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!

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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

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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?