Every time I go to an All-You-Can-Eat place, those words from former food critic (and currently Grazia’s food editor) Matthew Evans ring in my mind. Come to any buffet restaurant on any given Saturday evening and my bet is that the oysters came from the same batch as Thursday’s lot. The fried rice has just been reheated. And the chocolate mousse has been sitting there all day. As a kid growing up, I’ve had more than my fair share of buffet food from Smorgy’s, Foodstar and Sizzlers. I used to think that buffets were awesome, only because we got to eat gweilo food such as roasts and wedges that you normally wouldn’t get at home. And then you got to eat as much ice cream as you could before you started to feel sick. Naturally, you felt like shite afterwards… but as a kid, we didn’t care about things like that.
These days, I rarely go to All-You-Can-Eat joints. For one thing, I’m over the whole excitement of going to a place where you were let loose amongst the bain marie trays of chips, pizza and fried fish. Secondly, the food is generally awful. Thirdly, going to these places mean that you are obliged to eat as much as you can to get your money’s worth, which results in you feeling sick anyway. And even though Adam and I thought the food at Melba was quite nice for a buffet restaurant, we both agreed that we wouldn’t be going back to a buffet restaurant in a hurry.
So when Adam’s mum decided that she wanted us to take her to a buffet for her birthday this weekend, Adam and I cringed. We did, however, want to make her happy and so we arranged a dinner booking at New Quay International Buffet And Bar, a rather up-market buffet (relatively speaking, of course) in the Docklands Precinct. Now I’ve been there a few times with my work colleagues when the team leader declares a long boozy lunch. The first time we went there, everyone seemed to be in awe and even I was impressed by how pretty and fresh everything seemed (when I say “fresh”, I’m comparing it to Foodstar). The second time around, however, the meal wasn’t that exciting and I made a resolution not to go there ever again should there be a team lunch (I’d rather sit alone on the grass at Flagstaff Gardens with my soba salad and a book, hmmmph!). But anyway, I may have been there several times for lunch and even though I said that I wouldn’t go there again, I was nevertheless curious about how different it’d be during dinnertime and so at 6pm, we took the City Circle tram to New Quay.
I’m too tired to write in detail, so I’ll let the photos do the talking…
Cooked to order pasta
The cold poached salmon with coleslaw and flying fish roe, I must admit and a favourite among the ladies at work.
Baby desserts…. *squeeeee*
More baby desserts! I especially loved the green tea sponge cakes.
Yes, the photos might look okay but the food was just “meh.”
- The “lobster soup” was awful. While I could definitely taste something of a semblance to lobster (probably pureed lobster head meat or something), a “crab soup” consisting of seafood extender would’ve made a better soup.
- The sushi was nothing to rave on about. Yawn.
- The oysters and mussels had clearly been there for more than three days. In fact, you could smell traces of the iodine bath that the mussels had been soaked in prior to the restaurant opening up for dinner.
- Adam had a creamy pasta (from the “cooked to order” station), which was bland beyond belief. We weren’t sure whether the sauce was marinara (because of the mussels) or carbonara (because it was cream-based and had bacon in it). I betcha $100 that the cooked mussels used in the pasta had been leftovers from the previous nights’ iodinised seafood platter that could no longer be passed onto customers as “fresh mussels.”
- Not everything was terrible though – the tempura prawns were rather pleasant, particularly with the dill sauce they provided. Also, the poached salmon with coleslaw and flying fish roe didn’t disappoint. Plus, the desserts weren’t awful either. They might’ve copied Melba with their little serving dishes but I really like seeing buffets serve dessert this way rather than getting people to help themselves to one huge cake or batch of chocolate mousse – that way you get to sample many different things and it also reduces wastage (which I HATE!).
We also ran into some of Adam’s family friends during dinner. Jenny, if you’re reading this, you might recall a guy called John whom you set up with Christina/Christine? Haha, they were there with their kids and a bunch of family members. Nice people, but they were chatting away in Cantonese with Adam’s parents for much longer than I had hoped after dinner, so Adam and I had to smile and nod our way through 30 minutes of “sik sik sik fei fei fei ho ho ho.” Aaargh!
Adam’s parents are loving it. Hahaha I love how Adam’s dad tries to be all cool by holding up his prawn. So corny yet so adorable at the same time…
Was dinner at New Quay Buffet worth it? Well, let’s put it this way… lunch is $25-28 per head (depending on what day you go) and dinner is at least $40 per head. Given that there isn’t a huge difference between the lunch and dinner selections apart from having oysters and tempura prawns at dinner, I think that charging an extra $20 for dinner is a bit of a rip-off. I wasn’t expecting Melba standard food but I would’ve thought that they’d put a bit more stuff for us to try. In the end, we decided that we’d never go here again for dinner. To the restaurant’s credit, the place was packed to the rafters (with mostly Asians though, I might add). In fact, I saw a few people rock up to the place only to be told that there was no room to accommodate them which probably suggests that they’re doing quite well. Plus, my workmates rave on about this place. Granted, they’re not the first people you’d ask for restaurant recommendations because most of them aren’t freaky foodies like myself but still. Perhaps Adam and I have been corrupted by the hatted restaurants of Melbourne or something. Importantly though, Adam’s mum really enjoyed dinner, so as long as she’s happy then we’re happy (though I suspect that this had something to do with the amount of prawns she was able to eat… she LOVES prawns).