Bay View Park Hotel is one of the oldest hotels at the heart of Metro Manila with over 75 years of existence. I've heard a lot of this hotel from old and respected relatives of mine. It was my first time to be at the hotel the other day to take part on its on going "Kulinarya Kalayaan Food Festival", which is a month-long event launched last May 28 and will culminate on June 31, 2012 but extended until the later part of July. The said festival is situated at the Bay View Park Hotel Coffee Shop which is is in cooperation with the Department of Tourism and also participated by Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines. Being at this hotel which is the longest-enduring and sought-after destinations by tourists and travelers who are here for business and leisure, I felt that the Kulinarya Festival filled with unique blend of authenticity and creativity with its wide array of dishes, was apt to be celebrated inside the very walls of a hotel with historic significance. Since the event aims to showcase Philippine food, arts and crafts I am sharing you here my buffet experience.
The ambiance at the lobby coffee shop welcomed me with this kind of festivity equating Filipiniana motif. The restaurant is not the typical enclosed type with glass or wooden doors, instead it was somewhat open in style with metal fences adorned with colorful displays of native bilao and abaniko with plastic fuits and flowers covering the venue.
This dramatic-styled chandelier brightens up the place even on a sunny day caught my attention. There were dozens of which as you look up the ceiling.
Spacious dining area brilliantly decorated with complete festivity.
Nipa hut-styled post, an indigenous upright small place at the entrance side.
Native hats or sobrero adorning the post.
Huge vase with long, polished and skinny bamboo poles.
Philippine dishes placed in ornamental black claypots known to many Filipinos as "palayok", scattered nicely on a long buffet island. By the way, buffet lunch is priced at PhP450/person from 11AM to 2PM from Monday to Friday. I suggest to mark your calendar now and experience the same way the gastronomic feast I had along with my foodie friends.
Yes I do feel the rustic and authentic Filipino touch as I select which among the delectable food displayed before me should land my plate first. It goes without saying that everything successfully whet my appetite. Take note, not just beautiful ladies but Pinays clad in simple Filipiniana attire assisted the guests busily lining the culinary buffet activity.
Meet Tony and Chel :) Typical Filipina beauties.
Table wares at the other end of the buffet table. The feast was somewhat informal in such a way that flatwares and glasswares were not included in the table set up. But definitely no biggie with me as long as all wares are clean and sanitized.
The surprising part of my experience at the famed Kulinarya Kalayaan Food Festival was that with my fellow foodies, we were able to strike a brief conversation with the in-house chef who formulated the desirable Filipino dishes which highlighted the specialty of our national heroes' favorite. In fact he is with the hotel for more than a decade already so we were really impressed not just with his cooking skills but with his amiable character too.
Here are the widely diverse classic recipes offered that day:
Sinigang na Maya-Maya (Red Snapper in Sour Broth)
One round is not enough! This soup was remarkable because of the too many diced maya-maya in it. I did not intend to select nor have my soup with this much diced fish meat because in every scoop from the claypot means well distributed ingredients, be it meat or green leafy vegetables. The broth was so good and made my tummy ready to eat for more.
Lumpiang Toge (Deep Fried Bean Sprout Roll)To tell you frankly, I am not a fan of of these roll but I like bean sprouts most especially if it is stir-fried. What I did was- peeled off the wrapper and ate the filling. It tasted fine. Vinegar dip was made available at the buffet spread beside the tray of lumpia.
Ginataang Sitaw at Kalabasa (String Beans and Squash in Coconut Cream)
One of the best dishes available that afternoon. I was delighted with its creamy taste and texture. This dish was so flavorful that given the chance, I can manage to have my lunch break with only this and steamed plain rice alone. Coconut cream used was exact with the amount of vegetables used and definitely not the typical watery cream-based dish.
Pansit Canton Guisado (Stir-Fried canton Noodles with Mixed Seafood and Vegetables)
I find the noodle dish very very flavorful but the canton used was kind of too soft like mush to the bite.
This dish filled with so much bits of seafoods and veggies which will let you have another round.
Kare-Kare (Beef with Thickened Peanut Sauce)
If there is one Pinoy dish that I can't live without, it would be Kare-Kare. Many fell in love with this traditional Filipino stew. I've tasted a lot of variants already from various restaurants in and out of Manila, but this one was far more different from the others I've ordered. What sets this apart was not the thickness but the general taste of the dish. Of course I do understand that there are lots of Kare-Kare variants and most are specific to the region and to telly you honestly, this one from the buffet spread was acceptable, but my taste buds says that it has sort of lacking in taste, perhaps in garlic? Yes it was peanut-y and made with lots of veggies partnered with great fish paste. Maybe I was just used to eating Kare-Kare with almost the same taste and this one seems to be unforgettable.
Kanin sa Pandan (Steamed Rice)
What better way to indulge in a typical Filipino fiesta without steamed rice, right? Rice cooked with pandan leaves is always great tasting.
Relyenong Pusit (Stuffed Squid)I never imagined a dish as stuffed and super delicious as this one. I ate plenty and perhaps not too much ^_^ Squid used were medium in size and can be easily chewed. I was overjoyed that compared to others, these squids are tender and never rubbery. Perfect match for a dipping sauce as shown below. I can sense you craaaaaving for this now.
Sawsawan for Relyenong Pusit
While readying for the buffet, a friendly waiter asked us about our choice of drink. Hence, this photo- a refreshing glass of Pineapple Juice, Iced Tea and Mango Juice.
My first plate. Plates available were medium in size making every guest not to fill much of their respective dinner plate. Hence, unlimited round is possible. I always love buffet most especially as teasing as the Filipino dishes available on a food fest like this. What a pleasant experience.
As I was pre-selecting on what dishes to taste test when I was instantly lured by this side of table where halo-halo ingredients are situated. My favorite pastime is eating most especially a huge glass of this every summer. Exhilarated to realize that these were just right under my nose. In fact, while nearing to end my first plate each of us were treated to a slim glass of halo-halo by an ever-attentive food server. Thus, no need to rush to the dessert aisle and fix ourselves a glass of summer favorite.
I always want it milky. Good thing you can add milk as you wish just ask for it and it'll be granted. Happiness!
Native kakanin delicacies cannot afford to be absent on a kulinarya feast such as this. Here are four to-die -for Filipino desserts that completed our gastronomic experience. We indulged as much as we want. In fact, we stayed there until past 2PM sharing and discussing opinions to great lengths because we simply love the comfort all Bay View Park Hotel Kulinarya Kalayaan Food Festival brings. It is so good to be Pinoy!
Cold sweet pineapple and watermelon slices were perfect after-meal selection too. If you need high fiber in your daily diet, always eat plenty slices of these no matter where you are. I never forgot to include this in my dessert plate. Fruits must be always present in my diet.
Brewed Coffee is a good choice after being so full from a buffet. "Pampababa ng kinain", as what they always say.
Foodies out there, now is the great time to savor the country's finest cuisine at one of the most established hotels in the country along Roxas Boulevard, Manila. Who knows I might catch you there. Come and visit Bayview Park Hotel Manila and discover the culinary delight I've been telling you.
Bay View Park Hotel Manila
1118 Roxas Boulevard cor United Nations Avenue
Ermita Manila, Philippines