WARNING: image heavy!

We had a second visit to Shangri-La Mactan’s Tea of Spring two Sundays ago. During Saturdays and Sundays, you can avail of their “eat-all-you-can” dimsum for only PhP799++, which roughly amounts to ~PhP1000 per person.

Last time I came here, we had dinner for my cousin’s birthday. Service took long, but the food was worth the wait. A few times before, me and my parents had a great experience (in terms of food) but we had ordered “ala carte” and this is the first time I’ve tried the dimsum buffet. My parents have tried it though while I was in Manila, and my dad gave the same complaint: that service was slow and that the food took very long.

Let’s see how this visit fares.

I was in a hurry to take the pictures because a) I was freaking hungry, which easily means that service was, indeed, slow. b) I’m always in a hurry to eat. LOL.

So first, the food porn!

Being in a Chinese family, my dad is very critical when it comes to Chinese food. We’ve tasted the best of the best, gone from one restaurant to another, so he’s very harsh when it comes to criticizing Chinese food. And because I’m my dad’s daughter, you should expect the same. Our taste buds are really sensitive to the taste, to the way it’s cooked and to certain smells the food might have.

Peanuts – every Chinese restaurant’s free appetizer. 🙂
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Asado Siopao – little bite sized steamed buns with honey glazed pork barbeque. A bit disappointed because there was a smell to it.
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Deep-fried Beancurd Skin Roll w/ Shrimp – easily the best tasting dish among the rest. The shrimp was fresh, and added crunch to the already-crunchy beancurd skin. Only complaint: too oily.
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Beef Balls – had the awful smell of old meat, and had the texture of squid/fishballs on the street.
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Chicken Feet – The taste was good, it was something new vs. the typical chicken feet sauce because this one emphasized on the chili sauce. But as it’s apparent on the picture, it was dry and it was like I was eating rubber. This made chicken feet live up to its street name of “Adidas”
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Egg Noodles w/ Soy Sauce – no complaints here, this was pretty good.
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Fried Prawn Balls – just like the shrimp, the prawn balls were fresh and very crunchy. But again, it was too oily.
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Glutinous Rice – wrapped in lotus leaves, sorry I wasn’t able to take pics. You’d have assumed that such a small portion would be full of flavor because it’s packed in the lotus leaf, but it was BLAND.
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Hakao – Shrimp dumplings – very fresh, crunchy. Very good.
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Shrimp Cakes – it doesn’t look like a cake, more like a shrimp roll. As I’ve said, shrimp was really fresh, but it was TOO oily. When it was served, it was still drenched in oil.
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Spare Ribs w/ Black Beans – Normally this is a crowd pleaser, but the smell was awful. Old meat. I ate one, my mom ate one, and afterwards we discarded everything.
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Siomai – Pork and Shrimp Dumplings. Tasted good, but it was dry. The texture was almost grainy, that’s a sign of old meat.
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Spring Roll – it was good, but it was also really oily.
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Taro Puff – A bit bland tasting, normally the yam itself should provide enough flavor, but somehow it didn’t. As like every taro puff, it contains minced meat with sauce inside, and it passed my mouth without a single bit of flavor. Also, really oily.
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Xiao Long Bao – Awful. Dry. The exact opposite of what Xiao Long Bao is supposed to be.
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Dessert: Lotus Seed Buns and Red Bean Paste Buns – I loved these, they were small and bite sized. The ratio of bun to paste was perfect! LOL
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Anyway, there was a noodle station being setup outside, turns out they’ve got a guest chef all the way from China. He rolled and made fresh noodles outside, it was fascinating to watch! He wasn’t using any machine or whatever, just his pair of hands. Wow.

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Ratings time!

Service – 3.5
The waiters did not attend to the customers for the most part, and seemed to be busy talking amongst themselves on whose orders have been served or which order is lacking, or a follow up – an apparent lack of organization among them. They were, however, courteous when your order came late or took too long. With that said, they apologized way too much to us in this visit. I don’t understand why, especially since there weren’t that much people in the restaurant at that time.

Food – 3.5
Shangri-La is one of the hotels that prides itself in 5-star quality service, and you would expect them to serve 5-star dishes as well, but the dim sum falls short of my expectations. Just because the dish is fried or deep fried, doesn’t mean they should be dripping in oil. The shrimp and the prawns were very good though, were obviously fresh, but both pork and beef were questionable. A lot of the dishes were either too oily, or too dry. The dessert buns, Lotus Seed and Red Bean Paste, were delicious. But they’re favorites of mine, so I’m kind of biased. Very disappointed considering the price of the food (if it weren’t a buffet) and considering that it’s a Shangri-La restaurant serving these.

Value – 4.5
To be honest, other than Shangri-La, the only other Chinese restaurant that’ll serve Chinese food to its near authenticity would be Choi City. And Choi City, as authentic it can get, is pretty pricey compared to Tea of Spring’s dimsum buffet. If you order ala carte in ToS, however, they’re on par in terms of price, but Choi City edges in terms of overall quality. So back on point, if it weren’t for the dimsum buffet, it wouldn’t be worth paying the price ala carte.

Over-all Rating – 3.8
Would I come back? It’s not a sure hit all the time, and it’s unfortunate that almost all the time it’s the speed of service that’s the biggest problem. But because it’s a dim sum buffet offered by a 5-star restaurant at 799++ per person, it’s a pretty good deal.

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