I’ve been meaning to write about Paseo Uno over at the Mandarin Oriental in Makati for the longest time but never actually found the time for it till now.
(Actually, I’m nursing a cold at home at the moment, alas…)
It’s one of my family’s favorite restaurants and it’s a fascination that began when my mother and her friends went over there for lunch. Some time after, it was where we took my brother for his birthday last year.
Lunchtime is the best time to head over to Paseo Uno because the dark wood and gilt interiors work best with sunshine streaming through the huge windows and the ambience takes on a friendlier glow. The service is impeccable, definitely in keeping with the Mandarin’s best traditions of gracious hospitality.
As soon as your party has settled into your table of choice, your drinks have been ordered, and you’ve advised the friendly waitstaff that you’re going for the buffet, a warm, crusty, flour-dusted loaf of bread comes to your table. It’s a cross between a baguette (crisp out, fluffy within) and a mild sourdough that goes beautifully with the little dish of demi-sel (lightly salted) butter.
Man, of course, cannot live on bread alone; so it’s off to the first part of the buffet. To one side of the restaurant is a bar laden with warm and cold salads, fresh seafood, and a selection of sushi, sashimi, and makimono.
The Mandarin makes this fab warm venison salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, cranberries, and dried cherries. As a sharp Oriental counterpoint to this, they also have a cold salad made with raw salmon spiked with a hint of rice vinegar, cilantro, and a generous sprinkle of flowery / peppery shichimi togarashi.
Those of you who are as mad about raw fish as I am will have a field day, and I seriously recommend the oysters as they are plump, almost pulsatingly fresh, and have a savory-sweet, somewhat briny tang.
The section for mains and entrees is divided into three: Oriental favorites on the right, Western offerings in the center, and the grill station to the left. The plate at the top of this post shows some of my favorites from this section: har gau and pork siu mai, roast duck with a bitter-chocolate and orange sauce, a bite of baked salmon and buttered veg, and a gorgeously rare slice of roast beef with grainy mustard and a dab of horseradish on the side.
Tempura – specifically fluffy-crisp prawn and soft-shell crab – is cooked to order by the chef at the Oriental section and there was even a DIY ramen / mami section where die-hard noodle junkies could get their fill. But, once you’ve had your fill of all the meat, fish, fowl, and veg, there’s only one place you’d like to head over to…
The dessert buffet, of course! Paseo Uno’s does not disappoint the hardened sweet tooth with its long line of cake squares, petite pastries, entremets (desserts in a glass), parfaits, ice creams, and bon bons. And for those of us who need sugar served up with a grand flourish, they have stations for DIY halo-halo (similar to ais kacang only on a more baroque scale), chocolate fondue, and crepes.
I opted to grab a skewer of fresh honeydew melon and dunked it in the fondue. This was joined by a Black Forest entremet and a square of mango cream tart. And le piece de resistence: a warm, freshly made crepe stuffed with mixed berries and cherries with a scoop of strawberry ice cream and a drizzle of – what else?! – more dark chocolate.
Paseo Uno is pricier than most buffets, but it is certainly worth every centavo. The food is so good, the service topnotch, and the interiors are elegant. I suggest considering it for family celebrations. 😀
Paseo Uno: Ground Floor – Mandarin Oriental, Makati Avenue, Makati. For reservations, call 750-88-88. The place is open for lunch and dinner.