Friday, December 5, 2008

Garden Buffet - Star City, Pyrmont, Sydney

"The starter plate"
Green mussels in black bean sauce & southern-style chicken wings

Okay. First things first. Maybe some of you wonder why on earth would I go to Star City's Garden Buffet - the very restaurant that has been applauded and ridiculed fluctuatingly since its opening decades ago. It's not that I am a big fan of buffets anyway (I'm one of those weird people who think that all-you-can-eat buffets are just a tad of an embarrassing place to be seen at). Moreover, the image of overweight Americans gorging on chicken wings and ranch sauce which will forever be synonymous to buffet dining doesn't help either.

I have managed to stay away from Star City's Garden Buffet ever since i first stepped foot on Sydney's soil ten years ago. (Well, technically, the first time I stepped my foot on Sydney's soil was more than 20 years ago, but Star City hasn't been built then). Suddenly, I felt somewhat left out. Despite most of my hoity-toity friends constantly burning and condemning the said restaurant with scalding criticisms, you can't deny that the place is STILL ever so popular. Even on weekdays, people come early to avoid long queues. And you can forget immediately getting a table at 7.00pm on weekends - it's an hour minimum wait, I reckon.

Okay, let's talk about this dish first - my starter platter. The mussels is AWESOME. Really. The next time I'm there (if I decide to come back at all - and that's a big IF), I'll eat nothing but these green mussels and prawns (see below)

Ratings: Mussels -> 8/10 Wings -> 6/10

"The main platter"
Ocean perch with garlic & roast beef

Continuing my rant - my friends and I went early, since it was a weekend. The place opens at 5pm for dinner, and we're among the first people who went in. Within I'd say 30 minutes, the place was packed and there's a bee-line at the entrance. By this time, I've scouted around the buffet area and honestly, I didn't find anything interesting among the selection. However, the food that I decided to have are all decent enough to restrain me from complaining. I'd say that most of the food are very savory (it's a well-known industry trick to make all the food very savory so that people wouldn't be able to eat much).

This ocean perch is quite decent - juicy and fresh. The roast beef is pretty mediocre, but it's juicy and moist too, which is important.

Ratings: Fish -> 6.5/10 Beef -> 6/10

The salads

-> I took these pictures of salads just for fun. People who profess to know about the joy of eating wouldn't be stupid enough to actually eat cheap SALADS on buffet (well, unless they don't eat meat, of course). I always stand by this principle when going to buffets: no carbs (potatoes, rices, noodles, flour-based food), no vegetables (salads, etc), and no cheap fruits. You want to solely fill up on the good, pricey stuff like meats, seafood, cakes, etc. LOL

"The Indian platter"
Chicken Tandoori, curry samosa, dal, and roasted vegetables

The Tandoori is yummy yummy. Tender and a tad spicy. Actually, this might be my favorite platter. I have to confess that I'm not such a big fan on Indian food, but this one is un-authentic enough (tweaked to suit general Western taste) I actually quite like it. LOL
The samosa is very nice, but too savory (can't eat a lot of it)

Ratings (all): 7.5/10

"Bottomless" prawn the sense that it's all-you-can-eat and the "prawn well" is constantly re-filled so you can eat prawns until your face turns orange and you don't feel like looking at prawns ever again. This all-you-can-eat prawn is very heavily advertised, and seems to be the restaurant's main attraction. I must admit that I was kind of disappointed to find out that it turned out to be those cheap Vannamei prawns you can get for 7 bucks a kilo. (and I thought that they would serve better stuff like tiger prawns or something!). Bah humbug!

Regardless, the prawns are really fresh and nice.

Rating: 7/10

"The German Platter"
Contains all types of Bavarian bounties such as varieties of wurst (sausages), ham, and gherkins.

Granted, Oktoberfest was months ago, but that doesn't stop me from indulging in some German delights - which is an occasional favorite (LOL)
The sausages and hams are allright, but I'm more interested in the gherkins. Sure, it's not from Spreewald, but they're delightful anyway.

Ratings (all): 7/10

"The Italian Platter"
Baked Agnolotti, Spaghetti Bolognaise, and Tortellini salad.

-> The baked agnolotti (or was it ravioli? hmm...have to consult the pasta bible) is quite nice, but the others are passable at best. I know, I know - I said that I avoid pasta on buffets, but a teeensy bit is okay, I guess. Some of these pasta are so good-looking you can't help but sample them.

Ratings: Agnolotti -> 7/10 Spaghetti -> 5.5/10 Tortellini -> 5/10

"The Dessert Platter"
Strawberry mousse, black forrest, passionfruit cake & chocolate cream cake

-> All of them are too damn sweet (with the exception of the chocolate cream cake which is quite delightful), so I'd say avoid most of them. And oh, do you notice that I was trying to pretty up my platter by drizzling some mango & strawberry sauce, which turned out to be horrendous and disastrous? LOL

Rating: Chocolate cream cake -> 7/10 The rest -> 5/10

Is this buffet worth going?'s hard to say. It's not exactly cheap (37.90 bucks for weekend dinner), and food selection isn't exactly fantastic, but it's not exactly disappointing. You just have to be able to select the good food and focus on them. Don't forget to make a membership card (for free) to get a 7 bucks discount. Alternatively, go on weekday lunches which is a lot cheaper at 23.90 bucks for members (hopefully they have the same food selection for lunch)

Anyway, if you're from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, or Indonesia (also known as the lands of fantastic buffets), don't expect much on this one. Anyway, most buffets in Sydney are kind of lame compared to those in Southeast Asia.


Don said...

I have often, heard about the buffet at star city. However at $37 ouch..
Would much prefer to spend that elsewhere..

Great Imagery...

Erique Fat Owl said...

I'm glad to hear from someone else that the 37 bucks price tag is a tad steep! It might be a good idea to spend your money elsewhere, but I haven't been to that many buffets (of this 'genre') in Sydney, so I can't really recommend other places.

Note: if you apply for the Star City membership (for free), you get 7 bucks off the buffet.

Leony said...

Erikkkkkkkkkkk.... I am BACCKKKK !! Free from those hospital foods... yuck! In the VIP section, they always served the white meat part of the chicken, which was very tough to eat, and tasteless, I guess for sure they used ayam negeri coz the chicken was very thick and huge... imagine, 2 weeks of super tasteless OR super salty foods...yuck yuck yuck...Everyday, they asked us the menu that we're gonna have the next day. The names sound delicious, but the appearance and taste... hoah... so baddddd....finally on the last day, I requested the dark meat haha, and it tasted better even though personally I am not a fan of dark meat.

And looking at the buffet that you had, I don't care if you rated them 5 or so... they sure look and taste better than all the food that I had in 2 weeks. Yum...

Devi said...

I've been there once in 2004, I believe it was only $20 at that time.

Yeah, that was too bad for such an expensive rates; some of them were nice but some of them not.

Mary said...

It is not worth to pay $37.00 for such kind of food!!!

Sammy said...

Spending $37.00, You definitely can have much nicer foods anywhere else than at Garden Buffet !!!!!!