Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spring Forever Cate Feast

The high class Renhe Spring shopping mall on the west second ring has been open about a month. While checking it out last week I went to the top floor expecting a food court, but was surprised to find a very ambitious buffet restaurant grandly named Spring Forever Cate Feast.

(Cate is a real word, related to catering, but hasn't been in current English usage since about the mid 1800s. Cate means delicacies or very choice food, and is the Chinglish version of '美食'. It often appears on machine translated restaurant signs and menus in China.)

Today a friend and I went to sample the goods at lunchtime.

Natural light fills the room, which is beautifully decorated and appointed. Lamps and ceiling fixtures:

The buffet has many areas: a sushi station, salads and Western foods, cold dishes, dim sum, Chinese stir fried dishes, stewed Chinese foods, a seafood bar, a dessert station, and a fruit and ice cream station that serves real Häagen-Dazs. (I was particularly excited about the ice cream.) The price of entry includes coffee and tea as well as sweet drinks such as soda and milk tea. At lunch, you can get beer but not wine, which is included at dinner.

Dim sum station:

You could ask for seafood to be prepared in a few different ways. We got baked oysters, which were a highlight, and shrimp and razor clams.

Like most buffets, the quality and deliciousness of the offerings varied widely and it took some hunting and sampling to find the good stuff. Tiny dishes of rich mashed potato covered with a golden sauce and crowned with snails were a highlight, as well as pickled beets in the cold food section (I haven't eaten beets for an eternity). There was an absolutely revelatory Cantonese honey roast pork (蜜汁叉烧), and one outstanding dish that I think was beef tendon and shiitake mushroom. (Many of the dishes were missing labels, or labelled in an illegible handwritten scrawl.) The ready made rolls and nigri on the sushi station were not that great but the salmon sashimi was sliced to order and decent, which means the best I've had in this town. There was sugary, neon coloured 'juice' at the drink station but fresh fruit juice at the fruit station. The dessert station had a lot of the fluffy tasteless style of cake, but also a very good coconut cake.

Saving room for dessert here is not advised. Although it is a buffet, they ration the Häagen-Dazs very closely. You get a ticket for the ice cream which entitles you to a single scoop, served up with a tool the size of a melon baller, and you end up with not even enough ice cream to satisfy a baby.

We got enthusiastic and hospitable service from a very young server who had just worked there for two weeks. The lunch buffet is 98 yuan per person on weekdays and 128 on weekends; dinner will run you 138 and 168 yuan respectively. They have an afternoon tea buffet for 42 yuan per person. Seniors (65+) and children under 12 who are shorter than 1.3 m are half price.

Chinese name: 四季春天 美食塔
Address: 二环路西一段 19号 仁和春天广场

1 comment:

  1. Awesome blog!

    Love to read your blog, like I am home and considering where to have dinner tonight.

    The air is heavily polluted compare with Melbourne, did not notice this before...terrible...


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