My last post introduced you to the Buffet Dog. What is the Buffet Dog I hear you ask? Well, my great mate and I have frequented many a buffet in our close to twenty year friendship. A particular favourite of mine was the buffet at the Inter-Continental in Macquarie Street, Sydney but frankly any buffet is usually not only a feast for the stomach but for the eyes. I’m always drawn to the desserts. I start any buffet reconnaissance mission by checking out the desserts. I then plan how much room I’ll need to leave in the stomach to accommodate the yummy cakes or ice-cream on offer.

But no matter how good a buffet is – there is always the Buffet Dog. We decided many years ago to write a book entitled Buffets of the World and we would devote a chapter to the Buffet Dog. This is a dish that looks so enticing, you decide to load your plate up and relish at the thought of tasting culinary heaven the moment you get back to your table. Alas, your first taste reveals the deception and you are bitterly disappointed. You are the innocent victim of the Buffet Dog.

We came up with Buffet Rules and Rule Number 5 was Beware The Buffet Dog. My mate will have to help me out with Rules 1-4 as I totally forget. I should have remembered Rule Number 5 this week though whilst flitting around the buffet at the hotel we were staying at in Malaysia (Petaling Jaya Hilton).

I can tell you that the breakfast buffet is very good at this hotel. There is a ton of international cuisine to choose from. And of course those sugared doughnuts were there every morning for me to scoff. But the Buffet Dog was unexpected. True to say, you usually find the Buffet Dog hiding in some cuisine you are unfamiliar with, yet you feel compelled to taste it because it is unfamiliar. You are curious. You wonder if for all these years you’ve been missing some spectacular food sensation. A great dish that will totally tantalize your taste buds or introduce you to an ingredient you never knew existed.

You rush back to your table, anticipating that first heavenly bite only to experience something bitter or, in my case, totally tasteless. The Buffet Dog took three days to identify because there were a number of worthy candidates. One was some tofu dish hiding in the Chinese section of the buffet. Pale and tasteless but actually kind of what I expected. Then there was a very odd chicken croquette dish in the Japanese section but it was actually not too bad.

The Buffet Dog revealed itself when I sampled the Indian section for a second time. I’m reasonably familiar with Eggplant Bhaji – a vegetable stir-fry with eggplant (aubergine) and Indian spices such as turmeric and coriander. I’ve always found it a spicy dish due to the chillies but the breakfast buffet’s version turned out to be the Buffet Dog – a tasteless concoction of soggy eggplant, lying pathetically in an oily gravy with a few wilted coriander leaves tossed in. So bad was this Buffet Dog that it totally ruined my Indian breakfast affair. I had been looking forward to some Indian fried rice with a rather tasty vegetable dhal I had the day before. But the Buffet Dog and its oily gravy had seeped into the Indian fried rice and that was the end of that I’m afraid.

In disgust, I sauntered over to the sugared doughnut area and abandoned the Buffet Dog to its own fate on the table behind me. I noticed that it sat there for quite some time before a waiter picked it up and spirited it off to Buffet Dog Heaven. So remember Rule Number 5 – Beware The Buffet Dog.

A bland bit of tofu, hiding in the Chinese section.

Some sort of chicken croquette dish, Japanese-style.

The Buffet Dog.

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