1 Peso Buffet at Flavors, Holiday Inn Suites Makati

Let’s face it: hotel buffets don’t come cheap. Those rare times that I have eaten at hotel buffets were only because they were complimentary or someone was kind enough to foot the bill. Buffets in 3- to 5-star hotels here in Manila are priced between PHP 1,500 to PHP 3,500 per person! For that amount, you better make sure you get every cent’s worth and eat every single dish on the menu and inhale every single expensive crumb on your plate.
Last week, I met up with Joy, a friend of mine who work at the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati and she took me on a quick tour around the newly constructed Holiday Inn Suites Makati, which was also part of the Intercontinental Hotel Group. She showed me around Flavors, the hotel’s buffet restaurant. She mentioned that Holiday Inn Makati is celebrating its first anniversary this year, and they are offering a special promo for the restaurant’s customers: for the whole month of April, if two people are dining together, the second person can enjoy the buffet for only PHP 1! Yes, you read that right! 1 Peso!
“The regular price per person is PHP 1,177,” Joy explained, “So, technically, since your companion only needs to pay PHP 1, if you split the bill, you’re only really paying PHP 589 each.” Wow! A hotel buffet for less than PHP 600! I was so excited that I decided I would go back the following week with my boyfriend and even treat him to dinner.
Flavors has three different areas: an al fresco dining area (which I was not able to take a photo of because it was already dark by the time I arrived), the actual restaurant and buffet station, and a lounge where guests can sit and relax.
Tall ceilings, glass, and greys with a pop of atomic tangerine characterize the lounge.
This is an ideal place to have meetings or just casual drinks with friends because it’s quiet and cozy.
The dining area was a lot smaller than other buffet restaurants in other restaurants, so if you’re looking for a cozy and more private restaurant, and one that is not flocked by a lot of people, Flavors is the place to be.
Oh, wait. I spoke too soon. Just as Mike and I were enjoying our quiet and romantic dinner, the kid at the booth next to ours started running and hopping around like a chimpanzee while chanting “mi mi mi mi mi.” What a total mood killer, I thought. I later found out that Flavors is a kid-friendly restaurant, so as intimate as it is, don’t be surprised if you come across little kids scuttling around.
Mike and I were seated in one of these booths.
There’s a bear on our table!

We started off our dinner with Japanese food, which we usually do when we eat at buffets.

Surprisingly, they only had four kinds of makimono. Even cheaper non-hotel buffets like Yakimix have more variety!

I honestly was not bowled over by the sushi. For one, they were a little bland and they all tasted the same. Second, the shari (sushi rice) was just a little too gelatinous so it kind of felt like I was eating rice cakes. Third, where are the sashimi?! Isn’t sashimi a staple in Japanese buffets?
I found out that they do have sashimi… but you have to ask for it because it wasn’t displayed for everyone to see. Once you ask for it, the itamae (sushi chef) will bring it out from its secret compartment, slice it himself, and then serve it to you on a plate. Hmm… well, that’s a little sly! First, why would they hide perfectly good sashimi? Customers pay the full amount of the buffet so they should be able to try all the dishes that the restaurant offers. How would people know that it’s available if they can’t see it? Also, the itamae isn’t always behind the sushi station so for those who do want to ask if there is sashimi, sometimes, there is no one to ask. Lastly, I have never been to a buffet where you have to ask for the sashimi. In all of the buffets I have been to, the sashimi is always laid out on the sushi station, unconcealed and glowing, beckoning to all sashimi-loving guests to eat it.
The “secret salmon sashimi” — I must say, it was very juicy, thick, and fresh. I didn’t like the fact that it was hidden, but after taking a bite of this, I quickly agreed to “forgive and forget.” This sashimi is golden! Unfortunately, they did not have tuna sashimi.
What Flavors lacked in the Japanese food section, they made up for in the salads and appetizers section. You can play up your salads with an assortment of dressings (Caesar, remoulade, honey mustard, balsamic vinegar, and Thousand Island), and garnishes such as olives, croutons, anchovies, and more. They also have ready-made salads such as apple and melon salad, tokwa’t baboy (tofu and pork), beef with mangoes, and my favorite — the spicy prawn and squid salad. Vegetarians will go gaga over these greens, while those who like meat or fruits in their salad also have something to come back to in this section.
Aside from sushi, cold cuts are also some of my favorite appetizers. Sadly, Flavors only had three kinds –honey-cured ham, pastrami, and Canadian ham.

Flavors has an open kitchen where you can ask the chef to cook raw meat for you…

…or, if you’re a fan of noodles, you can also ask the chef to whip up a nice bowl of either chicken or beef noodle soup for you. All you have to do is pick out the ingredients that you want in your soup.
Spice and everything nice. This setup made me feel like I was somewhere exotic.

Here are main dishes:

Pata Humba
(Stewed pork dish similar to adobo)
Nasi Goreng
(Indonesian fried rice)
Pan-Fry St. Peter Fish Fillet Levornese
Gratin Potatoes

Though we did not enjoy some of the main dishes, Mike and I agreed their Gratin Potatoes was one of the best items in the menu. The potatoes were cut up in huge and thick chunks, and the sauce was very creamy and cheesy.

Massaman Lamb Curry

I liked the Massaman Lamb Curry as well because of its piquant flavor and the lamb’s soft texture.

Seafood with Vegetable Stew
The Seafood with Vegetable Stew was not exceptional but it was okay with me. I only ate the squid and the chunks of fish, though, because everything else in this dish, I don’t usually eat. The seafood blended nicely with the milky sauce.
Stir-Fried Beef

What we noticed about their beef dishes was that they didn’t seem to be cooked well. They were tough to chew! After a bite of a few beef strips, we gave up and moved on to the next dish.

Southern Fried Chicken

I didn’t get to taste this anymore because I just had a big ass chicken for lunch that day but Mike said that aside from the potatoes, this was the best dish in the menu.

Flavors also has a section of Greek sauces and appetizers.

If you still have room in your tummy, go ahead and try these Greek items. But if you’re already glutted, you can just have a small serving of each, or skip it altogether. While the Baba Ganoush is tasty, everything else is just so-so. I’d rather leave space for other dishes or more dessert.
As mentioned earlier, Flavors is a kid-friendly restaurant. Hence, they have a kiddie section, complete with bright and colorful plastic utensils and chow that are well-loved by little tykes.
The kids’ menu is quite limited. (Sorry, kids!) They only have baked pasta, chicken nuggets, and hotdog with barbecue sauce. If I could add anything to this section, I would probably throw in sliders, French fries, sandwiches, and maybe even healthy stuff like cereals or fruits that look like funny faces or cut into different shapes. There is so much room to be creative in this section, and Flavors can certainly do so much to make their kids’ menu more colorful and innovative.
Baked Pasta
Chicken Nuggets
Hotdog with Barbecue Sauce

Speaking of innovative, you can find some cool art pieces made of food, such as these intricate bread displays…

I marveled at them because they looked good enough to eat. There’s a small sign that says “Please don’t touch. Display only.” The sign is microscopic, though, so I bet other people who have been here almost broke off a piece!

Next to the bread display were the real pieces of bread, which you can eat with butter and fruit jams. You’ll be forgiven for getting a little confused since they’re right next to the “fake bread.”

Another awesome piece of art is this sculpture made of chocolate:

Mike and I were excited for dessert because though their dessert area was small, the choices looked impressive and yes, pretty. The assortment of cakes, custards, and frozen treats will make you want to skip the appetizers and main courses and just go straight to this (literally and figuratively) sweet section.
I forgot what these ones are called but the one on top is like a mango-berry custard, the second one is a blueberry-flavored mousse with crushed graham crackers and a piece of white chocolate, and the one at the bottom is a sort of banoffee dessert.
I thought all three were satisfying. The mango-berry custard was light yet creamy at the same time. The blueberry mousse was pleasant as well, and the blueberry flavor was unmistakable. But of all three, the banoffee was the most sensational. In fact, for us, it was the best item in the entire dessert station. The bananas and the soft and sweet mousse topped with nuts, crumbled crackers, and luscious caramel made this dessert one that we will never forget. At that moment, we thought, “Damn, I wish we had a Tupperware so we could sneak some of this dessert in our bags!”
Chocolate Torte
Chocolate Oheyna
Fruit Tartlettes
Caramel Cookie Dough Eclair
New York Cheesecake
Halo Halo (Filipino dessert with a mix of shaved ice, milk, sweet beans, jello, and fruits) and Leche Flan (caramel flan)
Bread and butter pudding
Soft-serve ice cream with toppings

Though not part of the buffet, they also have other desserts for sale.

The “Krookie” — a croissant with a cookie, or a cookie in a croissant. Available in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, peanut butter, and mint for PHP 60++.
Here’s something for the kids! Those art kits should make them behave.
Only 9 days left ’til the end of April, so if you want to take advantage of this anniversary promo, visit Flavors before you bid this month adieu!

4/F Holiday Inn Suites Makati, Glorietta 1, Palm Drive, Makati City, 1224
Phone: +63 2 9090888

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