The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Italian buffet brunch @ Joia, Hong Kong

It sometimes amazes me just how small the world is. What are the chances that earlier this year while we were still in Tokyo, I would be assigned to teach English to a young Japanese mum - who has a daughter around my son's age - for a couple of months before she moved to Hong Kong? And what is the likelihood that we would end up living not only in the same area of HK, but in the very same apartment complex? Here's another story. In August, a month before our move to HK, I was introduced (via the organiser of the English playgroup in our area which had only be formed a couple of months prior) to another young Japanese mum who was making her move to HK at the time. (What, is everyone moving to Hong Kong?) By coincidence, we now also live in the same residential area, and I recently discovered that my ex-student and this other mum had already met each other here in HK before we even moved here. Is the world really that small?

Anyway, two Sundays ago, the three of us along with our respective husbands and toddlers, met together for the first time as a group at Joia, a nice Italian restaurant at the nearby Elements mall. We've eaten at Joia once before, and it wasn't hard to notice then that Joia had laid out a gorgeous spread of desserts and a nice variety of antipasti and salad on the buffet tables for those who selected Weekend Brunch Menu. It's a very popular option as you get all-you-can-eat appetisers, salad, dessert and coffee as well as a main course from a choice of six dishes.

Basket of delicious carbs served to our table, not that we need any help to fill up our tummies!

There was an impressive variety of salads on the buffet table which included chicken, beetroot, roast beef, shrimp, seafood and Caprese, corn and ceasar. There were also grilled vegetables and roast potatoes as well as olives. We could also have ham and melon, cured meats (e.g. smoked salmon, salami) and cheese. The main course took a long time to get to our table, and we were in danger of filling up with just the antipasti and salad.

The antipasti and salad buffet:

Rob's plate, round #1 (of several):

For main course, Rob got the Petto d'anatra in slasa all'arancia (duck breast in orange sauce). Duck and orange are the usual food partners, so there's nothing too extraordinary here. Decent serving size of the protein, but the duck was done a little too well so it was bordering on the dry side.

Orange duck:

I ordered the Ravioli di pesce con pendolini e rucola (home made fish ravioli with tomato and rocket salad). This was pretty simple but quite good.

Fish ravioli:

We were pretty stuffed by the time we were done with the main course, but Rob found his second stomach to fit in dessert. And boy, did he exercise his rights to all-you-can-eat with not one but two full plates of cakes, cookies and tarts. I was pretty well done, so I just nibbled on some fresh fruits and a tiny taste of each sweet on Rob's plate. It was all good, but by this time I was cursing my lack of discipline at all-you-can-eat buffets.

Tower of mini pastries, tarts and cookies:

Dessert table: Fresh fruits, blueberry cheese cake, mango mousse cake, passion mousse cake...

... opera cake, white wine jelly, chocolate tart and tiramisu (yes, that is smoked salmon on the kitchen bench at the top of the shot, being sliced and prepped for the antipasti table):

Rob's dessert plate #1:

And mine:

We'd forgotten all about the tea and coffee until our waiter came to take our orders. Coffee at Italian restaurants have always been pretty good in my experience, and this was no exception.

This cappuccino was my second cup of coffee that day:

The food was quite good for a buffet, and pretty good value for the choice of variety. We enjoyed the company the most though, and I hope that this group will get together more often especially considering how we met each other.

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