Recently, I was invited to the Sofitel Plaza Hanoi for a birthday dinner at the Brasserie Westlake Restaurant. Luckily for me it was a Friday evening, when the restaurant hosts lobster at the most popular seafood buffet in town. Originally from the south central coast of Vietnam, where seafood is a daily part of the diet, I have to say that I have rarely looked forward to a meal this much. I see buffets as a great chance to really have large serves of the foods that I love or don’t get to eat that often. I really feel like a child in a candy shop.
Brasserie Westlake is located right next to the lobby of the hotel with sweeping views of the chaotic traffic on the streets below. A table by the window offers a more intimate dining experience but the space can also cater for large parties. Actually getting to the table can be problematic though, as diners have to walk through the actual buffet area to be seated. I defy anyone who can negotiate their way through such a feast without stopping to consider what they will start with!
And the options are immense, not just limited to seafood. Japanese features in the form of sushi and sashimi. Smoked salmon and fresh oysters are located alongside. Salads comprise a large section of the buffet, both those designed by the chefs and ingredients to custom make one’s own, including a nice range of dressings. Hot dishes under shining silver chafing lids vary from night to night and might include Asian inspired curries and stir-fries or dishes from the Mediterranean and other regions of Europe. Carbohydrates in the form of rice, bread and potatoes are available, too. I ignore them as I want to fill up on the fare from the grill.
Here, my seafood cravings are satisfied. Arranged across a big refrigerated display case are a range of creatures from the seas, including red snapper, sardines, flower snails, prawns, squid, mussels…the list goes on. Of course, the star of the show on Fridays is lobster. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, as I went back again and again to select and watch my seafood being cooked. For those who are allergic to seafood – and I feel sorry for them – there is a good range of lamb, pork, beef and chicken to be grilled up too.
My only problem was that I could not do justice to the dessert buffet. The centerpiece is a fountain, under which pieces of fruit can be drenched in liquid chocolate. Dozens of bite size cakes and little flans in shot glasses lined the dessert trays. A chocolate bread pudding looked delectable and rich. Next time I’m going to leave room.
Executive chef Mike Drew and his very capable team at the Brasserie Westlake can be assured by the crowds present on my visit and on most nights that they know how to put on a good buffet spread.