We discovered Hong Tai Yang as we drove home from Binondo one Sunday, when we took a detour that led us to Macapagal Boulevard. We were wondering where we were going to have lunch; Macapagal Boulevard is dotted with restaurants but we were in search of something new, and so Seaside, Gerry's Grill and classmates were out of the question.
Hong Tai Yang's billboard beckoned : "Over a 100 food choices." Clearly it was a marketing jab but what the heck, we drove in and followed the arrows to the back end of the Hobbies of Asia compound.
To our surprise, the restaurant was bustling with diners. And there, a stride from the door is the buffet counter filled with quite a variety of shabu-shabu (hotpot) and grill ingredients -- dimsum, hakaw, meats and poultry (fresh and processed, including tocino and bacon), innards and other laman loob bordering on the exotic, fish and seafood, lots of greens and other veggies....
We had a choice from among chicken, satay (which I took) and sinigang (Mike's choice) for the hotpot broth. Half an hour later we have tried half a dozen "courses," using the Teriyaki, BBQ and other condiments available, then helped ourselves to the all-you-want ice cream and halo-halo. Hay, patay na naman ang diet!
When we asked for the bill, the waiter was profuse with tips: "'Pag pumunta po kayo dito dapat yung gutom talaga kayo, tapos 'wag n'yong bibiglain. Yung iba kasi nabibigla, ayun, nagsasawa agad. Sayang din ho kasi 'yung bayad n'yo."
Anyway, we did come back four times more (and better prepared) after that, with the kids, with mom (on Mothers' Day -- boy, was the place packed!) and some friends. The kids liked the idea of being allowed to cook their own food -- and the seemingly endless supply of ice cream. :)
Hong Tai Yang opens from 11 am to 11pm daily. Lunch buffet costs P360 per head; dinner P395 (excluding rice and drinks). Kids pay only half (except on holidays). The place gets really full on weekends and special occasions, so the best time to come would be for weekday lunch, or call in for reservations.
Hong Tai Yang is at the back end of the Hobbies of Asia compound, along Macapagal Boulevard. (The entrance to the compound comes right after the Blue Lotus Spa.) HTY's frontage faces the Senate Building and is on the same row as Susan the Cooking Diva's kitchen.