I've always heard so much about Shangri-La's Cafe Mix and I couldn't wait to try it. However, I found the price tag of $58 was a bit much to swallow. ($58 is the cheapest price, Mon-Thur. $85 Sat. $68 Fri & Sun). However, when I spotted Cafe Mix on the list of We Love Sydney restaurants offering buy 1 get 1 free, I just had to book myself in. I personally don't like cold crab or lobster, so opted to go on a Thursday night where it's cheaper since they won't be offering any lobster. I mean, why pay extra for something you won't eat?
We arrive and we're quickly seated, after having to walk past the dessert bar which practically gave me a sugar high just breathing in! Once we were seated, we did a quick recon around the place to suss out what was on offer, so we could plan out what was the best way to attack the buffet. There was a Cold Bar, where the prawns and oysters were, along with antipasto and the DIY Salad. A western section, a Japanese section, an Asian section and an Indian section.
I didn't really look too closely at the hot food since my main victims were the prawns and oysters.
Once I had completely overdosed on the cold shellfish, I headed off to the hot section to find something to warm me up. I did about 3 laps, going from station to station, when something hit me. The variety.....sucked? Let me list out exactly what was on offer.
In the Western Section:
- Steamed Vegetables
- Roast Lamb
Roast lamb was just roast lamb. No sauce, no gravey. Just roasted lamb sliced. The fish bain marie only ever contained a maximum of 2 fishes, each one slightly bigger than my hand. If you're not there when they refill it, its gone. It didn't help that people will scoop up an entire fish and plonk it onto their plate. But even then, the fish wasn't that big, so you couldn't call the person a glutton. They just really like their fish.
In the Japanese Section:
- Miso soup
- Potato and Roasted Garlic Soup
The sushi section was very disappointing for me. Most of them were chunky rolls filled with heaps of rice. When the chef bothered making the nigiri sushi, they were quite good in making the rice quantity quite small, so you didn't fill up. Except he was making them one at a time, and placing them on the tray, one at a time. That unless you were standing right there, with the only pair of tongs in your hand ready to swipe up whatever was laid out, you get nothing. There was always plenty of rolls, but the amount of rice on them just screamed FILLER. And that was the extent of the Japanese section. Rolls, a few pieces of nigiri, soup and pickles.
The Asian Section:
- Sago pudding
- Some form of sweet glutinous rice with sultanas
- Stir fried green beans
- Tom yum soup
- Roast Pork
- Boiled rice
- Steamed buns
- Dim Sims
The Asian Section was probably one of the better hot food sections there. I'm only saying this because I love tom yum soup and dim sims. Whilst I really loaded up on the dim sims...they were of the frozen variety. The big dim sims had the exact same texture, and almost the exact same taste as the ones I get at the local fish and chips shop (Soft, lots of shredded cabbage and grated carrots). The only difference is that these are steamed, whilst I usually get mines deep fried and doused in chicken salt. I didn't mind the dim sims, but I'm usually paying $1 each, vs people who would pay $60 for this buffet? The prawn dumplings were incredibly floury, and the prawns almost had a mushy texture. Something you usually get when you steam poor quality frozen prawn dumplings. There were also a few mysterious dumplings that surfaced during the night, each one was mushy and you had to pull the whole thing apart to see what the fillings were.
Funnily enough, the buns and the dumplings were placed in the Indian section of the restaurant. Strange you would think? Not really....considering what they had on offer in the Indian section, they had to put a few decent things there to make it worthwhile.
The Indian Section:
- Naan bread
- Basmati Rice with a bit of saffron mixed in
- Tandoori chicken
- Lentil curry
Where is my beef vindaloo? Or butter chicken? Or Samosas? Is there nothing else in the Indian cuisine that they could've offered??
We had been strategic to lay off all the starch and carbs to make sure we had plenty of stomach space, but after doing a few laps, we realised that the variety of food on offer was so sub-par, that we just started eating the buns, rice and even the naan (Which was incredibly tough, as if someone had over microwaved it). I half heartedly loaded up on the dim sims before I gave up on the hot food and went for the dessert bar.
The dessert bar was probably the highlight of the night. Chocolate fountain, creme brulee, creme caramel, tiramisu, macroons, cheese platter, ice creams etc. Even I went back for 2nds and 3rds.
With the discount, dinner came to $29pp. If I had paid the full price, $58, I would've been really annoyed. And I mean REALLY ANNOYED. Maybe bordering on pissed. Even though I only ended up paying $29pp, I was still really disappointed. I have gone to many RSLs, where you paid less than $29 and get twice as much variety and pretty much the same quality. You still get the prawns and the oysters (Probably not as much oysters as you would get at Cafe mix as some of them limit you to 6 at a time. BUT, unlike Cafe Mix, you don't get a mouthful of grit and crushed oyster shells), but you also get a whole grilled salmon, mussels, salt and pepper prawns, swimmer crabs, heaps of deep fried seafood, stir fries, sushi, salads, a huge carvery bar with ham, beef, pork, lamb, chicken, pasta and other stuff. The desserts will not be able to compete with Cafe Mix, but I'm not a huge dessert person, so it doesn't make a huge difference to me.
I don't know, maybe if I went on a Fri-Sun, I would've enjoyed it alot more. But I couldn't really see what they could offer to make it worth the $85 you have to pay on a Saturday? Or maybe I am being picky?? Maybe there was just too much hype and I had expectations that was too high....but I was really disappointed. And so was my friend, so I guess we'll just have to go to one of my favourite buffets to make up for it. Stay tuned!