Checking the competition on dim sum buffet offerings | Inquirer Business

Checking the competition on dim sum buffet offerings

PASSION at Resorts World is a possible venue for big functions.    PHOTOS by Ma. Esther Salcedo–Posadas

With chopstick on hand, the hungry diner awaits the unpretentious cart filled with bamboo containers carrying an assortment of steaming bite-sized pieces of shrimp, fish, pork, vegetables, and other ingredients. Each closed basket teases the imagination with a potential surprise—just enough to tickle the palate and to “touch the heart” (also the translation of the word dim sum).

Chinese dim sum is a Cantonese delicacy that excites many Filipinos given its gastronomic appeal and variety.


THE NEWEST dim sum star in the horizon is Solaire Resorts’ Red Lantern.

In the Philippines, there are a few dining places that offer dim sum cuisine at its best.  Among these establishments include three well-known hotel and casino restaurants.


These restaurants are a typical haunt of many executives and they offer “eat-all-you-can” dim sum lunch packages.  Instead of the humble, mobile cart, a menu checklist is given to the diner.

The following assessment was conducted based on unannounced visits to the restaurants.  While taste is subjective and open to differing opinions, a few notes of experience are detailed here.

Li Li at Hyatt Hotel and Casino

Li Li was named to reflect the image of a sophisticated Chinese woman and the ambiance at the restaurant mirrors such refinement.  An oasis in the middle of the Manila desert, the restaurant has turned dim sum service into a ceremony of sorts. The venue is an enclave for small meetings, both business and personal.

At least for the regular weekday lunch buffet, the food is provided in slow progression with a methodical sequence.  For example, the appetizers are served first before the soup that is also provided before the dim sum and finally the dessert.  In other establishments, the congee or soup is served together with the dim sum selection.

The servers are attentive and easy to find.  Tasty dishes include honey roasted barbecue pork, steamed fresh scallop dumpling with sweet corn, and deep fried spring roll with shrimp.  With the subtle mixture of flavors, the pumpkin soup with assorted seafood chunks is a good introduction to the whole dim sum affair.


P888 net from Monday to Saturday and P1,650 net on Sundays (bigger selection includes viands, more appetizers and desserts).

Red Lantern at Solaire Resorts and Casino

Red Lantern impresses with its grand interiors.  On one giant wall, there is a three-dimensional art piece made from abaca, one of the country’s indigenous materials.  The lights shaped like lanterns are huge and the red lantern theme is captured even on the dining plates.

Except for appetizer and dessert, the rest of the food was served at approximately the same time without any particular sequence.  Service quality is good but not constant and seems to depend on whether there are many diners or not.  This is possibly due to the fact that the restaurant is big.  Indeed, handling multiple menu checklists and orders can be confusing.

Nevertheless, the dim sum fare and tea service are quite excellent.  It is a little pricier than Li Li Restaurant at P968 net but the food quality is noteworthy.

Some dishes to try include deep fried shrimp in bean curd roll, deep fried prawn and cuttlefish with almond flakes, and chilled osmanthus flower and wolfberry.

Red Lantern’s signature dessert includes the chilled osmanthus flower and wolfberry that is a uniquely delicious and cold gelatin concoction and seems to reflect the red lantern design.  It is clear in color with touches of tiny, oblong, red berries.

LI LI’S elegant and classic interiors are conducive to intimate get-togethers and meetings.

Passion at Maxims Hotel Resorts World

Passion reflects traditional Chinese motifs and appeals to families and big, casual groups.  The venue may not appeal to young people going on dates.

Among the three casino restaurants, Passion is the bargain choice for only P750 net and the menu includes a number of viands such as steamed fish fillet with garlic sauce, wok fried shrimp with black bean sauce, and stir fried chicken cutlets in “kung po” style.

There is a separate buffet table for congee, noodles, and fried rice.  If the diner went ahead with the congee, for example, then the boiled peanuts that are served as starters would come later or possibly served at the same time.  Note that all the three restaurants offer boiled peanuts as appetizer.

Memorable dishes include congee with century egg, fresh shrimp and spinach dumpling, steamed fresh scallop dumpling, deep fried wonton, and fresh shrimp in crispy net spring roll.

All told, Manila offers great opportunities to sample the best Cantonese dim sum cuisine for less than P1,000.  For busy executives, a delectable dim sum experience may also offer a respite from an otherwise stressful day.

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(The author is a former columnist for Appetite Magazine.)

TAGS: Dim Sum, resorts world, Solaire, solaire resorts

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