Solaire’s Restaurants’ Christmas Set Menus are Worth Checking OutDecember 11, 2014
With the holiday rush shaking up everyone’s schedules, making time for company Christmas parties, family gatherings, and barkada get-togethers has become quite the struggle. Every vacant day on the calendar is filled with an event, and if you’re in charge of booking a stylish venue for an upscale holiday feast, may we suggest that you choose from one of Solaire’s posh restaurants? They’ve got special holiday set menus that are sure to fill you up—but you better pace yourself unless you want to end up with belly like Santa’s.
Solaire’s ability to provide top-notch service is seamless throughout the different components that constitute its resort, especially during the crazy holiday season. The food in most resorts is often overlooked and expected to be a predictable mish-mash of expensive-sounding ingredients that end up as nothing spectacular and more often than not, a bit disjointed with the current Yuletide festivities. Solaire’s food, on the other hand, defies that stereotype. Four of the resort’s biggest gastronomic arms have special set menus that give its diners a taste of their individual geographic backgrounds that are exclusive to this Christmas season—Red Lantern for Chinese, Strip Steakhouse, Finestra for Italian, and Yakumi for Japanese. Dining in these restaurants was a definite surprise. Check them out.
Step foot inside Red Lantern and you are greeted with oriental interiors and sprawling dining rooms carpeted with a plum finish, reminiscent of grand Chinese dining halls you read about in books. It has contained within its four walls an atmosphere of elegance and sophistication, and these qualities have been undoubtedly translated into the food as well.
Suckling pig is laid out before us, the crackling skin blistered just well enough to see through the rich layer of fat, and complement the sesame seed studded jellyfish. Perfectly-cooked shrimp is coated with X.O. sauce, while a steamed tiger grouper lies in a shallow pool of soy; its meat sports a good bite—you know it’s fresh. The common suspects are there: roasted garlic chicken bursting with umami flavor and braised pork spareribs with a black-vinegar laced sauce and a hint of sugar. They have a pumpkin soup that’s a bit under-seasoned, but it comes with an egg white dumpling, so thin it’s about to explode with a mix of shrimp, scallop, and sweet corn.
If you’re looking for a more Western dining experience though, Strip Steakhouse might just be the restaurant you’re looking for.
A nod to Western cuisine, Strip Steakhouse’s Chef Eric Turgeon tells us that it’s simple, comfort food that’s different—common vocabulary for many chefs these days as they begin to describe their food. But Strip’s dishes really nail it down to the point. We taste it, and we feel that Strip needs more attention.
A simple bowl of blue crab and corn chowder is pure comfort on a rainy day—or a well-air-conditioned room. It is thick and comes with that particular type of sweetness that can only come from a plump crustacean. Tenderloin is cooked to a perfect medium rare—rosy in the center and is fantastic with a deep and syrupy bordelaise sauce. We get an almost white-knuckle experience out of his pan-seared foie gras sitting on a slice of buttered brioche. Resting underneath is a generous dollop of mascarpone cheese and beside it is a careful plating of cherries, drunk with red wine. The foundation of this dish is a dramatic swirl of ube purée, which sends our palates rejoicing. Who would’ve thought foie and ube could work so well together? It’s spectacular. Someone give us another plate!
A few steps from this modern steak haven is a more laid-back dining spot—Finestra. Perfect if you’re looking for a relaxed ambiance with a lot of European flair.
Finestra is an expansive Victorian-themed restaurant with a high ceiling and glass windows that make it perfect for high teas, champagne, or brunch.
They have a good selection of charcuterie and grilled vegetables, which is served with cheese. The lobster ravioli has a good bite to it, topped with caviar and served with saffron sauce. Desserts are delicious, so make sure not to overwhelm yourself with the savory stuff. But then again, you can always make room.
A stone’s throw from Finestra lies Yakumi—so if you’re a fan of sushi, sashimi, and other Japanese fare, it’s highly likely that you find what you’re looking for there.
Describing Yakumi as otherworldly is an understatement. You’ll first catch sight of sashimi being prepared as the sunlight pours into a big space clad with minimalist Japanese interior—you’ll hardly feel like you’re in Manila.
In Yakumi, almost everything tastes incredible (and we’re not being biased, nor are we exaggerating). Each morsel of food we placed in our mouths was immediately followed with nodding, closed eyes, and expressions of delight. “Yum”s and “This is amazing” were expressions thrown generously across the table as we dug into a fresh platter of sushi—scallop, tuna, and salmon—all fresh and pristine. Japanese appetizers that were in season included raw beef marinated in red onion and scallions—almost like a tartare, but in thin, meaty slivers. Smoked duck breast with plum sauce was exceptional, and a grilled lobster with miso yaki shut us up as chopsticks picked on whatever meat we could. We shuffled back and forth from an egg custard that came with foie gras and a mikan crème brulee, which came with meringue fingers and the best guyabano ice cream in town. This restaurant made us very, very happy.
You can check the full menu’s here.