25 September 2023


Living loving learning

Experiencing Cafe Ilang-Ilang’s Tuna Festival for Myself

4 min read

I was thankfully invited to partake in a dinner buffet at Cafe Ilang-Ilang, which included the Tuna Festival I just posted recently, and it was certainly a gastronomic delight! I thought we were going to be given a tasting menu, instead, we were allowed to eat anything in the buffet. Wow!

For those who have never been to Cafe Ilang-Ilang, let me tell you that with 18 stations to go to, it was a struggle for me to decide where to go first … everything just looked amazing! From the meat carving station (which happened to be near our table) to Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, and Italian dishes, salads, bread and cheese plates, and desserts … it was overwhelming.

Cafe Ilang-Ilang's buffet
Cafe Ilang-Ilang’s buffet

Angus steak that would melt in my mouth, lobster, kuracha … oh, all the sinful stuff! I was so tempted to indulge! But I was there for the tuna festival so before choosing what to eat, I went around and hunted for the dishes featured that evening.

Everything you see in the image above, I tried, except for the Tuna Whanja (upper left). I’m a fan of spicy food but looking at the dish I was intimidated by the visible chili pieces. Since I was driving home, I had to be careful with my choices.

Tuna Cottage Cheese Sandwich on Rye and Tuna Ceviche with Avocado

Raw, pan-seared, grilled, fried … I just love tuna every which way. If I had to choose a favorite, though, it would probably be the Tuna Ceviche. Weird choice, I know, since it is probably the dish that had the least preparation done to it, but I love how soft and juicy the tuna was with every bite. Although, I must confess, I did not find any avocado (which I love!) in the serving I was given.

In my personal opinion, tuna ceviche is a fancy way of saying Kinilaw na Tuna. If you don’t know what that is, it means that raw tuna is covered in vinegar. The acidity of the vinegar is what cooks the fish.

Now, I don’t know if this is how they made that dish, but that is how it tasted.  Fyi, kinilaw na tuna is one of my favorite dishes so it definitely got a thumbs up!

Tuna Salad with White Beans

The Tuna Salad with White Beans was another favorite of mine as it is smooth and creamy.

Tuna Salpicao

The one I was most excited to taste, to be honest, was the Tuna Salpicao. I’m a big fan of beef salpicao and chicken salpicao … I can even cook both! It is honestly an easy dish to make and so delicious! I was curious to know how it would translate with tuna as the main ingredient.

What I discovered is that if we don’t eat this immediately the tuna becomes dry and tough so, word of advice … when this is served to you, ask for more sauce to put on it and try to eat it immediately.

The Spicy Tuna Spring Rolls held no surprise but I like spicy tuna and I like spring rolls so I got it anyway.  Yum!

At the back of the photo are Tuna Empanadas. I didn’t get to taste them anymore because everytime I went to that station they would run out! That’s apparently how good they are. Based on that alone, I would have to assume I missed out on something wonderful but there just wasn’t space left in my tummy after. 😀

I ended the evening with Pear Sorbet and a macaron.

Who am I kidding? I ended the evening with several bowls of pear sorbet, macchiato gelato, mango crepe, and several macarons! Lol! Anyone who has been at a buffet with me knows my favorite station is the dessert station and I made sure to leave room for those lovelies.

In five words I would describe my experience with Cafe Ilang-Ilang and their Tuna Festival as “a party in my mouth”. That’s a party I would love to attend again soon.


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