Value for money! Let’s be honest It something we all want isn’t it? If we feel we are getting it, it makes us feel warm and toasty and perhaps a little bit smug. Well ladies and gentlemen, cover yourselves with marmalade and put on your best smug grin, you will need it after visiting the Parade Hotel on a Wednesday night and trying their Tastes of Asia all you can eat dinner buffet.
The Parade Hotel. A Bunbury icon. The phrase” Location –Location- Location” comes to mind! It’s had a few changes of hands over the years and has now reinvented itself as The Parade Taphouse. It is owned by Andrew Harris who you may or may not know owns the Old Coast Road Brewery. This is a master stroke on Andrew’s part! Own a brewery then buy a pub to sell your beers. Brewery and pub aside we are once again seeing something new and exciting in Bunbury that will not only service locals, but also patrons from further afield and quite possibly tourists. For this I salute you sir.
So, I am going to be totally honest here. When I heard that The Parade were offering an all you can eat buffet for $15 a head, I was sceptical to say the least. I had visions of Butlins, (famous English holiday camp-Google it), they used to offer a full board option and there would be thousands of people packed into a food hall, waiters and waitresses running from table to table serving cardboard food! Ahhh the nostalgia! I am pleased to report that this was not the case at the parade.
We arrived at six thirty for our reservation. The place as expected was busy. When you offer $15 buffets it going to arouse curiosity if nothing else that’s for sure! We were greeted by a smiling Maitre D. We paid our sixty bucks, (there were four of us), and were seated more or less immediately. Out table even had my name on a little stand on it, I was starting to feel quite important.
OK, first things first let’s get some drinks in. Lisa was on driving duty, (she had work the next day, I didn’t!), so I was going to take advantage of the craft beer on offer. I opted for a pint of the IPA. This full strength 5.6% beauty set me up nicely for the food to follow. It had a good bitter twang to start which then mellowed into a delicious not over sweet burnt toffee finish. The girl behind the bar placed it in front of me then whipped it away to top it up as she was not happy with the big head on it. “It’s ok I said, I’m originally from England” I don’t think she got the reference. Lisa went for a midi of the Pale Ale. This was a little bit sweeter than the IPA and a very pleasant tipple. She gave it the nod of approval.
We took ours and the boys drinks to the table and gave the go ahead for them to go and get their food while we sipped our beer and built up our appetites.
They returned a couple of minutes later with their plates full of Eastern Delights. There were lots of dishes on offer and it was clear that a couple of trips were going to be needed. In the end I personally had four trips! Yeah, Yeah I know I’m shameless.
Alright, let’s talk about the food, that’s what we came for after all. Like I said before this was not just a “rice and two curry” outfit. There was so much choice and something to suit all tastes. There was a huge heated pot of Chicken Manchow Soup to get the tastebuds excited before the main event. This was a delicious soup. The chilli’s just introduced themselves with a gentle handshake rather than a full slap on the back and the saltiness of the soy sauce balanced it out well. This night is just full of surprises. The Thai green curry was a little thicker than I am used to and how it is generally served. It had a nice bit of heat to it, but again it was not overpowering. I am guessing, and the chef may tell me different, but I think there was some green food colouring used to get the rich green flavour. The Beef Saag was a highlight. I have eaten this curry many times and this was a good one. The beef was very tender and fell apart in the mouth the spinach curry that the beef bathed in was tangy rather than hot. It was a hit with my boys.
I was introduced to a new cuisine. Korean. The Korean Pork Bulgogi was heavenly. Heavily spiced and a good hit of ginger in there. The shredded red cabbage through it also made it appealing to the eye.
Lisa and I both love Dal, it is a “must eat” every time we go out for an Indian meal. I also cook various types at home. Tonight we had Dal Makhani. This was the standout dish for both of us. Soft plump lentils in a buttery spicy curry. I seriously could have eaten a bucket of this stuff....oh hang on...I think I did!
Finally, we tried the Cantonese Style Yei Meing. This was beautifully silky egg noodles in a sweet and sour sauce. I enjoyed this dish too.
I need to mention that along with all the dishes, there was also a shed load of extras. We had Naan Bread, pappadums, prawn crackers, spring rolls, prawn twisters, and a range of sauces.
WOW, you are all thinking! What a feast. Well it didn’t stop there. We had deserts too! All included in the $15....Yeah, I know right!
There were two to indulge in. Now personally, I have never been a fan of Asian desserts. I usually find them over sweet and uninspiring. Now I am not going to say the desserts we had tonight were incredible, but they were surprisingly OK. I had Kheer, (A Maldivian dish), which is basically a rice pudding. This had good texture and flavour, I couldn’t eat a lot of it, but it was pleasant enough. Our final dish of the night was Gulab Jamun. This is like miniature doughnuts floating in delicately flavoured syrup. These were notably good. I expected diabetes in a bowl, but the syrup was not over sweet and the dough balls were light and fluffy. A huge tick for these.
Well. I am going to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this buffet. For $15 I expected an overcrowded venue, average food and sloppy service. That is far from what we got. The food on the whole was very good. I suspect that some of the sauces and curries were not strictly “home made” and the pappadams etc were probably straight out of Mrs Pataks Kitchen, but for fifteen bucks you will hear no complaining from me. This is outstanding value and I urge anyone to give it a go. Apparently they also do a buffet Brekkie so will be giving that a go at some point. If you do go, either have a designated driver or book a Townaround ride to get you to and from there as the beer is excellent too. This dining experience will be even better in the summer when you can sit outside overlooking the estuary.