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Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Being one of the few poolside restaurants in town, The Grill at Grand Hyatt in Wan Chai sends customers directly to an oasis with its baby palm trees and casual alfresco dining atmosphere. While the swimmers and readers enjoy the sun, patrons who opt for either a buffet or an a la carte menu are seated at wooden tables under giant umbrellas, free of noise pollution. Tables are comfortably spaced and its glassware is, unfortunately but thoughtfully, replaced by plastic to avoid the unexpected toppling by the wind. In short, the vibe is lovely. All that is missing, perhaps, is a swim-up bar.
The Grill is most famous for its buffet and so we duly try it. The buffet area is largely divided into three parts: appetisers and seafood on ice, charcoal-grilled specialities, and desserts. For starters, the pâté is simple and savoury, and perfect for the handful of breads provided. The number of seafood offered on ice is limited during weekend buffets, but we particularly enjoyed the American clams and French sea snails that are fresh and retain the natural flavour of sea water. Onto the charcoal-grilled section, its rib-eye steak is regrettably on the dry side, with a slab of fat cluttered instead of nicely marbled through. Worth trying, however, is its charcoal-grilled seafood that reminds us of eating fresh-caught seafood by a tropical resort by the sea. The beautifully grilled calamari is juicy and salivating and is definitely one of our favourites. Trailing not far behind is grilled sardine with crispy skin and soft meat that is expertly seasoned. Off the dessert counter, its Belgian chocolate ice cream, given a super-rich flavour and some delicately sliced chocolate chips, are hands down one of the best we’ve tried in town.
With 13 wines (white, red, champagne and rose) by the glass and 31 by the bottle, its wine list could be seen as thin by hotel-restaurants’ standard, but given its setting, the list is fittingly supplemented by a wide selection of fruit juice, smoothies and cocktails. The mango smoothie being offered during weekend lunch buffets is refreshing and perfect to fend off the summer heat. Brunch lovers can also add an extra HK$150 to enjoy an unlimited supply of any one of the eight cocktails, beers and house wines on the special menu.
The Grill boasts friendly and helpful staff ready to serve, consistent with the standard set at the rest of the hotel. We were greeted cheerfully by a hostess and multiple servers on our way in, while dishes were taken away promptly and professionally between courses. Glasses were filled and it was never difficult to get the attention of one of its many staff.
A weekend lunch buffet for two without wine comes to just under HK$900 which, with the limited selection of food and al fresco dining atmosphere, is slightly expensive. It’d be wise to opt for the unlimited drinks offer, for an additional HK$150, to capitalise on The Grill’s resort-like ambience and three-and-a-half-hour lunch period.