July 11, 2020

Samba at Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila

Dine-In Review Series



Samba is one of my favorite restaurants even before the coronavirus pandemic hit Metro Manila. That's why when I heard the news that it was finally reopening, I immediately messaged them on Facebook to reserve a table on its reopening date (08 July 2020). So, is it safe to dine-in again at Samba?


► ARRIVAL EXPERIENCE



Link to the Travel and Health Declaration Form is downloadable via a QR code posted next to the hotel's entrance. Once submitted online, you will receive an email confirmation from the hotel containing your QR code pass. It is important that you provide an email address that you can easily access via your smartphone. The security staff will then scan your QR code pass and will input your temperature reading.

I recommend that you bookmark the link to the Travel and Health Declaration Form so that you can fill out the form while in transit to the hotel. The next time you arrive at the hotel, you just have to present your QR code pass to security. For security reasons, I won't be sharing the link to the declaration form. This is to avoid bogus submissions.

Upon arrival at Samba, the restaurant receptionist will then scan your QR code pass to retrieve your personal details. Your temperature will again be scanned before you are allowed to enter.




► RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE



The first thing I noticed was there were fewer tables now to observe social distancing. Guests are also not allowed to seat face-to-face. Tables that used to accommodate four persons can now only seat two persons.



I also noticed that there is a Hand Sanitation Area inside the restaurant, making it convenient for guests should they need to sanitize their hands. Restaurant staff also kept a safe distance from the diners and would only approach you if you called their attention.




► DINING EXPERIENCE



The table was free of clutter. Only a paper placemat, cutlery wrapped in a napkin, and a glass with cover were set-up on the table when we arrived. Plates were only provided upon request or when required. A mask sleeve was also provided to safe-keep your mask. The e-menu is available via a QR code printed on the disposable paper placemat. I think that's smart. Dishes are covered when served to guests. This is to protect the food from airborne contaminants.




► FOOD EXPERIENCE

Aji de Gallina

I learned to love Peruvian cuisine because of Samba. The comforting flavors and aroma are very close to Filipino cuisine. Our Hispanic heritage also provides a string bind between our cuisines. One best example is this classic Peruvian dish called Aji de Gallina. Chicken meat was cooked in a creamy yellow chili pepper sauce. The Aji de Gallina is then served on a bed of potatoes with rice on the side. I find it very comforting because it reminds me of the Filipino dish Chicken Pastel which I also enjoy eating with rice.

Lomo Saltado

Just like Filipino cuisine, Peruviana cuisine also has Chinese influences. In fact, there is a separate category for these Chinese-Peruvian dishes called Chifa. A representative Chifa dish is the Lomo Saltado. It is basically a beef stir-fry dish with soy sauce mixed with Peruvian vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers. The dish is also paired with steamed rice.




► VERDICT



As mentioned earlier, Samba is one of my favorite hotel restaurants in Metro Manila and I am glad that Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila successfully made it one of the safest restaurants to dine-in during the quarantine. Having said this, I am certain that I will be dining-in here again very soon.

PROS

  • While it is commendable that Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila has an online health declaration form submission system in place, I also find the QR code pass a very smart concept.
  • The reduced number of tables inside the restaurant ensured that guests are safely distanced from other diners.
  • Hand sanitizer is easily accessible inside the restaurant.
  • The disposable paper mat with printed QR code for the e-menu minimizes cross-contamination.
  • Dishes are covered when served to guests.


CONS

  • As of the moment, Samba only accepts cash and card transactions. I hope they offer contactless payment options soon.
  • The reception area is cluttered with books. These are potential touchpoints that increase the risk of cross-contamination among guests.





Samba
Level 8, Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila
30th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City (BGC)
Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Operating Hours: Daily 11:00am to 09:00pm
Contact: +63 (02) 820-0888
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