Fly&Dine Hotel Brunch Review: Harbourside in Hong Kong

Posted in Asia, Hong Kong, On the Ground

The closest most of us will ever get to a royal feast is the mighty hotel brunch. On Sundays across the globe, hotels set up massive displays of epicurean excess and all you have to do to partake is open your wallet. In Hong Kong, Sunday brunching is almost a required activity. In fact, it’s not so much an activity as a sport: put on your Sunday best as a uniform and athletically stuff your face at one of the various luxury hotels that dot the city’s harbor.

Since I was a guest of the InterContinental Hong Kong, I decided that my last meal should take place at the hotel’s beautifully expansive harborside restaurant, aptly titled “Harbourside.” For the low, low price (read: high! high!) of HK$858 (roughly $111 US), you get unlimited champagne and a sprawling spread of food that would make even competitive eaters blush.

There are three main stations to choose from: a cold seafood/sushi/salad/charcuterie area, an international selection of hot items including a carving station and grilled to order meats, and a huge dessert display. Based on the lines at the very first station — the cold stuff — it’s clear that most of Hong Kong comes here for the seafood. I don’t blame them. When was the last time you saw entire lobsters on a buffet table? Harbourside’s got ’em as well as crab (legs and claws), shrimp, and all of the sashimi you can take down. They’re even slicing jamon iberico and prosciutto right in front of you. Now that’s service.

 

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Sushi station at Harbourside

 

The hot food options were a panoply of global favorites. Chinese (including dim sum), Thai, Indian, Italian, Japanese, and French are all represented. I loved the Peking duck and the black truffle mashed potatoes were sensational. Also, I’ve honestly never seen a pan-seared foie gras station at any buffet I’ve ever been to before here. I can imagine an ambitious eater giving themselves gout in one sitting from gorging on the foie. The choices were mostly limited to lunch options, but there were a few breakfast sausages and eggs benedict if you were still hungry for breakfast. Interestingly enough, they didn’t have the ubiquitous omelet station that you see at most brunch buffets but that’s perhaps due to the fact that this buffet operates a separate breakfast-only serving until 10:30am and opens back up for the big Sunday Brunch from 11:30am – 3pm.

Dessert is equally elaborate with cakes, cookies, tarts, macarons, the requisite chocolate fountain, and a full selection of ice cream (with toppings!) that surely appeared in your dreams as an 8-year-old.

 

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SUGAR

 

Now we get down to brass tacks, as they say at the Cliche Store. The options at each section are really impressive — in theory. The reality of the situation is that this is a buffet and like all buffets, you just don’t find the same level of quality you would when ordering off the menu at a traditional restaurant. I don’t blame Harbourside (or any other hotel buffet) for this. It’s just a fact of life. The massive rib roast at the carving station is a great example of the pitfalls of buffeting (yeah, that word is definitely made up). Just look at that beauty:

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Oven-roasted prime rib. Yum, right? Well…

Upon my first bite, though, it became clear that this wasn’t exactly prime rib, as it was labeled. That’s okay. Even Lawry’s, the world’s biggest name in prime rib, doesn’t use prime beef. The difference is that this didn’t have the tender succulence you find when you order prime rib at a traditional restaurant. The reason? It’s sitting under a heat lamp. That’s buffet life, yo. The same issues were found all over at Harbourside. Those desserts that look so good? Best left as a treat for the eyes. The pan-seared foie gras? Not so great. In fact, out of the multitude of items that I tried, just a small handful would have brought me back to this buffet. The salmon sashimi was wonderful. The aforementioned Peking duck and truffle mashed potatoes were equally good. While not related to food quality, the service was exceptionally attentive. Plates were cleared quickly. Drinks were refilled. Even new silverware was brought between courses and if you’re a regular buffet-goer, you know how rare this is.

Overall, I think Harbourside is a fine example of an over-the-top Sunday brunch. At the end of the day, though, it’s still a buffet and the ceiling for even the best buffet only goes so high.

Comments

  1. Wow, that brunch looks incredibly massive and diverse. Did you only have Sunday brunch there or did you have regular breakfast buffet too? How was the hotel itself? I am thinking of staying there and booking a harbour view room… did you happen to get one and if so how was the view?

  2. I only had the Sunday brunch, but checked it out one night, too, without eating. You’re spot on — it’s definitely massive and diverse. If you’re a lover of buffets, it might be right up your alley. I would, however, recommend checking out the full-service restaurants first before hitting up the buffet. In terms of quality, I think you get more out of their other dining outlets.

    The hotel itself was fantastic. I had a magnificent view of the waterfront and the suites are really expansive. I would have been more than happy moving into mine for good! If you want to stay on the Kowloon side, I think the InterContinental is a great choice.

    • I was wondering more about the breakfast buffet, actually. 🙂 As I will probably book using either American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts or a Virtuoso Travel Agent, I get free breakfast buffet and a $100 F&B credit – I will probably use the credit at the hotel towards Yan Toh Heen or SPOON, which are both Michelin-starred and supposed to be very very good! My trip isn’t for another 8 months and I’m already looking forward to it so much, haha.

      Will you review the hotel room on the blog?

  3. Never got down there for the breakfast buffet, but I assume it’s worthy. I ate at both Yan Toh Heen and Spoon — equally excellent, although my favorite meal there was at The Steak House (also Michelin-starred). If you want a truer Hong Kong experience, I’d go Yan Toh Heen. The space itself, the menu, and the view are all spectacular.

    I won’t be reviewing the room as Fly&Dine focuses mainly on F&B. I’m happy to say, however, that I was very impressed by it. High ceilings, enormous shower, and a comfortable bed — who can ask for anything more?

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