Jul 312013

Gloria Maris CCO Steffi Lim; engr. Nelson Lim; Bb. Pilipinas-International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago; Araneta Group of Companies president and CEO Jorge Araneta

MANILA, Philippines – Its interiors were inspired by a modern take on 1920s Chinese fashion by Shanghai Tang, a purveyor of “accessible luxury.” Without losing any of its “luxury” appeal, the key word here is “accessible.” And this may very well define the newly opened Gloria Maris Banquet Hall on the fourth level of Gateway Mall at the Araneta Center. With 2,000 square meters of “dynastic elegance and regal ambiance,” it serves as a perfect venue for satisfying casual dimsum cravings, hearty hot pot or shabu shabu, as well as sumptuous Chinese banquets or lauriat feasts. 

As Steffi Lim, chief culinary officer (CCO) of Gloria Maris, says, “We want to be accessible to more people. We want Filipinos, not just the Filipino-Chinese, to make the lauriat a part of their feasts and celebrations.”

With its first restaurant at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in the early 1990s, Gloria Maris originally catered to the upscale market. Later, the branch in Greenhills served a largely discriminating and loyal Chinese clientele. With the opening of more branches and franchises, it has embraced a broader middle market. “Today, Gloria Maris bridges both high-end and mass markets at accessible locations for those who seek the best in Chinese fare.”

This is the constant in all Gloria Maris restaurants: “At the Gloria Maris Banquet Hall, we will feature all-time favorites and we will also introduce exciting new dishes that we’re sure everyone will enjoy,” Steffi says. “We will continue to innovate without sacrificing the excellent Chinese culinary tradition Gloria Maris has built through the years.”

All Gloria Maris chefs are Hong Kong-trained, and the resident chef of the Gloria Maris Banquet Hall, Ah Zhou, is no exception. “He has been with us for the past 12 years,” Steffi says. “From fresh seafood to meat and vegetarian dishes, Gloria Maris serves only the best — all forms of meat cooked in the Cantonese tradition; stew, pot roast, and smoked dishes reminiscent of Hunan cuisine; mix grains and vinegar varieties in the Shandong tradition; and with chili oil, ginger, peppers and garlic served Szechuan style. Non-greasy fare the way it’s done in the Zhejiang province is also an option for figure-conscious diners.”

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At the media launch of the Gloria Maris Banquet Hall on July 17, guests enjoyed a sumptuous Chinese lauriat. “Taken from the Fujian or Fukien word ‘lao-diat,’ the feast involves a series of about 10 courses served consecutively and taken moderately to surprising fullness yet expected satisfaction, usually within two to three hours,” marketing consultant, Dolores Cheng explained. “It is a custom that befits large and extended Filipino gatherings, and the Banquet Hall is a most suitable venue for this.”

Cheng went on to expound on the yin and yang in Chinese cooking, the balance of cold and hot food to promote healthy eating, and the appetizing mix of fusion dishes such as the Hot Prawn Salad and Pumpkin Seafood Soup. There was the familiar platter of Chinese cold cuts for starters, thin slices of roast barbecued pork, lechon Macau, Chinese sausage, century egg and seaweed, as well as the prized Peking duck, crispy skin encased in a delicate wrap with a hint of hoisin sauce. Among the other dishes served were the Seafood Taro Pie, Stuffed Eggplant, Lapu-Lapu in Szezhuan Sauce, and Crispy Buttered Crab.

The feast would not be complete without the Fujian Fried Noodles and Shanghai Fried Rice. And for dessert, Birthday Pao, shaped like lotus flowers, accompanied by a small bowl of Mango Almond. And to wash everything down, Gloria Maris Special Iced Tea. Or you can ask for Chinese hot tea as well. Exquisite music was provided by angelic harpist, Holly Paraisa.

Not what you would normally expect in a Chinese setting.

“Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary dinner with your special someone, or throwing a big party for friends and family, the new Gloria Maris Banquet Hall has got exactly what you need,”  Steffi said. Walk-in dining areas and function rooms are all designed and set for everyday or special events. The function rooms showcase the high art of old Cathay’s cooking traditions amidst contemporary visions of lacquered and porcelain décor. The largest function room, the Imperial Hall, can seat a party of 270 people, and can be partitioned into four smaller rooms. For smaller parties, the Jade Hall and the Pearl Hall can each seat 25 VIPs comfortably.”

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For reservations, call 332-5067.

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