What it is: Located in Picar Place in Makati, Buddha Bar occupies a huge space over two levels, with balconies and an outside terrace with a pool, low lighting and the requisite Buddha statue spanning both levels. In front of the restaurant a very dusty Maserati is on display. We had high expectations when we booked our party of 12 at Buddha Bar Manila for a belated birthday celebration. It was recommended by a friend as her favourite cocktail bar and restaurant. We had attempted visiting once before but were turned away as it was booked out for a private function.
We expected a large Saturday night crowd, particularly since it was the Saturday night preceding Chinese New Year. However, the place was deserted and stayed that way from our 7:30pm booking until we left after midnight. There were literally two other tables occupied on the second level where we were. Unperturbed by the lack of people we dived into exploring the cocktail menu which is quite inventive. We sampled the ultimate, a kawai ylang, a heart of darkness and also a B lyceeto (which is good for sharing). The cocktails were interesting but pricey and they seemed light on alcohol.
The overall service experience was very disappointing, since even though there were a lot of staff standing around, we had to wave repeatedly to catch their attention. We even tried using the candles on our table to signal staff.
What we ate: The food is pan-Asian cuisine and the menu is extensive in size and scope. The standout was the sesame crusted salmon fillet on the chef’s special menu. However, they have since replaced this with the sesame salmon crusted truffle teriyaki (810 Php). There is both a three course set menu and a “family style” dinner available that offer good value. We enjoyed a large cheese platter (2,721 Php) and various appetizers including the petite spring rolls (290 Php) and the warm duck wraps (620 Php). Beware, as the size of the duck wraps is that of a main meal rather than an appetizer.
After our meal, we were presented with a birthday petite four for dessert with a decorative “Happy Birthday Celine” written on it. None of our names are Celine, but it’s the thought that counts.
The balconies are used for smoking and lounging. The dusty Maserati on display is part of a promotion: get a free ride in one if your bill is over 35,000 Php. You are also entered into a draw to win one. Our bill did put us in that category so we are waiting for our free Maserati ride.
Verdict: We all enjoyed ourselves at Buddha Bar from the exotic interior and cocktails to the food that we thought offered good value for the money we spent. However, there were a couple of disappointing factors to the night: the service and how empty the place was.
Buddha Bar Manila
Website/Tel: +632 85 66 719
PICAR Place, Kalayaan Ave. Brgy. Poblacion, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippinen, Philippines