Buddha Bar Manila
(With Merriane Chua on lens.)
When In Manila, you can search every nook and cranny, every crack or crevice and I promise you nothing compares to Buddha Bar Manila. The fourth Buddha Bar franchise in Asia, the three-storey, 525-seating Manila branch is the largest Buddha Bar to date.
Step Into Buddha Bar Manila
The iconic Buddha sits on top of the mezzanine north of the entrance.
The first few seconds inside the massive bar/lounge/restaurant complex incites a sensory overload. The combination of ethnic music and Trance that many endeared fans call Buddha Bar music drowns the air with a sea of tranquil rhythms and beats. The visual extravagance of Buddha Bar Manila‘s interiors transports you into an otherworldly state of mind that can only be described as the Buddha Bar experience.
Buddha Bar is not Buddha Bar without its trademark traditional-electronic beats. On June 29, catch DJ Ravin as he releases Buddha Bar XIV in Buddha Bar Manila.
Flaunting rope chandeliers dangling from the high ceiling and hanging from the posts, accent lights beaming down on the tables and sofas, and candles flickering from the low tables set the warm tone for Buddha Bar Manila. The mahogany-framed sofas in shades of gold, red, and brown are inviting, amorous, and indulgent. The red, black, and gold plastered across the walls and ceilings highlight the opulence of Buddha Bar‘s architecture; and the iconic Buddha sits atop the mezzanine, peacefully observing the lavish lounge area below.
One of the many lounges fit for a king (and his friends) at Buddha Bar Manila.
“Everything you see here is Buddha Bar,” says Yzl Cruz, the marketing director of Buddha Bar Manila. Buddha Bar Manila‘s general manager Sylvere Le Gall flew in from Paris as the 13th Buddha Bar franchise in the world was being constructed to make sure that every minute detail reflected the Buddha Bar experience. And after four months since starting operation, Le Gall continues to micro-manage every aspect of Buddha Bar Manila, changing or rejecting managerial recommendations just because it’s “not Buddha Bar!”
The Buddha-Bar bar. Makes sense?
This attention to detail shows and is well-appreciated. Remember the accent lights? They’re timed to grow dimmer as the evening progresses. The smooth, relaxed music slowly aggresses to edgier, more emphatic beats deep into the night. Run your hands down the beady Moroccan tiles in Buddha Bar Manila‘s bathroom to appreciate Yzl‘s simple introduction: “Everything … is Buddha Bar!”
“Everything is Buddha Bar!”
Lounge and Dine @ Buddha Bar Manila
The ground level of Buddha Bar Manila is designated as the lounge, the mezzanine hosts diners and VIP’s (in the VIP rooms), and the roof deck opens on weekends for its chic clientele to have a sip and mingle.
Good Karma works for those who do good unto others. I’d like to think I’ve done my fair share of good deeds!
At six o’ clock in the evening, we decided to try some of their drinks and cocktails. (I know, it’s still quite early for a drink. But I work better with a little alcohol in my system.) A sober warning: Buddha Bar Manila‘s cocktails, albeit delightfully mixed, is rather spirit-forward for occasional drinkers (as per my photographer); so if you are one, best reserve your drink for the latter part of the evening.
A pineapple-flavored, rum-based cocktail to end the day right.
Apple Grey Tea
Apple and earl grey tea infused with vodka. Packs a punch, I’m told.
A must-try is Buddha Bar’s signature iced tea. Infused with a hint of lychee, for a drink ideally for two, the flavor is so addictive a glass might not even be enough for one!
A non-alcoholic alternative to my Ultimate.
Buddha Bar Manila Signature Iced Tea
Buddha Bar’s best-selling lychee-infused iced tea.
Consistent with the East-meets-West concept espoused by Buddha Bar originator George Visan, Buddha Bar Manila‘s restaurant offers Pacific Rim cuisine which is in essence Asian-inspired but purely French in technique. Their menu includes tempting appetizers like the Buddha Bar Chicken Salad, creamy and mildly spiced to whet your appetite; sushi plates; a plethora of main course dishes including my favorite Roasted Black Cod, cooked to perfection with its natural flavor and creamy yet firm texture; and to-die-for desserts like their famed Chocolate Sesame Bars topped with coconut sherbet.
Buddha Bar Chicken Salad
27-Piece “Selection Buddha Bar” Sampler
Shrimp Tempura with Spicy Mayonnaise
Pork Spare Ribs with Asian BBQ Sauce
Braised Stuffed Tofu
Roasted Black Cod with Miso and Yuzu Sauce
This was my favorite dish of the evening; a must-try for everyone’s first Buddha Bar experience!
I guess it’s strawberry season!
Chocolate Sesame Bars topped with Coconut Sherbet
At the helm is French Culinary Institute, New York alumna Chef Soc Santos of Shangri-La Hotel fame before she took on the role of executive chef for Buddha Bar Manila. Chef Soc and the other head chefs had to fly to Paris to learn the French way of preparing Buddha Bar’s signature dishes! So the dishes served in Buddha Bar Manila are prepared the same way as the original Buddha Bar and all other Buddha Bars the world over.
Paris-trained Head Sushi Chef Arwin (right) looks on as his sous chefs prepare sushi for the early guests.
Bartender extraordinaire JP took home bronze in an international bartending competition at ‘Nam just two weeks prior.
The Buddha Bar Manila dining experience is topped by their personnel’s outstanding service. I felt so pampered when our waiters insisted on taking our unfinished drinks from the lounge to the mezzanine for dinner, and then changing our dinnerware after the appetizers and again after the mains. The five-star treatment is balanced by the ambient setting and the friendliness of our servers, so the dining experience remained cozy and unintimidating while we conversed and sampled the sumptuous dishes in front of us!
Fine dining at Buddha Bar Manila includes the waiters changing your plate every part of the meal.
Stepping outside after hours immersed in the world of Buddha Bar Manila, my companions and I were left with grins from the fond memory of our first Buddha Bar experience. Walking past several BMW’s and stopping to check out a parked Porsche, I was brought back to Earth, complete with the SFX of a loud thud: In the real world, things aren’t equal. But inside Buddha Bar Manila, everyone is a traveler, a wanderer to a far-flung dream of gold, red, and black.
So When In Manila, be sure to book a table at Buddha Bar Manila. Dress in smart casual or better (because they follow a strict dress code). And when you see the gigantic statue of Buddha overlooking the patrons seated at the lounge area, then get ready to indulge in the Buddha Bar experience!
Buddha Bar Manila
Picar Place, Kalayaan Ave, Makati City, Philippines
Open everyday from 5 PM to 2 AM (3 AM on weekends)
For reservations, call 856 6719 and 856 6859
“Like” Buddha Bar Manila on Facebook at www.facebook.com/buddhabarmanila
Buddha Bar Manila: Transcending Dining Expectations in the Realm of the Senses
Thank you Yzl and Zita for being such gracious hosts. Our first Buddha Bar experience wouldn’t be super-fly without you!