“Maintain the prices, food quality, and prompt service; I'm sure Vikings will go a long way in this ever-competitive buffet industry.”
That was me bidding Vikings Luxury Buffet a long and fruitful journey, back when it first opened in 2011.
Boy, did I wish them well. Three years and five branches later, Vikings is stronger than ever.
At its newest branch in SM Megamall, we touched base with the Vikings group to know how the chain is faring (pretty well, we instantly hypothesized by how full the house was at a Monday lunchtime), and where are they headed in the next few years.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
It didn’t take us a second to notice how different Vikings in SM Megamall looks like.
“For each branch, we adjust the look to what we feel is comfortable to the market,” says Raquel Bartolome, Assistant Marketing Head of Vikings. If the original Vikings branch in Mall of Asia exudes class through its yellow-tinged lights, smooth-finish wooden accents, stainless countertops, and heavy cushioned chairs, SM Megamall is all about being hip and contemporary.
Aside from being a food destination, the 500-seater expanse at the 4th level of the new Mega Fashion Hall doubles as an art gallery of sorts, with walls, ceilings, and partitions lined with colorful canvases and edgy patterns. The look is complemented by techno-house pipe music, akin to what you’d hear at the metro’s best clubs.
But there’s more to this move than just adjusting to the taste of the young market. “With the new SM Megamall branch, we want to emphasize the idea that every dish created by our chefs is a work of art and that our guests can paint their palate with different colorful cuisines. Hence, we adapted the Art Museum theme,” Raquel reasoned.
Same Selection, Diverse Executions
Just like in MOA, Vikings in SM Megamall features around 200+ dishes on the buffet spread.
The left side of the room is where the pizza, pasta, grill, and carving section are. Eastern wing has the sushis, sashimis, shabu-shabus, and dumplings. In between the two major open kitchens, two islands are shared by the salads, desserts, and drinks (soda, juice, fruits, tea, coffee, and beer).
Make Your Own Shabu-Shabu
Brazo de Mercedes
Just like in its first branch, the following stations command a beeline at any given time: tempura, carving (Angus beef, roast turkey, and lechon), sushi boat, sashimi section, grills, and oysters.
Here's something I haven't seen in other branches: Truffle Penne and Cheese
Filipino represent! Kare-Kare at the Pinoy section
“We pretty much offer the same selection. But chefs of different branches are free to create their own versions. The management encourages that, as long as they stick to the costings, of course,” Raquel concluded.
There’s Always a Viking near You
As if the five current branches in SM MOA, SM North Edsa, SM Marikina, SM Megamall, and SM Lanang aren’t enough to satiate the hunger of Filipinos (apparently, they really aren’t if you’d just look at the crazy lead time for reserving seats), Vikings is set to open three more outlets within the year. The soonest, Niu by Vikings in SM Aura, will welcome patrons in the Fort this June. It will be followed by SM Jazz in Makati, then SM BF Paranaque.
How did an ambitious and then-unheard of brand, with virtually minimal marketing effort, grew quickly to one of the go-to destinations for feasting within three years? Beats me. No matter what their critics say, they must be doing something great to sustain the full-bookings, right?
Now this is me once more, taking back my initial hesitations of the place, realizing my first impressions were wrong, and still wishing Vikings a long fruitful journey ahead.
Vikings Buffet Rates, as of April 2014
Congratulations, graduate. Now let's eat!
Aside from this, you get a free song number, too.