arguably, pino is the best priced vis a vis quality for a filipino buffet in cebu city. there are other options but not even "the port", considered to be the most popular, can come close to the quality of home-cooked goodness that pino manages to serve every day for lunch.
the keyword is home-cooked.
the problem with buffet is that you're preparing for the whole barangay whereas most filipino dishes are best cooked to serve a family of six. i know you understand what i mean when your humba starts to taste like adobo and if anyone claims that humba is the same as adobo then they probably had their taste buds murdered early on. that's what buffets usually do.
on the other hand, pino manages to serve distinctly flavored filipino dishes like caldereta, adobo sa tausi, sinugba nga baboy, sisig and kinilaw that uses the most common themes in filipino cooking: tomato based, soy, grilled, fried and coconut based preparations.
on top of that, they manage to serve dozens of patrons and at the same time ensure that the dishes remain consistent with the flavor expected from each dish. the caldereta is sour with the infused acidic bite of a tomato based sauce, the adobo is primarily appeals to the salty palate with that slight hint of vinegar, the kinilaw infuses the milky texture and flavor of coco cream with a strong ginger aftertaste.
the only disappointment in this case turned out to be the most simple of filipino dishes: the sinugba nga baboy (grilled pork) has a sweet hint that is distinctly cebuano in style - i prefer the strong influence of pepper and rock salt that goes so well with fresh meat cuts grilled over an open fire. even the inato nga manok (grilled chicken) is slathered with the cloying sweet taste of banana ketchup.
the hits are better than most misses with two dishes that prove to be the most popular as i see batches of the baked oysters (topped with cheese, herbs and garlic) and loin of marlin in spicy coco jus streaming out of the kitchen in succession.
i'm not entirely sure these are considered filipino dishes but they complimented the selection pretty well.
if i were to choose a single dish that stood out from the rest it would be the loin of marlin in spicy coco jus. creamy, tender marlin suffused with warmed coco cream. for some of us that love their dishes with a slight bite, the green chili adds enough spice to whet your appetite.
do i recommend pino? yep. be warned though, their ala carte dishes are too pricey. have a sampling of their dishes during the lunch buffet.