Friday, March 18, 2016

Hottest Buffet in Town

When I got the email from the marketing team at Hotel ICON a few weeks ago inviting us for a tasting at their restaurant, the first thing that came to my mind was the buffet meal at their café. I have heard great things about the place from many of our friends but with the waiting list got as far as a few months long, we never got a chance to get a booking ourselves at this ever-popular restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui East. But this time around, after a few emails exchanged we got ourselves a table on a weekday evening - we count ourselves lucky for that.

The place – on the mezzanine floor of the hotel in TST East - was absolutely packed and lively when we arrived in the middle of their dinner time-slot. There were friends getting together for a casual dinner, family gatherings with old and young at big round tables, or a few couples celebrating their special occasion. The food section was located near to the entrance while the dining area was on the other side. Overall they offered a good variety of food – of course there were the "standard" offering of cold seafood, from lobster to crab legs to clams and mussels, the sushi bar with sashimi, nigiri sushi and a few kinds of rolls, or the salad bar, roast station (with beef and lamb), a few items that were cooked to order and of course, the dessert table. But there were more, like the full section of Indian and Southeast Asian dishes, double-boiled Chinese soup, or a decent selection of cheese with condiments (definitely an upgrade to the common generic choices offered elsewhere) and even a full array of deli items.

Among my favorites were the picked crab meat and roes on toast served with caviar, the homey Double-boiled Pork, Chicken and Conch Soup which was the Chinese soup of the day, the bowl of laksa which was true to the authentic flavor, and the Cantonese roast pigeon which has crispy skin and juicy meat – something which I rarely saw elsewhere. Even the Japanese sushi/sashimi selection was impressive - I particularly enjoyed the botan ebi with the roes, and the thick slices of scallops, both served raw and fresh.

I also liked the wine buffet option that one could subscribe, offering 8 kinds of different wines with unlimited pour at what I thought was a reasonable price. With a wide variety of food served at the buffet, this seemed to be a logical choice to be able to pick a few different wines in smaller portions to go with different kinds of dishes. I enjoyed a few glasses of the junmai daiginjo nihonshu which was perfect for the seafood, and a Rhone Valley red for the richer meat dishes that I had later.

The restaurant’s dessert selection was the one that many people talked about, and I was impressed with both the selection and presentation, with more than a dozen choices served on small bowls and plates. It’s hard to pick out which my favorites were, but I had so many of them that I didn’t even get a chance to try the half a dozen icecream flavors. It’s a pity that both of us don’t eat durians, because they did offer a good selection of durian dessert as well, something many people seemed to have enjoyed.

Well I think they did deliver up to the hype as being one of the most sought-after buffet tables in town, and I am particularly glad that we didn’t have to wait for months to get ours. But in retrospect I certainly wouldn’t mind if I have to – I think for the quality and quantity of the food offered, it would have been worth the wait.

(The dinner is by invitation and courtesy of Hotel ICON)

When? March 11 2016
Where? The Market at Hotel ICON, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hong Kong

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