Sherman's Food Adventures: Garden Cafe (City Garden Hotel)

Garden Cafe (City Garden Hotel)

For the love of...  Another buffet???  My original plans did not call for any buffets, let alone 3 of them.  However, I am not adverse to visiting the occasional one as it does provided plenty of choice and can be fun for the kiddies.  However, this is mainly based on Vancouver buffets, which can only be described as terrible.  For a serviceable buffet, we normally have to travel South into Seattle.  But in Hong Kong, they seem to take buffets much more seriously as evidenced with my visit to Playt in the Park Lane Hotel.  For this buffet adventure, we didn't have to look far as we just went downstairs to the Garden Cafe in the City Garden Hotel.

I must admit, the spread was pretty impressive including an array of Seafood including crab, mussels, snow crab legs and conch.  Nothing particularly amiss here other than the fact that the seafood needed some condiments as they were not inherently seasoned.  Now the seafood didn't end there as we were treated to intermittent limited time offerings such as the seafood steamer tower where all the juices trickled down to the bottom section filled with congee.  The Scallops on the half-shelf, shrimp and clams were all topped with minced garlic, which also made it into the congee.  As a result, the broth was sweet, briny and garlicky without the need for excess salt.

There was also a limited time offering of large Scallops baked in the half-shelf with a truffle cream sauce and cheese.  These were buttery and tender while completely woodsy thanks to the ample black truffle.  Not completely sure if so much was necessary, but I liked how they didn't skimp.  The sauce was a bit starchy, but the good amount of melted cheese on top added body and texture.  Also on the same plate was seafood from the grill-to-order section including Prawns, Scallops and Fish.  I waited for the seafood to be prepared, so when I got my selection, it was cooked just right.

Similar to Playt, there was a selection of Sashimi and Sushi.  For the sashimi, there was a choice of tako, salmon, hotate, tuna and tai.  I went for the hotate, salmon and tai as well as a few pieces of maki sushi and one nigiri.  Catching me by surprise, the tai was the most appealing as it was buttery and tender with a bite (normally, crappy tai can be chewy and sinewy).  The hotate was buttery and sweet while the salmon was decent.  I found the sushi rice to be a bit dry, but not terrible.  Onto red meat, I tried the Leg of Lamb and Prime Rib.  Both were tender and well-prepared accompanied by a silky and flavourful jus. I picked up a piece of grilled Shortrib as well and it was on point too.

There was also a selection of cooked dishes where I sampled a few including Stewed Pork Knuckle, Ox-Tail, Chinese Pork Rib and Curry Chicken.  I thought the pork knuckle was fine being tender, gelatinous and well-seasoned while the ox-tail was also quite flavourful from the braising liquid.  It could've been slightly more tender, but it was still fine.  Although the pork rib was nicely charred and sufficiently tender, the sauce was too sweet for me.  I found the curry chicken to be tender, but pretty mild.  Right to the corner of the hot food were bowls of Old Flame Soup consisting of conch, dried scallop, pork, chicken, longnan and dates.  This was super sweet and flavourful.

Onto Desserts, there was an impressive selection which included many different flavours of Macarons. These were actually quite good with a crispy exterior.  Inside, it was a bit dense for my liking.  Taste-wise, I found them not too sweet.  As evidenced in the picture, there was something for everyone including hard ice cream, cakes, and little treats for the kiddies.  All-in-all, the buffet at City Garden was pretty extensive with many seafood options.  Quality seemed to be fairly good and things were generally refilled quickly.  Service was pretty solid as well.  Compared to Playt, I would say they are pretty similar except for a few dishes here and there.

The Good:
- Plenty of seafood prepared in different ways
- Quality was good for a buffet
- Fairly attentive service

The Bad:
- If you were snoozing, the limited time seafood offerings were gone quickly


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