After the first session for the conference, it was time for lunch at an early 11:35AM. So, not wanting to go anywhere far but not wanting to eat at the hotel, we headed for Souplantation, which was about a 3-5 minute walk away from the Hyatt- basically just walking out from the entry to the hotel. It was just a quick decision made by our leaders on where to eat. The positives were that it was extremely close to the hotel and thus we just needed to walk. No need to arrange for transportation- always a nice thing.
After the mixed salads, it was the make your own salad section, which had dressings, different vegetables, and toppings. Past all this was then the cashier's desk.
While I was waiting in line I took photos with the long waiting times. And what happened?
"You take pictures of food? Really?" (amazed expression)
So the lady from Chang's Garden (to be reviewed) was right. The stereotypical kid does not take pictures of food and it is unusual to take pictures of food. Aha...
After paying the standard 8.39USD for the standard all you can eat plus 2.29USD for the unlimited fountain drinks, my large group of 20+ people got the outdoor patio to sit at. Unlike CPK for dinner, Souplantation's staff only took about 5 minutes to set the table, but that was also of course because we had the utensils/ plates, and they only had light plastic tables and chairs to move around. I also helped out as well.
Asian Chicken Salad- Quite good actually. Slight hints of sesame, soy, and tangy flavors were in the salad, and the chicken and fried wontons added dimensions of textures and flavors. The veggies were fresh and seemed in place for the salad.
Ranch BLT Salad- Think of it as a simple mixed salad with bacon, lettuce, and tomato with ranch. It was a simple salad with ingredients I am accustomed to in a salad, so of course I enjoyed it.
My custom salad had lettuce, hard boiled egg, cucumber, and thousand island ranch dressing. All the ingredients were quite fresh and such a combination works anytime of day- so it was definitely yummy. The boiled egg was not overcooked and greyish green.
Other members compared the Irvine Souplantation's salads to the Arcadia location to this location (which at the time I had no knowledge of as I haven't been to Souplantation for at least 5 years at the time). Two, which were friends, had differing opinions. One said this location was better compared to Arcadia. The other had the opposite. Now that I just went to the Arcadia location a few days ago, I think both are about the same, but the salads in Irvine were dressed perfectly while the Arcadia location had a bit extra dressing which provided more flavor. I think there were a few more choices available to pick here as well compared to the Arcadia location but I didn't see the Souplantation cookies available here on the contrary.
After dropping off the salad at the table it was time to get some more things to go along with the meal. My first bowl of soup was the Chicken Pot Pie Stew, which was one of their featured items back in November. This was quite like chicken pot pie filling without being so thick (like Marie Callender's version), and the flavors were similar too! Not too salty, but creamy with plenty of veggies. But where was the chicken? I had none. As recommended on the advertisements, I also had a buttermilk biscuit to go along with the stew which was soft on the inside and a bit crispy on the outside. Quite nice with the chicken pot pie stew.
The yankee clipper clam chowder with bacon was actually quite good. It was creamy with plenty of potatoes and celery, and there was a hint of clam flavor. Where were the clams though? I was not lucky with the ladle as you see. The good thing about this was that the soup was not as salty in comparison to places like Sizzler or BJ's, but there was a definite lack of clams. More clams please! But of course, it is just a buffet and I am only paying 8.39USD for it...
On the other hand, I did not really enjoy the deep kettle house chili, as it was mainly tomato flavor. I like a earthy chili with plenty of herbs and spices. This seemed almost like meatsauce but with a chili texture.
After having plenty of baked goods, salads, and soups, I went to the pasta station, where three choices were available for the choosing. What was fun was that they were served in skillets, an interesting serving choice. Do you see the tomatoes near the back of the image? They are actually timers. They switch out items every 20 minutes, if you did not know already. (I knew this after going to Arcadia's Souplantation)
The Ragin Cajun Pasta looked to be the most appealing choice to me so I took a small plate of it. The pasta was overcooked a bit to my taste (as with most buffet pastas not cooked to order), but the multigrain brought an interesting texture that I haven't tried before. It was a bit too creamy/dry for my tastes but the "Cajun" flavors were ok, if a bit muted. I prefer a Cajun style pasta to be sauced with what you would see at the Clubhouse or CPK. On the other hand, the corn added plenty of sweetness which I liked. Corn is always a welcome addition for me!
It was off for dessert and thus I went to the frozen yogurt machine to pipe an ice cream cone. However, the cones were TINY, so I just ended up getting a little. Well, that was perfect enough for me, so I was happy with that.
Everyone else in the group basically made gigantic sundaes, which were so beautiful to the fact I think they were made by professionals! Nice peaks, thoughtfully placed accoutrements. I didn't take any photos but they were BIG compared to this cone.
I also took a small scoop of chocolate mousse and some seedless grapes to finish the meal. The grapes were light and crunchy, but the mousse was definitely not to my liking. I don't remember the notice about Splenda, but this had it and it definitely tasted like some artificial sweetener with a ultra thick and fluffy mousse with a light chocolate flavors. As Souplantation likes to say, only 40 calories for a 1/2 cup!
Overall, pretty much a good experience here at Souplantation. It is a buffet with very good pricing at that- less than lots of other lower end buffets but very tasty in that fact on most items. There were less people here compared to in Arcadia which is nice, but the overall experience kind of depends on what is available on the day you are visiting. To make sure you get what you want, check out their website which tells what each location is serving for each day- it helps! You can also see nutrition facts and the like.
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 1: Check-In and Public Spaces
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 2: Rooms and Conclusion
California Pizza Kitchen- Irvine
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 3: Breakfast