Updated: Jul 31, 2021
Lockdown has already been lifted here in the Philippines but have you ever wondered how this crazy pandemic affected the restaurant industry, specifically the buffet restaurants?
I had the opportunity to eat in a buffet restaurant after the lockdown was lifted. Aside from the required face mask, face shield and digital health forms you have to fill up, no swab test is required, thankfully.
Since we want to stuff ourselves with food but at the same time be healthy, we decided to eat at Four Season Hotpot City, a buffet concept by Vikings.
Upon entering, we were led to our tables and they gave us a pot divided into two parts and filled with their base soup.
They asked us what flavors we want and, since it's our first time here, I told them if they can give us all their flavors so that we can taste and choose.
They gave us five flavors but, for the life of me, the only flavors I can remember are the chili paste, satay, and the sinigang powder.
I've heard that, in the pre-lockdown era, you get to choose from four soup bases, and then you can customize your soup with 4 other flavors. Guess this is the first difference from the pre-lockdown era.
As I'm looking for foods that I want to get, I noticed that there's no usual stack of plates that can be seen anywhere. I've looked below the counters, above the counters, and even behind the counters but there's just no stack of plates to be found. Then I noticed how others are getting their own plates.
One huge difference from the pre-lockdown era is that people now have to point what they want and the person behind the counter will fill up a plate with their choice of food and gave it to the customer. The excitement of personally filling your plate to the brim is now gone. It's now like 'turo-turo' style.
But anyway, Four Season still has five different stations to choose from:
1. Appetizer section
Not the person to have appetizers, I skip this area.
2. The Seafood Section
In this area, I picked out Salmon Belly, Salmon Head, Squid and, I think, Tuna. I skipped the sushi because rice is your biggest enemy in any buffets (PRO TIP #1)
3. The Cooked Food counter:
Of course, in every Viking's buffet there is the cooked food counter where you can get the usual Chinese fried rice, sweet and sour pork, fried chicken and, of course, the famous tempura.
4. The Meat Area:
This is the place where I really fill up my plate again and again and again....and again. You can get all kinds of beef and pork cuts and they also have bowls of innards of chicken and pork. Any street food lover will enjoy this part!
5. The Premium Area:
In this area, you can get a plate of either beef, chicken, or vegetable teppanyaki, and chinese noodles/pancit all made to order. Their teppanyaki is one of the best. Although, if you are sensitive to sodium, make sure to tell them to lessen the salt. (PRO TIP #2)
6. The Dessert Area:
Let's not forget the most important part of the meal: DESSERTS!
They have all kinds of cake, brownies, puddings, and salads for you to choose from.
They even had an ice cream bar! But the best part, for me, is their puto bumbong area alongside their bibingka area. Puto bumbong is love for me!
The verdict? 6 out of 10. Though they use real malagkit, their coconut flakes is dry so it's a bit grainy in the mouth.
7. And, of course, the Drinks Section:
They have a softdrink machine, six kinds of fresh juice, alcoholic beverages, coffee and tea for you to choose from.
Pre-lockdown times will let you have the satisfaction to press this buttons to have your coffee but in the post-lockdown era, you will have to ask an attendant for a cup of coffee and they will be the one to press the button.
For me, the most important part of any buffet restaurant is their toilet. You see, if you had the right strategy in eating in a buffet and had successfully get your money's worth, you will definitely use the toilet at the end of your meal. And these toilets, especially now, should be clean, nice and comfotable.
Obviously, I can only show you the female part. But my dad siad that the men's bathroom is also clean and comfortable.
Lest I forget, before I end this blog, here's a picture of the famous Four Season's Mix. I only saw this when I was already midway on my meal but this should be the first thing you should get before anything else because IT IS SO GOOD on almost everything!
And if our smiles here doesn't say that we are very satisfied with the more healthier way of eating in a buffet, well, we came back for the second time so I think that will say a lot more.
Kudos to the Four Season's team on making us feel safe in eating in their restaurant. Though there are some buffet features that are missing, due to obvious reasons, they still made every effort for us to enjoy our meal. By the way, the only place you are allowed not to wear your face mask is when you are at your table. If you are walking around, protocols call that you should wear your face mask.
As always, stay safe!