5 hungry hounds went up to East Manor for lunch today. I thought it was a steal at ($13 a piece including tax and tip). All five of us paced ourselves and spent the requisite recommended time chowing down (1.5 hours according to the table placard).
I thought the space was amazing. It was huge. I never went there when it was Weylus but remembered all the controversy in the construction. The inside had elaborate displays as well as a mini-pond with real and fake flowers. There were also these mini-bridges connecting the entrance to the mini-pond. As we left, we were joking that we wished we had a camera so we could get our picture taken on the bridge. The eels and mini-goldfish swimming in one of the fountains were kind of strange.
I thought the dim sum steam table was extremely good. It was slightly frustrating because the little bamboo steamers would be empty or the treats I was looking for would not be there. I especially liked the chive and shrimp dumplings. These dumplings had a nice thin skin with the right mixture of chopped shrimp and chives. Alas, I only saw these dumplings once. I also thought the tripe was very good. Nice flavor and texture.
Other highlights included the cuttlefish (cold salad area), seaweed salad (near the sushi) and assorted fresh veggies. The veggies kept changing so I kept tasting. The bitter melon was exceptionally well done. The seaweed salad was a huge surprise. Seaweed salad is a misnomer. It was chunks of maguro, avocado, slivers of cucumber, seaweed with a bit of mayo. It was delicious and refreshing.
Dessert The fried sesame ball with black bean paste and peanut ball with red bean paste were very good. Also satisfying were the little nickel sized cookies, especially the almond ones. What I especially liked were the jello shots sans vodka. But, I am a huge jello fan (much to the chagrin of my table mates) and I kept going back for more. There was also a nice assortment of fresh fruit (watermelon, cantelope, honeydew and pineapple) as well as canned fruit (lychees). The melon balls in coconut milk was a pleasant surprise but I was disappointed that they did not have almond jello.
The one piece of duck I had was tasty. Crispy skin as well as flavorful meat. However, every time I went back, there were only remnants. Im not a fan of the reject pieces of duck.
I felt as if I were stalking the steam table, looking for dumplings. My second trip back, I hit the mother lode, but all other visits, were not as successful. The meatball that I had off the steam table was especially nasty. I barely got the one bit down.
The rice porridge was nasty. Too thick, kind of like glue. How hard is it to add some water to the rice to thin it down? It also had no flavor although I did see preserved duck eggs floating amongst the paste.
You cant rely on the signs above the buffet. For example, the duck was labeled sesame chicken and the cuttlefish only had Chinese not English.
When the fried food came right out of the fryer, it was exceptional. However, not as good when it had been sitting out, e.g. fried salted squid and shrimp.
All in all, the buffet was high quality. Most items were served in small portions and were replaced fairly frequently. If it wasnt there the first time around, it would be there the second time around. I think Thursday was a good time to go. Busy enough to get a variety but slow enough so there was no fighting at the buffet.
We had no service issue (other than one person getting snarled at when she got change). The staff quickly cleared rejected plates and promptly filled water and tea pots. We also had no language barrier. Probably because we didnt ask anyone anything. It was fairly self explanatory. Frankly, if we didnt know what it was, we tried it. Either ate it or put it to the side. Its all you can eat and I wasnt going to waste stomach space (or calories) on something I didnt like.
All in all, we all enjoyed ourselves, stuffed ourselves and got our moneys worth.