the first review still pretty much sums up how i feel about buffets (necessary to end the "what are we going to eat" question when in a large group), and my general feeling about circles at the shangri-la hotel in makati (great service, fantastic plating, nice atmosphere). my latest visit there changes my opinion only in that i think overall the food has improved, which can only be a good thing, right?
truthfully, my stomach can't hang with the mish-mosh nature of buffets--a little bit of this and that means a lot of trouble later--so as far as mains go, i stuck with the indian station, which was very, very good. the butter chicken (makhni), veggie curry, lamb vindaloo, and spiced basmati rice were excellent, the naan and chapati very good. i did not venture into the other stations available: salads, soups and appetizers; italian, with a variety of pasta and sauces; a carving station with a chunk of meat, probably beef; schwarma--lamb, i believe--with freshly baked pita and all the condiments; chinese, with roasted duck, chicken and pork, dim sum, and stir-fried items; the sushi bar and cold seafood bar. next time.
by far the biggest and most populated station is desserts; it is wonka-ish in scale and selection.
there are local desserts like banana turon (fried banana spring rolls), native rice cakes, sago at gulaman (sweet tapioca and gelatin), and ginataan (coconut milk stew); a vast variety of bite-sized cakes, pies, mousses, and puddings; a few hot dessert options like bread pudding and strudel; an ice cream and halo-halo (preserved fruits and shaved ice) station; a small but interesting variety of sugar-free desserts; a fantastic pop-art wall of marshmallows on skewers to dip into the chocolate fountain, which sits next to an imposing but enticing cupcake tree, adorned with multicoloured house-made fruit leathers.
there was also a young woman hand rolling chocolate truffles: a choice of either dark or milk centers were dipped in warm chocolate--dark, milk or white--then gently rolled into either crushed almonds or pistachios. any combination you decide on would work, i reckon, as the chocolate was a much higher quality than i had expected.
however, the one thing that garnered my attention the most was the candy cosmetics counter.
not actual makeup, but candy and chocolate facsimiles in real cosmetics packaging: fruit-flavoured water "cologne" spritzes, viscous fruity "lip" and "body" gels, creamy white chocolate compacts and lipsticks. there's something quite girly and appealing about them. and they don't taste that bad, either.
even though the counter is within the buffet, you must purchase the fakeup separately. (if you buy them from the bakery, you get a full set and a lovely orange canvas makeup kit). however, there was a young woman in go-go boots and a white trenchcoat looking much like a department store makeup lady loitering by the stand, passing out full-sized samples. although i really wanted the mango body gel, i was pleased enough to get a strawberry spritz, berry-ish lipstick, and white chocolate compact.
so, yes, circles still pretty good, definitely a top option as far as buffets go. the price is still quite steep for the average pinoy, but possibly worth it if you have a large appetite, want quality selection, or have a special celebration.
it wouldn't hurt to stop by the bakery shop. the pastries are the size of your head, more reasonably priced than many upscale bakeries in the area, and quite tasty. even if you're walking out stuffed to the gills, a little look-see wouldn't go amiss....
more photos in this, the faboo flickr slideshow
circles event café
shangri-la hotel, makati
ayala avenue, corner makati ave