Hyatt’s Market Café

I got DealGrocer vouchers for the Market Café buffet. Market Café is Hyatt Hotel and Casino, located at Pedro Gil corner M.H. del Pilar, Manila. I finally managed to snag a reservation for me and the Parental Units (PU) on Palm Sunday, 1 May 2012.

Hyatt Lobby

From Scrapbook

Hyatt Lobby

From Scrapbook

Hyatt Hotel and Casino is a deluxe 5-star hotel surrounded by attractions such as Intramuros, Luneta, Rizal Parks, Chinatown, Cultural Centre of the Philippines, and the Manila Bay. It has 376 guestrooms and suites, and boasts of several restaurants and lounges and bars: Market Cafe, Li Li, The Fireplace, Pastry Boutique, The Lounge, and Pool Bar. Parking is located at the basement level (100PhP flat rate, validation available). Market Café is at the same floor as the ballrooms, and just an escalator away from the lobby. We arrived at 1100hrs, a full 30 minutes away from our reservation. Nevertheless, we were welcomed at the door of the restaurant by Yssa, who graciously led us to our table. She informed us that the buffet will start at 1130hrs, and closes at 1430, and at that time, they were still preparing for the lunch buffet. She likewise told us that the voucher included bottomless drinks of soda and local beers. We were immediately offered water and drinks, and we simply settled down with the available newspapers. There was also complimentary wifi in the restaurant, so that was a real plus.

I took a look around the buffet stations at around 1120hrs. There was a carving station (roast beef, chicken and lamb); pasta station (tomato and basil sauce, and white sauce); pizza station (2 kinds of pizza); bread and cheese (blue, emmental, cheddar and port sart) and cold cuts; noodle station; dimsum; sushi and sashimi; tempura bar, Indian station; salad; fresh seafood; fruits; cakes and other pastries; and halo-halo station. There was also sea cucumber and other greens (like kailan), but I do not know how to classify them. 😀

Japanese station

From Scrapbook
From Scrapbook

Mini-Tabasco bottles! I’m in heaven!

From Scrapbook
From Scrapbook

The buffet started at 1130hrs. There were not many people in the restaurant, let’s say it was half full at that time, but already the place was abuzz with excitement. PU1 readily attacked the seafood station (as she always does), and PU2 went straight to the greens (as he always does). I went to the cheese station first and got for myself a slice of all the cheeses, some tomatoes with basil, 2 slices of bread and Parma ham. The ham was great, and the cheese standout was Port Salut and Emmental. I then went to the Japanese station, and got everything with salmon on it, and sampled also the red snapper sashimi.

From Scrapbook

Salad station. I skipped this 😀

From Scrapbook

I also sampled the Indian offerings and had some of the buttered chicken (which I think endeavours to be tikka masala), lamb biryani, prawn curry, and patha gobi. The Indian food made me miss New Bombay Restaurant. It was beside the miso soup, so I also got some of that. By this time (already my third trip around), I was already somewhat full. But I still went ahead and got some dimsum (seafood roll, pork siomai, and two others I can not name :))). I also got a can of Kirin Beer from the chiller, and split the same between me and PU2. initially, we agreed that it was just like light beer. After about 20 minutes, we changed our minds and also agreed that it had some substantial alcoholic content 😀 I also had some roast beef with mushroom gravy and ratatouille.

From Scrapbook

To finish  it off, I got a small slice of tres leches cake, macarons, and my all-time favourite dessert, leche flan taken from the halo-halo station. I have to say, the best buffet leche flan goes to Market Café! I loved every bit of it, it was creamy, with just the right level of sweetness.

I did not get to sample everything, it was just too much for one stomach to handle, but all of the food was great. What was especially exceptional was the service. The servers were very attentive, very hospitable, and answered all my questions and catered to all requests (including PU1, who asked for baked oysters, buttered prawns, spinach noodles). Also, they all served with smiles, which is a definite plus. All in all, I was very satisfied with the Market Café buffet, and would definitely want to try it again.

From Scrapbook

Lenten (Re)Treat at Mirador

Happy Easter!

I just came from a 3-day retreat held at the Mirador Jesuit Villa, Baguio City. I will not share my realizations from the said retreat, I find that to be too personal to be written in such a public forum. I would just like to share what it was like there.

It was actually my second time in Mirador, and I missed every bit of it! Mirador is located at the very top of Mirador hill, where the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto is located. If one can remember the gates at the very top of the stairs of the grotto, that is Mirador :). I love the fact that it is just there, very much in the thick of things, but detached at the same time. Despite being in the vicinity of one of Baguio’s most visited spots, it is still secluded and kept private.

Mirador is a villa house for Jesuits and retreat house, but also at one time or another in its long history, also served as an observatory, scholasticate for Chinese Jesuits and a Japanese dwelling during the war. At present, Jesuits come to Mirador for their own annual retreats, but lay people are also welcome for their own contemplation. It is primarily made out of very old wood, the age and history of the place apparent in the creaking of the boards. It has a nice, peaceful charm, but some might be too overwhelmed by it all.

Tiny rock garden in the foreground

From Scrapbook

There are rooms, nooks and private spaces for prayer and contemplation in and outside the building. On the Resurrection Wing (Wing A), there is a meditation room, just outside it is the Sun Room, which had a sun roof. There are also couches near the front desk. You would think that because of the location, it would be noisy and busy, but it is not. I think it also helps that everyone is in a silent retreat, so that helps the retreatants. Further to the west is the dining hall, which offers a fantastic panorama of the Sierra Madre mountains, and even to the distance, the Lingayen Gulf. Just beside the dining hall is the Main Chapel, and the last room to the west is the Vigil Room. If I had to choose my favourite spot in the whole villa, it would be the Vigil Room. Apart from the cross, native depiction of the Passion in the walls, shallow bas reliefs in the ceiling, and a tiny grotto in the corner, it also managed to incorporate local flavour by using local materials such as the throw pillows covered with Ifugao woven cloth. Apart from that, the panorama of the mountains, especially at sunset, is just breathtaking.

That is the moon setting.

From Scrapbook

Sunset from the Main Chapel

From Scrapbook

The Main Chapel

From Scrapbook

Outside the villa, you have the vast garden and mountainside at your disposal. Mirador also has one of the few labyrinths in the country, which when stretched out, is 125 meters (I counted my steps when I walked the labyrinth, it was 377 normal steps, one way). There is also a tiny pond filled with carp just beside the labyrinth. There are also kubos (houses of light materials) scattered in the compound, as well as rocks and stumps one can use as chairs and tables. Very precious too are the sculptures in the mountain, a huge white sculpture showing Jesus and his Sacred Heart, and the Jesus Christ on the cross reaching out to man just beside the Resurrection Wing stand out. The sunrise is just divine under this metal sculpture, it’s a pity I only had my mobile phone to take pictures with.

Sunrise.

From Scrapbook
From Scrapbook

Not to be forgotten is the food served in Mirador! As retreatants, we were treated to three full meals featuring fresh vegetables and other meats, and two snacks per day! Not to mention the unlimited brewed coffee, and my favourite, the MJV tea. Oh just thinking about it now that I am back in the city makes me want to go back.

Not counting the grace-filled sharings I had with my retreat director, the solemn celebrations, and my private moments with the Lord, I had more than a great time in MJV. As Fr. H.V. dela Costa, SJ stated in his notes on Mirador, indeed it still serves its purpose as a Prospect Point, especially to people who trek to the mountains to seek contemplation and grace.

“And if this House could speak, perhaps this is what it would say to you: Look out of my windows and try to extend your vision beyond the Gulf of Lingayen to all of Asia, try to make and see clearly what God’s plan for all these peoples is, and for all those, who – like yourself – seek nothing else but to be of service to man.” – Fr. H.V. dela Costa

From Scrapbook

(On our way home, we passed by the Baguio Cathedral and Good Shepherd Convent to buy the obligatory peanut brittle :D. Good Shepherd Convent is located at Gibraltar Road, Baguio City. To get there, follow the signs pointing to Mines View Park. Good Shepherd Convent is on the second corner to the right from Mines View Park [the road goes one way only])