Crustasia at Shangri-La Plaza

We had passed by Crustasia many times, we even took a peek at the buffet once but we never felt drawn enough to actually try it. One factor is that we don’t do buffets anymore as we prefer to eat a la carte — you know, the kind that is prepared only after we have ordered. Food just tastes better when it’s freshly prepared.

So, we had never eaten at Crustasia before. But one Sunday afternoon, I felt that since there were a la carte items and the menu said Southeast Asian dishes, Crustasia was worth a try. We ordered fried Vietnamese spring rolls, Pad Thai noodles and Yum Pla Dook Foo, that wonderful Thai salad made with green mangoes and crispy catfish.

Jicama and carrot sticks

We were given a complimentary bowl of vegetables sticks — singkamas (jicama) and carrots — with dipping sauces that tasted delicious. With an introduction like that, we were anticipating great food ahead. Big mistake. HUGE. It’s not that the food tasted bad. It’s just that they tasted flat.

Let’s start with the Pad Thai noodles.

Pad Thai noodles

Pad Thai noodles is a classic Thai dish. It is an exotic combination of sweet (palm sugar), salty (fish sauce), sour (tamarind or lime juice, or both) and spicy (chilis!) flavors. It is also a combination of different textures — crisp mung bean sprouts, crunchy crushed peanuts, chicken and shrimps, hot chilis, cilantro, green onions and rice noodles. But what we got fell short in every aspect. Most of the traditional solid ingredients were there yet was no discernible flavor. And I wondered what they seasoned the dish with because to say that it was bland would be an understatement. It was just plain… well, forgettable.

It’s not like I was expecting a replica of Pad Thai the way it is made in those tiny food stalls in Thailand. I absolutely adored Pad Thai in Thailand but I understand that Pad Thai, as served in the Philippines, has to be adapted to Filipino taste buds. Still, I was expecting something that was at least similar to real Pad Thai — not just in looks but in flavor and texture. And Crustasia’s Pad Thai did not come even near.

thai catfish salad

Then, there was the crispy catfish and green mango salad. It’s called a salad for a reason. If it’s fried catfish with a few strips of green mango, well, it’s pulutan, not salad. You’re better off preparing this dish at home.

Finally, the spring rolls. They were served last, very hot from the frying pan. That should have made them perfect, except that…

Vietnamese spring rolls

…they had more wrapping than filling. Santisima. That kind of trick to keep the cost low is something one can forgive if eating in a cheap fast food restaurant. But Crustasia represents itself as something more. But we didn’t get more. Unless I give credit for presentation which doesn’t really add to the flavor or excellent texture of really well-prepared food.

The bill was over P900.00 and you can see how small the servings are.

If you like Thai food, there is a tiny restaurant right beside Jipan at SM Megamall. I can’t remember the name, it’s really small and rather cramped but, heck, the food is so much better. Much, much better.

  • May Uy

    Ganun ba? Mukha pa naman siyang okay. Nakakainis nga kumain sa mahal at di naman masarap, sobrang nakakahinayang :(

    I think you’re referring to Jatujak.

    • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

      Ganda ng presentation, wala ako masabi. Kaso, di naman nakakain ang presentation.

      Yeah, I think that’s the one — Jatujak. Basta, it’s right beside Jipan.

  • peterb

    Ate there once. Didn’t enjoy it. For the price, you’d definitely expect something more. Had the crabs @ P100/100 grams i think. I’d rather cook it at home.

    • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

      I think the word I was looking for earlier was “mediocre.”

  • she

    naku i’ve tried crustasia too with my barkada and SUPER disappointing talaga. ang laki ng bill namin tapos bitin naman and as in hindi talaga kami nasarapan. nagsisi talaga kami bakit dun pa kami kumain.

  • rq

    Back on our 2007 vacation, Crustasia got on our must-do list because a) we LOVE seafood and b) it came highly recommended. Half did the buffet, the others ordered from the menu.

    Sadly, the food was mediocre – everything tasted exactly the same – bland bland bland. They obviously have a low turnover of cooks (no accredited chef could possibly produce such sub-standard fare).

  • miclimptrp

    Felt the need to comment…

    If I’m not mistaken, Crustasia is one of the high-end restos of the Red Crab group (Magdaluyo). Others in their line-up is Flying Pig, I-Republik, Seafood Island & Red Crab. There’s also this BBQ/Steak place right beside Flying Pig which they own, forgot the name. Not sure if Heaven & Eggs is also part of their line-up.

    Ate at Crustasia Trinoma twice already, one ala-carte and the other at their buffet. Hindi sulit. Expensive but mediocre taste.

    Also tried Seafood Island and I-Republik… medyo expensive na din pero hindi pa rin sulit.

    In any case, the Magdaluyos got known for their good food. Wonder why they’re letting things go downhill….

    • http://homecookingrocks.com Connie

      “BBQ/Steak place”

      I think it’s Claw Daddy (at Shangri-la Plaza, it’s beside Crustasia). We’ve eaten there. Not fantastic but a notch better than Crustasia. Just the other weekend, we ate at Claw Daddy at The Fort. Pasta with clams was good. With half order of ribs plus a squid dish, the bill was over P2,000.00. My goodness and they forgot to serve the complimentary corn on the cobs. Was too tired to demand na lang talaga.

    • http://urbanmudra.wordpress.com ingrid

      same experience with barkada, mahal na ang liit pa ng servings! but we have tried flying pig at blu fish at eastwood. food is better than crustasia. :)

  • miclimptrp

    Found it. It’s Ray and Pete’s Texas Smoke’Em in Eastwood.

  • yelle

    love it when you mentioned, Santisima… perfect word.. saktong sakto sa experience.. more reviews.. love your site

  • Natz SM

    I agree with everyone here! I tried Crustasia in Rockwell and it was really a big disappointment. Di Bale sanang mahal basta masarap.

    I forgave RED CRAB at Greenbelt 5 for offering one of the WORST buffet spreads ive even been to but just thought that I shouldn’t have expected anything good for Php350 anywhere near that area in the first place. Like Crustasia PURO LNG SILA PRESENTATION!

  • Eveline

    had a similarly disappointing experience last month when I tried the dinner buffet, which was about P500/head. it was my first time, and it will be my last time: this resto is on my “di na babalikan” list

    the dimsum (chicken feet, siomai) was bad: the siomai was dry, and the chicken feet had a tough and weird texture already. very unappetizing

    the sushi was terrible. rice was mushy and couldn’t taste any other filling anymore. i had to dunk this in the wasabi/soy sauce mix just to finish the few ones that i got

    crab: small, and overcooked. it looked sad, when it was supposed to be the star of the show

    beef steak: mediocre

    other dishes like chicken (curry ‘ata) and pad thai-ish style spaghetti, seafood platter were forgettable and sub-par in taste

    the only saving grace of the meal was the little turon served in a shot glass, with a touch of syrup at the bottom of the glass. it was crunchy and sweet :P

  • http://www.foodiediva.com Lannie

    Thanks for the tip Connie! I try new restos when I’m in Manila so I’ll safely file this on my ‘Not to Try/Visit’ list. Last time I was there I tried Thai Patio (?) at GB5. Not too impressed with the appetizers but the Lamb Red Curry was too DIE for!

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  • Nina

    i love your resto reviews.. it saves me time or, rather,keeps me from WASTING my time on places that i would have considered trying!! hahaha!! that is the problem here in Pinas, expensive restos doesn’t necessarily mean the food is worth the price…they usually aren’t. Mas nakakainis yun, unlike when u eat in cheap ones coz u know u get what u pay for…these reviews of yours really helps :)

    • Connie

      Oh how true. A lot of expensive restos are nothing but hype. In fact, my motto is: if there’s too much buzz about a resto, I don’t go.