Go big
Razel Estrella (The Philippine Star) - May 9, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Filipino family is a large and merry group. They celebrate special occasions — from birthdays to weddings, and even simply being alive and together — over a hearty meal. To serve as the ideal venue for such gatherings, Big Plate was built in 2010 along Presidents Avenue corner Elizalde Street at BF Homes, Parañaque City.

“The ambience is homey. You will be comfortable while you’re waiting for your food, while you’re eating, and while you linger and chat after eating,” says Big Plate store manager Josephine Soneja.

Don’t be fooled: it is not only the plates that are big in this restaurant — everything is. As you enter you will see wide tables and massive couches where around six to eight people can comfortably sit. Upstairs is an even more spacious events place that can be divided into different function rooms.

The biggest attraction is the Filipino cuisine, which diners can partake of either as a buffet meal or a la carte. The buffet, which is one of the reasons why Big Plate is steadily growing, was not initially offered: “At first the buffet was intended for parties, and then we decided to have the summer fiesta buffet on Easter Sunday of 2011,” shares Soneja. “It clicked and drew crowds. In July 2011, we launched a breakfast buffet,” she adds, and explains that many of their guests are senior citizens who like to talk for hours as they eat in the morning.

Now Big Plate serves breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. This summer, from Monday to Friday, customers can enjoy the breakfast buffet with free coffee refill for only P198 and the lunch buffet with drinks for P228.

“There are guests who want to eat as soon as they come in, so they go to the buffet,” says Soneja. “But we also give them a choice, so they can order a la carte as well.” So if your stomach is not ready for a great buffet, you can order the dishes a la carte. Their all-day breakfast with choices from favorites like tapa, corned beef, tocino and bangus, is served with coffee for only P88.

Since its opening, the proven bestseller is the Pinoy party food staple lechon kawali. But always looking to evolve and offer something new to their customers, they have created variants like lechon kawali with adobong kangkong, crispy binagoongan and crispy kare-kare — all of which the patrons love. Other bestsellers include the slow-cooked beef and steamed fish.

Another innovation is the “cake shake,” which they had last summer and brought back this summer season. The cakes, like their bestsellers choco mocha cake and banana cream pie cake, are turned into a refreshing shake and kids are crazy over them.

Big Plate goes the extra mile to ensure that customers have a memorable time. Aside from organizing parties, they regularly give guests a gift on their birthday: “We don’t just sing a birthday song; we also give them freebies like a hat, a banner and a cake, ” says Soneja. They also connect guests with their loved ones abroad on their special day through Skype.

BIGGER AND BETTER TREATS

For the Lenten season up until May, an eat-all-you-can salad is available for P148 (lunchtime/ dinner by reservation). “If you want something light, you can still at least have choices,” explains Soneja, who encourages weight watchers to try the salad.

For the budget-conscious, they offer the jumbo pandesal burger for P39. You can choose among fish, chicken and beef for the patty. And for P88, you can have it with spaghetti on the side. Because it’s good for merienda and very affordable, the burgers are also sold in nearby schools.

If you need a specific dish for a specific occasion, say, for your son’s school party, Big Plate will take care of it and customize food upon request. They also invite BF Homes residents to try their catering services.

After two years of operations, Soneja shares that Big Plate is slowly being known and now has its share of loyal customers, despite being surrounded by many restaurants in the area. “There are the joggers’ club and walkers’ club who come in groups of 20 to 30 every Sunday,” she says.

Due to customer demand, they tied up with Quick Delivery and launched their delivery service in selected locations last February. “Once the delivery service is in full swing, we will look into expansion,” she adds.

Residents of the South and those visiting the area must not miss the chance to try out this two-year-old restaurant. And when you visit, be sure to come with a big appetite — for food, company, and fun.

* * *

Ongoing until May 31, for every minimum P200 breakfast, diners will get a free copy of The Philippine STAR.

BIG BIG PLATE BUFFET EASTER SUNDAY ELIZALDE STREET FOR THE LENTEN IN JULY JOSEPHINE SONEJA SONEJA
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