niu by Vikings? If you have, what dish was your favorite? And if you haven’t, what dish would you like to try first?
Niu by Vikings
Address: 6th Floor, SM Aura Premier, 26th Street Corner McKinley Parkway, 1630 Taguig.
Phone: 478-3888 or 847-3888
Rates: See full list of rates here: http://niu.ph/rates-and-promotions-1/
Birthday Promo: Celebrants can eat for free ON THE DAY of their birthday on both lunch and dinner, as long as accompanied by ONE FULL PAYING ADULT. Celebrants can eat for free for ONE MONTH on both lunch and dinner per day, as long as it is within the month of his/her birthday and accompanied by FOUR FULL PAYING ADULT. Bring your original and valid government ID.