If you haven’t dined at Cafe Sierra located inside the Hilton Universal City in a while, you will be in for a surprise.
Earlier this year, the famed buffet unveiled sleeker inte- riors and repositioned all the food stations toward the back of the restaurant. This way, during peak hours, the lines don’t interfere with seated guests. There is no longer a need to maneuver around the tables to reach the salad bar, which used to be in the middle of the dining room, or go to the hallway for the seafood.
Since a buffet is generally a judgment and rule-free zone (after all, you are tempted to eat all you can), it doesn’t matter where you begin to fill your first plate. However, the new arrangement of the sta- tions naturally guides one’s eyes and belly for a culinary trip across the world.
The raw bar, where you’ll find the oysters, cocktail shrimp, snow crabs, and the sought-after Alaskan king crab legs atop mounds of ice, is located to the far left. Though Cafe Sierra is on the upscale side of all-you-can- eat establishments, taste- fully using your hands to crack the seafood open and dipping pieces into bowls of cocktail sauce or melted butter is welcomed. The at- tentive wait staff come by periodically to discard plates of shells and drop off wet towelettes.
For its price tag, the buf- fet ensures high-quality sea-food, which is why loyal cus- tomers — including members of the local Filipino-American community — keep returning, said Carole Lowe, the market- ing coordinator of the hotel. The freshness of the catches makes one momentarily forget the surroundings and trans- ports him or her close to the ocean.
Next come the soups and trays of cooked food, includ- ing Mandarin, Thai or Italian, among other global cuisines represented. You can have one of the chefs prepare beef or chicken tacos or a Mongolian stir fry right in front of you.
A new addition to the buffet is a sushi bar, which has slices of tender sashimi and different types of cut rolls. A sushi chef is positioned behind the coun- ter to take any hand roll orders as well.
Aside from the seafood, the carving station, where you’ll find slabs of prime rib or a rack of lamb, is a cornerstone of the Cafe Sierra experience. Next to the meats is a tray of cheesy stuffed lobster, which does not have a sign that limits you to how many you can get.
Even if you’ve been stuffed and satisfied with the savory offerings, there is always room to end the meal on a sweet note. The most alluring part of the dessert section is the choc- olate fountain, which is sur- rounded by fruits, marshmal- lows and Oreos for dipping. There’s also cotton candy and tiers of pastries that hold slices of cake (carrot, chocolate, red velvet, to name a few), donuts and cream puffs.
If those options are not con- vincing enough, ice cream mixed with different toppings and crepes can be requested.
Whether it’s a celebration or just any other weekend dinner, Cafe Sierra will not disappoint. Taste for yourself to grasp why diners flock here and why Ya- hoo named it the best buffet in the state of California!
Cafe Sierra’s Seafood & Prime Rib Buffet is offered on Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Adult price is $54 and $25 for chil- dren (tax and gratuity not in- cluded). Prices, dates, times, menu and entertainment are subject to change without notice. For more information, please visit http://www.cafesi- errahilton.com/. Reservations are suggested. (AJPress)