NIU by Vikings: Luxury Eat-All-You-Can Buffet in SM Aura Premier

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
If you've been a reader for a while now, you might already know of my family's love for Vikings Luxury Buffet. We've spent countless occasions pigging out at this eat-all-you-can destination, and have come to consider it an extension of the house's kitchen and dining room. For the past few years, we've been witnesses to how this buffet concept has tried to better itself, and grow more branches in and out of the metro. But while it has already placed itself as a "luxury" buffet when it first opened, the same people behind this success still decided to up the game a notch higher... With NIU by Vikings.

Niu by Vikings SM Aura

Although selection at the Vikings Luxury Buffet is already extensive, NIU by Vikings is what better rivals against higher-end buffets in hotels. It's located at the 6th level of SM Aura Premier, and carries more expensive items like foie gras, on top of the free-flowing alcohol -- wine and cocktails included. Of course, pricing is also significantly higher.

NIU by Vikings first opened doors October of last year. And since my family (but mainly I), wanted to take advantage of their 20% soft opening discount back then, I prepared a very moving spiel to convince my dad to take us on a long road trip from the northern boondocks to The Fort. My dad hates long rides like this, since it normally takes us about 2 hours or more to get to Taguig. And that's just to eat. But surprisingly, this time, he happily obliged. If I didn't know better, I'd say he was curious about NIU by Vikings too. Haha!

Function rooms at Niu by Vikings
There are private rooms near the entrance behind the wine display
Niu by Vikings Dining Space
Classy interior with whites and violets... I like!
Just like the other Vikings Luxury Buffet branches, NIU by Vikings is also sophisticated and lavishly-decorated. It even has live piano music that makes the ambiance feel more expensive. But what I really like about the interior are the violet banquet sofas and white over-sized lounge chairs. They don't just speak pricey, but also comfy!

Niu by Vikings

However, there's one thing that I, along with my dad and sister, immediately didn't like about NIU by Vikings. The layout. The restaurant space is pretty long, with the buffet spread following that same format. So if you have an elderly or PWD with you, make sure to reserve a table near the piano as it's in the middle of the room. For our trip though, we were given a table at the farthest end of the restaurant. My dad easily got tired of walking back and forth to and from the other end. Even I, found it quite troublesome to go all the way near the entrance every single time I want a refill for my drink. ლ(´﹏`ლ)

The Buffet Spread

From what I know, NIU by Vikings changes some items on a weekly basis (or if there's a special occasion like the holidays) to keep the spread interesting. The lineup might've already changed a lot since our visit last October 6, 2014. But still, let me share with you the goodies I spotted during out trip. Prepare for the photo-heavy post ahead!

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Salads, fruits and veggie shooters, and some cheeses
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Hmmm.. Interesting salad dressing selection!
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A mix of the interesting and the usual salad dressings
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Bread section that not a lot of diners seemed to care for
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A board of cold cuts
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Canapes
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Even more canapes
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Hors d'oeuvre with caviar
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Mussels and oysters baked with cheese... Always a hit to buffet goers!
The salad, appetizer, bread and cheese sections are your basic Vikings selection, so I'd say it can still be improved. The Japanese station looked more promising, although the sushi rolls aren't replenished as fast, and sashimi slices are not displayed... Which, I actually like better. Plus, there are more sashimi variety compared to the basic buffet.

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Yay for mackerel sashimi and salt-water eel with kabayaki sauce!
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There are plenty of rolls, but nothing seemed to stand out.
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Teppanyaki Station
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A section dedicated to fried items -- tempura, furai and katsu
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Yakitori Station
Among the stations at NIU by Vikings, I found the Chinese to be one of, if not, the best. The people behind NIU has partnered with Chef Kavino Lau of IMC Kavino fame. And while I've only heard of the great things about IMC Kavino, since I haven't eaten there yet, the sneak peek I got to taste from this trip to NIU has convinced me to go try this talked-about Chinese restaurant in Makati for myself. Yup, it's that good!

Niu by Vikings 016 Shrimp Hakaw
Hakaw
Niu by Vikings 017 Spinach Seafood Dumpling
Spinach Seafood Dumplings
Niu by Vikings 019 Mini Pork Bun
Mini Pork Buns
Niu by Vikings 020 Scallop Parsley Dumpling
Scallop Parsley Dumplings
Niu by Vikings 021 Steamed Siomai
Steamed Siomai
Niu by Vikings 022 Crispy Kuchay Cake
Crispy Kuchay Cake
Niu by Vikings 018 Steamed Malayan Cupcake
Steamed Malayan Cakes
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Buchi and forgot-what-these-are buns
And those are just the dimsum items!

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Vegetables for Hot Pot
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A decent selection of hot pot toppings
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Hot pot sauces and condiments, and lobster soup
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Roasted Chinese Items
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Freshly-cooked suahe
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Main dishes to go with Yangchow or plain rice
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More viands at the Chinese section
Niu by Vikings 031 Sze Chuan Chicken
Sze-Chuan Chicken
Niu by Vikings 032 Creamy Butter Crab
Creamy Butter Crab
Niu by Vikings 033 Sweet and Sour Pork with Peach
Sweet and Sour Pork with Peach
Niu by Vikings 034 Pata Tim
Pata Tim
I've also spotted other main dishes, mainly Pan-Asian, at another station.

Niu by Vikings 035 Mexican Chicken Inasal with Roasted Pineapple Salsa
Mexican Chicken Inasal with Roasted Pineapple Salsa
Niu by Vikings 036 Beef Rendang
Beef Rendang
Niu by Vikings 037 Biryani Rice
Biryani Rice
Niu by Vikings 038 Beer-Battered Fish Fillet with Escabeche Sauce and Mango Salsa
Beer-Battered Fish Fillet with Escabeche Sauce and Mango Salsa
Niu by Vikings 039 Crispy Pork Binagoongan with Grilled Eggplant Relish
Crispy Pork Binagoongan
Niu by Vikings 040 Mechado Slow-Braised Beef in Tomato Sauce
Slow-Braised Beef in Tomato Sauce A.K.A. Mechado
Niu by Vikings 041 Butter-Poached Prawn with Coconut Cream and Pumpkin Sauce
Butter-Poached Prawn with Coconut Cream and Pumpkin Sauce
There's also a grilling station where one can his/her fill of grilled meats and seafood.

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Meat and veggie skewers for grilling
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Fish fillet and whole fish also for grilling
Then, there's my favorite section. The carving station.

Niu by Vikings 044 Carving Station Herb Spit-Roasted US Prime, New Zealand Garlic and Rosemary Studded Leg of Lamb, Beef Ribs
Herb Spit-Roasted US Prime, New Zealand Garlic
and Rosemary Studded Leg of Lamb, and Beef Ribs
Niu by Vikings 045 Deep-Fried Cajun Turkey, Niu Belly-Chon
Deep-Fried Cajun Turkey and Niu Belly-Chon
Niu by Vikings 046 Foie Gras Station
Foie Gras Station
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A selection of sidings
Of course, there's also a section dedicated to pastas, as well as ready-made and customize-your-own pizzas. Spotted some cooked Spanish dishes by this side of the station too.

Niu by Vikings 048 Pasta Station
Obviously, the pasta station.
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Just some of the ready-made pizzas
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Calzones, I believe
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Some of the main dishes at this section
Niu by Vikings 052 Moules au Safran New Zealand Mussels Steamed in White Wine, Dijon Mustard and Saffron
Moules au Safran -- New Zealand Mussels Steamed in White Wine,
Dijon Mustard and Saffron
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Didn't catch the dish's name, but it got crabs. That's for sure!
Niu by Vikings 054 Receta de Lengua Mechado
Receta de Lengua Mechado
Niu by Vikings 055 Espadon Pele Provencale
Espadon Pele Provencale
I'm not sure if the dessert section has now been improved. But when we visited, selection was the usual (or even less than the) Vikings fare. Quite uninspiring, honestly.

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Crème brûlée, mousse, and other chilled desserts
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Cakes and mini-cakes
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There are also Filipino pastries!
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A variety of kakanin
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With the famous puto bumbong and bibingka that were perfect for the holidays
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Halo-Halo Station
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Fruit slices for the healthier eaters
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Crepe Station
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There's also milk and white chocolate fondue, along with some flavors of ice cream
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Frozen yougurt's also available
Drinks were aplenty at NIU by Vikings though. You have the staples from other Vikings buffets, and then some more.

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Fresh Minty Lemon Lime and Lemongrass Juice
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Iced Tea, Four Seasons and Apple Cinnamon Tea
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Strawberry Mango Tea, Blueberry Lemonade and Tamarind Juice
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Sodas. They got Pepsi and not Coke though.
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Double-Chilled Draft Beer
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San Mig Pale Pilsen and San Mig Light
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Bavaria Premium Beer also available
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You can also order cocktails like margarita, piñacolada and mojito among others.
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They also use sake for making cocktails!
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Of course, there's always a coffee machine in any of Vikings' buffets.
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As well as a selection of Twinings teabags.
Not on the photo, but you can also order for smoothies depending on available fruits.

Dishes I Got

There were a few interesting dishes I didn't get to try. I guess, all the walking trying to cover the very long buffet table got to me. So in the end, I stuck with what I was really craving for.

Carrot-Papaya Shots and Cucumber-Melon Shots
Carrot-Papaya Shots and Cucumber-Melon Shots
Spotted these at the salad station and decided to give them a try.
And I just love them! If only they came in bigger glasses...
Salmon and mackerel sashimi
Salmon and Mackerel Sashimi
Omnomnom! It's nice that their sashimi were sliced upon ordering.
Chinese food at Niu (hakaw, mini pork bun, crispy kuchay cake, spinach seafood dumpling, siomai, scallop parsley dumpling)
Hakaw, Mini Pork Bun, Crispy Kuchay Cake,
Spinach Seafood Dumpling, Siomai, Scallop Parsley Dumpling

This plate is just ♡! No skimping on fillings, and everything's just perfect.
More Salmon Sashimi
More salmon sashimi FTW!
Niu by Vikings Lobster Soup
Lobster Soup
It's odd why they didn't just offer cold or grilled lobsters, but this lobster soup's good!
Suahe and Shrimp Tempura
Suahe and Shrimp Tempura
Ate just a teeny bit of these, but my dad seemed to enjoy them.
Niu by Vikings US Prime Rib
US Prime Rib and Lamb Slices
The lamb's just underneath the beef. Both are pretty good, cooked to medium doneness.
Niu Belly-Chon and Salmon En Croute
NIU Belly-Chon and Salmon En Croute
The belly-chon's quite addicting!
Niu by Vikings Foie Gras on Crostini
Foie Gras on Crostini
Really good... But not quite for the cholesterol levels.
Lettuce and Carrots
Lettuce and carrots for my dessert, since I still can't consume sweets back then.
Watermelon and Apple-Banana Shake
Watermelon and Apple-Banana Smoothies
My lil sis' and my sobber drink of choice
When I look at the plates I had, I can really say that I actually didn't eat much. But still, I think we got our money's worth since we were continuously nomming on the pricier items. I'll have to eat at NIU again some time soon with the boyfriend though, 'cause I want to know if they've already improved the service and some of the more uninspiring sections. I'm curious at how their cooked dishes fair too, as I actually didn't try any of them. -_-"

Niu by Vikings Buffet Rates

By the way, NIU by Vikings has a different promo for birthday celebrants. Unlike at Vikings where celebrants can eat for free, at NIU, birthday celebrators will get a discount equivalent to their age on any day of their birth month on both lunch and dinner, as long as accompanied by one full paying adult. This promo is available until March 31, 2015.

Niu by Vikings at SM Aura

TIP: If you're planning to eat at NIU, make sure to reserve days, or better yet, weeks in advance. The restaurant gets fully booked fast, and walking in isn't exactly the most time-efficient option.

THE VERDICT

So what do I think about NIU by Vikings? It definitely is an upgraded, higher-end version of its predecessor, the Vikings Luxury Buffet. Free-flowing wine and cocktails, better dimsum selection, lobster soup, foie gras -- just these alone make the higher rate very reasonable, in my opinion. Of course, there are things they can still improve, like the selection of breads, cheeses and appetizers, as well as the uninspiring dessert station. Service during our visit also had some hiccups, which I hope they've already polished by now. But overall, I think NIU by Vikings is a good splurge every now and then, especially if you know which items to indulge on. It gives diners a new destination to enjoy a buffet spread typically offered only in hotels, but without the hotel price tags.

Taste 4/5
Ambiance - 3.5/5
Service - 3/5
Price - 3.5/5
Overall Value - 4/5


Niu by Vikings, SM Aura Premier
6/F SM Aura Premier, C5 Rd. cor. 26th St.,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig,
Metro Manila, Philippines
(02) 478-3888; 847-3888; (0917) 586-6888; (0919) 999-6888
Official Website | Facebook | Instagram

12 comments:

  1. Just tried this last week and I loved it! I want to come back but I must stop myself. Save more for now. =)

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  2. Yummy I love to try the food here someday :)

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  3. First time to ate at Vikings last December when I celebrated my birthday and it was a blast! I love the experience and the foods of course! I haven't try NIU by Vikings at SM Aura. Thank you for this awesome feature Miss Sumi! :)

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  4. OMG! I'm drooling over this food right now. I wanna taste them all especially the seafood. I will bring my family there one of these days.

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  5. Khrishia Ronquillo-SedenioJanuary 25, 2015 at 11:11 PM

    We celebrated my husband's promotion here last month and I must say, that their staff is very accommodating and helpful :D

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  6. Hey did you know that the servers / waitstaff are actually very polite and helpful to the more elderly diners? The senior citizens can just ask them to get dishes for them. I saw one grandma being helped out by one staff, during my first visit here months ago. Very good service indeed. I loved that more luxurious dishes are available, especially the carving section (huge huge beef ribs!). But the foie gras pales in comparison to Spiral's.

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    1. Thanks for reminding me, Jonah! Yes, the staff at Niu does help the elderly by taking orders and getting the dishes for them. Actually, even non-elders can do it, and they'd still oblige. :) I wouldn't compare Niu with Spiral though. The price difference is already a giveaway. Haha! But Niu is definitely sulit! ^_^

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  7. Will definitely try this soon! Thanks for sharing it.

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  8. We were really planning on having a dinner buffet date at NIU by Vikings and by reading your review honestly I got more excited. I'm also a fan of Vikings Luxury Buffet and we have tried eating on their SM North Edsa branch, it was a good experience too. I wanna try NIU's foie gras had me drooling, the scallop parsley dumplings was also my list :) And the free-flowing alcohol, wine and cocktails was really nice since other Vikings branch doesn't offer that. By the way thanks for these wonderful review it's a big help, more power to you and your blog.

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  9. Hi! Your review helps me a lot to think about Vikings restaurant as a great place for me to celebrate my son's birthday :) I firs read about the restaurant on http://www.webbline.com/vikings-review-a-luxury-buffet-that-is-worth-every-cent/ and your review sealed the deal haha thanks for this :D

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    1. Thanks, Melissa! :) Keep in mind though that Niu by Vikings is different from the Vikings restaurant itself. Niu is Vikings' more luxurious buffet (competing against hotel buffets), even though Vikings is already quite luxurious in itself. ^_^

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