There was a time in Hangzhou when the only way to get anything even remotely resembling Western food, one had to traipse off to one of the big hotels and hope that the innumerable stews (and there was not a lot else) hadn't been left stewing there for more than 3 or 4 hours.
At the time, these buffets had little fresh food, almost no imported foods and cost an arm and a leg we would wait for HIBA to thrash down the price and go along with them.
These days there are quite a few quality buffets, and the latest one to join the ranks is on the top floor of the Friendship Hotel on Pinghai Road. The old Japanese Restaurant has been completely revamped, to the point of actually making the floor area bigger. How one does that on the 25th floor Paul, the German Chef, says is by creating bay windows. One of the main features of this restaurant is the view over the whole of Yan'an Road, Pinghai Road and West Lake. On a good day, you can see both Baochu and Leifeng Pagodas. By grabbing one of those bay windows, at the very least, you are in for a bit of real life macro-theatre as Hangzhou's bicycles bustle, boats embark and cars collide beneath you.
The buffet is extensive, with a selection of Japanese cold foods, many hot dishes from all over the world, and an array of desserts for those of you still with space to fill. The serving stations are thoughtfully placed far apart, so there is no unseemly scramble for the dishes, and there's plenty of room for the numerous staff to replace food regularly. Our own table was piled high with shrimp, sashimi, roast filet of beef, lasagne, bread-crumbed fish and loads more. Paul popped by regularly to check that everything was going down well.
If you make it to the Friendship Hotel, look out for him. You can't miss the beaming face in the huge hat. He will for sure take you under a wing and point out the best bits.
Dinner: 5:30pm - 9pm 388RMB/person.
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