BESIDES comfortable and luxurious accommodations, good food is what makes people go back to a hotel. On this point, Luxent Hotel, a modern 16-storey hotel that strategically located along the business district of Timog Ave. in Quezon City, has got its mission accomplished now that its new executive chef, Chef Christian ‘Ian’ Martinez, has settled in to his new post.
Chef Ian is actually a homegrown chef of Luxent Hotel, having worked for the hotel for two years and served as sous chef. He rose from the ranks and showed so much promise that management, led by general manager Melanie Siy-Pagkalinawan, had no hesitation in promoting him to the top culinary post. For his part, Chef Ian went to work right away, improving on the existing menu of Garden Café and introducing new additions that will surely capture the taste of the dining public.
I got to sample the new menu, which is a combination of the classic best-sellers and Luxent’s signature dishes and the new items, when I took a break from work and went for a staycation in the hotel recently with my husband Raff and a few media friends.
We all met up for lunch at Garden Café, made our choices from the menu, and shared everything so we got to taste a lot of the dishes. Laid out on the long table was a mixture of different salads, soups, main entrées and, yes, even noodles.
Check out this list: Minestrone Soup (Php180), thick Italian soup made with fresh seasonal vegetables; Sicilian Salad (Php350), fresh mixed greens topped with chunky chicken, ripe mango, grapes, dried cranberries, tomato and pine nuts, served with Sicilian dressing; Asian Salad (Php380), mixed greens, red cabbage, beansprouts, julienned cucumber and carrots, Mandarin orange, ripe mango and crisp chicken, served with sesame lime and peanut dressing, topped with crispy wanton strips; Agedashi Tofu (Php220), fried silken tofu with agedashi sauce; Shrimp Gambas (Php400), fresh shrimps sautéed in garlic, black olives, fresh cherry tomatoes and wine, topped with rocket arugula and served with garlic bread; Mushroom Salpicao (Php400), fresh button mushrooms sautéed in garlic, black olives, cherry tomatoes and brandy, and served with garlic bread; and Seafood Flatbread (Php400), pizza topped with sautéed garlic shrimps, calamari and fish fillet.
The main entrées that kept our tummies delightedly full included Seabass in Grape Sauce (Php550), pan-seared seabass fillet with grape cream sauce; Crusted Blue Marlin (Php550), seared walnut-crusted blue marlin with cilantro-mashed potato, served with teriyaki sauce; Pan-seared Salmon (Php450), seared salmon fillet topped with garlic Parmesan steamed asparagus and buttered potato; Grilled Pork Chop (Php400), pork chops marinated in fresh garlic and parsley, grilled to perfection, topped with fried spinach, and served with buttered vegetables and peppercorn sauce; Sinigang sa Miso (Php400), milkfish in Filipino tamarind stew and miso; Nilagang Baka (Php400), Filipino beef stew with clear broth; and Chicken & Pork Adobo (Php250), Filipino braised pork and chicken in seasoned vinegar, served with garlic rice and fruit salsa.
I concentrated on my order, Pan-seared Salmon, and loved it. Salmon is my most favorite fish of all, and I love it in any preparation, especially if the fish is fresh, and in this case, it was fresh. Well, seabass is a favorite, too, but I sometimes find it too expensive that I always happily settle for salmon. I also had a slice of Seafood Flatbread (I loved the thin crust and the combination of toppings), I stuck my fork into the Shrimp Gambas ordered by Philippine Tribune’s Roel Manipon, and had a piece of milkfish belly (better known as bangus) from the Sinigang sa Miso.
A lot of these dishes already had rice served with them, although there are a lot of different fried rice variants on the menu to choose from, as well, including the popular Thai rice dish, Bagoong Rice (Php100), stir-fried rice with shrimp paste, topped with green mango and scrambled egg, in a hefty portion that’s good for two. Of course, I couldn’t resist enjoying a mouthful or two. I love Thai food and Bagoong Rice happens to be one of my favorites.
Somebody in the group, Maan Pamaran, also ordered a flavorful noodle dish that’s usually served for merienda but is good at any time of the day – Special Palabok (Php250) – which is white rice noodles, shrimps and pork, beansprouts, pork cracklings and smoked fish, topped with salted duck egg.
Dessert came in the form of Toblerone Cheesecake (Php220), chilled cheesecake with a touch of Toblerone and almond essence on a double chocolate cookie base, served with chocolate and caramel sauce, and strawberry coulis; Dome (Php250), mud pie, dark chocolate, mocha ice cream and toasted almonds; Mango and Banana Crepe (Php220), homemade crepe stuffed with peach, mango and banana, coated with hazelnut chocolate, served with pecan and ice cream; and Banana Boat (Php220), Luxent’s version of banana split, with vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream scoops served with fresh banana, caramelized walnuts and pineapple preserve, drizzled with chocolate and caramel syrup, and topped with whipped cream and cherry.
Lunch was a bit late, since we had to shoot the food first, but we didn’t mind because we were all journalists who had a duty to perform before succumbing to the pleasures of the palate. Interviews came after lunch, and before we knew it, it was dinner time.
While lunch is an a la carte affair at Luxent Hotel, dinner is an entirely different thing. It’s always buffet dinner at Garden Café, and the price is so reasonable for the kind of food served that a lot of people in the Timog Ave. area come to the hotel especially for the dinner buffet. Its regular price is Php1,299 per person, but promotions are often held at Garden Café, lowering the buffet price to Php799 per person. The buffet spread is unbelievable, with eight hot dishes served every night, and these dishes include such premium items as Crispy Pata, Steamed Lapu-Lapu with Soy Sauce, Tiger Prawns Halabos and Crabmeat Egg Fuyong.
The appetizer and Japanese spreads are equally enticing, offering different types of sushis, makis and sashimis, edamame (boiled soya beans), Kani Salad, Ebi and Kisu Tempura (shrimp and asohos fish tempura); while the Chinese section boasts of Pork Siomai and Chicken Feet Dim Sum, and the carving station serves Lechon. There’s also a Salad Bar, a choice of unlimited drinks, and a wide selection of desserts.
After dinner, some of us decided to head for our rooms, while the rest went to experience the live entertainment and cocktail drinks that Luxent Hotel has to offer at Lush, the bar beside the lobby. Of course, I hied off to the room to do a little writing while watching cooking shows on cable TV before retiring for the night. I’m basically a homebody and will always be, although I do sometimes make exceptions and give the nightlife a try.
Luxent Hotel’s rooms – there are a total of 117 rooms that are categorized into Superior Rooms, Deluxe Rooms, Executive Suites and Presidential Suite – are cozy and comfortable, and our hosts, the triumvirate of GM Melanie Siy-Pagkalinawan, director of sales and marketing Mayette Sagales and food and beverage director Maria Paz Melendrez, made it even more homey and relaxing with a couple of teddy bears on the bed. I adored the bears!
Breakfast is another buffet affair at the Garden Café, as it serves basically the in-house guests, although a lot of walk-in diners also come because of the quality of the food served and the reasonable price of Php999, which, due to frequent promos, is often marked down to Php499 per person. There’s a whole range of freshly baked breads awaiting diners at breakfast, as Chef Ian and his kitchen team start baking the breads at 4:00 a.m. to make sure everything is hot and fresh for breakfast. You will also find all the breakfast staples that most breakfast buffets offer, including hot dishes on chafing dishes, an egg station where you can have your eggs cooked the way you want them, waffles and bacon, fresh fruits, a salad bar, juices and coffee, desserts and more.
It was my second time at Luxent Hotel and I would keep going back given the opportunity to because its facilities, its food, its accommodations and its impeccable service and warmth genuinely please me.
(Luxent Hotel is located at 51 Timog Ave., South Triangle, Quezon City; with telephone number 922-8888.)