Niu High-End Buffet by Vikings Opens in SM Aura PremierOctober 15, 2014
Buffet restaurants have been taking off. There are now a handful in the city, including Asian-inspired buffets Sambokojin and Yakimix. Arguably the most sought- after one is Vikings. For the lamon set, Vikings boasts a selection where you can “eat like a Viking”, emphasizing on volume and quantity. The successful group has now decided to venture into a higher-end market, meant to rival the buffets that hotels offer. There are around 9 stations, including Chinese, Continental, Italian, Japanese, and Carving. There’s even a Drinks station with free-flowing alcohol, and a chance to mix your own cocktails. The rates start at PHP 1,088 for weekday lunches and PHP 1,388 for dinners and weekends.
The best station is without question, the Chinese selection, as Vikings has partnered with chef Kavino Lau of restaurant IMC Kavino, whose cooking has given him a cult following.The hakaw had extremely plump shrimps, with a skin that had the right amount of bite and thickness. Lechon Macau kept the crisp skin even under the lights of heat lamps, and the soy chicken stayed juicy. The make-your-own hotpot leaves you with lots of choices, with different types of shabu-shabu balls, and a plethora of sauces to choose from. Best yet was the soft tofu, carefully covered in slivered almonds, and served with spinach that was slightly made bitter by deep-frying, creating a careful balance with the sweetness of the tofu. Some of the dishes available at the Chinese section of Niu could fit on any menu in some of the best Chinese restaurants in Manila. This alone showcases how much care Vikings has put into their new venture, making sure that the quality is consistent.
Executive chef of Vikings restaurants Anton Abad has made sure to set Niu apart from its predecessor by using more premium ingredients. There is unlimited foie gras, oysters, lamb, and crabs, and dishes that showcase more complicated cooking techniques. Lamb kofta and chicken tikka masala were well done, cooked to order, and had the robustness of Indian spices. The Japanese station had yakitori also cooked to order, with the chicken butt the perfect part to show off the smokiness of charcoal and the well-rounded, garlicky sweetness of teriyaki sauce. The Italian station had a special brick oven that was also responsible for the rest of the breads at the buffet, serving up pizzas alongside risotto, arancini, bowls of mussels, and crabs. The dessert station was still a little sparse, but you can get puto bumbong fresh and piping hot, which we haven’t seen at a buffet yet.
Niu at Vikings can be hit or miss, but buffets are rarely ever excellent all across the board. Sometimes, the dishes needed a dash of salt, but others had a slick of it. But the choices are varied and can surprise you. What Niu does offer is the kind of buffet one could have only previously found at hotels, and if this is the type of thing you’re looking for, then Niu will fit the bill. The Chinese can be spectacular, and with specials that change each week, Niu knows their customer well. It’s a departure from the other buffets that are omnipresent, and if you choose well, you’ll get your money’s worth.