You're not going to believe this, but the new buffet dinner at the Crowne Plaza is actually really very good, and what's more they're not afraid to try something different either. The More Chowhounds turned up for what they thought was going to be a mid-week, middle-of-the-road mealtime and were pleasantly surprised with the offerings.
Yes there is the usual Hangzhou Hotel buffet seafood display of prawns, scallops, oysters, whelks, mussels and cracked snow and spider crab legs. Yes there are the usual cold cuts section, the sashimi and sushi counter with tuna and salmon, the salad and cheese section and the grill station offering up New Zealand lamb chops, pan-fried foie gras, fried fish, Aussie tenderloin and calamari. There are even the ubiquitous chafing dishes with many a local and foreign dish; but what made this place stand out was that the Crowne Plaza are doing their own Brazilian BBQ, have an authentic Indian curry corner with a tandoor, and were even offering Chinese chili stir-fried crocodile bites.
The churrasco beef and pork is roasted in their brick built, wood-burning pizza oven on farmers pitch-forks and then displayed at the carvery. Sumptuous strips of beef or pork are carved off to your plate and served with a variety of classic sauces. They also have some prawn chicken skewers and pork sausages cooked in the same way and of course they also use the oven to make fresh pizza.
The Indian corner is genuinely tasty and is manned by an Indian chef, though we were a little disappointed that the hot spices had been tamed in a couple of dishes for the local market. Freshly fried pappadums, and naan bread chicken skewers from the tandoori are also available.
We usually avoid chafing dishes, but couldn't help but be intrigued with the crocodile stir-fry, so much so in fact, that we went for second helpings. Very moist, soft fleshed morsels of meat that had the texture of brown chicken meat, with a distinctly marine taste was chili fried with bell peppers and onions and was a delight. The crocodile is farmed by the way, which should leave a meat-eaters conscious clear. A nice display of desserts and pastries were available and what seems to becoming the premiere choice in ice-cream from New Zealand dairies. Yummy stuff we can tell you. Next time you're in the North of the city, why not give it a go?