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Marriott Café: One-stop place for Japanese, Chinese & Korean food |

Food and Leisure

Marriott Café: One-stop place for Japanese, Chinese & Korean food

John A. Magsaysay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Marriott Manila recently reminded everyone how it is becoming one of the Metro’s leading gourmet destinations. Unveiling its month-long “North Asian Showdown,” a specialty buffet that features the finest eats from Japan, China, and Korea, the newly refreshed Marriott Café caters to our natural predilection for Asian dishes.

“When we do a promotion, we do it with authenticity, as well as high quality. So we chose the right chefs who really have the heart for the cooking and the right ingredients. We didn’t scrimp on that,” assures Brendan Mahoney, Marriott Manila food and beverage director.

Coinciding with the unveiling of the refurbished Marriot Café, which now features a wider, more welcoming layout to match a huge assortment of food stations and cozier dining nooks, the hotel’s North Asian Showdown invites plenty of good fortune and food celebration among its old and new patrons. But despite its new look and the newer items on the buffet spread, for Mahoney, the best things about dining at the Marriott haven’t changed. “It’s all about really good cooks, a lot of good heart from the service team, and just having a lot of fun. That’s what we do,” he quips.

So, now, sharing the spotlight with classic buffet staples are regional specialties from the “Land of the Morning Calm,” the “Land of the Rising Sun,” and the “Sacred Earth and Divine Land,” peppered with live stations that capture the flair and flavors of their legendary cuisines. “The Marriot standard, as much as possible, is offering the freshest ingredients to our guests, prepared from scratch. So, our live stations educate our guests on what they are eating, and how good our cooking processes are, at the same time, bring us the engagement between us and our guests,” explains Marriot Manila executive sous chef Rej Casanova.

“One of our special dishes in Korea is bibimbap,” shares visiting chef Charlie Suh, fresh from Korea. With his eager sous chefs carefully crafting the signature Korean rice bowl with vegetables, meat, and special sauces, Suh encourages his diners to try this hearty dish’s delectable perks. “This is what Koreans eat every day, and it’s very healthy food,” he says. But what generates the most buzz among the plentiful Korean banquet is the jeongol station, which offers the freshest seafood in a steamy, spicy gochujang-laced broth. Truly what one could call some really good Seoul food!

Right beside it is Marriott Café’s Japanese station, stockpiled with fresh-rolled sushi and slivers of sashimi as though straight from Tsukiji market. For those who wish to skip the raw fish, however, the yakitori and tempura stations can sate the sumo-sized appetite, while the ramen station, bubbling with umami-rich shoyu broth, can provide a comfortingly light meal. But the real gem in the Japanese corner is a shot of warm sake or a mug of ice-cold Sapporo beer, an inebriating toast to a fulfilling meal.

A lot of Marriott’s business travelers are from Asia, according to sous chef Bryan Salarzon. “We have Chinese, Korean and Japanese locals who visit our facilities either to do business here or play in the Resorts World complex, and we believe that bringing more food and experiences from home will help get more people to visit the Marriott Café,” he says. “That’s why we try to make them as authentic as possible.”

So, instead of dog-earing recipes in cookbooks, Marriott Manila’s resident chefs learn from their counterparts from other Marriott properties in Asia to guarantee that the dishes served here are as close to they have in their own home countries. Marriott Manila’s guest Chinese chef Jun Li stocks the Chinese station with Guangdong-style roasting, Cantonese dim sum, and Peking noodle dishes that bring you to the heart and belly of China. 

And speaking of bellies, the celebrity guests spotted piling their plates at the Marriott Café’s North Asian Showdown launch were so svelte they didn’t have bellies, from sexy silver-screen sirens Andrea Del Rosario and Patricia Javier to sultry TV personality Phoemela Baranda, musical act The Zombettes to STAR’s Tim Yap, each seeming to defy their hearty appetites. “I’m like this always when I’m at a buffet, especially those that feature different cuisines,” shared supermodel Catriona Gray, while picking her flavor at Marriott Café’s rather generous gelato station. “Especially those that I haven’t been to, like I haven’t been to Korea, and I’m not familiar with Korean food, so now I’m in a food coma.”

And for those who have yet to join the beeline for this scrumptious oriental banquet, Brendan Mahoney offers words of warning: “We finish this one by mid-October, and we go straight into Oktoberfest,” he says. But not to fret, because even if you miss this one, the Marriott Café has plenty more gastronomic experiences that aim to surprise all throughout the year.



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Marriott Café’s North Asian Food Festival runs until Oct. 15, with a Monday-to-Saturday lunch buffet at P1900++ and the Sunday-Thursday dinner buffet at P2100++.


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