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[Photo of Desserts form Traders Hotel]Discover a melting pot of delights at Traders Hotel Manila's Latitude.

If there was such a thing as a multi-cultural culinary museum, the dishes of Latitude at Traders Hotel Manila would make an exciting edible exhibit.

The China Business team sampled the feast when it sat down to lunch with Traders' vivacious communications director Lourdes Arrieta and executive sous chef Edwin Santos.

Santos is behind Latitude's delightful dishes. He has no formal training in culinary arts, but knows good food. He has humble beginnings in the kitchen and 25 years of experience cooking for five-star hotels.

Picking from Latitude's international dishes is the next best thing to taking a food trip around the world. Latitude offers a buffet and an a la carte menu that includes local steaks as well as delicacies from Guatemala, Mexico, South Africa, and Thailand—countries on the same latitude as Traders (14.35° North 121° East).

Food items rolled out from the kitchen to the buffet tables undergo regular and rigorous quality checks, says Arriate. Everything on the serving trays is replaced after a certain amount of time to guarantee freshness. For 1,100 pesos (US$23.3) per person, diners can dig in to their heart's content.

Hotel Pick-nic

It's hard to pick favorites when there's Japanese food on one end, Chinese on the other, Filipino right beside it, and a slew of other dishes waiting to be plated. But among the items in the overwhelming, diverse, and delicious buffet, few are bound to stand out.

One of them is the salad bar. I started the meal with refreshing, customized greens sprinkled with my favorite dressings and toppings. There were also pre-prepared classics like caesar and waldorf salads.

After a leafy delight, I hopped on to the fresh goods section. There was a sushi and maki bar waiting for Japanese food lovers to come back for second, third, or even fifth servings! Right next to the rice and nori rolls were neat, radiant orange rows of gigantic prawns and mussels.

Hungry hotel guests can choose from main courses that vary everyday. During our visit, three dishes stood out from the buffet line. One was the Rosemary Crust Chicken Breast with Prunes. The aromatic herb made for a tasty and healthier alternative to the usual crusts that coat meat. The other was Tofu with Tausi. Its sauce alone would make a delicious meal when paired with rice. The texture of the tofu complemented every meaty bite. We also sampled a Latitude staple: Prime Rib. Chef Santos personally carved succulent pieces for us.

Best for Last

A good dessert is the best way to punctuate a great meal. And the sweets from their decadent selection are the perfect choices.

From the colorful dessert tray, I went for the Pana Cotta Yogurt topped with pistachio. The custard, which wasn't all sweet, had a surprising tinge of tanginess from the yogurt.

I found heaven in a tall shot glass of Coffee Mousse with a dark chocolate chip on top. Chocaholic or not, you'll find that letting the confection melt in your mouth is sensational, if not sensual.

For those looking for simple comfort food, the restaurant also features classics like leche flan and tiramisu. Those who aren't gifted (or cursed) with a sweet tooth can opt for fresh tropical fruits.

Print ed: 07/09


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