First Anniversary Dinner at Feast Buffet, Sydney CBD

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Half-year felt like only a while ago and we’re already celebrating our first anniversary. Richard took me to another feast — or Feast at Sheraton on the Park in the CBD, an international seafood buffet place that has been on my wishlist for a while. Vickie, seafood and dinner buffet? Hell yes!

We had a 6 pm booking and got a table fairly close to the food with comfortable space around. It’s near Chinese New Year so the place had appropriate decor and a fortune cookie for every diner on the table. Too many words! Let’s get straight to the food!

Seafood

Seafood! Meant to be the highlight of the buffet, I believe, and it was… slightly disappointing.

Feast Buffet: Seafood

Feast Buffet: Seafood

I loved the giant platter of smoked salmon, but the other seafood wasn’t overly exciting. The oysters tasted fresh but were small in size, and the crabs were dry. I didn’t get seafood in the beginning like everyone else who flocked to the area first thing, though, so what I managed to grab might just have been undesirable leftover bits.

Feast Buffet: Smoked Salmon

Feast Buffet: Now that’s a Vickie-sized platter of smoked salmon

Antipasti

Feast Buffet: Bread

Feast Buffet: Bread

A huge selection of antipasto dishes with various breads, cheeses, cold cuts, salads, olives, dips, spreads… I had some cheese (brie and blue, yum!) and cured meats. Nothing much to complain here, but also nothing much to write home about.

Feast Buffet: Cheese

Feast Buffet: Cheese

Hot Dishes

The hot dishes were… all right but not overly memorable. Enough variations here, and my favourite was actually the roasted pumpkin. Hey, I cook; I know how long it takes to roast that thing properly. Worth it even though the serving tongs were super sticky. tongue

Feast Buffet: Hot Dishes

Feast Buffet: Couscous and braised lamb

Pork crackling was also available, which all looked exciting until the actual bite. It wasn’t crispy and there was no crackling. I ended up having pork skin uncomfortably stuck in my teeth. Richard and I both agreed that the dish was a massive letdown.

Carvery and Asian

Feast Buffet: Carvery

Feast Buffet: Carvery

The staff at the carvery station was very friendly, and I tried and enjoyed a piece of every roast (beef, lamb, turkey). Dim sum was also secretly served in this staffed area with meat buns, siumai (“dim sum”) and dumplings hidden in steamed baskets behind the counters. Wish it was a self-served like the pizzas also available near that area.

Feast Buffet: Pizza

Feast Buffet: Pizza

Dessert

Feast Buffet: Dessert Plate

Feast Buffet: My first dessert plate

Dessert was… all right. There were loads of choices of sweet foods here, but I thought some of the dessert servings were a tad on the large side and most far too sweet — a shame, because the creme brulee was so pretty, too.

Overall

As I sit down to prepare the entry, I noticed that while I generally enjoyed the food and thought the service was absolutely excellent throughout, I seemed to have more to critique than praise. The original price was $99 per person for the Saturday night, but with our Starwood Preferred Guest 15% discount it came down to around $84. Still not the cheapest buffet, but for the good range of food, environment and service, I think it’s worth it. Now please fix the pork crackling!

First Anniversary at Feast

The humans. Check out that full belly action of mine!

Feast - a world of flavour on Urbanspoon

Hotel Oak Forest, Hakuba, Nagano, Japan: Meals

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In true foodie spirit, I took a picture of almost every course I ate at the hotel we stayed at for the ski trip, and split the food section into this entry of its own! As mentioned in the post for Hotel Oak Forest (ホテル オークフォレスト) itself, the meals included in our ski package were daily Western breakfast, and Western plus Japanese style dinner.

Hotel Oak Forest: Breakfast

There’s one individual hot breakfast dish every morning on top of a buffet section with common Western foods such as salad, cereal, bread, coffee, milk and juice.

The Western breakfast buffet:

Turned out I didn’t even need to fruit up, because there’s one available at the buffet every morning. It was oranges on most days, and pineapples (beautifully presented in pineapple peel boats) and grapefruits on others. I was very happy with their breakfast options, but I may be biased because I’m a caffeine addict and this time I didn’t have to supply my own coffee every morning.

The Western breakfast hot dishes:

The hot dish was a combination of sausages/ham/bacon and scrambled eggs/omelette.

Hotel Oak Forest: Dinner

We had dinner at the place on all but the last night (where we went out to town to have yakiniku). I thought the dinner servings were small at first, but got used to it eventually and riced up as appropriate.

Hotel Oak Forest: Dinner Table with Room Numbers Unlike breakfast where the individual dishes were served as soon as you’re seated, the next course of the five-course dinners wasn’t served until everyone at the same table has finished their previous. White rice, green tea and water were available as self-service. Other rooms who opted for the Japanese dinners have their kaiseki meal arranged on their table before their arrival.

For our five-course dinners, there’s always the sashimi salad as the first course, a soup, a seafood entree, a main meat dish with a broccoli floret, mashed potatoes and three pieces of carrot, and last a dessert. On several nights Richard ordered a beer with his dinner, which was added to the room bill as extra charges that we paid at checkout.

Night 1 Dinner

First taste of the food at Hotel Oak Forest. We had a salad with three very thin slices of salmon sashimi, a mushroom broth, a small piece of mackerel with a small piece of daikon radish, pork with a white mushroom sauce, and a dessert that tasted like light cheese with whipped cream on top.

I didn’t mind the mackerel too much even though both Richard and I thought there were far better ways to prepare fish than cooking it through the way they did. The pudding was quite tasty once you knew what to expect from the second mouthful on.

Night 2 Dinner

Second night, we had an octopus sashimi salad, pasta soup, fried crab claws, chicken, and some sort of processed/preserved apple slices.

The fried crab claws turned out to be the best seafood entree of all nights.

Night 3 Dinner

Third night, it’s a very fishy sashimi salad, an almost creamy soup, white fish fillet in tomato sauce, an unnaturally tender beef (I think) steak, and a small slice of apple cake.

Richard said the super fishy sashimi salad reminded him of fishing baits and didn’t touch that course. I wasn’t a huge fan either, but adopted his plate anyway because food was scarce.

Night 4 Dinner

Fourth night, it was back to the salmon salad for the first course again, which had us worried that there were only three dinner sets on rotation and we’d exhausted their options. Following the salad this night, though, was an again almost creamy corn soup, mackerel in miso sauce, chicken, and a jelly.

Night 5 Dinner

Fifth and last dinner at the hotel for us, it was calamari sashimi salad, pasta soup, white fish fillet, beef, and back to the processed/preserved apple slices.

I still haven’t figured out what they did to the beef and apples.

Hotel Oak Forest: Food Summary

Breakfast was awesome; dinner less so but decent. The strangest thing overall with the meals offered was the meat. You could never quite tell on first bite that “Oh yeah, that’s beef/pork/chicken.” It’s almost always like a mystery meat of sorts. Food presentation was excellent, but sadly one can’t ski on visual excellence; I could really use bigger portions for dinner. I guess at least you could have as much rice as you wanted.

Hotel Address: Japan 〒399-9301 Nagano-ken, Kitaazumi-gun, Hakuba-mura, Hokujō, 3549

Birthday Dinner at Sydney Tower Buffet, Sydney CBD

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For my 21st birthday… I don’t know why you’re looking at me like that; I totally just turned 21. For my totally 21st birthday, Richard took me to a mystery dinner place in the CBD with a promise that it’s going to be an epic feed. I thought it would be an all-you-can-eat place because that’s the only thing that could possibly satisfy a glutton like me, and I was correct. We went up to Sydney Tower Buffet; my first time up to the Tower!

We got there a bit earlier than our booking time and got a nice table on the side. The waitress explained to us how the buffet worked and made sure we knew our section and table number, which was important as the Sydney Tower offers a 360° view of the city — by revolving. A photographer offered to take a photo for us, to which we declined, but I’m sure I ended up as the backdrop in the photos of a few other couples around us.

It was finally eating time, and here’s the selected review!

Seafood
A bit meh; I was slightly disappointed that there wasn’t smoked salmon in this section. All the buffet I’ve been to at this price range had them.

Sydney Tower Buffet: Seafood

Sydney Tower Buffet: Seafood

Hot Food
A selection of Australian and international dishes here. The more memorable dishes were:

  • Crocodile chipolatas: Didn’t taste like crocodile to me, but tasty nonetheless.
  • Emu chipolatas: Never tried emu before, but loved that it’s available as a more uncommon dish.
  • Steamed vegetable dumplings: The wrapper was too thick and there was too little filling, but I still had a lot of these.
  • Salt and pepper squid: This was far too salty!
  • Fish and chips: Tried the fish; the batter wasn’t very good.
Sydney Tower Buffet: Hot Food First Plate

Sydney Tower Buffet: First of embarrassingly many plates of hot food!

Dessert
Loved it! And I don’t have a sweet tooth so that’s saying a lot. I tried at least one of everything and especially liked the panna cotta; Richard enjoyed the lemon curd tart.

Sydney Tower Buffet: Plate of Dessert

Sydney Tower Buffet: First plate of dessert

The buffet was $85 a head on the Friday night. The service was great at first but they really slowed down on clearing the plates as the place got busier at night. I also thought there could be more hot dish varieties, but that’s probably just the glutton talking. It’s definitely worth it to take someone from overseas up here, though.

Sydney Tower Buffet: Vickie and Richard

Vickie & Richard at Sydney Tower Buffet, 2014

Thank you so very much for the birthday dinner, Richard! heart

Sydney Tower Buffet on Urbanspoon

Redleaf Resort, Blackheath

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We stayed at Redleaf Resort for 2 nights for our Blackheath weekend getaway. Redleaf has always been our first choice, so we really made the effort and tried many websites before we managed to book the weekend for us.

We got there on time for our check-in. There were only stairs at the resort to our first-floor room so good thing we travelled light, but parking is conveniently available directly below on both ends of the site.

The room was new and clean, and a lot bigger and nicer than my expectations; the air-conditioning was certainly appreciated! The resort was quiet most of the time as well, with the exception of that screeching noise from next door when they used the shower.

The highlight for me was the breakfast buffet (of course!). Well, our package didn’t come with it, but we added it at check-in for $19 per person ($17 if booked ahead through the websites?). It was nice to pig out before heading out for the day.

It is nice to pig out whatever and whenever. It’s good to live in the first world.

Overall, it’s a very comfortable stay. We didn’t use any of the other facilities like the sauna room, swimming pool (possibly closed when we visited), tennis court or game room. Maybe next time?

Misc Sydney Eats: April 2014

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Dear Visitor! You are currently viewing a food blog entry written in the old “been there” style, likely an imageless compilation post. Newer entries are more detailed and have delicious photos, too! These restaurants deserve a proper post, but here’s the old entry, anyway!

Jump to:

I did some serious dining out this month. Not going to bother to write separate entries because, once again, no pictures and don’t quite have enough to say about these places.

Al Aseel, Newtown

Al Aseel on Urbanspoon 2 April 2014: We’re due for a regular colleague dinner night and Yuzhong’s birthday is also coming up, so we thought we should do something to celebrate. We decided to try Al Aseel at Newtown because Ali really enjoyed one of their other branches but Newtown is a more convenient location for us after work. The place wasn’t too busy on the weeknight and the staff were very friendly, which we first experienced when we called to check if there’s a free table on the same night. We ordered kibbe nayeh (raw minced lamb), vine leaves, grilled halloumi, sambousek cheese among many other entrees, and each got a mixed plate main. Our table was quickly flooded with super yummy food in big servings. Really enjoyed the night.

The Oaks, Neutral Bay

The Oaks on Urbanspoon 5 April 2014: Pub night at the Oaks, Neutral Bay. We came here in a big group of over a dozen and the place was already buzzing as it was. We initially sat outside but moved inside for a bigger table after everyone arrived. I got the fillet mignon ($28); others ordered bangers and mash ($24), fish and chips ($28), other steaks (~$28), and so on. My steak was cooked very nicely to medium rare even though I never expect much from a pub meal. It was reasonably priced, too. If it weren’t so noisy (pubs just aren’t my thing), I’d come here again.

Caruso’s Italian, Gymea

Caruso's Italian on Urbanspoon 10 April 2014: Came to Caruso’s at Gymea for dinner on a weeknight. I ordered the lasagne thinking an Italian place would do amazing pasta. We also got Italian bread as an entree to share, Cotoletta Alla Diavola (parmesan crusted rib eye cutlet) for Richard’s main, and tiramisu and baked ricotta cheesecake for dessert. The dishes took a while to get to the table and mine was one of the most disappointing lasagne I’ve ever had — it didn’t hold its shape even before I dug in and tasted like it was microwaved. Thankfully, the other dishes seemed to be much better and the dessert was quite good. If I return, I wouldn’t be ordering the lasagne ever again.

The Wine Room, Gymea

The Wine Room on Urbanspoon 12 April 2014: We had dinner at the Wine Room tonight. The place was previously called Vintage Point, and we’ve visited and loved their breakfast in the past. For dinner tonight, we got garlic bread to share and both Richard and I got the 500g Cape Grim Grass Fed Rib Eye Fillet, medium rare. The steak was great. I didn’t feel like dessert but the others ordered the Chocolate Lovers Club, a massive chocolate ice-cream with all the chocolates served in a big ice-cream glass. It looked pretty amazing. I continued to be impressed by the food here.

Braza, Darling Harbour

Braza on Urbanspoon 14 April 2014: I told the boys about the quantity of meat (and sodium) I had at Braza, Darling Harbour the other time and told them they must come as our regular dinner, on me. They also grabbed alcohol (Scotch whisky and bourbon) while there. Like last time, we also sat outside and got a nice continuous supply of food to the table. We had another epic night of super salty meat consumption and loved every bit of it.

Hurricane’s, Brighton Le Sands

Hurricane's Grill Brighton-Le-Sands on Urbanspoon 17 April 2014: I loved Hurricane’s at Darling Harbour, so I was quite thrilled when the group decided to do their end of basketball tipping season celebration at Hurricane’s at a different location, Brighton Le Sands. It was a busy weeknight and we came here as a group of a dozen. The service was slow but understandable. This time, I ordered the full rack of pork ribs with a baked potato as planned. Not as fall-off-the-bone good as the riblets I had at Darling Harbour (I couldn’t just use my cutlery this time), but still tender and delicious. If it were healthy to eat ribs from Hurricane’s every day, I probably would.

Sale Pepe, Seaforth

Sale Pepe on Urbanspoon 18 April 2014: It’s Good Friday and most pizza delivery places were either closed or not delivering to the suburb we were in, except Sale Pepe at Seaforth. We ordered the Margherita D.O.C., Napoletana, San Daniele, Sale Pepe (you just have to order the pizza of the same name as the pizzeria) and Pappa E Ciccia. The food arrived a little late but we’re mindful that it’s a public holiday and we did order 5 of them. The base was slightly soggier than I’d hoped, but for once, the pizzas actually looked much better than the images on the website. Tasted fresh, otherwise.

Miss Saigon, Hurstville

Miss Saigon on Urbanspoon 19 April 2014: Miss Saigon is located super conveniently near Hurstville Station and their menu is big. Very big. I was quite overwhelmed at first because I was hungry and wanted to eat everything, but in the end ordered nasi goreng, or “Cơm Chiên Indo” as they have on the menu, which admittedly isn’t Vietnamese. I loved it. Decent portion of rice coated in flavouring but not greasy. The others got pho and loved their noodles as well, and all for around $15 each. If I feel like Vietnamese or other Asian dishes, I would come back.

Mie Thai, Gymea

Mie Thai on Urbanspoon 25 April 2014: It was quite late after our bushwalk so we decided to grab takeaway. We got a Mixed Entree each ($7.50) that came with deep fried spring rolls, curry puffs, satay chicken skewers, fish cakes and money bags; for our mains we got the Red Duck Curry ($17.90) with a few lychees and pineapple, and a Pad Thai Chicken ($13.90). I didn’t go into the eatery so I can only comment on the food, but it was all yummy, fish saucy, Thai goodness. The takeaway came in your standard short plastic boxes so the servings aren’t big, but maybe I’m just too hungry after all the walking we did today.

The Meat & Wine Co, Darling Harbour

The Meat & Wine Co Darling Harbour on Urbanspoon 28 April 2014: We wondered where we could get good meat and alcohol and remembered a place called the Meat & Wine Co at Darling Harbour. Meat and wine? Perfect for our group (no alcohol for me because I don’t drink). We got the grilled African beef sausage skewers ($26) and a garden salad ($6) to share. I got the 600g free range rib-eye ($59) for my main, and had a bite of the kangaroo fillet ($34), both cooked to medium rare. Dessert was half of the dark chocolate and pistachio fondant ($15) and the berry pot cheesecake ($14). I didn’t try the alcohol but the boys told me they’re as good as the steaks, which I didn’t think was possible because the steaks were so good. It’s not the cheapest meal, but I would still come back.

Chef’s Gallery, Town Hall

Chefs Gallery Town Hall on Urbanspoon 30 April 2014: Caught up with a friend at Chef’s Gallery. This is my second visit (first here), but this time we booked a table and got to sit a bit further inside with less noise and fewer flies to shoo. We ordered the roast duck and barbecue pork, marble beef spinach noodles in Sichuan soup, and the three-egg fried rice. The fried rice was small to me (only one Asian rice bowl size), but I absolutely loved my big bowl of Sichuan spinach noodles with thinly sliced beef and almost enough spiciness. I’m glad I revisited and chose different dishes this time. Revisit entry with pictures now up here.

Misc Sydney Eats: February 2014

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Dear Visitor! You are currently viewing a food blog entry written in the old “been there” style, likely an imageless compilation post. Newer entries are more detailed and have delicious photos, too! These restaurants deserve a proper post, but here’s the old entry, anyway!

Jump to:

A lot of dining out this month! Didn’t have any pictures for these places so I’m not going to bother writing separate entries.

Rum Fire, Entertainment Quarter

Rumfire on Urbanspoon 1 February 2014: Went to Rum Fire at the Entertainment Quarter before a movie. I ordered the scotch fillet steak cooked to medium rare; the friend ordered a pizza. The place was very quiet on the Saturday night but the dishes still took quite a while to arrive. My steak was overcooked and chewy; the friend’s pizza was very small (but he has a very small appetite). It wasn’t the best dinner I’ve ever had.

Kazbah, Top Ryde

Kazbah Top Ryde on Urbanspoon 8 February 2014: Went to Kazbah in Ryde with a friend for dinner on his recommendation. We had two servings of the flatbread on the table with tzatziki, baba ghanoush & hummus dips. We also got the Kazbah Mezze Plate to share. For dessert, we ordered the Kazbah Bomb — Kurrant vodka-flamed Turkish delight ice cream with blueberries. The food was okay, but the place was quite noisy so chatting was hard and the serving size seemed quite small, but it was a more or less pleasant experience.

Chef’s Gallery, Town Hall

Chefs Gallery Town Hall on Urbanspoon 12 February 2014: Caught up with a friend after work. Chef’s Gallery is actually the first Chinese restaurant I’ve been to in Sydney. The service was all right given how busy and noisy it was that weeknight. Lots of flies around, though. We ordered a few dishes to share: Bang Bang Chicken ($9.90), Pork Fillet Mini Burger ($15.90), Green Beans with Minced Pork ($16.90) and Prawn & Pork Wontons ($9.90). I didn’t think the food was very spectacular but maybe the portion size was just too small for me. Revisit entry with pictures now up here.

Braza, Darling Harbour

Braza on Urbanspoon 19 February 2014: A rainy weeknight out catching up with another friend. He knew I have a massive appetite and love my meat, so he brought me to Braza at Darling Harbour, an all-you-can-eat churrasco. We sat outside despite the rain but still got served by the friendly staff regularly. Loved it. The amount of meat and sodium I’ve eaten tonight could probably supply a nation!

Mi Piace, Entertainment Quarter

Mi Piace Pizza e Bar on Urbanspoon 22 February 2014: Went there with Richard before a comedy show. He got the Spaghetti Carbonara and I the Filetto Abruzzese (beef eye fillet), medium rare. We were in a bit of a hurry because we were stuck in traffic earlier, but thankfully the dishes came quickly. My steak was cooked perfectly and was absolutely delicious. My only complaint was the noise even though we already sat outside, but I guess you can’t help it if the place is busy.

Tsukiji Tama Sushi, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

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Tsukiji Tama Sushi (築地玉寿司) is located on the 13th floor of the Shinjuku Takashimiya (新宿高島屋) department store building. We weren’t sure what to have for lunch at first, but I immediately voted for the restaurant when I saw the all-you-can-eat (食べ放題) menu on the front door.

Tama Sushi: Front Door Promo

Tama Sushi: tabehoudai (all-you-can-eat) price and rules on the front door

They charge different prices for male and female customers: male 4860 yen (~A$52) and female 3780 yen (~A$40), so even though there’s no time limit, it’s not exactly cheap. I bet they have also never seen a female customer like me: I routinely eat more than most, if not all, of my male peers.

We got there at about 1:30 pm. The restaurant looked about half-full when we visited, but we had to wait before we were seated. The sushi was made fresh to order, so each platter of 10-12 pieces of sushi took a while to get to the table. I briefly chatted with the couple from Gold Coast sitting at the next table.

Tama Sushi: Sushi Menu

Tama Sushi: the full sushi menu; not all was available that afternoon

Not every item was available (a lot of the expensive ones were conveniently off the menu), but the sushi we did get was all super delicious. Our favourite was the grilled salmon (炙りサーモン); I think we ordered some 20-30 pieces of those.

Tama Sushi: Sushi is Here

Tama Sushi: all the sushi! Yum!

It was a very satisfying meal. The two friends left early after they have had enough. The brother and I stayed for a few more rounds. We could have eaten more, but we had a group dinner coming up in a few hours so we decided against it. After all that sushi, though, we both became very thirsty. What was it? Did they use a lot of salt in their seasoning?

Still enjoyed it a whole lot. I definitely ate much more than what I paid for.

Wanya Japanese Restaurant, Central, Hong Kong

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The family wanted to have a special dinner out because I’ll be leaving Hong Kong soon and won’t be returning for who knows how long. The last time I went back we tried this all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant that we liked, so we decided to do it again — which is funny, because the brother and I will be travelling to Japan in two days.

Wanya (碗屋) is located in Central, Hong Kong, and is apparently a very popular restaurant that is impossible to book unless you do so way, way ahead. Mum made a phone call anyway *cough* to the manager directly *cough* and we got ourselves a table and a big dinner.

The place was indeed quite packed and noisy. We were lucky enough to get a private booth, or we would probably not have been able to talk to one another. The all-you-can-eat hotpot wasn’t available the first time we went there, but it was available that night. Even without it, there were plenty of other options on the menu, anyway! We ordered everything that piqued our interest, meaning one of almost every item from the menu. Various sashimi, wagyu beef, rib-eye, pork, mutton, chicken, oyster, scallop, cod fish, mackerel, mochi…

Sashimi plate from Wanya Japanese Restaurant

Sashimi plate

The food came out relatively quickly. The sashimi was fresh and other dishes nice and hot. For dessert, we got complimentary ice-cream of various flavours: green tea, black sesame, mango. I ate. And ate. And ate.

Our table (private booth) at Wanya Japanese Restaurant

Our table (private booth) at Wanya Japanese Restaurant

My favourite dish the first time I visited was the cod fish (silver cod), and it’s still my favourite this time (but like I always say, I am positively biased because gindara/silver cod is just my favourite fish). Perhaps there was expectation being the second time I was visiting, or perhaps I was comparing with my Sokyo experience in Sydney earlier, this time, I left Wanya feeling a little underwhelmed by the quality. Quantity is absolutely satisfying, though!

I would still recommend the place and go to Wanya again.