Thursday, July 14, 2011

letter from the 5th floor

11 July 2011, 2:30PM

Dear YOU (you know who you are):

Today I pretended to be you again and forged signed my way through an amazing lunch at Restaurant 5 of Discovery Suites. The lunch buffet is available Mondays to Fridays only, from 12 noon to 2:30PM, and it costs about PHP1,000 nett (US$23) per person. Of course, I ate for free thanks to your about-to-expire Discovery Lifestyle membership.

Let me tell you, this lunch is light-years away from our steak dinner at 22 Prime last Saturday. After that disappointing meal, we agreed that 22 Prime is not what it's cracked up to be. The steaks were just plain disturbing, with that weird powdery aftertaste and liver-like aroma. No mas.

Our buffet breakfast the next day was much better, but still not outstanding. It was OK-- hearty, and more satisfying than Misibis Bay Resort's breakfast-- remember last month? But then anything is better than Misibis food... except maybe El Nido Lagen food, har har.

So my expectations were not very high when I walked into Restaurant 5 at exactly 12 noon today. I requested a table by the window for the view and the light, but after two hours of sitting there, the afternoon sun started to bother me, so down came the blinds. The pictures turned out great, though.

First plate: Bread, butter and assorted cheeses. Normal lang. Same stuff we had for breakfast last Sunday.

Second plate. Beef carpaccio with grated Parmigiano, California maki and chilled mussel. The sushi and mussel were remarkable.

Compared to other buffet joints, this place is... cute. All the food choices fit in a tiny space-- there weren't many-- but there were quite a few gems. A staple of many a buffet table, Restaurant 5's California maki was super fresh and bright. The flavors danced on the tongue. No tired and soggy mess here. And that mussel? Will discuss in a bit.

First bowl of sukiyaki. (Yez, I had more than one.) A veritable work of art.

The sukiyaki station. That lady is an artist.

I adored Sukiyaki Lady. She would lovingly cook, assemble and personally deliver to our table every order of sukiyaki. She's the most meticulous cook I have ever seen, with a fierce attention to detail and an intense (scary) passion in her work. She really got the Japanese aesthetic right-- with the perfectly shaped vegetables placed just so, the exact amount of broth, and the gorgeous thinly-sliced beef kept in one single sheet of melt-in-your-mouth goodness. And the taste was sublime. Japan na Japan.

Third plate. Mussels in a row. Ayayay!

The mussels were the stuff of legend. I was wary at first because they were bigger than any mussel I'd ever seen before, and looked like blobs of plastic. I thought that they would be rubbery and tasteless, but they were absolutely fantastic. Sweet, al dente, very clean. Just a little dab of soy sauce and wasabi-- eyes-rolling-to-the-back-of-your-head heavenly! And look, the succulent morsels were already detached from the shells.

Fourth plate: Chicken asado, hoisin fried rice and assorted seafood in coconut milk (gintaang yaman dagat). 

They do seafood really well here at Discovery Suites. Although there was nary a trace of coconut milk in the dish, the fish fillets, mussels and shrimps in the guinataang yaman dagat were out of this world. The fish was flaky and moist, and the shrimps (Best shrimps ever!) fairly popped against my teeth when I bit into them. How did they manage to keep the seafood from being overcooked in the chafing dish? And the chicken was really, really good. I recommend you skip the rice and just eat more of everything else.

Fifth plate: Desserts. Cheesecake, tart, butterscotch, papaya, pineapple and mango. So-so.

Because I opted for dessert, I didn't have enough tummy space for the soup (sinigang na hipon) and carving station (roast pork). What a mistake. The desserts were boring and mediocre. Ah well, lesson learned.

Besides, I had to have another bowl of sukiyaki. After dessert.

Second bowl of sukiyaki. Impeccable, superb, exemplary.

While I ate, I thought of how great it was to be you. But then I realised that if I were you, I wouldn't be here, and at that moment, I wished that you were me. You know I say that without any sarcasm or malice.

Life is for living, man. We have a right to enjoy our work. I know that some people out there believe that work is meant to be miserable drudgery, but they should be reformed! And don't say that the joy is in knowing that you're working hard for your kids' futures. Puh-leeze. The essence of work is in the work itself, not in the object of the work, di ba?

I noticed that about the staff here at Discovery Suites. They seem to like their work, and because they enjoy it and give a sh*t about it, they're great at it. From the heart nga. Like Sukiyaki Lady. And our marvelous server, Honnie.

The best! I love you, Honnie.

Kaya mag-resign ka na. We can have lunch all the time at Restaurant 5 and let them pamper us.

All my love,

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