Buffet Review: Jasmine Restaurant’s Seafood Night at Holiday Inn Yanbu

Derick and I love to go out and have dinner dates somewhere. Yeah we’re like little love birds hopping around looking for the best restaurant we can find in town. I’m not really into buffets because I’m not a big eater and chances are I’ll be eating less than what I paid for. But since we ran out of options (as to where to spend our 135th monthsary) we decided to indulge on a Seafood feast.

dscf7719edited(Above are the restaurant schedules)

It was our first time to try Holiday Inn’s Seafood Buffet and we had  high expectations on it. Of course the husband who is a seafood lover was very excited to spend our monthsary date at Jasmine Restaurant.

We arrived 15 minutes before the restaurant opened, to ensure that I can take pictures ahead of time and will not disturb the diners. Being the early birds the restaurant staff gave us a warm welcome and allowed us to enter the venue so I can take photos of the spread.

So here’s what to expect in their Seafood Buffet:

(Click to watch the video)

Dining Area

dscf7725editedThe dining area was divided into two parts. One side is for the single males and at the other side are the dining cubicles for families. I was not a big fan of blue table cloths because it doesn’t have contrast with the dark colored chairs. Perhaps white table runners will give a bright, fresh and cozy ambiance like you’re enjoying a seafood meal by the sea. (Just my opinion)

Buffet Area

dscf7746editedThe buffet area isn’t that big. It consists of two salad counters, hot dishes station, a temperature controlled display stand for fresh meat selections and a dessert corner.

Just by looking the buffet area we can tell that it isn’t as lavish compared to other hotel buffets that we’ve been to. There was no live cooking stations wherein you can see your food being prepared.

Salad Counter #1

dscf7742This counter has most of the seafood salad selections like shrimp and calamari salad. They also have mussel salad with a twist of fresh and sweet flavors. Some salmon maki rolls were also present.

My personal pick in this table were the mussels and calamari salad, they’re refreshing and perfect buffet starters. I loved it because it’s not a typical salad you’ll see in a buffet spread.

Salad Counter #2

dscf7743In this table were the assorted vegetable selections for salads as well as the dressing. You can create your own salad according to your liking. The star dish on this table was the smoked salmon. Fresh green salad with smoked salmon is heavenly.

Fresh Seafood Display

This boat looking temperature controlled display houses the fresh seafood items. You can choose which protein you like and let them cook it according to your preference.

Frankly, I was a bit disappointed of two things. First was because I had a huge expectation of seeing 100% freshly caught seafood produce on the display. However, what I saw was a not so fresh anymore. Second, each customer was allowed to pick only 3 kinds of seafood from the display. Isn’t it the concept of a buffet is to take whatever and how much you like? If this is the case then how come they limit their guests to a specific number of protein only? Honestly, I really find that odd. The last time we were in a seafood buffet the Chef encouraged us to take whatever we like. He even added more assorted grilled seafood into our plate and we ended up having a platter full of freshly grilled seafood.

Moving on Derick and I chose our preferred seafood and have it grilled. I had one whole fish, a slice of salmon and calamari. Derick ordered lobster, shrimps and calamari but when his plate arrived he got a half sliced of a small lobster, 3 pieces regular sized shrimps and 1 piece very small calamari. Basically what you see in the above pictures is what it is. It was grilled per se but I guess it wasn’t charcoal grilled since there’s no smoky flavor on it. One more thing, the preparation was very clumsy, it didn’t look appetizing and there was no lemon wedge on the plate. Hello… it’s grilled seafood so definitely lemon is a must for acidity and extra flavor. Any chef should know that. Right?

Hot Dishes

dscf7753editedSeafood Rice

What can I say? The hot dishes weren’t impressive at all. It was flat and none of the dishes stood out for me. Most of the dishes inside the food warmers were not that hot anymore. They have seafood rice, salmon slices with safron and cream, hamour fillets in cream sauce, calamari curry and seafood pasta in white sauce. Imagine almost all dishes had white sauce and cream which made them looked similar.

It would have been nice if they also prepared hot meals like chili crabs, baked scallops or stuffed calamari to add variety and more options. Unfortunately there were no crabs and scallops in the buffet which made me sad.

dscf7729I don’t know if this was the star dish of the night, which I hope not since it doesn’t look appetizing at all. I took a slice of it and I was disappointed. It was very dry and under seasoned.

dscf7754editedDerick’s plate aside from the grilled seafood he ordered.

Fresh Fruits

dscf7733Fresh fruits slices and mixed fruit cocktail. 

Dessert Corner

The dessert selections were excellent. You will certainly go on a sugar-rush high if you’ll eat all these sweets. I’m not there to  splurged with desserts so regardless of how delicious they were, I only had 3 small slices of each cake: chocolate mouse, apple pie and blueberry cheesecake.

To wrap it all, the salads were very good. I enjoyed it, hands down. The desserts were excellent. The main dishes were a letdown for me, even Derick wasn’t happy about it too. As mentioned above, there were so many things I didn’t like about the hot meals. Our grilled seafood was very ordinary and not as fresh as it should be.

The price is very steep for a not so lavish buffet. I was actually surprised when they charged us 205 SAR per person since we really thought that all their themed buffets have the same price which is 185 SAR per person. Unfortunately the Seafood night buffet cost 20 SAR higher even though their seafood selections were not impressive in all aspects. Drinks were not included in the price. Service water were not provided.

To be honest there was nothing extraordinary about their Seafood buffet. I personally felt that the additional 20 SAR  was not justified. The Arabic Buffet that we had months ago in the same restaurant was far better and even cost less. If I were to choose, I’ll go with the Arabic rather than the Seafood buffet. I don’t see myself going back for another Seafood night. Sorry!

There are still other themed buffets that we haven’t tried yet,  so hopefully it’s worth a visit in the future.