I’ve come to believe that a buffet is impossible to conquer in a single visit, most especially hotel buffets. While I’d like to believe that my stomach can contain everything that my eyes greedily take in, the sad truth is that it can’t. You gotta have an eating plan, man.
This was what I had in mind when I was invited to lunch at 7 Corners, the celebrated restaurant at the Crowne Plaza Galleria. Its extensive buffet has invited countless comparisons to Circles at the Shangri-La Makati. But there are differences. “For one, we have a Hainanese chicken selection at lunch, and at night, a teppanyaki grill,” explains sous chef Luis Chikiamco. Since it was my first time at the restaurant, he generously offers to give me a tour of the grand spread.
7 Corners is so named for the seven cooking stations representing seven different cuisines. “The Indian station is not to be missed,” avers Chef Chikiamco, along with the Japanese, Western, salad bar, pizza station, dessert, and noodle corner. A buffet like this has everything you expect, and a lot more that yes, shouldn’t be passed up.
So I do something new this time ”“ I ignore my usual buffet staples and head straight for those that Chef Chikiamco recommends. For appetizers I nibble on fruit sushi, an innovative combination of fruit and sushi rice. It’s a novel creation borrowed from legendary Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Eat it straight up without the soy sauce. Amazingly, the saltiness of the strawberry complements the stickiness of the rice. Don’t squirm at the thought of fruit and rice ”“ just try it. If there’s a type of sushi you’re looking for, just ask the chef. Not seeing any uni, I asked the chef, and he gladly gave me a small plateful.
Trying something new always energizes me, as is the case with the crepes galette. A buckwheat flour pancake originally from Brittany, it’s a light dish with your choice of savory fillings. A raw egg is cooked on top of the crepe and then mixed in with the fillings. Cooked til the crepe’s edges are crisp, the crepe is then folded and topped with a dollop of sour cream and garnished with green onions.
Slicing into the crepe was sheer rapture for me as I saw that the egg yolk had cooked to a silken doneness. Oh my, oh me, eggs are my ecstasy.
Chef Chikiamco knows whereof he speaks, and I declare that you mustn’t pass up the Indian station. I swooned at the tandoori chicken and the lamb, cooked to a moistness that fans out on my tongue, suffusing it with the succulence of meat and juice. Eat these with the naan (Indian flatbread) and the pakora (spicy fritters).
The noodle station was calling my name, as was the Hainanese chicken, but alas, my stomach was threatening to shut down, and I hadn’t even had dessert yet.
I’ll have just the blue M&M’s, please. God, how very rock star is that!
7 Corners is very proud of their ice cream teppanyaki, think Cold Rock supersized. I was delirious with the amount of add-ins I could pile on; I flirted briefly with the thought of dumping the entire container of Oreos onto my ice cream. However, I didn’t think the chef who’d be mixing up the ice cream for me would think too kindly of me for that. Indulgence has its limits, I know.
While I enjoy ice cream very much, I was a bit disappointed that this ice cream was quite watery. It didn’t have the creaminess and mouth feel that I’d expect from a treat like this. Still, with all the add-ins that I added in, I was a happy little kid.
There’s a chocolate fountain in the dessert line-up ”“ spoon some chocolate over your ice cream teppanyaki and watch it harden. Individual pastries are in the display cases for you to ogle at and there are cute little skewers of chocolate chip cookies, marshmallows, and fruit for dipping. Mesmerizing eye candy that goes straight into the mouth (where all things sweet rightfully belong).
This is the one dessert that Chef Chikiamco told me I must try, along with the crÃ¨me Brulee. Thick and firm on the tongue, the leche flan has a sweetness that may overpower those with weaker sugar tolerances. Not a problem for me, of course.
Aside from the make your own pizza, here’s one that the restaurant’s executive Chef Cyrille Soenen created: chocolate pizza. It brims with mangoes and slivered almonds, complete with chocolate sauce listlessly dripping down the sides. Chef Cyrille told me that he kept the same crust that’s used for the savory pizzas. The pizza is a big hit, though I would’ve preferred a sweeter crust, being the sugarholic that I am.
I lament the fact that I didn’t get to eat as much as I would’ve liked to. I need a bigger stomach, for Christmas at least.
A big hearty thank you to Chefs Cyrille Soenen and Luis Chikimaco for their graciousness during my lunch at 7 Corners. I can’t wait to go back!
Level 3, Crowne Plaza Galleria Manila
Ortigas Avenue corner ADB Avenue
P950++ — lunch
P1,000++ — dinner
**It’s best to call before you go. Prices vary according to days and special seasons. Prices also available if you want to eat at just a single station.
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