For this selfish urge to finally set foot in Robinson’s Magnolia, I wantonly booked a table at Buffet 101—not the other way around which is quite contrary to my hungry nature.
Since I was beginning to lag behind the social sphere of geographical knowledge, this necessitated a visit to that much talked about mall. It was time to finally get a view of the high ceiling, the al fresco lounge and the once retro Magnolia ice cream parlor. And of course, finally dine at Buffet 101.
They say Buffet 101 could be a doppelganger for Vikings, with its massive spread of internationally based cuisine. But let me quip that it fares more as a lesser sibling that focuses on select continents, with nothing exotic such as caviar, Indian or Mediterranean delights. Instead, Buffet 101’s prime selections hail from the Asian district, with Chinese cuisine topping the must-eat list while Japanese having the second most popular aisle.
The salad bar boasts of about 5 or 6 dressings (the common kind so I refuse to spend time here) that did not warrant a second take. A keen eye brought into sight a balsamic vinegar bottle at the side—and with its partner olive oil—finally a decent salad came into a reality. No cheese platters or parmesan to liven up my plate, so it was on to the sushi-sashimi boat.
The sashimi was all right, the lemon a bit on the hard size. Excited with the soba noodles I packed my bowl with nori strips and soup, which sadly, was a tad too sweet for my diabetic sense of taste.
While Chinatown was supposed to be the hotspot for dimsum, fried rice, crabs and Hainanese chicken, I let the boys take over this town. The fried noodles looked awesome, but the taste inspired no awe. The usual vegetables were of the standard variety and the sweet and sour pork boasted of more fat than meat (unless that’s how it is for carnivores).
The crabs and butter-oat shrimps were a splendid tag team, I broke my rule of not eating with my fingers. Of course a cracker was available but still, getting down, orange and dirty was the only way to claw into those crabs. They have a bathroom and liquid soap, in case you’re wondering about hygiene and grease.
I barely visited the Japanese and Filipino cuisine, but I did see local favorites bangus and crispy pata. The tempura was okay but I enjoyed the chicken teppanyaki, which I scooped by accident. Soft and sweet, it fares much better than the usual Saisaki flavor.
A platter of steak found itself on our table—the necessary sustenance for the carnivores. Without it we cannot go home!
The American – Italian section was a junk food fest with fries, onion rings and other fried wonders. The American fish fillet was 10x saltier than its Thai counterpart—yes, I had to compare—and so the point goes to the Asian catch! Here, I found my serving of vegetables with the mozzarella topped broccoli and cauliflower—not the healthiest portion but all that yellow was just alluring.
The stuffed tomatoes were oddly addictive, while the herb cream pasta could be described as “not a penne more.”
The pizzas had their own corner—Italian (meat) and Thai Seafood. I must have gorged on 6 slices of that seafood pizza. Mediocre on a very thick crust (read: carbs) it wasn’t the flavor that got me hooked, logistically speaking, sitting beside the pizza made proximity the pretext for this sudden gluttony.
The dessert zone was rather diverse with a crepe station, ice cream corner, frozen yogurt, chiller for cakes, candies, fruits and more little pastries and cakes.
Many may skip the cheesecakes, mini cakes, mousse and pastries sacredly kept in the chiller—detached from the public and require the waitress’ sanitation procedures before proper serving. By the supreme authority of the chiller lady, permission is required before proper serving. These cakes must be made of gold; on the contrary, the cookies are exposed, so dig away.
Unfortunately the chocolate chip cookie I dug was a hunky chunk that was neither inspiring nor chewy so I don’t suppose anyone will be stealing from that cookie jar.
The cheesecakes were fancy sounding but were more of cakes than an actual cheesecake, with sponge cake making up a faux graham crust.
The candy corner was a hub for children with ADHD and with impatient hands abound, picking on gummy candies and that gummy egg, we wonder when candy cholera will strike next.
The brownie was moist at the very least which made that chocolate lava cake pale in comparison in terms of sweet succulence. I spotted “revel bar” amongst the labels but just found what seemed to be a pale looking slice of cake—no oats, no revelry at all.
Strategically placed above sea level, the yogurt machine was like divine intervention to ward off those crazy hyper children. They already have the candies and chocolate fountain as their ADD playground, so they ought to leave the frozen yogurt to the ADD-ults. The frozen yogurt was fine—on the light side—which made me rejoice for foregoing the crepe and ice cream.
Fruits are not really worth reviewing but credits to Buffet 101 for serving grapes. My dad must have gotten giddy after enjoying loads of this fruit, he thought he was Zeus in his past life. Unfortunately, the cheese went AWOL. Now where did I leave my lightning bolt?
Drinks are unlimited as well, and since I’m more of a water girl there isn’t much to say. Juice. Soda. Iced tea. Beer. Shakes. I tried the espresso machine since being the daughter of Zeus, this mechanism does not exist in our household. I expected bitter, but this was bland. Still, cool. I mean, hot!
Buffet 101 is perhaps a jack-of-all trades in the world of buffet and you can probably see where I’m going—the master of none. Save for the espresso machine—which wasn’t even a dish—there was nothing too memorable or much of a sterling catch that would make me dream about it in the days to come. It’s just okay, all right, the average joe.
However I give it points for trying to outdo Vikings. In this attempt, it surely beat Sambokojin and Dad’s. So you’re almost there, just bring out the curry and cheese!