Food Diary : Niu by VikingsMonday, June 15, 2015
One day, like any other given day, I was endlessly scrolling through Facebook wishing I could chance upon an interesting article to waste my time on. It seemed hopeless as my news feed was full of selfies, if not vacation photos, not to mention the seemingly bottomless pit of Dubsmash videos. My eyes lit at the sight of this ad. You know how those sponsored posts seem to appear at the most perfect time of your solace, talk about targeted marketing, lol. I've always been a fan of all-you-can-eat buffets, and seeing Niu slashing a certain amount to their lunch buffet price, I didn't hesitate in giving it a try.
I was overly excited at the idea of trying Niu for the first time because from what I've heard and read, it's an upscale version of Vikings and offers a more exquisite food selection. Niu means nine in the Viking language and is a significant number in Norse mythology. What was the relevance of that? Nothing, really. Just wanted to share fast facts so you can add a bit of knowledge to your rotting brain, you dimwit! Lol, kidding! Let's get started!
We made a reservation a few days prior to dining at Niu. I prefer eating lunch buffets because I frequently suffer from indigestion if I indulge at dinner. The look and feel certainly felt like a notch above Vikings. They have also have their own area at SM Aura so you don't have to worry about people seeing you across that glass while trying to gobble a plateful of that sumptuous lamb leg. Unlike Vikings, Niu doesn't have a birthday Promo. Don't despair though for they still have the 'Flaunt Your Age' promo in place. You can check the mechanics and the rates here.
I was utterly disappointed with the food. It was the same as what we usually have in Vikings.The dessert, if anything, failed my expectations. Vikings has a more elaborate selection than Niu! At P888, I was thinking Crabs, lobsters and the highly-anticipated, Foie Gras. My companion was also looking for Uni, but unfortunately, that wasn't available as well. I don't know if it was an unlucky day for lunch buffets but I am certain that I didn't get my money's worth. I have a few note-worthy items you should try though. Niu has one of the best Hakaw's I've ever tasted. Another favorite from the carving station were : Lechon and Roasted Lamb leg with truffle sauce and mint jelly. The only thing that wasn't as extensive in Vikings was their pastry section. I love Niu's pastry section, especially their delectable Blueberry Danish! It tastes like my old-time favorite egg tart from Lord Stowe's, with the egg tart being replaced with Bluberry, obviously. Major yum!
Service and Ambiance
If there is anything highly commendable about this place, it's their customer service! While dining, I was starting to think that maybe the upscaling part wasn't necessarily on the food, but on the type of service being provided. The chairs and tables were arranged in a way that wouldn't crowd diners. They also had several fancy chandeliers and a huge black piano sitting in the middle of the dining area. No one was playing when we ate there, I'm assuming they only make use of it during dinner time. They also refill dishes pretty quickly, unlike Vikings. I remember going back and forth at the Oyster section six times because they always run out! With Niu, every dish was quickly refilled after it had ran out, hence I was able to enjoy as much Oysters as I can!
I wasn't amused with the arrangement of the buffet though because it was a relatively long line! It was fun when I was checking all the items they had, but when it was time to get food, it didn't really seem so fun after all especially if you're seated at the far end of the buffet. I like Vikings' arrangement better. Again, I'd like to reiterate that all these observations were done during lunch. I have no idea if their dinner buffet is better in any way.
Since I've been on a roll doing all-you-can-eat buffet sprees, and yes, that's in the present tense, I'd like to share some of the tips and tricks I've learned through the course my gastronomic adventure. My buffet trips weren't all successful. I'd like to share some moments of weakness and duress because of food.
It pays to do a little research when it comes to selecting the buffet of your choice. Some buffets may offer a variety of international cuisines but none that suits your taste. A lot of blogs offer reviews and I find them really helpful. Some even mention which branch offers more cuisines or which branch has less people.
2. Schedule your visit.
I've had the misfortune of being all giddy on my birthday and being told that I'd have to wait until someone cancels their reservation before we get seated. That was my freakin' birthday! Good thing we only waited for a good 5 minutes before we got seated. But what if we didn't? I don't even want to imagine the consequences. Because of that incident, I've adapted the habit of reserving a seat every time I plan to visit a restaurant. It won't hurt if you do too. Don't let it ruin your buffet bubble!
3. Don't go hungry.
Don't starve yourself with thoughts of making the most out of your money by not eating the day before your scheduled trip to the buffet table! That would only make things worse because you'll easily get full and you won't be able to indulge! If you plan to come in at lunch, make sure you've had ample breakfast. Same goes if you plan to go at dinner time. Make space but make sure you don't starve yourself in the process. This is not a detox drill, people!
4. Shop around.
Since you're all set and emotionally prepared to indulge, make sure you stick to the strategy. And that is to go around the buffet table as much as you can, inspect every nook and cranny and make sure you don't miss out on anything. From there, you can plan how you'll go about starting your appetizers, main course and desserts. Don't be a 'takaw mata', filling up your plate with everything you see on the table. Plan wisely to make the most out of your money!
5. Go for expensive favorites.
I love Sashimi. When I do my research, I always make sure it's on the menu. Sashimi is quite expensive when ordered ala carte in Japanese restaurants that's why I make the most out of it when I go to buffets. Aside from Sashimi, I also have a ton of carving station favorites that I always look forward to such as Steak, Lamb, Turkey, Bagnet, Lechon and everything fatty in between. Some may not be THAT expensive but they're certainly my favorites! When we visited Niu, we were looking for Foie Gras, Lobster and Uni, to make the most out of this item. Unfortunately, all three weren't available at the time of our visit.
6. Don't drink beer.
Or any alcoholic beverage for that matter. Well, I guess you can drink a pint or two, but don't drown yourself in alcoholic beverages. Save that for another time, like, when you're in a pub or something. I've been in this unfortunate instance where I was extremely overwhelmed with the amount of alcoholic beverages available and I totally forgot about my strategy. I ended up downing more alcohol than food, and that didn't really end up well. I guess it's all a matter of priority, if you plan to focus more on the drinks than the food, then by all means indulge. But if you're in it for the food, I suggest you skip the alcohol.
Niu by Vikings
02 8454647 | 11 AM to 2:30 PM, 5:30 PM to 10 PM
SM Aura, 26th corner Mckinely Parkway, Taguig