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)

Ambiance: ★★★☆☆

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.

Service: ★★☆☆☆

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. 😥

Food: ★★☆☆☆

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.

Seaside Market, Diosdado Macapagal Blvd Manila Bay Reclamation Area, Pasay
For inquiries, contact (02) 5159130
Date Published: 10/11/2013
9 / 20 stars

Operating hours: 10AM-11PM daily

About 

Digital marketing strategist. Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

48 Responses

  1. jane

    wow those are yummy foods i love seafood! i eat fish most times specially salmon and tilapia and mussels which i can by in the wet market here in malaysia.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Are seafood in Malaysia also cheap? I know that they are way cheaper than those sold in Singapore but not sure if their prices are at par with seafood in the Philippines.

      The seafood market in Dampa-Pasay is unbelievable. Prices are comparable to Divisoria Market prices and the good thing is that you can find more exotic marine creatures like sea cucumber, different kinds of lobsters, odd-looking fishes, shells, oysters, shrimps, etc.

      Reply
  2. Franc Ramon

    Since it’s in the Seaside area, I would have preferred the paluto services over the buffet services though for small groups the price tag could be higher.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      We always have gone for the “paluto services” but just to taste test other viands, tried this buffet this one time. I guess we’d rush back to the former after the unsatisfactory experience here.

      Reply
  3. caroleen ileto

    this is a good choice esp if you got tired of all the meat. im just a little careful with “paluto” since they may be in a rush preparing it.hihi

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Actually in contrast to that thought, the paluto restaurants don’t cook and serve food quickly. Customers have to wait patiently just like in any regular restaurants. 🙂

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      You don’t have to worry about accessibility and the parking space because the slots are well provided outside the restaurants but within the Dampa vicinity. If ever you consider dining here, go for the paluto service instead. They won’t charge you more than the weight of the ingredients that you want cooked.

      Reply
      • chris

        Totally disappointed!!!bought six vouchers online.place sucks amoy imburnal ang paligid,habang kumakain ka kinakain k rin ng lamok dahil may creek s likod ng buffet area.service wise they should fire all their frontliners they are not service oriented people.i can say this because i work in a cruiseline abroad and i know what service means.pity to the owner dahil yung mga empleyado nya ang magppbagsak sa negosyo nya.and they should changed their address from seaside to creekside.the ad that they posted online was a hoax parang niloko nila yung mga buyers online dahil yung mga pagkain n nasa ad e wala nman dun sa actual buffet.food quality is ok naman competitive ang lasa just forget about the presentation they need to focus how to rise from a carinderia category to a full restaurant.mainlyservice,ambience and food presentation.and the online vouchers they are selling stop foolibg people!!!i hope mabasa ng mga tao to dahil ang nakita kong customers ng josefina garden grill mostly online purchased vouchers ang ginamit.the thing is you/i/we purchased vouchers spent time to go to this place which is malayo kung tutuusin dhil d nmn sya centrally located then ended up being disappointed dhil enticing nga yung ad nila online which is kabaligtaran ng actual experience mo when you dine in this carinderia category restaurant….well lesson learned check the place before you buy the vouchers.

      • Rochkirstin Santos

        Hi Chris, I understand your sentiments. We almost felt the same way before. The owner explained the reason to us. We very much agreed that service should be improved. Thanks for sharing your experience here for people to know what they will be getting in exchange of the deal bought from MetroDeal.

      • chris

        I did not post this comment para siraan ang restaurant na to.i posted this comment based on the dining experiencedthat we had noong pumunta kmi at kumain sa josefina’s i hope yung makakabasanito should think twice before going there or before buying vouchers online and the management of josefina’sshould realized andtake time to sit down and think about what their restauarant is lacking.

      • Rochkirstin Santos

        Noted. I’m sure the owners and Josefina management would understand and would very much appreciate your honesty. Nobody wants to be fooled and it takes bloggers and commenters like us for them to know the feedback of the mass.

  4. Jonas Labagala

    With the service like that, I don’t think I’ll visit this place. And one disadvantage for me is if they’ll serve food that is not heated. Tsk tsk tsk..

    If they want to keep up with their restaurant, they must be responsible in almost every aspect and they must listen to the customers because it’s the one who kept them in the business. If they’re number 1 today, they have to prove it.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Correct. They have to prove my statements wrong! Not to say that I’m a liar or just bashing on their service but what’s important is for them to improve their customer service and the way they handle things inside the restaurant. Maybe if they know that I’d be blogging about my experience and I’d post the review online, their overall service and food presentation would be 10 times better.

      Reply
  5. Pal Raine

    We have like this here in Davao: “ITURO MO, ILULUTO KO”. Great concept. Great food and service, all at reasonable price.

    Reply
  6. Gil Camporazo

    Oh! what a low satisfactory rating for this resto! Is there an option to have it raise to satisfactory or excellent?

    Reply
  7. Garf

    I would like to try dining in that restaurant. I have been keeping all the names of the restaurants that I stumbled upon online for my next visit to the Philippines.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      For a gastronomic seafood feast, you can go buy your own ingredients and ask any restaurant around the Seaside Market to cook the dishes as you like. But if you solely want to taste and eat Filipino food, I recommend Kamayan, Cabalen or Kamay-Kainan – buffet restaurants that serve great-tasting food and charge at reasonable prices.

      Reply
  8. papaleng

    You’ve got a nice deal , but then doling out 500 pesos for Eat-all-you-can isn’t bad naman. Eh, the menu showcases yummy foods naman. The resto owner name rings a bell sa akin. Parang kilala ko siya.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Ahh hehe the owner is popular. She has been featured in many publications. The deal online was sold out immediately nga eh. Then came another one in a different site and it was also sold out.

      Reply
  9. Francis Balgos

    Seems like this is a let down, as almost all your reviews were 2 stars.
    Maybe because this is buffet, personally, unless you are tagging a big number of guest with you, I dont really Dampa at all.
    Surprisingly, Pasay is chock full of food joints, especially since dampa in Macapagal is near SM MOA

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      About the 2-star ratings, I realized that only now that you mentioned it. Haha 😛 Probably I’m not the only customer who experienced a let-down. You can read a rather similar one from a different customer here. There are lots of intriguing restaurants down here, especially along the bay area in MOA.

      Reply
  10. Algene

    I will be having a weekend trip sa metro this saturday. I would love to see and dine at restaurants like this 🙂

    Reply
  11. Karen

    I saw this in Metrodeal if I wasn’t mistaken. Actually, I am looking for restaurant where I can bring my family tomorrow night. Masarap ba diyan?

    Reply
      • Chay

        Thanks for the review, i was about to buy the deal na, good thing, i saw your review.

      • Rochkirstin Santos

        Welcome. The pictures posted on MetroDeal are not exactly the ones you will see in actual. It’s better to go to Josefina’s if you’re ordering a la carte dishes instead.

  12. Yamito Uytingco Calamba

    Our family used to celebrate most occasions in Dampa in Paranaque when i was younger. And now, not anymore. Although i had my share of eating in a resto in Macapagal Dampa in 2007 with officemates (i just couldn’t remember what was the name of the place), the food was great and place was clean and pretty cozy. They even offered us free videoke. Hehe But twas a bit pretty though. 🙂

    Reply
  13. marri

    You’ve been to many dining places and I believe you rated this garden grill resto fairly. Their food presentation will say much of how the dishes taste like.

    Reply
  14. alyne

    My experience with Josefina is way beyond expectation. Waiters and waitresses doesn’t have care . the place is like a karenderia and the food is quiet good but not all . the place, well, sucks . its like as if you eat in a Turo Turo or Karenderia. I would not recommend this establishments. To think that lots of people bought the voucher. So sad .

    Reply
  15. Jaye

    I just ate here yesterday with the hub & the son using our Metrodeal voucher & it was a total let down. I just felt so unhappy about the food, the place, the ambience that i had to have something else at MOA to perk me up.

    We are regulars at trinity at Seaside which is about 2 resto’s away from Josefina’s. We have long wanted to try other resto there to have alternatives when we go there.

    In my thinking, Josefina’s was putting up this promo to gain patrons. So, what if you loose a few pesos if you gain new customers along the way. This would have been a great away to draw people to your place. In short, the promo is to promote your place.

    No such thing here. The food as my husband described it to be was “glamorized carinderia.” The baked tahong just had grated cheese on top, no garlic, butter – so no taste at all. The “shabu-shabu” was squidballs & kikiam swimming in clear soup. The lumpiang togue had a bitter taste to it which you get by burning the garlic in thr togue or the wrapper itself. My son complained that the pancit was too salty.

    And yeah, we sat at the end, near the creek hoping for some privacy but what we get was a whiff of the creek & loud singing from some drunk men in a little house at the back.

    They said in the voucher that the buffet costs 600 on a regular day. I don’t think anyone sane would even try out a buffet at the price with only very few dishes lined & in a place with no aircondition.

    I’m not giving up the seaside place though. I’ll still try out some other place, but never, never Josefina’s again. Ever!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks for sharing your experience here, Jaye. You’re right in all those claims. Other people are also ranting about the same things over and over again. In contrast, the regular a la carte meals you can order from Josephina are okay. This MetroDeal deal is just not worth paying for and experiencing.

      Reply
      • Jaye

        Sadly, for Josefina’s, i am sure 1 out of 10 who tried out the vouchers would risk going back there. It’s hard earned money that we have to part with & the experience we had is more than enough money we have thrown away there.

        As a business person myself, I am a believer that when you get that one single chance to get over people to become regular patrons of your business, then, you do all you can to please them.

        I saw how many bought the voucher on metro deal. There was another, i heard on ensogo i think. They lost their chance. Resto are a dime a dozen in the metro. Even within seaside, there’s a lot of them competing for customers. They just lost their chance in getting the hundreds who bought the vouchers to be their clients. Big loss for them.

      • Rochkirstin Santos

        Totally, I’m with you. An obvious disadvantage to a promotional strategy is its potential for failure. While a sale promotion is an effective method to produce immediate and direct sales, it can damage the image of a product. Josphina’s deal is one fine example that resulted in negative effects in the mind of the consumers. Again, first impressions last. So even if this restaurant improved a notch, I don’t think those dissatisfied customers would be going back again.

  16. Cherry

    I just paid 996 now for lunch buffet sa friday hindi ba pwd mabawi un? I mean ill change my metro deal order nanlumo ako sa nabasa ko i was choosing this josefinas vs royal seafood sa moa…its just the same price naman ksi 499 ang isa gud for 4…sana naman pwd…

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Hi Cherry, I advise you to call MetroDeal directly if this is possible, but I think you cannot refund the deal once you already purchased the voucher online.

      Reply
      • Cherry

        What u said was SO True….sayang ang 1,200 ko kc nag add pako ng isa…sobrang walang sense ang turo turo na ito…all my aunties are disappointed sa lunch namin kanina…kami nga lng kumakain…sbi nila mabuti pa sa Tramway na lang daw ako nag treat…masisiyahan pa kami…never ever nko uulit kumain sa Josefinas!

      • Rochkirstin Santos

        Mas mura pa sa Tramway even without the promotional prices. If you’re eating there, make sure you’re earlier than other diners kasi refill of food does not come easily. Yun naman warning ko sa’yo sa Tramway Pasay branch hehe.

      • cherry

        Thanks!Aside sa Tramway any suggestions sanmaganda na eat all youcansa

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