My friend Sebastian shot me an email with a link to the Flavours of Vietnam buffet in The Grace Brasserie. IMO, buffets have both pros and cons, on one hand it’s good value if you’re like me and eat a lot, plus you usually have a great variety of food to choose from. On the other hand, food that has been produced in massive quantities and sits around for a while before you put it on your plate will never be as good as a dish that has been cooked on demand.
The buffet is $38 for lunch and $48 for dinner and lunch on weekends. I went for lunch on a leftoverless weekday. I wasn’t hungry that morning so decided to skip breakfast and stuff myself silly with Vietnamese fare.
As soon as I got there I started taking photos until a herd of people coming from a corporate seminar showed up. I lined up behind them while my stomach rumbled loudly until I hit the salad station, where I filled my first plate.
Salads, spring rolls
On my way to my table I stumbled across the pho station, I grabbed a bowl which was conveniently smaller than the typical ones.
I had the soup first (salads wouldn’t get cold), with some chilli paste and lime juice. It was good, but I guess not as good as it can get in a proper Vietnamese restaurant. Don’t know for sure because I’m not a connoisseur. I skipped the noodles and moved on to the salads.
Beef noodle soup
My first contained: lotus root salad with chicken, cucumber salad with pork & shrimp, mixed salad with cabbage, carrot & onion, squid salad with celery, beef salad with water spinach and chicken salad with onion & Vietnamese mint. All of them were good, although the seafood was scarce and I suspect came from a frozen bag.
It was time to hit the hot food section, which oddly to me started off with corn, sweet potato and bread.
Corn, sweet potato, bread
As with salads, there was a good number of options, from which these were my choices: Vietnamese pancake, slow-cooked duck with coconut juice, slow-cooked pork ribs with bean, slow-cooked fish with pineapple and stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts. I’m normally more a duck person than a pork person but in this case the pork won hands down. The fish was good, although on the dry side, the chicken was ok too, but the cashews were hopelessly soggy. The pancake was very oily but tasty.
Hot food plate
I could (and should) have stopped here but my Third World brain couldn’t cope with the idea of not making the most out of my money even if that involved a stomach explosion. Plus, I wasn’t having dessert so I could get away with a third serving, right? I decided to make it a salad and hot food balance, I got some of the mixed salad with egg & dressing that I missed in the first round, along with some squid salad with celery, another Vietnamese pancake and three pieces of slow-cooked pork ribs with bean.
Salad + hot food plate
I washed food down with a cup of green tea from the hot beverage section while glancing briefly at the dessert section not really craving anything from there.
Vietnamese is one of my favourite Asian cuisines because it’s fresher and lighter than others. However, having been pretty strict with my diet lately I could feel the effects of the binge, I think mainly because of the sugar. All those sweet dressings and sauces added up and gave me an energy crash. Be warned!
The Grace Hotel
77 York Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9272 6888