Friday, June 20, 2014

Going Filipino at Melt - The World Cafe in Mandarin Oriental Singapore

Lunch Break!

Normally, lunch for me would consist of two slices of wholewheat bread and my choice of veggies or meat that I would tabao from my favorite soup restaurant beside my office. On other days, I would bring some home-cooked packed lunch or if I want to go healthy, it would be a huge container of salad. Given that I tend to work as I eat, lunch has always been something light and quick for me. It has indeed been sometime when I was able to sit down, enjoy a real good meal and to chitchat a little longer.

MELT Filipino Buffet 6
Well, after a series of stressful workdays, the kind genie (a.k.a. my friend WT) must have heard my plea and he granted me one wish -- to join him for lunch at Melt - The World Cafe in Mandarin Oriental. What makes it event better? The fact that Melt recently launched a 10-day long Filipino Buffet promotion highlighting a wide-array of classic dishes that I miss so much. This got me really excited that I've been looking forward to this lunch since Monday.

MELT Filipino Buffet 13
Melt is the all-day buffet restaurant of the luxurious Mandarin Oriental and I like how they have structured the stations to cover almost all corners of the restaurant. That way, there's no such thing as "the good seats" as wherever you're seated, there'll definitely be food nearby. 

MELT Filipino Buffet
Starting from the 19th of June up until the 28th June 2014, the Filipino dishes that patrons can enjoy will be prepared by no other than renowned chef, Pauline Gorriceta-Banusing. Chef Pauline hails from Ilo-Ilo and has been a regular guest chef in Mandarin Oriental in Makati. I'm so happy that she's in town allowing for this gastronomic feast to happen. 

For someone who hasn't been home for close to 6 months, I would find myself missing a number of my favorite Filipino dishes and desserts every so often. One day I was craving for Halo Halo, on other days it was Bopis, then you all know about my recent Lechon craving and discovery.

MELT Filipino Buffet 8
Our lunch began with an individual serving of Lumpiang Ubod -- fresh egg roll filled with strips of veggies/ubod (hearts of coconut palm) and served with sweet peanut sauce. This suddenly reminded me of Mommy who loves Lumpiang Ubod a lot and we would go to Goldilocks for our afternoon snack to have this.

MELT Filipino Buffet 7
To warm our tummies and to prepare us for the feast ahead, we had a young coconut shell each filled with comforting Chicken Binakol. It's a clear soup that consists of tender chicken meat, coconut meat, green papaya and a small stalk of lemon grass. Chef Pauline's version was very very good. Note that I'm not a big soup fan but I really enjoyed this soup very much. It was just a bit challenging to finish all the soup from the coconut shell but I think I did a pretty good job. The soup had a sweet note and it was just so refreshing.

Now that our tummies have warmed up, let me take you on a virtual tour on what other dishes to expect during the Filipino Food Promotion at Melt -- The World Cafe:

MELT Filipino Buffet 15
1st stop: Kinilaw and Ensalada. They got a number of different choices from Kinilaw na Tanigue (Raw Fish Salad), Ampalaya Salad (Bittergourd Salad -- I promise you it's not bitter at all), Langka Salad (Jackfruit Salad) and more!

MELT Filipino Buffet 10
Second stop: More soups: Aside from the Chicken Binakol, they also have Munggo na may Kalabasa (Pumpkin and Mung Beans) and Beef Nilaga (Beef Soup)

MELT Filipino Buffet 11
Third stop: Bopis (chopped pork sauteed with chili, tomatoes and onions)
I tell you, this just got to be my favorite local dish ever! This just got to be the only one that would make me say "extra rice please!"

MELT Filipino Buffet 5
Fourth stop: Binagoonan Baboy -- Stewed Pork cooked with Fermented Shrimp Paste

MELT Filipino Buffet 4
Fifth stop: Sisig -- Pig Ears cooked with chili, onion, vinegar and topped with crunchy pork rinds (chicharon) and normally served in a sizzling plate.
How I wish Paul was with me as he will surely love this dish that has secured Pampanga's top position in the Pinoy Foodie Map! The meat was crunchy and flavourful although the chicharon lacks the authenticity or perhaps they should just crumble it even more.

MELT Filipino Buffet 12
Sixth stop: Kare Kare with Bagoong -- Filipino Beef Stew with Peanut Sauce
The meat was melt-in-your-mouth good! Kare Kare is one of my favorite Filipino dishes and it sure felt so good to have this again after so long. I paired this with a generous serving of garlic rice. Yummy!

MELT Filipino Buffet 17
Seventh stop: KBL a.k.a. Kadyos, Baboy at Langka - Pigeon Peas, Pork and Jackfruit
Among all the dishes, Chef Pauline was mighty proud of her KBL. She said this is authentically Ilonggo! Sadly I was just so full to have another bite but it looks gorgeous doesn't it?

MELT Filipino Buffet 9
Eight stop: Lechon  -- Roasted Suckling Pig
Of course, what's a Filipino feast with Lechon? I don't know why the mere mention of lechon more so the sight of it can really make my heart beat a million times over. The skin was perfectly crunchy and the meat was tender and flavorful. Chef Pauline roasted this lechon herself complete with all the ingredients that's used back home.

MELT Filipino Buffet 16
Ninth stop: Chicken Inasal
As I made my way back to the table with my plate filled with food, Chef Pauline turned to me and said "You're Pinoy, right? Have some Inasal" Of course, how could I say no! I love Chicken Inasal and even how my buffet plate was overflowing already, I happily accepted the plate and shared it with my tablemates instead. :) The chicken was grilled to perfection and it was just so yummy! The rice could have been better with more inasal oil to make it more aromatic. Not bad, nonetheless.

MELT Filipino Buffet 1
The tenth and final stop was the Dessert Station. Chef Pauline personally brought in boxes of Butterscotch, Mango Empanaditas and Pastillas from the Philippines. It's so cool to see how our fellow food bloggers and writers were enjoying our local sweets. The Mango Empanaditas were divine. Truly, Philippine mangoes are still the best in the world!

MELT Filipino Buffet 3
What's a Pinoy dessert spread without Halo Halo? By the entrance of the restaurant, there's a Make-you-own-Halo Halo station. We happily created our own but quickly noticed that there was no Leche Flan in sight. Shucks, my favorite ingredient in a glass of Halo Halo and it wasn't available. I couldn't help but express my disappointment to Chef Pauline who quickly reassured me that the Leche Flan will be included in the dinner round onwards. Definitely a sign for me to go back!

MELT Filipino Buffet 2
Most of the servers present that day were also Filipino and they were clad in our traditional Baro't Saya and Barong. Look, here's our friendly server who gamely posed with my bowl of Halo Halo!

It was indeed one of the best workday lunches that I've had and I'm so sad that the promotion is just running for 10 days. I will try to go back and bring Paul who misses our local Filipino food even more than I do.

Buffet Rates:
Lunch (Mon - Sat) : S$68++
Dinner (Sun - Wed) : S$82++
Dinner (Thurs - Sat) : S$88++
Sunday Brunch :S$108++

Visit Melt - The World Cafe at the 4th level of Mandarin Oriental, 6 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square, Singapore. Call them at 6885 3500. 

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