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With several locations across the city, Le Commensal offers a veritable buffet of vegan and vegetarian foods both hot and cold. This was not my first time visiting the restaurant, but it has been years since I last patronized the place. My memories from my previous experiences were not rosy and sadly, my return only reconfirmed the sentiment. Hot dishes are served lukewarm as they sit in buffet style trays for an indeterminable amount of time, placed on an island in the middle of the self-serve area. There are a good variety of dishes to choose from and I appreciate the fact that there aren’t too many vegan restaurants around but unfortunately for me, this place doesn’t cut it. Taste-wise the plates I sampled were okay, verging on flavorless and unappetizing. Here, you pay for what you choose by weight. I got about three bites of the five different items I chose and it cost just over $9. I got a serving of pesto penne which was dry, tasteless and room temperature, half a black bean quesadilla and a scoop of chili on white rice which were actually pretty good and some tabouleh and chickpea salad which were both tolerable. To me, it isn’t worth the money. At most other places, vegan or not, paying the same amount or less sates the hunger in your stomach and doesn’t leave you craving for food an hour later. Places like Le Panthere Verte, Crudessence or Lola Rosa are in the surrounding area and offer much more for the same price – my suggestion is to go to one of those restaurants first.
On the upside, Le Commensal on McGill College has a beautiful view of the downtown core. When we went, the sun was shining and it was a lovely spot to catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages.
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Yes, yet another all you can eat fancy buffet in Taipei, this one is within walking distance from the Dapinglin MRT station. The Splendor Hotel is particularly famous for its sashimi as well as its seafood section so that was one of the most consistently popular counters of the night. Particularly outstanding were the pig tail, (with the actual bone intact, you eat the meat around it), the frog legs and the moji for dessert. While the place does ask for a bit more cash for entry, it is well worth it – just check out the pictures – that should do the place some justice. The options as to what you can eat are endless!
For just $490 NT you can eat as much as your heart desires at the grill-it-yourself On Fire restaurant by the Dinxi MRT station. There is all sorts of seafood (shrimp, scallop, cod, clams) and meat (veal tongue, chicken, pork, sausage) to choose from at the self-serve food bar at the back of the restaurant. There is a ingredients bar for the hot pot that includes fish balls, button mushrooms, Chinese cabbage and tofu among other delicious staples of Chinese cuisine. This deal also includes a nice selection of ice cream by Haagan Daaz and others – flavors range from more Asian influenced ones such as black sesame, taro and sapodilla to more conventional Western ones like cookies and cream. strawberry cheesecake and rum raisin.
Located in the basement level of the prestigious Regent Hotel (incidentally where Lady Gaga chose to stay when she came to Taipei for a show several weeks ago), the Brasserie is an upscale all-you-can-eat buffet style restaurant with a selection of foods wide enough to make your jaw drop. The sushi/sashimi bar features freshly caught lobsters, crabs and oysters, king mackerel, swordfish, yellowfin tuna, sea urchin among other premium raw seafood. The Japanese section also had cold soba and oolong noodles prepared on demand, just fried tempura (fish, potato, taro, shrimp), miso soup among many other choice selections.The “American” section featured some typical foods you would expect which for some foreigners may be a welcome relief from the rather different Asian foods you find most places in Taipei.
In North America, the term ‘buffet’ usually brings to mind a low brow, sort of pedestrian dining experience. Here, in Asia, it is quite the opposite. Some of the best restaurants in Taipei are buffet style – Shin Yeh is a good example. Offering all-you-can-eat Japanese cuisine, there is a wealth of foods and drink to choose from. At the drink bar, there is Calpis (sweet white colored drink), white and red wine, plum vinegar wine, sake, Taiwanese beer, fruit juices, hot and cold tea and coffee. There is a sashimi bar that includes the largest oysters I have ever seen, trays of fried rice, tempura shrimp and vegetables, soba noodles, stir fried oolong noodles, tea kettle soup, steamed eggs, sushi… the list goes on. The pictures speak for themselves.