The Seaside Market in Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, Manila is a seafood lovers’ destination. It houses a vast array of “paluto” restaurants and a market selling various types of fresh seafood. The concept is that customers would buy whatever food from the market and choose any dampa restaurant that would cook and serve the food for a reasonable price. Because of its uniqueness, both tourists and locals alike treasure this place a lot.
Last Wednesday night, we had an eat-all-you-can buffet dinner at Josefina Garden Grill & Restaurant (via online deal: PHp 299 pax instead of PHp 500).
This food establishment is owned by Josefina “Ka Josie” Salamat who started her first food business back in 1978. Who knew that, without garnering any formal education and training in culinary, her business would blossom to a number of other ventures such as Cocina Pampanguena, Cocina Oriental, Café Josefina, and Josefina Garden Grill & Restaurant?
Interestingly, Josefina Garden Grill & Restaurant serves Filipino and international cuisines—dishes that other dampa restaurants usually do not serve. Filipino “carinderia” fare in gourmet style, anyone?
Review of Josefina Garden Grill and Restaurant – MetroDeal Buffet (Pasay City)
Upon entrance, dining guests would walk into a straight narrow path with their kitchen on the side. Diners may choose to be seated indoor (air-conditioned) or outdoor in the “garden area.”
The walls were painted in yellow and there were nice decors hanged on the wall and from the ceiling, belying a sort of industrial Jungle Book vibe. While ample lighting was provided inside, the buffet area which was located outside was dim.
The number of tables and chairs could accommodate more than a hundred people, so I thought Josefina Garden Grill and Restaurant could easily be a good venue for parties and events which require hosting of at least 60 attendees. The place could get pretty noisy though; when we were there, the “soundtrack” was like a steady roar of celebration-driven chatter and jubilation.
Since this is a self-service buffet setting, almost everything relied on the diner’s hands. Plates and cutlery were placed on the buffet table. People loaded up their own plates. Other than that, service was a little scattered. There was no effort in keeping the food warm and from the looks of it, the staffs were not concerned about waiting time since they did not take immediate action in refilling emptied or nearly empty food trays. Also, it took so long for them to get us house water. 😥
Included in the buffet were steamed white rice, fried rice, kare-kare, mussels baked with melted cheese and herbs, vegetables cooked with coconut milk (gata), fried lumpiang toge (spring rolls), chicken, canton guisado, grilled fish, pork barbeque, pork sisig, shabu-shabu soup with noodles, ampalaya-eggplant-cucumber salad with Thai vinaigrette, and desserts (mixed fruits and kakanin: biko, maja blanca, turon and baked cassava). They all stick to the taste of classic Filipino food we recognize closely.
I don’t know about the meats and I did not touch the salads, but the baked tahong was a let-down. My heart sank. There’s no specific dish you should really trek here for. The vegetable dishes tasted average but because most of them were already cold and unheated, I thought overall Josefina Garden Grill and Restaurant’s offerings including presentation for buffet were below satisfactory.
Price for Value: ★★☆☆☆
I found little in Josefina Garden Grill and Restaurant’s plethora of buffet food to merit a supposedly PHp 500 price tag. With some fancied-up and re-interpreted versions of local cuisines in Manila, price hikes must come with not just higher quality ingredients and nicer service but a chef’s individual take on the food as well. Charge per person with the 40% discount will just be fair to be set as the regular price. Then again, it’s still expensive and I suggest you enjoy Tramway Bayview Buffet instead if you’re eyeing for a cheap buffet restaurant in Pasay.
Update: CLICK HERE to read my review of their a la carte dishes.
Operating hours: 10AM-11PM daily