Marco Polo Ortigas Manila: New destination for movers, shakers
I’ve noticed that the movers and shakers who live or work north of Makati usually like to gather at the Edsa Shangri-La.
Any day of the week, you may stumble upon a politician, businessman, lawyer, cabinet member or columnist either in Heat (the buffet, not the biological need!) or Summer Palace for a board—or bored—meeting over dim sum.
Last June, an alternative finally opened: Marco Polo Ortigas Manila by the Marco Polo Hotels Group, the same group that created The Gateway Hotel and the Prince Hotel in Hong Kong, as well as the Marco Polo hotels in Davao and Cebu.
Already, it’s become a new favorite among executives in the Ortigas area, with its sleek interiors and cosmopolitan feel.
Just like its Kowloon counterpart, its signature buffet restaurant, Cucina, located on the hotel’s 24th floor where the lobby is likewise situated, offers a view of the city skyline (Cucina in Marco Polo Hong Kong gives diners a view of Victoria Harbor).
The interiors of Cucina, like the rest of the hotel, are beautifully designed, with textured walls and cylindrical chandeliers. Admittedly, though, the buffet can be rather boring, with less than satisfactory ribeye, chicken and fish stew. The best item of the spread is the steak and kidney pie, which is hearty and savory.
Given the limited selection, the stressed out and hungry executive might be better off ordering a la carte, where there is a greater selection of steaks, albeit not for the gourmet, and where the chicken liver parfait can bring a smile to your face. Skip the recommended lamb rump, which is tough and likewise boring.
Room with a view
Actually, skip the buffet altogether and head instead to the 44th floor where the restaurant’s Chinese restaurant is located.
Lung Hin has elegant interiors and is so high up you feel like you are dining in the sky. It is also the perfect restaurant for confidential business meetings or loud family gatherings because it has private dining rooms for groups of six to 12 that can also be merged for bigger groups. These rooms have their own TV set and you can request for amenities like a white board or LCD projector if you have a presentation.
Meanwhile, ladies who lunch can catch up on tsismis in the main dining hall. There are tables for four by a floor to ceiling glass wall that offers a view of Pasig, construction sites notwithstanding.
The restaurant is proud of its Chef Cheng Yeung Kwan, fondly called Chef Sunny, who used to work at Yue restaurant of the City Garden Hotel in Hong Kong, a restaurant that has the distinction of being awarded a Michelin star three years in a row.
Indeed, the Cantonese creations at Lung Hin are rather exquisite. Dumplings are not just steamed but ornamented, as you will note with both the Steamed Shrimp Dumplings and the Sauteed Crystal Prawns with Gold Leaf. The dumplings are so pretty and elegant with that touch of gold. Taste-wise, they pack a wallop and an all-dim sum lunch can be extremely filling.
But don’t eat in the sky and settle with dumplings. Experience the confident aroma and flavors of the lobster broth. Then indulge yourself with the Beef in Black Pepper Sauce because it comes with a Cantonese take on goose liver that is both naughty and nice.
Another excellent dish is the Lapu Lapu, which is presented almost in the same way as our own binukadkad na plapla. It is beautifully cooked and paired with beans. The Peking Duck, while not exceptional, is also thoroughly enjoyable. Then to be cute while slyly trying to bag a sweetheart deal, order the Jade Mushroom in Melon and Turnip Ring because with this dish, the humble kundol is pronounced as the worldly winter melon and comes in the shape of a heart, with a filling of savory mushrooms.
Eager to please
Truth be told, not everything on the menu is Michelin star worthy. The Sweet and Sour Pork, presented like the pieces have just rolled out of a glass container, leave much to be desired. There are also many items, like abalone, that were not on the menu on two visits. Service could also be improved if the waiters were better equipped with knowledge from the kitchen on the items that are being served. Nevertheless, the staff members are eager to please and happy to accommodate requests if they can.
For champagne, martinis or a whiskey after sealing or stealing the deal, head up to Vu on the 45th floor. This sky lounge is very modern, with life-size flat screens playing music videos; and the al fresco area is spectacular, more chic than any sky lounge in Makati or The Fort—if only the music selection were more tasteful.
With its awesome structure and elegant interiors, Marco Polo successfully gives its guests the same urban chic feel of its hotels in Hong Kong. While its restaurants have yet to fully catch up with both Hong Kong standards and Philippine competition, give or take a few exceptionally recommendable dishes at Lung Hin, it nevertheless presents an alternative for the movers and shakers north of Makati.
Besides, there are no other restaurants in the area that can make you feel like you are signing contracts or establishing contacts in the sky!
44/F Marco Polo Hotel
Meralco Avenue and Sapphire Street, Ortigas Centre, Pasig
(From Edsa northbound, turn right on Robinsons Galleria, stay on the right side, go past the Shell with a McDonalds, follow the curve to the right as Ortigas becomes Meralco Avenue, you will immediately see Marco Polo Hotel on the right).
Reservations recommended: 7207777.
Major credit cards accepted.
Hours: 12 nn to 2:30 p.m., 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Valet parking available. Wheelchair accessible.
Blog: margauxlicious.com. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook: @margauxsalcedo.
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