Buffet culture is a curious creation. Mere mention brings up images of piles of unhealthy and artery-clogging comfort food, priced for mass consumption, and decidedly not elegant or healthy. But swanky hotels the world over love the buffet. They remain a practical solution to feeding masses of guests, but buffets at such classy establishments are set up to provide this convenience in a way that exudes the luxury, culture, and tastes of the region.
Check out some of the most awesome buffets we’ve found in our travels. Some are right in our own backyard, while others just may be an excuse for a fantastic belly-swelling trip.
InterContinental Hong Kong's Harbourside restaurant: Sunday Champagne Brunch at Harbourside
Photo Credit: Harbourside
The Sunday Brunch at the InterContinental Hong Kong’s Harbourside restaurant is an elaborate affair with free-flowing Perrier-Jouët bubbly, a buffet of Western and Asian style dishes, fine roast carving stations, action stations, and homemade desserts. Pass-around items add to the indulgence as chefs personally bring guests specialty items as well as coffee liqueur and cocktail shooters.
Melba at Langham Hotel: Melbourne, Australia
Photo Credit: Melba at Langham Hotel
Melba is the as refined as a buffet can get — panoramic city views from its position on the Southbank promenade, beautiful marble, and fanciful chandeliers. Melba features buffet-style, international cuisine, from towers of seafood including Pacific oysters — Pacifics from South Australia — to gorgeous king prawns and fresh sushi, to an Indian station featuring naan made to order and spectacular eggplant masala.
Gaia’s Garden, Sonoma County
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Gaia's Garden is located in Santa Rosa, California and has been named “Best Vegetarian Restaurant” in Sonoma County for the last four years. Gaia's Garden is an international vegetarian buffet, serving delicious curries, soups, homemade breads, fresh salads, desserts, chai, and more. Rotating dinner entrees include lasagna, quiche, enchiladas, coconut tofu, stuffed cabbage, and eggplant Parmesan.
Fountains Brunch at Jasmine in the Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas
Photo Credit: Jasmine
Set against the backdrop of the Fountains of Bellagio, Fountains Brunch at Jasmine is one of the most luxurious buffet experiences you’ll find. Every Sunday is an exciting display of several live-action cooking stations. Guests can choose from international brunch items or traditional American breakfast selections. A highlight is the Peking-style Duck carved tableside, a specialty at the brunch. To complete the Fountains Brunch experience, guests enter into a separate desserts room, filled with chocolate fondue along with sweets and chocolates.
The Curry Buffet at The Oyster Box Hotel in Durban, South Africa in Durban, South Africa
Photo Credit: The Curry Buffet
The Curry Buffet in the Ocean Terrace Restaurant is set in the casual, Mediterranean-inspired Ocean Terrace, with gorgeous views across the Indian Ocean. The curry selection offers, of at least 11 curries daily, including meat, fish, and vegetarian options. From the delicate flavors of the Singapore fish curry, using the freshest fish of the day, to the spicy, hot lamb vindaloo and smooth-textured butter chicken. Vegetarian options delight as bean and botie sit side-by-side with vegetable korma and sugar-bean curry, and the city's famous chicken and prawn curry and the Oyster Box's signature traditional Durban lamb curry remain firm favorites.
TWENTY/20 at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa
Photo Credit: TWENTY/20
The feature at TWENTY/20 at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa is a huge (four feet in diameter!) paella pan that is done in a buffet presentation. They use a gas burning standalone stove custom made for the large flat sheet pan that the paella is prepared in. Guests can see the entire dish being built from start to finish. Paella itself is a versatile dish, which can be utilized as both a main course or featured dish.
Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Manalapan, FL
Photo Credit: Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa
Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa has an incredible Mediterranean breakfast buffet. Embracing both the current trend towards healthy, Mediterranean fare and the melting pot of American cuisine, the resort has a signature Mediterranean breakfast, featuring savory Mediterranean-inspired selections, charcuterie, cheeses, and fresh fruits. Dishes like shakshuka (an egg dish with a tomato sauce) make regular appearances alongside an array of fresh baked breads and pastries and gourmet olives.
Eight at Langham Auckland, New Zealand
Photo Credit: Eight
Eight brings the buffet concept to a new level, as it offers eight different mini-kitchen food stations surrounding their dining room. Each of the themed mini-kitchens has its own chef, and the variety is seemingly endless — a raw meat display lets you choose a meat from an array of options and have it grilled to your specifications. Wagyu, venison, ostrich — all are primed for the trying. If you are feeling healthier, you can even have salads tossed to your specifications. There’s also an ocean-specific section, a spice route that’s a veritable house of curry, sushi made to order, an entire section of desserts, cheeses, and chocolate fondue — a nearly infinite array. Possibly the most fantastical buffet we’ve ever come across, you’ll be feeling curiously food-logged for days to come (at which point you’ll probably want to return!).
Aly Walansky is a special contributor to The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @alywalansky.