What does a $30 luxury buffet look like in Metro Manila? Vikings is a very popular buffet chain in Manila that you can find practically in every mall in the megalopolis. Only a select few are posh NIU buffets, including the one in the SM Aura Mall in Bonifacio Global City (BGC). Is the NIU Vikings Buffet a tremendous steal for dinner at this price point? Watch to find out.
• SHRIMP AND VEGETABLE TEMPURA, KUSHIKATSU – There’s a continuously fresh fried batch of tempura being made throughout the buffet service; it’s worth waiting a little time for it. Lightly battered tempura and the shrimp in particular was quite plump and fresh. Really decent tempura for a buffet. The kushikatsu I had mistaken for beef was tuna and it was dry.
• CHARCUTERIE AND FROMAGE – Standard fare of hams and cheeses. The hits for me were the confit of chorizo and the Manchego cheese and I recommend loading up on both.
• LECHON BINUSOG – Roasted pork belly stuffed with some aromatic rice. One of the highlights of the buffet, with good crackling but some of the lean meat was a tad on the dry side.
• SHABU SHABU WITH JAPANESE MISO BROTH – I loaded my shabu shabu with a ton of ingredients, such as fish cake, pork intestines, beef tendon, beef meatballs, mushrooms, and greens. Delicious soup altogether but on the salty side.
• FOIE GRAS – I found this quite disappointing. The cut of the foie was too slim, leaving the caramelization from the sear something to be desired. Taste is spot on but it just wasn’t as unctuous and luxurious as a well executed seared foie gras.
• HAINANESE CHICKEN – Sadly, NIU does not serve the rice, which is the best experience of eating Hainanese chicken but the chicken itself was satisfactory, firm enough texture albeit not that juicy, and paired with some hot oil, soy sauce, and other accoutrements, it’s a decent enough dish.
• TRUFFLE PASTA – One of my favorite dishes of the night. Creamy sauce with pronounced truffle fragrance and al dente pasta.
NIU Vikings Buffet is a special occasion buffet with many locals celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, and family celebrations. It has an interesting ambience of luxury hotel dinner buffet with the feeling of a neighborhood restaurant (at least as I interpret it). That said, the $30 price tag is a little bit steep, given the lack of big ticket options and some average as well as a few poor dishes mixed in for good measure.