Depending on where you stand on all-you-can-eat [AYCE] places, they are either a gluttony of goodness or the nadir of culinary ideas that should’ve died at the concept stage, but like a bad virus, has thrived in this country.  With the boon of Las Vegas and its endless supplies of AYCE places, we Americans have come to fall for the gimmick that we’ll somehow eat so much we can bring the establishment to its knees.  The contrary, of course, is true.  The establishment wins every time we go into a buffet because well, the establishment is quite smart.  The marketing itself has beaten our appetites even before we walk into a Hometown Buffet or a classier joint like the Le Village Buffet at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas.  What no one will tell us is that after a few deep fried morsels of evilness, our stomachs are calling it quits, turning our precipitous appetites to vapors.

But not all buffets are created equal.  While having dined at my fair share of AYCE evilness here in the States, not all buffets are crap.  But you have to leave these shores to experience a truly magnificent buffet.  In Hong Kong, where people truly live to eat, there are some amazing buffets to be had.  And I am not referring to cheap “Hometown Buffets” style locations.  The picture above is from the Shangri La Hotel‘s Kaffe Kool, where for $50-$60US per person, you can get great roast duck, sushi, handmade udon and noodles, handmade naan bread with a tandoori oven to boot.  It’s not cheap to eat at Kaffe Kool, but because everything there is made on premise, it’s a far cry from even the Bellagio buffet, where one shells out about $45US per person for a “good” buffet [which I disagree with].  I would give a place like Kaffe Kool 4.5 stars on Yelp if I could.  It is THAT good.  The sushi is better than many sushi places here in LA and the fact that they have made to order noodle bar as part of the buffet is worth the price of admission.  On the other side of the floor is their dessert area.  Handmade crepes with ice cream is just one of the many sweets you can get there.  It really is one of the best AYCE places I’ve ever been to.  A few days later, we visited the Intercontinental Hotel and the buffet there looked even better.

So, while I still maintain that buffets are crap, there are a few that are truly outstanding.  I still haven’t been to a buffet here in the States where it has blown my socks off, but in Hong Kong, they seem to everywhere.  Especially in their hotels, where people tend to go and have a great meal.  Here in this country, we would scoff at dining out for a special occasion at a hotel.  Hotel food, to us, is just overpriced bad food.  But not there in Hong Kong.  It’s another great dining experience.  Yes, it is still overpriced, but people tend to be fine with that because of the quality of the food you get.  Here in the States, I would still encourage us to stay away from buffets if we can help it.  I realize some families view these buffets as a cheap alternative to feed a large family and to that, I say “Do what you need to do” in this economy.  But for those who are not struggling too much, just stay away from the monstrosity.  You won’t regret it.