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Sunday Lunch Buffet at Spoon, HK - No longer worth the visit!!

Charles Yu Jul 19, 2008 06:16 AM

The interesting and innovative Sunday lunch buffet at Alain Ducasse's Spoon, with its good food and great habour view, was one of the worthy delights offered by the vast HK culinary and tourist scene. However, my wife and son who just came back from a three weeks holiday told me that the aforementioned buffet has gone WAY DOWN HILL, and no longer worth the money or visit.
Previously, the most appealing part of the buffet was the huge array of small amuse bouche size hot appertizers lined up on the left side of the entrance. Nicely plated and artfully presented, they include 'all you can eat', freshly seared foie gras, seared sea scallops, mini crab cakes, butter poached lobster tail nuggets, satay sticks, freshly smoked duck breast....etc and the list goes on and on! Now, all these were eliminated and what was left were just mediocre cold cuts comprising of Argentinian 'serrano' cloned hams, Swiss airdried beef, foie gras terrines, duck rillettes, cheeses and breads etc. The entrees, though still interesting and tasty also received a noticeable size reduction. In order to fill one's stomach, one unfortunately has to look to the dessert table at the kitchen and rely on the mega-calories, artery clogging sinful delights! Talk about 'death by chocolates'!

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  1. HKTraveler Jul 20, 2008 12:14 AM

    That is really unfortunate since it is one of my favourites. Meant to go back but they are pretty full. I hope they haven't gone down hill since that would mean I need to find another brunch place for celebrations. Will be there in next 2-3 weeks and will report back.

    2 Replies
    1. re: HKTraveler
      b
      bjchow Sep 1, 2008 01:00 AM

      Wow, it is quite the blow to hear that the Spoon lunch has gone downhill.. I went there on Charles Yu's recommendation at the end of May and it was the highlight of our visit to HK! My boyfriend and I haven't stopped raving about it since and were even planning a visit to HK just for this brunch!
      Has HKTraveler or any other Chowhounds been back since? I'm hoping the food reduction was a temporary measure and that the usual offerings will be back!!

      1. re: bjchow
        HKTraveler Sep 1, 2008 06:41 AM

        Unfortunately, haven't had a chance to go back yet since the brunch I planned on going was cancelled

    2. k
      klyeoh Jul 20, 2008 04:36 AM

      How tragic, Charles! Wonder what prompted the drastic cost-cutting in the variety of food served.

      BTW, I was at Conrad Hotel's Sunday buffet early last month - it was very popular: pan-seared foie gras, lobster, oysters, etc. Perhaps that'll be a good alternative to Spoon?

      Anyway, I'll wait for HKTraveler's update!

      2 Replies
      1. re: klyeoh
        Charles Yu Jul 20, 2008 07:31 AM

        Hello Klyeoh!
        Sunday buffet at the Conrad! First time I've heard about it! ( since I usually frequent hotels on the Kowloon side ). Sounds interesting. Will definitely bring along friends and/or family members with 'huge appetite' to give it a try during my HK visit next spring! Ha!
        BTW, had a great and interesting time with Fourseasons and family in NYC. Looking forward to another mini-chowmeet in S'pore next February. Hope you'll be in town to join us. If not, chow-meet in HK in March?

        1. re: Charles Yu
          k
          klyeoh Jul 20, 2008 07:40 PM

          Conrad Hotel offers one of the best Sunday brunches on the Island-side - it takes up all the space on the eighth floor - from Nicholinni's to Brasserie on the Eighth, and the lobby area.

          I actually flew into HK from San Francisco that morning, trudged over to Four Seasons Hotel looking for a nice, lazy Sunday champagne brunch, but they said they didn't have one - and recommended that I check out Conrad's!

          I wondered why Four Seasons HK don't have a Sunday brunch - the whole island's full of gluttons. I went there because one of the most memorable Sunday brunches I've ever had was at Four Seasons Washington DC.

      2. k
        kobetobiko Jul 20, 2008 08:38 PM

        A lot of buffets in Hong Kong have gone way down hill and were nothing like they used to be. Plus there are now a lot of tourists from mainland China and these hotel buffets need to cater to their "taste" as well.

        One of the better Sunday brunch buffets I had before was at Mandarin Grill inside Mandarin Oriental Hotel. It has unlimited Veuve Clicquot and a wide array of very fresh seafood like cold lobsters, crabs, oysters, conch, etc. Also foie gras, smoked salmon, cold cuts, and prime ribs, steak, etc., you know the usual stuff. Another great place to have Sunday brunch is Tiffin Lounge with unlimited Moet & Chandon Rose. The offerings again are similar, with foie gras, and lobsters and such. Both were about $100 USD per person.

        There are a few more places with Sunday champagne brunch buffets, such as JW Marriot which had unlimited caviars (though I am not sure if they still have). Then again, I have also heard downhill alert..

        Conrad has some nice seafood in their buffet, but the time I went (last year) they didn't offer foie gras, and I think the desserts were a bit weak.

        I used to like Ritz-Carlton a lot but unfortunately they closed.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kobetobiko
          k
          klyeoh Jul 21, 2008 12:25 AM

          Oh yes, I forgot to mention about Mandarin Oriental's brunch - it's right there at the top.

          Conrad must have verified their foie gras-less spread since your visit last year, kobetobiko. When I had brunch there on June 1, not only did they have freshly pan-fried foie gras, they offered at least 3 or 4 other appetisers which contained foie gras. I remembered that distinctly because I was purposely AVOIDING foie gras on my doctor (cardiologist)'s orders ever since my heart angioplasty operation!

          Like you, I really miss the Ritz-Carlton - especially Toscana & Chef Umberto Bombana.

        2. kosmose7 Jul 21, 2008 10:11 AM

          Some of the best brunch buffets will be, like previous postings mentioned, Conrad's Nicholini's & Brasserie on the Eighth, Mandarin Grill, TOTT's, and Verandah.

          Talking about buffets going down the hill... Grand Hyatt Hong Kong's Grand Cafe used to serve one of the best buffets I've ever tried in my life years ago when they just started the buffet service. Have you ever seen any buffet restaurant where chefs open up fresh oysters in shell in front of you? :) But then it slowly went down the hill and little by little they deleted hot items.

          8 Replies
          1. re: kosmose7
            Charles Yu Jul 21, 2008 03:33 PM

            I experienced similar 'personalized oyster shucking' service at the American's club Sunday lunch buffet 'years' ago. At that time, some of the selection were 'mesmerising'! For example, smoked salmon from four different geographic locale - Norway, Scotland, Ireland and Canada! Pity my oyster knowledge at that time was pretty green, otherwise I would no doubt be pretty impressed with the oyster selection as well?!

            1. re: Charles Yu
              k
              klyeoh Jul 22, 2008 12:12 AM

              Conrad's Sunday brunch has a chef shucking fresh oysters for you. It's got a fairly good spread.

              But their main weakness remained (as kobetobiko experienced last year) the desserts - most looked dainty & quite pretty, but were either dry or pretty tasteless. I want my desserts to be creamy-rich, moist with liqueur, or else freshly-baked.

              1. re: klyeoh
                Charles Yu Jul 22, 2008 05:17 AM

                My friend! Creamy-rich desserts are bad for your heart! Ha! May be the dark chocolate ones, with loaded anti-oxidents, might offset things a bit!

                1. re: Charles Yu
                  k
                  klyeoh Jul 22, 2008 11:56 PM

                  I know, sigh! Worst news for a foodie. I already have to give up most of my favorite food in the world: pan-fried foie gras, duck confit, steaks, Eggs Benedict/Hollandaise sauce, anything with coconut creme. Now, I may have to cut back on sweets, too. Come to think of it - I shouldn't be lamenting about smaller Sunday brunch tables!

                  1. re: klyeoh
                    Charles Yu Jul 23, 2008 05:56 PM

                    Don't sigh too much my foodie friend! Duck confit is OK for your health! The traditional French way of making duck confit uses pure duck fat, which, if my memory serves me right, is high in mono-saturated fat which in turn helps to lower ones bad LDL cholesterol. Though not as good as olive oil, its much much more healthy than butter. As for steak, a nice piece of Bisteca alla Fiorentina, marinated with Tuscan Extra virgin Olive oil, sprinkled with course sea salt and grilled over open wood fire can be heavenly and more heart friendly than a lot of your pan fried food. A nice glass of Super Tuscan red wine would also help to improve the situation. BTW, have you been to any buffet that serves 'cooked to order' charbroiled steaks? A nice alternative to the ever popular roast prime rib.

                    1. re: Charles Yu
                      k
                      klyeoh Jul 23, 2008 07:28 PM

                      Hi Charles, I don' tthink I've come across any Sunday brunch that offers made-to-order steaks. Most offer a carving station which will include a prime roast.

                      My fave Sunday brunch was at Four Seasons Washington DC. In fact Washingtonians are quite serious about Sunday brunches, there's a dedicated web-site for DC foodies as such:

                      http://www.mysundaybrunch.com/

                      1. re: klyeoh
                        Peech Sep 1, 2008 05:30 PM

                        The Steakhouse at InterCon...just a few steps from Spoon, offers steak made to order for their buffet. And all-you-can-drink wines by the glass with 8 selections.

                2. re: klyeoh
                  kosmose7 Jul 22, 2008 06:11 PM

                  Yes! Conrad's sometimes has oysters shucking service but sometimes it doesn't. :) Their desserts, although there's a wide variety, do not taste really good like klyeoh said and I think that's mainly because they use more gelatine and vegetable whipping cream as opposed to real heavy cream.

                  As for American Club, I liked their buffet as much as China Club's weekend buffet.

            2. f
              foodnut.com Dec 11, 2008 09:56 AM

              I'll be in HK in a couple days. I can hit 1 Sunday brunch buffet, which one is the best? Conrads?

              Any good buffets open not just on Sunday? Also any Shanghai buffets worth a visit?

              Tip: If you are in the San Francisco area, The Sunday brunch buffet at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay is tops.

              http://www.foodnut.com/205/ritz-carlt...

              7 Replies
              1. re: foodnut.com
                s0memale Dec 11, 2008 02:29 PM

                Conrad's Nicholinis/Brasserie is definitely the way to go. Its the only Sunday Brunch that actually goes up in quality every year when I visit. So does the price however, I think its almost 600HKD now. Totally worth it for me though every once in a while.

                1. re: s0memale
                  h
                  hong_kong_foodie Apr 4, 2009 12:05 PM

                  Does anyone have an update on the buffet scene in Hong Kong right now? Is the best still Conrad's Nicolini? How about Spoon at the Intercontinental - has anyone been there recently?

                  I am looking for the best food in both quality and preparation and would be willing to pay the price. But no one in my family drinks, so if possible I would like to avoid buffets where I also have to pay a premium for the alcohol option.

                  Then again, my preference for great food far outweighs my disinclination from paying for alcohol so I'm more than willing to pay the alcohol premium if the food buffet itself is really that amazing.

                  Thank you so much!

                  1. re: hong_kong_foodie
                    PhilD Jan 29, 2011 03:56 PM

                    I thought I would bring this to the top again to see if there are any updates. We are looking for one next weekend (CNY) and wondered which one(s) are good at the moment?

                    1. re: PhilD
                      haggisdragon Jan 29, 2011 10:33 PM

                      I was planning on doing Harbourside at the Intercontinental, but I didn't realize that there was such a wealth of choices.

                      1. re: PhilD
                        h
                        Hot Chocolate Jan 31, 2011 10:49 PM

                        i haven't been to any of the big box hotel ones but can't imagine how they're much different from the big box singapore ones ... or bangkok ones ...

                        but i went to zuma and thought their japanese buffet on sunday was phenomenal. It's about $560 HKD i think with unlimited champagne / bellinis (cherry, peach, or something else). excellent choice of robata grilled meat / veggies, sushi, sashimi, rolls, salads as well.

                        I've heard fifth floor fusion is a really good sunday buffet but i've tried booking and they say they are booked for sunday brunch ... THROUGH NOVEMBER 2011!!! WTF?

                        1. re: PhilD
                          PhilD Feb 6, 2011 06:43 PM

                          We ended up at the "W", we had originally booked Aqua but after a less than stellar drinks experience on Friday we cancelled and moved to the W.

                          It's not bad, a good selection of dishes, ticking off most of the options. A reasonable seafood selection including four cures of smoked salmon and a fresh sushi/sashimi counter, a good selection cold meats, some dim sum, a trad breakfast selection, various hot dishes which cross continents, some really fine roast rib of beef, and a grill section of cooked to order meats and prawns, and of course pastries, desserts and cheese.

                          I had read the grill to order section did "steaks" and lamb racks; OK it does small bits of beef and lamb chops but these are pretty small. Has it changed? The food quality was OK, but I am not really certain about value $688+ service, it does include free flowing champagne, wine (a vert decent Tassie pinot) and beer, but I may stick to more standard set lunches in future where the food is cooked to order (although it is very tricky to prise a champagne flute from my partners hand!)

                          1. re: PhilD
                            TomEatsHK Feb 6, 2011 09:08 PM

                            Amber does a weekend drinks matching thing. Good value.

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