Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lunch Buffet at Cafe Ilang-Ilang (Manila Hotel)

First things first, if you're going to the Manila Hotel in the next few days and will be coming from the northern part of Metro Manila, please allocate at least 30 minutes more travel time. I went last February 25, coming from south Caloocan, and got stuck in heavy traffic between Intramuros and Manila Hotel. There were lots of big trucks that late morning and half of the road was under construction (you know how it is when election time nears), going from Intramuros to Manila Hotel took longer than the travel from Grace Park to Intramuros.

But of course the annoyance I felt because of the traffic went away once I saw the food at Cafe Ilang-Ilang. Nothing soothes the soul quite like good food.

The buffet at Cafe Ilang-Ilang has several sections, such as the Chinese, Filipino, Thai, Korean, Mediterranean, Italian, Churrasco, and Japanese stations.

Some of the food offered in the lunch buffet:
siomai dumplings
siomai / dumplings

bami goreng fried noodles
Bahmi goreng
Beef and Mushroom sauce
Beef and Mushroom sauce
Peking duck
Peking duck
lapu-lapu fish fillet
lapu-lapu fillet
pancit fried noodles
mussels and crabs seafood
fresh seafood
spicy chicken and squid
chicken and squid X.O. sauce
coffee machine

Italian Station

potato salad
Italian salami
Mortadella ham
hotel chef slicing pizza

Churrasco Station

Churrasco station
seafood being grilled
Brazilian beef steak being grilled
who needs Brazilian hunks when you got Brazilian beef?
Churrasco grill chef
steak, ribs, and sausage with Churrasco sauces
meats and sauces
corn and vegetables for grilling
vegetables for grilling
grilled asparagus

Filipino Station

paksiw na tiyan ng salmon
Bicol express

Korean Station 

Mediterranean Station (HALAL)

Thai Station

duck curry
shrimp salad
sauteed beef with basil leaves
shrimp cake
Bangkok fish

Japanese Station

sushi, maki, and sashimi - near the end of the buffet time
yasai moriwase (mixed vegetables) teppanyaki
tori (chicken) teppanyaki
sushi and noodles
wasabi and friends; the teapot contains soy sauce

Appetizers and Salads

terrines and pates
more terrines and pates
turkey ham || prawn salad
make your own salad
make your own salad
broccoli salad || chicken salad
tomato soup and salads

Dessert Station 

Some of the food I tasted...

The very first food item I tasted was the hototay soup. I did not have high expectations for it; it was just the food closest to my table. But I had a nice surprise -- it tasted great! So good that I actually forgot to take a picture of the soup and the dumplings I had. The chicken and squid X.O. sauce was also a neat treat -- delicious and spicy.

The different kinds of cheese were also satisfying. I fell in love with the brie cheese and the goat's milk cheese.

Cafe Ilang-Ilang offers a wide variety of appetizers. The different kinds of terrines, pates, and salads offered an interesting mix of tastes, colors, and textures.

The steak is grilled in the Churrasco station according to your preference. I chose my Brazilian beef to be cooked medium well.

One of the sushi I ate was a little hard, like it was sitting at the station for a while longer than the others, but the other sushi and the shake (salmon) sashimi were good. The shrimp cake (upper left in the picture above) was also good -- crispy and tasty.

(clockwise) Mortadella ham, Italian potato salad, pizza quattro formaggi
(four cheese pizza), Italian salami

The cold cuts were sliced very thinly but were still flavorful. The four-cheese pizza was a lot better than others I've tried. I usually enjoy four-cheese pizzas but find the taste of the different kinds of cheese almost indistinguishable. In Cafe Ilang-Ilang's version, the tastes are more distinct.

The four scoops of gelato were more than enough to cleanse the palate. The scoops in the picture above were vanilla, hazelnut, tiramisu, and mixed berry with banana (the red one). The last one had a nice tartness that made my salivary glands work extra. The cheesecake was also good. Sometimes there are buffet places that serve very pretty mini cakes that taste gross and ruin your meal. Good thing that Cafe Ilang-Ilang is not one of those.


Cafe Ilang-Ilang looks grand. Customers can dine indoors or al fresco near the pool. Just like with the food, diners have a lot of options on where they can park their buffet-loving butts. Instead of identical looking seats, tables and chairs come in different sizes, styles, and colors. Big and small groups can be accommodated. You can even dine by yourself (just like I did) without feeling conscious or intimidated. You get a cozy spot.

Unlike some buffet places, the food are not just at the center, but are more spread out. Thus, the diners also tend to spread out instead of everyone crowding at the middle of the room and blocking some of the food. The Italian and Japanese stations, in particular, are at areas that some people might mistake as just dining areas. Customers have to really go around and explore the edges and the corners of the cafe, just to make sure that they are not missing any station.

Service and Cleanliness

Every staff member of Manila Hotel and Cafe Ilang-Ilang I encountered was courteous and pleasant even though I was wearing casual clothes and did not have a fancy car. The chefs manning the different stations were also friendly and generous with their smiles. The sushi and sashimi spread in the picture above looked sparse, but I was able to take that picture near the end of the lunch buffet and the chef was busy preparing another food that time. However, when I and two other guests requested for salmon sashimi, the chef readily stopped what he was doing to give us generous servings of shake sashimi.

The only thing that seemed off was the service while I was seated. A cafe staff whisked away my first plate right after I put the last morsel of food into my mouth. Very efficient but kind of weird for someone to clean my table while I was still chewing. In contrast, my next few plates were allowed to accumulate before being taken away. That time, I was wishing the dirty dishes would be cleaned up since I was the only one at the table and the plates were evidence of my gluttony. I also had to ask twice for water before I got any. Anyway, those were just minor things that did not really detract from the nice buffet experience and the staff were busy since there were a lot of customers that time.

Buffet Rates for March 2013

  • Monday Lunch Break: 50% discount on lunch buffet (Note: No Prestige, discounts and other loyalty schemes will be honored). 
  • Tuesday-Saturday Lunch: Adult Php 1,950 net/pax || Child Php 975 net/pax 
  • Sunday Brunch buffet: Adult Php 2,150 net/pax || Child Php 1,075 net/pax 
Dinner Buffet
  • Monday: Adult Php 2,250 net/pax Child Php 1,125 net/pax 
  • Tuesday: Old World Specials, featuring cheese and sausage selection with 1 round of local beer - PHP 2,250 net/pax
  • Wednesday: Japanese Night, Adult Php 2,250 net/pax || Child Php 1,125 net/pax 
  • Thursday: Steak Night, Adult Php 2,650 net/pax || Child Php 1,325 net/pax 
  • Friday: Seafood Night, Adult Php 2,650 net/pax || Child Php 1,325 net/pax 

Treat for Graduates: pay only four buffet when dining in a group of five persons from March 1-31, 2013 . Guest must present school ID or diploma as proof of graduation. (Offer is not valid with prestige and other discount privileges).

Easter Sunday, March 31, 2012. Easter Sunday brunch buffet will be offered at PHP 2,250 net per person. Easter Sunday brunch buffet will be given to all kids.

BUFFET BLITZ: Cafe Ilang-Ilang will be on sale with 50% discount when purchased from March 25-30, 2013 and shall only be consumed within the month of April. Subject to seat availability. Only 200 seats will be allocated every day from April 1-30, 2013. To be settled at the F&B office.

Disclosure: I got a free pass to Cafe Ilang-Ilang's lunch buffet but, as usual, the review is still unsugarcoated.

Café Ilang-Ilang

Ground Floor, Manila Hotel,
One Rizal Park, Manila
Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel. No. 527-0011 local 1261
Web site
Facebook page


  1. Station station talaga? Wow, ang ganda lang ng mga pagkain. Yung peking duck, akala ko peki na duck, species pala yung peking, sa china diba?

    1. Hello Zion. The duck dish is from Peking (aka Beijing, the capital of China). The breed of the duck is called Pekin duck.

  2. You post is full of yumminess. Yes, cleaning your table while still chewing is not good. Parang pinapalayas ka na agad. Mukhang hindi maganda yung nabasa ko sa first part. Extra traffic from Intramuros to Manila Hotel? Kainis, kung kelan pabalik na ako ng Pinas dun pa sila nag-ayos ng kalsada. Grrrr...

  3. It's been a while since we ate at a buffet, especially the ones at hotels. Everything looks delicious!

  4. My husband took the entire family to Cafe Ilang-Ilang last December for a dinner buffet. On a weekend. The ambiance and the food were simply grand! I didnt know what to eat first because of the sumptuous spread. I even passed up on the Italian station. :)It was money well spent.

  5. One of the best buffets in Manila.


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