Thursday, April 7, 2011

cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong: Introduction

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Logo

An introduction? What do I mean by an introduction? Well, this post is going to focus only on the interior and the layout of the restaurant- I mean cafe TOO. Typically I do postings with the interiors and the food critique together, but this time I am going to do cafe TOO's separately since I am hoping to do posts talking about each day's events on my past trip to Hong Kong. 

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Entrance

I've been to cafe TOO probably more than 30 times throughout the years. The reason why? Complimentary breakfast for two people in our group thanks to Golden Circle's benefits in being a mid tier member (Jade) or above. No, it's never been completely free for all of us during our trips, but why miss out? Cafe TOO offers an awesome breakfast with a wide amount of selections, and so do all of Shangri-La's other buffets.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Bar Area/ Dining Room
Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Lines of Seats + View

After all these years, the interior of cafe TOO really has not changed much- maybe none at all! It was very modern looking to begin with ten years ago, and to this day looks perfectly in tune with today's designs. Bold splashes of colors along with light wood tones and a white meshed ceiling work wonders.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Juices Wide
The morning routine is simple- as we enter cafe TOO, employees greet us with the background of pickled foods in jars for show(that used to be very vibrant looking by the way) and wine. With a longer stay, they might welcome us back again and actually recognize who we are. Then it is off to the newspaper table to see if we would like any newspapers and asking how many people are in the group and the room number. Reaching the table, the question is always on drinks: "Would you like some tea or coffee?" in which we respond usually with tea, or something random. After then it's off to choose from the vast variety in the large space. It is a very simple process, but it is done with great professionalism and friendliness. Sitting down, the waiters and waitresses apologize deeply for even the smallest of mistakes; they really are a great crew and this past stay has shown that very well.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Juices Detail

What I really enjoy about Shangri-La's breakfast buffets are the juices. And at cafe TOO, the juices are located right at the entrance. This stay, drinks included: fresh orange juice (not from concentrate!), fresh watermelon juice, apple juice (can), carrot juice, tomato juice (can), water, chrysanthemum tea (quite sweet but otherwise great), water, and an interesting cucumber and lime juice. All really great fresh and cold beverages to start out the day! With lunch and dinner though, this juice section becomes a brimming display of cold seafood.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Vegetables

Nearby the juices are some healthy options-plenty of cold cuts and vegetables- I view this more as the healthy cold section to the buffet. Three types of salads, plenty of cut vegetables, and some smoked salmon on bagel- all very light and tasty options.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Cold Cuts/Natto/Soba

Turning around the corner presents several Japanese and Korean options- natto, soba noodles, kimbap, and kimchi are presented in tiny plates while cold cuts are nicely presented on platters.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Dairy

And turning right are plenty of dairy options- a variety of Emmi and Nestle yogurts, yogurt drinks, hot milk and then cold skim, whole, and chocolate milk. Not desiring dairy? There's also cold and hot Asian style soymilk that runs very smooth down the throat- light and tasty. Larger fruits (dragonfruit and grapefruit cut in half) as well as museli make their appearance here- they don't fit well to the rest of the buffet where there is no ice.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Cereals

Turning at the next corner brings more large fruits- this time bananas and lots of dried fruits and cereals. Nicely presented are some granola parfaits, and large dishes/bowls have varieties of cereals ranging from corn flakes to rice crispies to cereals I don't know the names of. Smaller bowls house tasty snacks like candied pecans, banana chips, and more. They are great by themselves for snacks during conversations or with cereals as intended.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Cold Section (Preparation for Lunch)

After breakfast, preparations for lunch are quite swift. Here's the same section that I just talked about, but now cleared up quickly for lunch.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Main Line Wide Shot

The main action that happens though is on the right hand side from the entrance. For breakfast, all the hot food options as well as several cooking theaters are located here for eggs, noodles, and congee.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Dim Sum Bamboo Steamers

Dim sum is probably the most popular area besides the cooking theatres. After all, when you have shrimp dumplings (ha gow/ xia jiao), juicy pork dumplings (xiu loong bow/ xiao long bao), chicken feet (phong zhao), Chiu Chow/Chiu Zhow style dumplings (chiu zhou fun goh), vegetarian dumplings, golden sand buns, lotus buns, steamed barbeque pork buns (cha siu bao), two types of siu mai (beef and pork/shrimp), and more, who doesn't want to line up for some? Sometimes I even saw people eating a large plate of dim sum, with several varieties dumped onto one plate to the fact that it looked like a platter of fried rice- but instead of fried rice it was dim sum.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Main Line

That doesn't mean however that the rest of the buffet is nothing good- there are still plenty of great options that are changed every several days. For example, the chicken egg drop soup that you see in the foreground in this picture is typically bak kut teh. Sometimes baked barbecue pork buns will make an appearance. An Asian style vegetable dish seems to be always offered, as well as some form of stir fried noodle. Ten years ago, quiche would even make its appearance. Instead of stir fried noodle one day during our stay, stir fried rice cakes (chao nien gow/ chao nian gao) was in the wok.

The egg station separates two ends. One can get the egg in any way they want- hard boiled, poached, scrambled, omelettes/omelets, sunny side up, et cetera. Past the egg station are more typical English-style preparations- bacon, ham, potatoes, some form of grilled vegetable, eggs benedict, et cetera. One Staub pot holds a surprise- usually fried rice, but it can be baked beans, chili, creamy oatmeal, or other varieties- those four were what we saw during out visit.

At lunch/dinner the egg station becomes a meats section for things like chicken, peking duck, char siu, et cetera for what I know.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Noodle Station

The noodle section offers much more than just noodles. Don't want noodles? You can get anything you want in the section to be cooked to go along with two varieties of soup- a pork bone broth or a shrimp/pork broth more commonly used for wonton soup. Need help deciding? Just ask someone waiting nearby or the chef if they are not busy.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Noodles Preparation

Weekends however are very busy times. Some good options may run short - like the fishballs with roe inside them- but there is still always plenty of other options to choose to cook. Vegetables and mushrooms blanched and served with broth is a great way to start the day.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Congee Station Wide Shot

The congee station is another cooking theater that is right next to the noodles station. To go along with the freshly cooked congee, there are condiments like the noodle section, there is also the fried doughnut (or you zha guai meaning oil fried ghosts).

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Congee Station

Like the noodles section, there are several varieties of meats to choose from for making the congee. The congee is very light and smooth, and one can choose pretty much anything to go along into the wok to cook together. For example, you can have pork and preserved egg congee (pai dan shou yok jook) or several varieties of meat in one bowl of congee. The chefs will also tailor the congee so that it is flavorful and delicious- for example, with fish congee they will add some ginger to make the fish not feel fishy to those who are very sensitive to fish flavors.

And what do these sections become at night? As from what I recall from a past visit, one of these stations becomes a rice cake station- as in the fried rice cakes that are crispy and then doused in soup.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Curry/Japanese Section

A new section that we saw for the first time was this expanded section for Indian/Malaysian curries and Japanese options.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Japanese Rice/ Miso Soup

Housed in these two ceramic pots are usually steamed rice and miso soup for the Japanese breakfast seeker. With some other dishes from other sections of the buffet, one can make a decent Japanese style breakfast!

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Fried Foods

Next to the curries are some fried foods- spring rolls and roti paratha from what I recall. They are quite oily though.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Curries

As for the curries, there are three types housed in three of the four woks and a special basmati rice house in another of the red Staub pots.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Bakery

The last section of all is the bakery and fruits section- separated from the rest being on its own island.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Fruits

The fruits section has plenty of fresh options- in the smaller bowls are smaller pieces of cut fruit like fruit salads as well as dragonfruit. On the main platters are large pieces of papaya from the largest papayas I've ever seen (at least a foot long in length), cantaloupe, honeydew, fresh pineapple, and watermelon.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Pancake and Waffle Station

On another side of the island is another cooking theatre- this time specializing in fresh pancakes and waffles. The chef will also toast breads here, and along this side are plenty of condiments- jams and preserves from Bonne Maman (French) and Berenberg (Australia, honey from Bonne Maman, and butters. There is also freshly whipped cream, powdered sugar, and pancake syrup along with other condiments that go along well with pancakes and waffles.

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Bakery
Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Bakery Detail

The rest of the island is devoted to the bakery selections- again here is yet another large variety of foods ranging from brioche, tarts (what you see the lady trying to get- it tastes like an egg tart but with fruits), cakes, donuts, pastries, croissants, and more!

Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Center Island
Island Shangri-La Cafe Too: Lunch Gelato

Simply for your information, for lunch and dinner this becomes a large dessert section. The cooking station here becomes a souffle and crepe section, and there are also chocolate fountains, ice creams and not to mention a multitude of cakes and pastries!

So there you go- a rundown of almost everything cafe TOO. Next in the series are finally the traveling and eating action going on!

cafe TOO at Island Shangri-La
Pacific Place
Supreme Court Road
Central, Hong Kong
T: (852) 2820 8571

Find the rest of the posts in this series at this trip's TRIP INDEX. 

4 comments:

Ben and Suanne said...

Holy cow! That is a huge buffet. It will take me a whole week of breakfasts to try everything here. Asia does buffets than anywhere else in the world.

Ben

EatTravelEat said...

Ben, I ate here almost everyday during my week at this hotel and I still forgot to try the smoked salmon. Oops....

kirbie said...

Everything looks so good! I can't believe how much food there is. If I ever get to visit here, I want to go here!

EatTravelEat said...

Kirbie,
Pretty much everything was good! Buffets in Asia have great variety and most have pretty good quality too.