People go to buffets because they have tons of choices. If mom wants Filipino food, dad wants seafood, your brother likes Japanese, and you’re very particular with your greens, there’s always something for everyone at the buffet spread. This is why it is crucial to have a buffet that delivers all the courses and cuisines at the same quality. You can’t go around saying, “Ah the Japanese station at X buffet was to die for” and follow it with “But their salad station was a huge letdown.” You should be satisfied, at least, from beginning to end. Quantity should never compensate for quality, especially when we’re talking hotel buffets.

Marco Polo Ortigas Manila’s Cucina (pronounced as Ku-chee-na/ with the hard end on the ‘a’) is an all-day restaurant featuring a Continental and Asian buffet, as well as an a la carte menu. Asian Dragon was able to get dirty on the Cucina floor, trying out all the foodstuff on the buffet spread. If you’re planning to drop by Marco Polo’s Cucina buffet, might as well go on a weekend since they’re hosting a special ‘Cucina’s 7 Days, Seven Reasons Weekend Fiesta.’ What’s special about the Weekend Fiesta is that in addition to the beautiful host of international and Asian dishes, excellent Filipino favorites are also aplenty.

We’ll walk you through our bountiful fiesta experience at Cucina.

First stop is our salad bar, which looks hands-down majestic. Personally, this is one of the most beautiful yet organized salad bars I have come across in a buffet, with a good assortment of exquisite dressings like pure olive oil, sherry vinegar, and even truffle vinaigrette.

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

The salad bar looks gorgeous!

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

The tuna ceviche is a Weekend Fiesta special

Included in the salad bar are Filipino appetizers, which are part of the Cucina Weekend Fiesta. Among the ensaladang mangga, pineapple parma ham, and tuna ceviche, the ceviche was beatiful! It was salty, sweet, tangy, sour, spicyeverything in a small dainty container. The ceviche was perfect to kick up your senses right before digging into the real feast.

The bread section was also just as beautifully put together, with a good selection of breads, cold cuts, and cheeses.

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

The bread station arranged really nicely

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

Black and red fettuccine?!

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

Freshly grated parmesan cheese right on the counter

For Italian lovers, the pasta section was creatively showcased, too. There is an assortment of tortellini, penne, and colored fettuccine for your pasta base, and a choice of a creamy carbonara and seafood marinara for your sauce. We were able to dig into the seafood marinara and it was divine. Finish your pasta with freshly-grated parmesan for the authentic Italian experience.

If you prefer a different kind of noodle course, the ramen station is also a great place to whip your own noodle creation. Pair your ramen with siomai, seafood dumplings, or stuffed beancurd, and you’re tummy will surely be happy.

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

Create-your-own-ramen station

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

Stuffed beancurd

If you’re into seafood, the Cucina also boasts a scrumptious array of freshly caught and prepared water critters. Have a couple of Vietnamese prawns available with a selection of sauces like cocktail sauce, thai sauce, and coriander vinaigrette, or have the chefs cook some of your seafood favorites like curacha (spanner crab) or Manila clams. There are also raw choices for the more daring, including the much-loved salmon sashimi and tuna sashimi. The sashimi weren’t the best in the metro but still, a good catch for a buffet spread. But the station is just as breathtaking, with an enormous carved fresh tuna holding the sashimi.

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

Prawns overload

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

A creative presentation of seafood

All of these stations and more are regulars at the Cucina. But during weekends, the Weekend fiesta boasts a selection of great Filipino food, which matches the rest of the spread really well. The star of the Weekend fiesta is the cunchinillo, a roast suckling pig. The roast pig is surrounded by more Filipino favorites like sinigang na hipon, kare-kare, pork adobo, chicken afritada, and pork sisig. This writer, having been constantly exposed to great Filipino food, is hard to amaze with simple Filipino cooking. But Cucina’s Filipino dishes reminds me so much of the dishes my mom used to cook at home—and that’s not an easy task since my mom has, unarguably, created some of the best Filipino dishes I’ve ever had in my life. Some of my favorites from Cucina’s curated Filipino spread are the paella negra (which was creamy and packed with a seafood punch) and the kare-kare (it’s so good you don’t even need a side of bagoong to appreciate it).

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

Clockwise from top: pork sisig, kare-kare, chicken afritada

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

Sinigang na hipon

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

Cunchinillo

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

This pork roulade was great, too!

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

I didn’t mind the extra calories and sugar I was intaking; this paella negra was worth it!

To finish off the meal, Cucina offers a wide variety of dessert choices. If you’re a chocolate lover, there are tons of chocolatey desserts to choose from—when they said moist chocolate cake, it was indeed all levels of moist and chocolatey. If you want a lighter ending to your meal, they also have beautiful sponge cakes and fruit pastries. But if you’re ready to face the weighing scale after your hearty meal at Cucina, might as well go for their delectable ice cream choices. Two thumbs up for the pistachio flavor and the strawberry banana flavor, which comes with surprise frozen banana bites.

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

It was so painful to get a slice of this beautifully made white chocolate passion fruit cake!

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

Pineapple tartlets

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

White chocolate almond cake ready for serving

Asian Dragon - Marco Polo Cucina buffet

The strawberry banana ice cream was the best possible way to end the feast!

The Cucina buffet spread offers a whole lot more and it’s definitely a feast you’ll want to treat your loved ones to. The Cucina Weekend Fiesta is offered only during weekends at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila. For more information, check out the Marco Polo website. For bookings and reservations, call tel. no. (02) 720-7777.

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