How to Beat the Buffet

IMAGE Miguel Nacianceno

Buffets are an interesting thing. On the one hand, the idea of indulgence sounds fantastic; but its monstrous quantity can sometimes be hard to swallow. My sister tells me that enormous spreads like these always make her feel uncomfortable, because one time during a buffet dinner at a snazzy hotel, a little girl, who was carrying a plate on each hand, suddenly stopped in the middle of the dining hall, bent over, and hurled all over its polished floors. “It’s like that scene in Spirited Away,” she says wistfully, when the family in the Japanese cartoon had entered the magical realm, were enticed by food, binged, and as a curse was transformed into... well, pigs.

With premium buffets, you have to kind of be smart about it, else you leave with buyer’s remorse.

So: Choose your buffets carefully, they’re not all the same. Are you looking for one with unlimited beer, or one whose salad station is a thing to rave about? At the new Brassier on 3 at Conrad Manila, their Sunday Brunch offers a wider meat selection plus brunch cocktails. Fancy a lychee sangria or a cucumber gin to start your Sunday morning?

Look through the place first. Walk around. This is the place to do it. Don’t stock up on the lamb when you didn’t even check the Chinese corner yet—they serve quality Peking duck! Navigate through the entire area, and take your time. Take note of the dishes you’re going back for.


For your first plate, go straight for the specials. It may be odd to begin with the main course when there are a hundred appetizers of every imaginable cuisine to choose from—but that’s the point. Cut to the chase and go for gold. What is this buffet’s star dish? Is it a Grade-A steak, or lobster? At Brassier on 3, we rushed to the carving station, whose succulent prime rib was aglow under the heat lamps.?

After which, you can work your way to some of the smaller, supporting dishes. Do you want some salad, maybe go for the antipasti, or dig into the sushi? I went for the laksa soup station.

And then there’s dessert: pastries, a donut bar, flavored foam on sorbet, the classic chocolate fountain, matcha everything, and ice cream. There’s always space for dessert, and a sweet tooth needs to be satiated with at least a nibble of this, or a little bit of that. Pair with a nice cup of tea to end the meal.

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This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the editors.


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