Celebrating in Circles brings you a gastronomic fusion of international cuisines such as Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Western and Indian.
For our anniversary, my husband treated me to a dinner buffet at Circles Event Cafe in Makati Shangri-La. We had just finished a target shooting session in Alabang before we headed out to Makati for our meal. It was actually my first time to hold a gun, and my poor ears almost went deaf with the resounding noise of each shot. The first time I pulled the trigger, I recoiled together with my gun; my heart was pounding so loudly and I was ready to quit. But my husband cheered me on, seeing that I had just missed the center of my target by only a couple of millimeters. I must have fired 18 bullets give or take, all of which are within decent minimal range of the target's core. Not bad for a first timer. It was supposed to be a stress reliever sort of activity, but it only left me stressed out and nervous -my hands cold and clammy- that I was mentally debating whether or not I was willing to give it another go next time. When we left, I was curious though if it was just beginner's luck, so maybe I will.
By the time we arrived at Circles and informed the receptionist of our reservations, I was famished. I was ready to eat but the blogger in me cried time out and released the camera from the bag. I asked permission from the staff if I could take photos, which they kindly allowed. However, midway through the shoot, a security personnel in civilian clothing approached me and discreetly told me that it was prohibited to take pictures of the food. I then told him that the manager had given me permission and when he consulted with the manager, he asked if I had reservations to which I replied yes, and proceeded to tell me to carry on with my picture taking. I thanked him again, took a few more shots and returned to our table. Now, let's get ready to rumble!
Circles boasts of several open-theater kitchens. Gone are the days when buffets are simply composed of chaffing dishes and trays lined up on a long table. Now, chefs are available at each station to cater to your personal preferences and questions if you have any, encouraging more interaction for better food appreciation.
At the farthest side of the restaurant was the roasting station. Roasted ducks and chicken hang limply by their necks, their oleaginous skin scintillating under the spotlights. I decided to skip this first since I was more curious of the peking duck station I had passed by earlier. I figured, it wasn't humanly possible to engorge oneself with each and every food type and cuisine in one evening so it's better to first select the ones that appeal to you most and leave the others for later. That is, if your stomach would still allow more food to take up space.
The dimsum station offered bowls of fried dumplings, buchi and dimsum baskets filled with various siomai, some tasty chicken feet and the usual spareribs. Different dipping sauces stand guard in front, ready to elevate your Chinese palate with more flavors.
On one side of the counter, a mishmash of vegetables lined up the grill's circumference. I see young corn, sliced shiitake and button mushrooms, julienned carrots, okra and cauliflower all available for stir-fry.
Huge clay vases in orange red paint held several spices like dried chili peppers, cinnamon and star anise.
I was tempted to grab a shawarma, but I was saving my appetite for something else.
Just look at that scrumptious meat, its oil and fat just trickling down the tall stack of meaty layers. Get a pita bread, slice some pork or beef (I didn't get to take a closer look what kind of meat it was), add some sliced tomatoes and shredded cabbage, squirt a generous amount of cheese and top it off with garlic cream sauce.
An unlabeled thick slab of meat rested on a bed of greens with slices of lemons on both margins; a lone spotlight trained on its fulgid surface. Oh, if only I could fit everything in or dine all day for a minimum of eight hours, maybe then I could sample every single delectable dish that catches my eye.
The pasta station showcased different noodles like spaghetti, linguine and penne; bowls of red and white sauce were on the side. Toppings such as ham, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese were displayed up front.
Several chunks of Beef Ribs Korean Style was laid out beautifully on a platter, a warm spotlight transfixed on the dish like a star of a one-man show. Grilled citrus fruits lay on a tangled heap with roasted cloves of garlic, charred lines appearing on the surface of each wedge. A strand of rosemary and some herbs serve as a garnish to this glowing plate.
I love Peking Duck Wraps slathered with hoisin sauce and so I patiently wait for the staff to prepare a few wraps for me. Plum sauce also goes nicely with the duck but I fail to see one here.
The Peking duck hooked on a silver metal, its savory brown painted skin glinting against the hot lights.
And there it is, the true star of the show, the US Bone-In Prime Rib Roast. Just look at that gorgeous beef with its gleaming skin and mouthwatering pinkish brown meat. Sliced -I go for the ones with lots of fat- and cooked to your preferred level (medium-well for me), its tender meat just coalesces handsomely with the unctuous fat to give you a heightened sensation of rich, robust beefy goodness. The red wine sauce goes perfectly to lend that pompous flavor to the already ambrosial taste. Make sure to smother loads of it, albeit already good on its own. And a telltale sign of its opulence? The succulent beef just melts in your mouth within seconds of consumption. That good.
I wasn't too happy with the Whole Roasted Baby Suckling, but then, who would after eating the prime ribs? It simply didn't compare and I would much rather save the space for more of those roast beef.
Besides pasta, there's also a couple of pizzas representing the Italian cuisine.
A melange of what looked like Baguettes, Dinner rolls, Brown Rye bread and Raisin bread is situated in a wooden kitchen display cabinet.
Platters of cold cuts, bowls of dried fruits and nuts as well as blocks of assorted cheese adorn this station.
Salad greens, meat and various vegetable toppings such as cucumbers, tomatoes and olives bedeck the other side.
Various cold salads were available at the rear salad bar and the first and only one I get is the jelly fish. I wasn't thinking much of it as I put a forkful into my mouth since there usually isn't any difference among Chinese restaurants' versions, but then a sapid pleasant taste hit my palate. The familiar flavors which are usually stable and mediocre are replaced with such intensity and distinctness. I simply wanted more.
Mussels and shrimps sit in array for the taking.
Red frog crabs or spanner crabs are chopped in half and laid on crushed ice.
I loved the Pink Salmon Sashimi. It was plump, soft and tasted fresh. Same goes with the Tuna Sashimi though I have a predilection for the former more than the latter.
Another treat is the assemblage of sushi, some still inside the horizontal chiller, the others openly displayed atop. I grab a couple of each variant and relish on getting mouthful after mouthful of delicious raw seafood and sticky rice. There's the favorite california maki, futo maki, tekka maki, unagi sushi and salmon sushi among others. I then take in another round of salmon sashimi to cleanse the palate of the jumbled flavors.
We move on to the desserts! First off is the halo-halo bar with a nice selection of toppings like ube, macapuno, beans and langka. There's even a fruit salad bowl to boot.
A smorgasbord of cakes and pastries fill up the next bar, a treat for the sweet tooth in all of us. There's some sugar-free brownies and cheesecake, buchi, egg tarts, tres leches, brazo de mercedes, mango jello (?), and a miscellany of cakes.
I'm not sure if this is a flourless chocolate cake but it sure is pretty with the partially sliced strawberry, raspberries, blackberry and blueberries thrown in at the center and a few slender strips of chocolate bent gingerly in a wave.
Slices of fresh fruits lay in heaps -- oranges, apples, pineapples, kiwi, watermelon, dragon fruits, pears and melons make up this motley of healthy desserts.
Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to come back for the ice cream. It would have been nice to have something cold to end the meal. I see an interesting set of colors and I'm intrigued as to what flavors they might be. There's also toppings like chocolate chips and marshmallows, and syrups such as chocolate and hot fudge.
I vaguely remember seeing those cookies and dried prunes and apricots. My eyes have zoomed in on those sybaritic parfaits, my mind already taking note of which ones to get later. I go for the Buco Pandan which was mild and pliant. Then there was the Lychee Gelatin, the orb encased in a dulcet transparent jello, the nuances in sweetness unapparent.
A tall chocolate fountain fondue sits massively at the center surrounded by square plates on which skewered fruits, madeleines and marshmallows rest. It was fun watching my marshmallow slowly being swallowed up by the velvety liquid chocolate, a trail of chocolate drippings taint my pristine dessert plate.
A very lovely array of petit fours line up row after row, definitely such an eye candy. I can't help but be captivated by the tempting little cakes, I couldn't decide on which one to get first. If my stomach could take it, I'd take them all. My mouth was literally watering with every second of hard decision, my drool almost escaping the corners of my mouth. I could only smack my lips in anticipation of each sweet bite. I get a tiny bowl of Tiramisu, which was made up of dark chocolate. Luscious with a hint of coffee in each bite. Next I go for the Creme Brulee, its custard sweet and light. The Strawberry Cheesecake was rich and inviting, and I use the small slice of strawberry to cut the sweetness. Oh my, I was itching to go back for another round of new cakes. Darn these pants! I knew I should have worn a loose dress.
The Strawberry Iced Tea (P190) was a let down. I was distinctly aware of the artificial syrup that came with the iced tea having an unpleasant cloying taste. For the price, I was expecting to have some fresh strawberries thrown into the mix.
The Apple Iced Tea (P190) albeit it did come with some artificial syrup as well, had a pretty much subdued flavor and much closer to what you expect an apple juice or iced tea to taste like. Plus, it has slices of fresh apples which I appreciated.
The dinner buffet was P2,100 plus taxes which then amounted to P2,578.80 per head. A pretty pricey meal but according to my husband one that's really worth it, even if only for the plates of prime ribs, crabs and those desserts. I'd throw in the peking duck wraps and salmon sashimi, too.
Circles Event Cafe
Spot: Lobby Level, Makati Shangri-La, Ayala cor. Makati Ave. Makati City
Contact No.: 840.0884