Every year I look forward to the (Sydney) Shangri La’s Flavours of the Philippines buffet for Good Food Month. I go every year regularly (read my 2013 post by clicking here), and most years I take several trips! Its only around for 1-2 weeks at a time (only one week this time around sadly) so it’s worth getting in a few times if you love Filipino food as much as I do. The best thing about the SGL Filipino buffet is that if you’ve never tried Filipino food before, it’s the perfect place to start since it has so many specialties you get the opportunity to sample many different dishes at one go.
I excitedly counted down each day until finally it was the 2nd of October – buffet starting day!
Drinking coconuts were available for $5. I couldn’t resist and this was the perfect start to lunch on this slowly warming up Sydney weather.
Buffet aficionados and seafood lovers will not be disappointed with a fresh array of prawns and oysters on display. Personally I try not to fill up too much on seafood because I know there’s plenty of savoury dishes coming up, like…
Pancit palabok is a typical merienda (afternoon snack). Trish from Sugarlace aptly described this as a “Filipino Pad Thai”. Rice noodles are coated in a savoury seafood sauce and served with prawns, hard boiled eggs, shallots and crushed chicharron (pork rinds).
There was a delegated sisig station – finely diced pork fried with garlic, ginger, onion and chilli. Decadent and so good!
Mechado is one of my personal Filipino favourites and I frequently order it when dining out at Filo restaurants. Red meat cooked in a rich tomato sauce, you could call this the Filipino equivalent of stew.
The ever popular lechon served as pork belly with incredible glass like crackling. This was pretty popular (unsurprisingly)! Served with liver sauce (mang thomas) this dish is pretty addictive.
Steamed fishPata Humba
Meaty pork slow cooked until soft and falling off the bone in a sweet sauce similar to adobo. This was one of my favourite dishes of the day and I had to stop myself from going back to this one to save room for other dishes!
Oxtail braised with a peanut sauce. To be honest kare kare is not one of my favourite Filo dishes so I only tasted a little bit which I enjoyed. All other guests who attended remarked it was one of their favourite dishes of the day.
Filipino barbecued dishes. Another favourite of the day – all the meats were sticky, charred and fabulously good. Paired with rice, it would be really easy to demolish an entire plate in one sitting.
With the savoury dishes done and dusted, it was time for dessert and they did not disappoint!
Biko with strawberry, mango and leche flan
Filipino sweet ‘spring rolls’ – stuffed with ladyfinger bananas, jackfruit and brown sugar which is then deep fried.
Brazo de Mercedes
The Filipino ‘swiss roll’! A soft meringue layer rolled around an egg custard. This version was jazzed up with some diced pineapple, fresh passionfruit, fruity popping balls & baby coriander.
Desserts did not stop there with an arrangement of puto (steamed rice cakes), palitaw (steamed glutinous rice cakes rolled in coconut, sesame and sugar), sans rival (literally meaning “without rival”; a meringue cashew nut cake), bilo bilo (a childhood favourite of mine! a sweet coconut soup with chewy glutinous rice dumplings, sweet potato and sago) and Filipino fruit buko salad (complete with cream, condensed milk and of course – cheese!)
Ramen Raff (aka Batman)’s secret weapon – fairy floss!
If those sweets weren’t enough for you then there was also a melted chocolate / fruit station complete with fairy floss on a stick made fresh to order!
Halo Halo Station
At last – the crowning glory and one of the Philippines’ most favourite desserts of all time – halo halo. Every year I’ve attended since, the SGL has had their own halo halo station, complete with homemade ube ice-cream (which is really difficult to find in Australia) and all the trimmings. Since no other Filipino restaurants in Australia I’ve visited have offered a make-your-own halo halo service, this is probably the only place and time you’ll be able to customise your own in Aus. Halo halo is very similar to other SE Asian crushed ice desserts (i.e. Ais Kacang or Cendol) but as a friend of mine put it ‘with its own regional twist’.
After several hours and plates of food, myself and several other food bloggers rolled out of Cafe Mix feeling very satisfied. Dishes I recommend include the barbecued meats, lechon belly (with mang thomas), the pata humba & steamed fish. For sweets, it’s basically impossible to go wrong – they are all good, but make sure you especially save room for your own halo halo!!
This year’s buffet (if possible) seemed even better than last years if that’s even possible. This is definitely one of the best Filipino food events you can find in Sydney and it’s only on for one week so I highly recommend a visit if you love Filipino food or are interested in trying it for the first time! Book between 2-10 October, lunch is $55 and dinner is $75.
A big thank you to the Shangri La for inviting me along to this event!
Cooking Crusade attended this event as a guest but the opinions in this post are her own.