Kwee Zeen is a very welcome addition to the intersection of West Lake Avenue and Nanshan Road, to the ground floor of Westlake Sofitel, and to Hangzhou.
For five-star branded hotels, the comprehensive, all-day, all-you-can-eat buffet is by its nature a very fraught proposition, a beast comelier in pastels than in person. Success depends upon both prodigality and product quality consistent with brand-identity. These must tango with diner-expectations of trivets, trays, and platters overflowing with food, glorious food, mountains of colors and tempting textures exploding against a backdrop of buffed stainless steel, snow white whites, and crystal clear glassware. Neither circus nor orgy, the buffet walks the tightrope stretched taut between elegance and carnival. Not an easy act, for sure, because theoretically anything the diner plops onto his or her platter should taste as good as what would have exited the kitchen under the direct or deputized purview of the head chef. But just try and imagine for a moment the nightmare of balancing five-star quality with feeding-trough mentality. Congratulations to F&B Director Phillipe Gueltzer and Executive Chef Nicholas Shadbolt.
Like Westlake Sofitel itself, this buffet is very, very good, and it achieves its successes without overreaching, and with an admirable balance between Western and locally-oriented dishes. This is quality cooking, and we love the fact that the whole affair is absent any attempt to distract with pseudo-opulence. What was available covered whatever we could have wanted, and there was nothing unavailable that we missed.
We sampled much more than was fitting for a gentleman who only recently concluded a fragile truce with his waistline, and in the end found our stoic resolve roundly trounced by Kwee Zeen’s magnificent roast beef, salmon sashimi, crispy teriyaki pigeon, foie gras, and walnut pie. Red meats retained their juiciness and savour, and vegetables their color, taste, texture, and dignity. Service was at once sufficiently refined and friendly, and we feasted leisurely, wanting for nothing more than a faster metabolism.
We intend to return again soon to lay waste specifically to the seafood and desert sections, and not to give a fig about our figure. C’est magnifique, oui? Shi de.