The face of buffet food got a whole new look last week, when the much-anticipated Far Eastern Plaza's Yi Cafe opened for business. Located on the sixth floor of the popular hotel, Yi Cafe offers buffet diners plenty of new dishes as well as setting new standards in restaurant design.
Costing more than NT$80 million, the spacious, modern and naturally lit joint boasts Taiwan's first of what have been dubbed the "third generation of open kitchens." Three large screen TV's relay the in-kitchen action as it happens into the dining area, where diners can ogle at the chefs or stare wantonly at the food while they chow down on their grub.
For diners who don't really care what the chef looks like and would sooner simply eat copious amounts of food, then Yi Cafe comes up trumps with more than 100 freshly made dishes organized into 10 themes.
There's an Oriental section, which specializes in Chinese food, Asian noodles and other Southeast Asian specials. There's a grilled and roasted meat section and even mashed potatoes.
Pasta dishes can be made to order and the place's pizza ovens cook up different flavors of pizza on a rotating basis, so if you don't fancy a capricciosa pizza you only have to wait for the next one to come out of the oven. Fresh vegetables and fresh fish are available at the salad bar and sushi and sashimi sections. The unique section -- and the one that really sets Yi Cafe apart from its rivals -- is the one specializing in Indian cuisine. Here diners get to sample various curries, breads and tandoori chicken. To ensure the food is as genuine as possible the hotel brought an Indian chef all the way from Mumbai (Bombay) to oversee and maintain the section and have installed two tandoori ovens.
For those with a sweet tooth, the joint's pastry and dessert shop doesn't disappoint. It's packed with all hot desserts, souffles, ice cream, fresh fruit, pistachio cake, tiramisu, cheese cakes and fresh crepes -- for those who don't mind putting on a pound or two.
As the plushest and most varied buffet in town the Yi Cafe has certainly set a precedent that others could learn from. Whether the Far Eastern Plaza's recent revamp will cause a chain reaction and lead to some of Taipei's other supposedly "international" hotels overhauling their all-too-bland and far-from-pleasing spreads remains to be seen.