Having lived in Makati for two years, I used to frequent Greenbelt a lot (hence the large amount of Makati (17) and Greenbelt (7) posts in my blog) so i was a little bit surprised when I saw a Groupon deal for "Good Earth" in Greenbelt 3. For the life of my, I couldn't recall ever seeing a Good Earth restaurant there. A few friends of mine that I had asked said they think they recall seeing a restaurant of that name there, but wasn't entirely sure.
The name "Good Earth" though rang some bells, because it's a Chinese restaurant, and for some reason, names of Chinese restaurants seem to stick in the inner recesses of my brain. At any rate, I thought it was a great opportunity to try the place, and with a deal like P199 for a Chinese food Buffet? That's a pretty hard deal to pass up.
Even before setting foot in Good Earth, I had a bone to pick with them (and maybe Groupon Philippines too, but to a lesser degree) already, but nothing really major. The deal details said nothing about vouchers only being accepted during weekdays, so when Rina called to reserve us a spot for a Saturday morning, it totally threw our plans out of whack. I understand that they have a huge market for the weekends, but a little heads up before I bought the vouchers would have been nice.
I didn't like the lighting.. hence the tone of the pix
Walking in you could tell why they wanted to limit the vouchers to the weekdays, because they don't exactly have the most spacious area in all of Greenbelt. Though it is comfortable enough to have a decent meal, one can only imagine the chaos those vouchers would wreck upon Good Earth by hungry weekend diners. It's a cozy Chinese restaurant with a modern feel. Service staff are attentive and friendly (But more on that later) and empty chafing dishes were filled up promptly.
I'm waiting for The Swamp Thing to rise out any minute now
Being the proud, Picky Eater that I am, I'm sure it would come as to know surprise to you that I didn't go anywhere near this Seaweed and Beancurd soup. I don't eat either separately, so I have no reason to believe that if they join forces, together they would form some Justice League type of soup. A little bit too weird for me to even try, sorry.
If the Yang Chow fried rice was an indication of how good the food would be, then I was a little bit worried for Good Earth. I'm a lover of fried rice, so I've had my fair share, and this wasn't really on par with some of the better ones I've tried. It when scooped into the plate, the little grains of rice slide flat unto my plate (I prefer a little stickyness to it), and the flavor wasn't anything really memorable. Maybe it's just me but I was expecting a little bit more from them.
I don't eat shrimp, so I can't really give you in-depth insight on the Deep Fried Shrimp Wontons (Sorry, Picky Eater). It did look good enough for me to pick one up accidentally and put it on my plate.
The Vegetable Chow Mein more than made up for the mediocrity of the Yang Chow Fried Rice. Since I am a "growing" (growing sideways is still considered "growing", so thats enough out of you) I still needed my Carbo, and since the rice wasn't making the grade, I decided to go with the noodles, and was not disappointed. The crunchy noodles had it's own toasted flavor embedded into it already, and the thick sauce made me forget that it was an all veggie dish (Although I could've sworn a saw strips of pork in it.. but then again, I see strips of pork everywhere I look). Even when the noodles got soft from being drowned in the sauce, it was still very good.
Something I noticed with The dishes of Good Earth is that, they won't really wow you from the onset. The Chicken With Black Beans was decent during the first few bites, but as I kept going on, I found myself craving for it more and more. It had a light tinge of bitterness that the black beans brought to it, and the chicken meat was also so very well seasoned. I'm lucky it was a buffet, because I went back for more.
With North Park's Sweet and Sour fish being the barometer for excellence in my book, I wanted to give Good Earth's attempt a shot. And though it fell short of North Parks, it fell into the same category as the Black Bean Chicken as being highly addictive. I didn't think the flavor was anything spectacular, and it seemed more sour than sweet. But every bite I took seemed so much better than the last, leaving me going for seconds.
The ever reliable Sago
My hyper acidity didn't allow me to eat very much of their Mango Sago, but I did like it. Although I think it would have been better if it were served slightly more chilled. Other than that, it was a simple yet effective dessert that had the right elements of creaminess and sweetness.
I don't know how many places in Makati offer upscale Chinese Buffets at P399, so Its a very good deal. Though the choices are rather limited. Bang for the buck though, you can't go wrong. Judging their food solely on the buffet, Good Earth is pretty much just your average middle of the pack Chinese restaurant. I'd probably prefer to try something new before going back again. Although if I did go back, It wouldn't be torture either.. get what I mean?
After spending the entire lunch taking pictures of the place, a woman who I can only assume was the manager came over to us to give us our bill. She then asked Rina why she was taking pictures, and Rina replied, "For a food blog". Then she says, "Ma'am, I'm sorry because we don't usually allow people to take pictures of the restaurant and of the food". So Rina replies, "I understand, but I've been taking pictures since I got here and no one approached me. In fact, when I took a picture of the rice in the chafing dish, it was the waiter who moved the serving spoon out of the way". "Yes Ma'am," the manager answered, "But we don't allow it.". "Out of curiousity," I chimed in, "Why not?" You could tell that she was given a script to recite whenever asked this question, and systematically answered, "For our protection sir". So for around ten seconds, she was just standing in front of us with a smile on her face. I was actually waiting for her to ask Rina to delete the photos. But instead, she just politely apologized to Rina and said, "I'm sorry to bother ma'am, but next time, ok?"
Again, I found it strange, but then again, it's their restaurant and their rules. Rina's two cents is that, if they're confident about their food, there's no food blogger in the world that could ever terrorize them. Maybe the Big Bad Blogger (whoever s/he is) got to them before? Or are they worried that the ancient Chinese recipes can be de-constructed via photograph?
At any rate, the manager was very polite and I appreciate how she dealt with what was an awkward situation for her. She made us feel like our business was still very important to her, and seemed more embarrassed to be imposing their silly rule to us.
That snooty girl from Toast Box could have learned a thing or two from her.