Monday, September 16, 2019

Japanese Buffet Lunch

Not wanting to feel like we were stuck in one building all weekend long, we did venture out to eat during our "Central vacation". It's been a long while since we last ate at Kaetsu, the Japanese restaurant at the Grand Hyatt so we made a booking for their popular buffet lunch on Saturday afternoon.

Always amazed (and mystified) at Hong Kongers' endless appetite for all-you-can-eat deals but I can see why the one at Kaetsu was so popular and hard-to-book. With only a handful tables plus seats at the counter available, you got this sense of exclusivity in this cozy venue, even though one still need to work through the food counters to get the dishes they want.

Unlike the setup at their all-day cafe downstairs with everything from cold cuts to Cantonese roast to cakes and ice cream, only Japanese dishes were served at the Kaetsu lunch buffet but there's no lack of selection, from salad, appetizer, sushi and sashimi, cooked dishes, rice and soup plus desserts. My favorite part was the sukiyaki and teppanyaki dishes, both made a la minute just as you ordered. The sukiyaki came piping hot in an individual-sized cast iron pot; the meat was tender and well-marinated with the slightly sweet tare sauce and vegetables. The beef tenderloin was prepared on a sizzling plate at the counter, just like any other teppanyaki place, and it's well prepared too. Crab lover will also like the king crab available at the cold counter - one can literally eat til you drop and completely satisfied.

But the sushi and sashimi selection was quite a letdown. Nothing really wowed at all - even compared to those offered at a typical mid-tier hotel buffet. My tuna sashimi was carved in the wrong direction and thus super sinewy (and tasteless) - same was the octopus that tasted like rubber. Even though the sushi was made fresh at the counter, they were passable. With premium price I expected premium quality, not supermarket-grade ingredients. My other complaints included the soggy tempura dishes and the lukewarm miso soup probably left a little too long unheated in the pot. I was astonished when I asked for a rice bowl (for the fried rice done on teppanyaki plate) they instead pointed me to the soup bowl on the other side of the counter (used for miso soup) - I could not comprehend why they didn't prepare bowls for the rice (and expected us to eat on a plate like in a fast food chain) and why staff at a top Japanese restaurant couldn't differentiate a soup bowl to a rice bowl.

Dessert selection was decent, with the full counter load to choose from on the other side from the savory dishes. They were delicious, especially the classic azuki bean yokan cake. Overall, no complaint about the setting and the food portion, and the meal was enjoyable, but looking back, I definitely would rather eat at their cafe downstairs with even more selection of dishes and certainly offered better value for money. Came with some expectation but left a bit disappointed.

When? August 31 2019
Where? Kaetsu at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Mezzanine level, 1 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong.

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