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Join the Club.

The buffet restaurant concept has been a well-loved part of the Filipino culinary scene. This concept is getting even more popular of late with a string of new openings that are turning heads because of their size and the vast selection of food on offer. One of the new gastronomic hubs getting a lot of attention is The Food Club, but not for the typical buffet offerings.

A hotel-style, all-day dining restaurant outside a hotel is the winning concept behind The Food Club, located at the upscale Bluebay Walk strip in Macapagal Avenue, Pasay City. The restaurant's tastefully designed interiors, spacious dining spaces, hotel quality dishes, international menu covering Western and Asian selections, well-trained staff, and open kitchen were all conceptualized to rank up the luxury and taste factor of the buffet dining subset.

"We want to elevate the buffet concept into a hotel level," shares Cez Ramirez, managing director of The Food Club. A seasoned restaurateur, Ramirez says Filipino diners now are more sophisticated when it comes to food, "They're very choosy. They know what they want. That's why we came up with a more high-end buffet option, to suit the discerning tastes of both the Filipino and foreign market. And give them value for their money."

The Food Club churns out over 125 dishes a day. Under the Western section, guests can choose from Mediterranean, American, Mexican, Italian, and Spanish dishes. The Asian section, on the other hand, covers Thai, Indian, Malaysian, Japanese, Singaporean, and Filipino cuisine. There's a separate section for Chinese cuisine where they offer dim sum, Chinese roasting, live suahe (white shrimp), and a noodle station.

Found in the middle of the buffet is the cold section that features appetizers, salads, fresh seafood, sushi and sashimi bar, a taco station, and a showcase of cold cuts and cheese. Another stellar section is the desserts where guests can satisfy their sweet tooth with assorted cakes, chocolate fountains, mini pastries, halo-halo, ice cream, crepes, fresh fruits, and candies.

But the biggest highlight of the restaurant, which can sit over 437 guests, is the open kitchen. Unlike in other buffet restaurants, guests can see the chefs in action as they work away at their stations, interact with them, and have them customize dishes from the fresh seafood section, Mongolian section, taco section, pasta section and pizza bar.

"As long as it's available in the buffet, we can make it for you," says executive chef Rafael Hubilla. "You can get a lobster from our crustacean section and have it poached in butter. Get a plate of fresh oysters and we can bake them into Oyster Rockefeller. If you want something Asian, we can grill the seafood and douse it with teriyaki or hoisin sauce. Our chefs are at your disposal to cook your chosen ingredient with your choice of cooking methods."

Drinks are included in the buffet. A lot of seasoned buffet diners usually shy away from fruit juices, fruit shakes, and sodas because their very filling. But no guest, pro buffet diner or not, would find it easy to resist the draft beer and wines - all you can drink Chardonnay and Sauvignon? Why not?

Just a month into its soft opening, The Food Club is already getting long queues of diners during their lunch and dinner service. Its 30% discount promo will run until the end of February so restaurant manager Khristine Sandoval strongly suggests that dinners make reservations, especially during the weekends.

"So far, the profile of our guests are families, young professionals, and balikbayans. We have a lot of balikbayans because of our proximity to the airport. That's why we are trying to improve our Filipino dishes to serve them better. We try to maintain the quality of the food and level of service to be at par with the restaurants in the hotel without charging as much," Sandoval says.

Buffet rates: Mondays to Thursdays - P800.00 (Lunch); P1,000.00 (Dinner), Fridays to Sundays: Lunch/Dinner P1,118.00. For reservations call 7368001 or Like their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheFoodClubPH.

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Take your pick from The Food Club's fresh seafood station (Photos by Pinggot Zulueta)

Sashimi bar

Shrimp salad

Garlic mushroom and vegetables

The Food Club executive chef Rafael HUbilla

L-R: The Food Club restaurant manager Khristine Sandoval, managing director Cez Ramirez, and executive director Ced Ramirez
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Title Annotation:Food & Travel
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Feb 27, 2014
Words:726
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