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!
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!
|There are private rooms near the entrance behind the wine display|
|Classy interior with whites and violets... I like!|
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!
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.
|Salads, fruits and veggie shooters, and some cheeses|
|Hmmm.. Interesting salad dressing selection!|
|A mix of the interesting and the usual salad dressings|
|Bread section that not a lot of diners seemed to care for|
|A board of cold cuts|
|Even more canapes|
|Hors d'oeuvre with caviar|
|Mussels and oysters baked with cheese... Always a hit to buffet goers!|
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!
|Yay for mackerel sashimi and salt-water eel with kabayaki sauce!|
|There are plenty of rolls, but nothing seemed to stand out.|
|A section dedicated to fried items -- tempura, furai and katsu|
|Spinach Seafood Dumplings|
|Mini Pork Buns|
|Scallop Parsley Dumplings|
|Crispy Kuchay Cake|
|Steamed Malayan Cakes|
|Buchi and forgot-what-these-are buns|
I've also spotted other main dishes, mainly Pan-Asian, at another station.
|Vegetables for Hot Pot|
|A decent selection of hot pot toppings|
|Hot pot sauces and condiments, and lobster soup|
|Roasted Chinese Items|
|Main dishes to go with Yangchow or plain rice|
|More viands at the Chinese section|
|Creamy Butter Crab|
|Sweet and Sour Pork with Peach|
There's also a grilling station where one can his/her fill of grilled meats and seafood.
|Mexican Chicken Inasal with Roasted Pineapple Salsa|
|Beer-Battered Fish Fillet with Escabeche Sauce and Mango Salsa|
|Crispy Pork Binagoongan|
|Slow-Braised Beef in Tomato Sauce A.K.A. Mechado|
|Butter-Poached Prawn with Coconut Cream and Pumpkin Sauce|
Then, there's my favorite section. The carving station.
|Meat and veggie skewers for grilling|
|Fish fillet and whole fish also for grilling|
|Herb Spit-Roasted US Prime, New Zealand Garlic|
and Rosemary Studded Leg of Lamb, and Beef Ribs
|Deep-Fried Cajun Turkey and Niu Belly-Chon|
|Foie Gras Station|
|A selection of sidings|
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.
|Obviously, the pasta station.|
|Just some of the ready-made pizzas|
|Calzones, I believe|
|Some of the main dishes at this section|
|Moules au Safran -- New Zealand Mussels Steamed in White Wine,|
Dijon Mustard and Saffron
|Didn't catch the dish's name, but it got crabs. That's for sure!|
|Receta de Lengua Mechado|
|Espadon Pele Provencale|
Drinks were aplenty at NIU by Vikings though. You have the staples from other Vikings buffets, and then some more.
|Crème brûlée, mousse, and other chilled desserts|
|Cakes and mini-cakes|
|There are also Filipino pastries!|
|A variety of kakanin|
|With the famous puto bumbong and bibingka that were perfect for the holidays|
|Fruit slices for the healthier eaters|
|There's also milk and white chocolate fondue, along with some flavors of ice cream|
|Frozen yougurt's also available|
Not on the photo, but you can also order for smoothies depending on available fruits.
|Fresh Minty Lemon Lime and Lemongrass Juice|
|Iced Tea, Four Seasons and Apple Cinnamon Tea|
|Strawberry Mango Tea, Blueberry Lemonade and Tamarind Juice|
|Sodas. They got Pepsi and not Coke though.|
|Double-Chilled Draft Beer|
|San Mig Pale Pilsen and San Mig Light|
|Bavaria Premium Beer also available|
|You can also order cocktails like margarita, piñacolada and mojito among others.|
|They also use sake for making cocktails!|
|Of course, there's always a coffee machine in any of Vikings' buffets.|
|As well as a selection of Twinings teabags.|
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.
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. -_-"
|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|
Omnomnom! It's nice that their sashimi were sliced upon ordering.
|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 FTW!|
It's odd why they didn't just offer cold or grilled lobsters, but this lobster soup's good!
|Suahe and Shrimp Tempura|
Ate just a teeny bit of these, but my dad seemed to enjoy them.
|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|
The belly-chon's quite addicting!
|Foie Gras on Crostini|
Really good... But not quite for the cholesterol levels.
|Lettuce and carrots for my dessert, since I still can't consume sweets back then.|
|Watermelon and Apple-Banana Smoothies|
My lil sis' and my sobber drink of choice
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.
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.
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.
Ambiance - 3.5/5
Service - 3/5
Price - 3.5/5
Overall Value - 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
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