Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Love Affair With Brunch

This is a story that begins with buffet and ends with brunch.

First plate

When I was a kid, I used to say, "I don't know" a lot to people's questions. What did I want for lunch? I don't know. Did I want to sit next to Mom or Dad? I don't know. Do I want milk or juice? I don't know. Buffets, however, were the perfect answer to my indecisiveness. At a buffet, you don't have to decide on just one dish, only to regret your choice later. You can have it all.

Second Plate

I loved buffets. My family used to go to the Sunday brunch buffet at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. I don't actually remember much about the food there, except that there was a lot of it, and I could choose anything I wanted. What I remember most are the distinctive concentric circle-patterned floors.


My love of buffets often befuddled my parents. Or maybe just pissed them off, because much as I loved the variety of food available, I could never actually eat enough to get their money's worth. Such are the perils of having a small stomach.

Third Plate

When my family moved to Hong Kong, we started frequenting the Sunday buffet at the Conrad hotel. There are actually two restaurants that jointly occupy the eighth floor of the hotel, Nicholini's and Brasserie on the Eighth. Though they generally function as separate restaurants, with a de-nationalized room mediating between their Italian and French cuisines respectively, on Sundays, the borders dissolve to host a tour de force champagne brunch buffet. Over 20 years of patronage, my family has now come to refer to this experience simply as "Conrad". As in, "Did you confirm the reservation at Conrad?" or, "If I died tomorrow, I would want my last meal to be Conrad."

Or, "Conrad is the birthplace of my love affair with brunch."