China Bar Signature (Asian Buffet)

380 Burwood Highway, Burwood East 3151
Date visited: 20th March 2012

MerlinFan and I was brought here by our aunt today, who came several times before with friends to celebrate their birthdays.  As much as I find the promise of 'All you can eat' alluring, I usually tend to stay away from them as I don't eat that much and always feel like I can never eat as much as I've paid for [keeping in mind that Gluttony and Greed are two separate sins]

At $29 per person for a weekday lunch, the buffet at China Bar Signature isn't exactly cheap.  It can go up to $55 for dinner, which includes Peking duck, seafood and sashimi, and even higher on the weekends.  There is a huge selection of food on display (I would have loved to go around taking photos but it was so packed I would have only managed to get photos of backs of people wondering why I'm taking photos of them from behind @_@) so you're spoilt for choice.

Let me say first of all, there aren't a lot of pictures because we're not huge eaters.  

Dim Sim
We started off with the Dim Sim section.  The dim sims are very cute, you pick each up separately in their own little baskets.  The siu mai comes with either prawn with chicken, scallop or pork which are all very juicy and tasty.  My char siew bao (pork bun) was a bit hard and tough on some corners of its skin, and the egg custard's pastry wasn't as light and flaky as it should be.  Whilst not as good as the ones you can get at Gold Leaf, the dim sim are still pretty good.  

Prawn & pork siew mai, prawn & chicken siew mai, custard tart, chicken wing, char siew bao(clockwise)

There were also Malaysian dishes like curries, roti chanai, nasi lemak etc but I didn't quite feel like it that day.  MerlinFan had the chicken curry and Thai green curry which she said was quite nice but very salty.

Cook to Order
My favourite dish here was from the Cook to Order Station, where you pick your ingredients, sauce and noodles and they will whip it up for you however way you like.  I wanted to try the char kueh tiaw - note I wanted to try (I wanted to leave room for other things) so I took only a meagre amount but the chef kept adding it to and it ended up being a regular sized dish.  And I was glad he did, because it was fantastic!  It had that beautiful hawker charred flavour and pretty much perfection.  Pity it took up quite a bit of room so I was a bit too full to have much of anything else.

Soup, Congee and Chicken Rice
Another standout today was the soup.  The winter melon soup was just divine and tasted just like the one I can find in good restaurants overseas.  The flavours were strong without being overpowering, and each serving came in a small clay pot - they made sure every serving had the same generous amount of pork and winter melon which I give a thumbs up :)
My aunt had the wonton soup which she said was all right.

There was also congee and Hainanese chicken rice, but they didn't have the steamed chicken I liked with the rice, so I decided to give that a miss.

Moving on next, to the meat section.  There was lots of soy chicken, roast pork and duck, and other various cooked meats.  This was a bit of a disappointment for me.   Just a photo of a few miscellaneous chicken/ beef/ pork ribs that I decided to sample:
Black bean beef, mustard spare ribs, honey chicken, soy chicken
The honey chicken was just like a ball of batter with a shred of chicken inside.  It must be a recurring theme, because MerlinFan's fried crab only had a smidgen of crabmeat inside too.  If there was somewhere they decided to cut corners, this was probably it.
Honey chicken

Fried crab
You pour your own Japanese Soy Sauce into these cute little spoons :)  The sushi was okay, not the best I've had.  

Desserts are always my favourite part of any buffet, so I always try to leave room for it.  There is a massive selection for those sweettooths out there, from cakes, mousses, pavlovas, creme brûlées to Asian ice creams in the corner.
Yes, there was no one there at the time, so I managed to get some clear shots without free human heads and bodies!
I had the creme brûlée, raspberry mousse, lychee cream cake and mousse cone and Aunt had coconut mousse, pavlova, egg tart, some sort of donut and the green tea mousse (halfway eating LOL).

Sadly enough, as pretty as it all looked, I was disappointed to say that the adorable little desserts didn't quite taste as good as it looked.  The mousse cone was half soggy, the mousse, pavlova and creme brûlée lacked that extra burst of flavour.

MerlinFan and I also tried the mango and melon popsicles.  It was okay, nothing fantastic.  The fruity flavour wasn't quite there and it could have been a bit sweeter.  I wonder how a guy across the aisle from us managed to take one of every flavour (five all together including taro, red bean and durian) and finish all of them @_@  Impressed?  I was.

China Bar Signature has a pretty satisfactory choice of food and quality is not bad, with some outstanding dishes.  On weekdays you can relax as you can sit from 11.30am to 3pm for lunch, but on weekends, watch out - there are two sessions and you can only sit for one and a half hours at a time.  

Would I come here again?  Sure - after I exercise and stretch out my stomach so that I can eat much, much more.  A salute to those around us yesterday who were shovelling in mountains full of food.

Second visit and photos of Chinabar's buffet here

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