After fast food overkill, it’s time to go back to the place of good-old native cuisine that that we know as Kamayan. Kamayan didn’t pioneer the fiesta buffet concept, but it can well be said to have perfected it. Kamayan Restaurant today is a buffet chain, cranking thousands of satisfied diners through its methodical mass-production line up like no other restaurant. Unlike a fast food, Kamayan’s buffets maintain the standards of the authentic town fiesta, offering breathtaking variety and precise execution rather than limited menus and lowest-common- denominator taste. Yet it demonstrates the same reliable consistency and lowest in category prices as a fast food does. It’s an economy of scale.
Vic Vic Villavicencio was the founder that step it up to some kind of luck. In a business where location can be more critical than quality, Pasay Road under the ramp has to be near the bottom of the list of preferred areas. Location is of utmost importance especially in a food business. Yet, it thrives due to his resilience; Vic Vic has declared that Kamayan Pasay Road will always stay true to the original vision, in other words, no other honest buffet Filipino fiesta food in a fine dining setting. It does fill a certain niche in the market. It is the restaurant you take people to when you want them to have the best and ‘most typical” Filipino food. Walk in on any given night, and you’ll see almost every table has at least one balikbayan or foreign visitor. The food isn’t dedicated to any single region, nor does it try to equally represent all of them. It similarly doesn’t embellish with modern culinary flourishes strictly traditional.
The original Kamayan is the one on Arnaiz Avenue (formerly Pasay Road). Once upon a time, this area was the fast-developing border of the Makati business and residential district. Many other great Filipino restaurants were born in this agreeable climate of more reasonable rent but excellent access to key residential villages. It was once thought that the area could come to rival the Makati Commercial Center in terms of development. But that was then. The recent construction of the access ramp to the Skyway put a definitive stop to that. Nevertheless, despite the urban blight surrounding it, the original Kamayan has not only remained in its location, it has continued to perform surprisingly well.