Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 3: Breakfast and Conclusion

Hyatt Regency Irvine Exterior

Welcome to part 3 of the Hyatt Regency Irvine review. This part isn't much of a "review" of any sort but experiencing the breakfast buffet they had set up the next day for us. If you have not read Part 1 or 2 yet, they are here:

Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 1: Check-In and Public Spaces
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 2: Rooms and Conclusion

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Tree

Anyway, after waking up, I left the room to go down for more of the conference activities. While waiting for the elevator again on my floor, I looked around and found this plant. Usually, these plants symbolize good things for the Chinese, so I was interested to find it here.

Grand Ballroom Morning Set-Up Breakfast

Downstairs, although it was almost three hours until we would even have breakfast, the Hyatt crew was already busy setting up. Here you can see the tables.

Prepared Fruit

They brought in plenty of prepared items such as the fruit you see above as well as things like small glass jars of Hero jams, lots of plates, and lots of glasses. These were all on rolling carts, as there were so many of them!

Trays of Butter

Look what they did with the butter too! Piped nicely in a tray, this was not the final product yet. They still had to place these pieces of flower shaped butter onto plates. By the end of the breakfast, they had run out of these. Looks like a lot of butter here right? But it was just the perfect amount. Approximately 140 of these per tray :).

Preparation of Pastries, Jams, and Fruit

When it was about an hour to serving they placed everything onto their respective areas while not opening the plastic wraps just yet.

Breakfast Buffet Lineup

It was not long until they finished the preparations and the buffet was open for use. Go, people, get your food!

Pastries

After getting some of the hot items available in the line, I took a picture of the pastries, which then of course came another yell of "you take pictures of food?"

Breakfast Plate

So here was my first jumbled plate of everything. There were not that many things to choose from- you are seeing all the hot items available: sausage, scrambled eggs, homestyle potatoes, and bacon. All of these items were okay, other than the sausage which was too oily and quite hard to cut with a knife with the oily casing. With some ketchup the scrambled eggs were even delicious, although it was already fluffy and nicely cooked. The croissant was crispy on the outside and buttery on the inside with multiple layers of dough. Not that it needed it, but the butter went great along the the croissant as it was not salted. I like unsalted butter after all. All the fruits were fresh and thus I got more.

And of course, the orange juice was fresh and not pasteurized. I got oh, 5 cups of the orange juice? It was tasty! Besides, it was not cheap either at the Cafe- one large plastic cup for 6 dollars.

Overall, a simple but pretty good breakfast buffet of good quality ingredients. The funny thing is that other people from the hotel who were not part of the conference would come and take some items for their own breakfast. That's the problem when you set up breakfast in a public area. :) Free continental breakfast for everyone!


Hyatt Regency Irvine
17900 Jamboree Road

Irvine, California, USA 92614
Tel: +1 949 975 1234


Other posts in this series in order:
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 1: Check-In and Public Spaces
Souplantation- Irvine
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 2: Rooms and Conclusion
California Pizza Kitchen- Irvine
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 3: Breakfast

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 2: Rooms and Conclusion

Hyatt Regency Irvine Exterior

Here is Part 2 of the review of my Hyatt Regency Irvine visit. Part 1 was mainly about the public areas that you would see around the hotel. I would suggest for you to read Part 1 so that you can feel a sense of continuity throughout this post.

Elevator Lobby

In the afternoon we received our rooms and so up we went on the elevators, where we noticed they were ULTRA slow. 4 elevators for a 14 story hotel was decent, but slow elevators were not, especially when the Hyatt was holding a conference with more than 200 people attending. Wait times for an elevator were at average from 3-5 minutes for one elevator, and with the attendees crowding at the elevator halls, it was bad not only for the attendees but for the other customers trying to come out from the elevators. Traffic congestion, for sure!

Outside View Elevators

Like other Hyatts, this Hyatt had some windows nearby the elevators which you could look outside at.

Room Hallway

Walking down the hallways it was bright with clean lines and slight decorations from the trees and lights.

Room 506

And then I arrived at my room, room 506, which I ended up sharing with three other people. As you would expect, I could not get good pictures with so many people in the room. But I did take some pictures when my roommates were not in the room.

Entry

The entry was quite simple. To the left was the entry to the bathroom as well as a wooden closet painted in white to put clothes in. To the right was one full length mirror. Plenty of room, not very congested entry. Easy, free flowing movement.

Double Beds

Bed
(I set up this photo...)

The room was medicore in size- probably around 400 or so square feet. Not much space to really move around due to the fact it was a double bed room, but the space between the bathroom and main door was large due to a closet. Above you can see the beds. I was not able to take any wider photos of the room showing everything as I was not the first one into the room, and afterwards the room was messy. I don't think you want to see any photos that really do not show the room as is? Nor did I sleep on them, but they were the usual Hyatt Grand bed which is cushy but also firm.

Makeshift Sofa Bed

Why did I not sleep on a bed? Because I made my own. Besides, I did not want to sleep with people I barely knew then at the time. Here is what you do. The first two portions are the sofa and the leg rest. The foot area comes from the work table chair which I'll show you next. Place them together, and fill the gaps so that your back doesn't feel weird. Then, add the blankets and pillows and towels as necessary (found in the closet/bathroom) and you are done! Simple! I've done this in many places, but those looked much prettier than this one :).

Nightstand

As for the nightstand, it housed a lamp, telephone, a iHome for playing music, coffee and tea, and magazines. There was also a writing pad with the same pen that was available at Hyatt Regency Arlington and Hyatt Regency Boston, which is actually a favorite hotel pen of mine. It may be plastic-y but it is a nicely shaped pen and everytime I visit a Hyatt now I'll try to get one of these pens since they are just so nice.

Tea and Coffee

If you could not see it, here is a more detailed photo of the tea and coffee. Like at all the Hyatts in America I have been too (Machester Grand Hyatt San Diego, Grand Hyatt Seattle, Hyatt Regency Arlington, and Hyatt Regency Boston), here they had a selection of coffee and tea to choose from with packets of creamer, sugar, stirrers, and the like along with Hyatt branded paper cups. However, this time, it was TAZO tea instead of the usual Twinnings that we have seen before. Hyatt's been changing brands and modernizing so this may just a permanent change!

Magazines

Here are the magazines. Yes, I should have adjusted the photos for you for the pleasure of looking at these photos but I was too lazy to learn my Sony W90 (and thus, why should have I even upgraded to a DSLR? Bad! Do not be like me!), I never learned to adjust white balance and such. Yes, although you actually can, it's buried in a menu, and with uncomfortable buttons that move slowly, why even bother? Doesn't mean I should have not adjusted it though. Now I know, but now the W90 is not under my possession anymore.

Television Amoire

The TV Amoire housed plenty of things, including:

TV and Coffeemaker

A Hamilton CV1 one cup coffeemaker as seen in other Hyatts across the US and a CRT Panasonic TV. Old, but usable!

Cabinet Area

The bottom portion house several cabinets, a safe which I never used, and the minibar which I did not open.

Work Table

As for other things in the room, here was the work table in the room. It had a internet cable, the telephone, advertisements, a lamp, and the hotel directory. Oval shaped and made out of wood and glass, it suited the room quite well.

Paintings

Light mountainous paintings were atop the work table. Simple, but it matched the colors of the room quite nicely.

Window/Blinds

As for other parts of the rooms, here were the blinds. I would have taken a picture of the sofa with it but the room was messy...

Bathroom via Mirror

Speaking of the bathroom, it was tiny- just like the Hyatt Regency in Boston. The same design scheme too! Hyatts play copycat with each other. It was so tiny that it would not be comfortable to move around to the shower with the door open- basically, if you just wanted to get something out of the shower, you would have to open and close the door to get to the item. Plus, the door lock not working- not good for a group of people that are not family.

Sink


The sink area was a copycat of Hyatt Regency Boston with the exception of a lack of the perfume sticks the Boston location had put in to our room back when we were there. Simple, but workable.

Shower

The shower was a shower and tub combo with a curved shower curtain. The showerhead was a Moen showerhead which had different functions- water pressure was sufficient. Inside there was a single bottle of shampoo which was probably not one on purpose as there was a set of toiletries already:

Portico Bath Toiletries

Placed nicely on a towel too! How nice.

Toiletries

Speaking of toiletries, they were Portico Spa toiletries as expected. Not expected was the fact they were White Ginger, not Lavender and Citrus that we saw in all the other Hyatts in the US with the exception of Seattle's Grand Hyatt which used White Ginger. There were two bars of soap, a bottle of shampoo, a bottle of conditioner (used???), and a tube of Aquafresh toothpaste which was free, made for Hyatt. I was not expecting the toothpaste! Most hotels in the U.S. just give soap and shower caps. Rarely do they give out accessories like toothpaste or shaving cream.

If you have stayed at Hyatt the past two years, you will probably notice here that the bottles for the shampoo/conditioner have changed from being elliptical to cylindrical. The good thing is, they were larger! Good.

Ice Machine

And if you needed ice, you could go out to the ice machine located on each floor for ice. We took some and used plenty.

After a long day, we went to sleep after watching The Day the Earth Stood Still (new version). After being woken by my set alarm, I looked out and the window was like this:

Wet-Window

You might ask, what is this? It is actually water. Condensation. This happened during my stay at the Mirage as well, and if you can't see clearly, the water is INSIDE the room and not outside. Interesting? Yes. I never see this at home, but I have seen it in hotels with windows that can open. This Hyatt does have windows that can open.

Room View

And I never noticed until the next morning how the view was like in our room. Never looked out during the day and people were in the room during the afternoon. Taco Bell's building is one of these skyscrapers! Below is the pool. And you can see the Sony W90 in action. :)


Conclusion

So how was the Hyatt Regency Irvine? I would say it would be fine for a business traveler working. The rooms are not really high tech with Wi-Fi or such, but it works as a comfortable and clean place to stay with nice decorations around. Our room was a bit worn in spots with the lock and some fabric starting to break apart in the headerboard of the beds, but otherwise it was okay. The Hyatt was not very extravagant or luxurious, but it worked as a conference hotel or a comfortable base to go visit the OC in.

Pretty much the negatives are: Lack of light in some areas, sluggish elevators which can hamper conference events and people staying there, rooms are a bit dated.

As for positives, the hotel was: clean, comfortable, and had pleasant public spaces with the exception of the lighting. I would stay there again if I needed to have a place to stay in the OC. However, if I wanted a relaxing getaway or a luxurious stay I would pick a more expensive hotel.


Hyatt Regency Irvine
17900 Jamboree Road

Irvine, California, USA 92614
Tel: +1 949 975 1234

The next portion of the review is on a complimentary breakfast buffet that the hotel had prepared for us.

Other posts in this series:
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 1: Check-In and Public Spaces
Souplantation- Irvine
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 2: Rooms and Conclusion
California Pizza Kitchen- Irvine
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 3: Breakfast

Irvine 2009 Trip Index

Here are all the posts on my trip to Irvine in 2009:

Hyatt Regency Irvine:
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 1: Check-In and Public Spaces
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 2: Rooms and Conclusion
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 3: Breakfast

Food:
California Pizza Kitchen- Irvine
Souplantation- Irvine

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Capital Seafood- Arcadia: First Impressions

Capital Seafood Arcadia Exterior

Read my full post on Capital Seafood- Arcadia HERE for more menu items and photos of the place. This post provides background information.)

Replacing Tony Roma's and Fusions, Capital Seafood is an almost unusual restaurant coming to the area. Who would have expected a dim sum banquet style restaurant to even open in Arcadia in a different location compared to the rest of the competition? Located in the densely packed hotel section of Arcadia, Capital Seafood is one dim sum restaurant in the sea of mainly Western restaurants and just a handful of Asian restaurants. Untypical? Yes. There are only two other Chinese restaurants nearby Huntington in this part of town- Bean Sprouts, and Golden Dragon (old favorite that became not so good).

Normally I never do posts without the pictures of the food, but a full posting is not coming today. Rather, I am just giving you the first impressions my dining companions had eating dim sum there. I got to eat some things they brought for me and I will tell you about those items.

As for what is important and very different about Capital compared to Hop Li or Full House, the two other restaurants that serve dim sum, there are plenty, including:
-Tiered dim sum menu: It is not one price for everything. Thus, most items are more expensive compared to Hop Li or Full House whether it be during the weekday or the weekend- by a large margin too. However, in return, you get better quality. A: 1.88USD. B: 2.88USD. C: 3.88USD. Some other items are listed and are not part of the A,B, or C listings, like porridge and noodles.
-No carts: You order via a menu, like you would at most higher end dim sum restaurants today whether they be in the United States or in Asia. However, occasionally some waiters come out with trays of food which you can get immediately from them rather than ordering.

What my dining companions complained about was firstly the dishes- they were a bit dirty and not too clean. Being just the second day of opening this was a bit unusual. In addition, some of the employees only spoke Mandarin, not Cantonese. This was also quite unusual as Capital is a Chiu-Zhow style restaurant and a dim sum restaurant, where it is pretty much expected that employees speak Cantonese and Mandarin- especially with the fact that this is Arcadia, and not some area where there are little amounts of Cantonese/Mandarin speakers. There were also a large number of employees at the restaurant and many just watched my dining companions eat. However, the service aspect was not professional, with requests being forgotten even when there was just a few people eating in the restaurant.

Even intriguing were the condiments. Basic dipping sauces, like chili sauce, were NOT available during the second day of opening. Unusual? Yes. Even the Monterey Park location had it (to be reviewed). A request for chili soy sauce was also forgotten even when the employee boasted about it being freshly made in house.

As for the food, it was pretty good, with high quality ingredients used. There were lunch specials in addition to just the dim sum menu which brought in congee, noodle soups, and stir fries. Their wonton noodle soup was different compared to our current favorite, Tasty Garden. The soup was overflowing with flavor from the broth. Usually, the broth at most SGV restaurants is bland and lightly flavored, but here those exact flavors were concentrated and intensified, flavoring everything in the soup. The noodles had a nice pull and chew, and the wontons were as good as Tasty Garden's, if not better. They were smaller though.

Bean curd wrapped shrimp was a simple dish with layers of bean curd sheets surrounding large pieces of shrimp. Really, really large pieces of shrimp! Simple but enjoyable.

A vegetarian rice noodle roll had multiple thin layers with a filling of sweet shredded carrot, wood ear, and baby corn. The quality of the rice noodle sheets explained the 2+ dollar expense compared to Full House or Hop Li- they were nicely thin and chewy. Of course, I need to try this in person to see the full potential.

Spinach dumplings consisted of a tapioca exterior with the vegetarian fillings with spinach. Simple, but large and full of delicious veggies. Chiu Zhou Fun Goh had pieces of pork, dried shrimp, peanuts, and more. Each ingredient was identifiable, unlike some other restaurants. The Shu Mai was also bumped up in quality, with small pieces of meat instead of ground pork with lots of fat pieces (Full House). A small bit of masago was added on top for color and extra flavor.

I also had some pieces of Yang Zhou Tofu and a mixed mushroom and broccoli stir fry. The Yang Zhou Tofu was excellent, with a eggy, tender interior and a eggy, crispy outer layer. On the other hand, the mixed mushroom and broccoli stir fry was also just as good with plenty of flavor to go with rice, but the mushrooms were fried.

So, overall? Good food, but more expensive compared to Full House or Hop Li most definitely. The thing that brings it down are the employees. Hopefully, by the end of this month, they will have learned more and have experienced more to provide better service and professionalism. A better, full post will come in the following months, when I have taken plenty of pictures of the inside of the restaurant and the food.

EDITED 27 March 2010: Just went to Capital today and I can definitely recommend it now. It's going onto the Excellent Places to Eat list for sure! Probably the BEST option if you don't mind the price for eating dim sum in Arcadia. During our visit there was one lady who seemed to only speak English but other than that there was no language speaking problems. Service was pretty good other than a slow check. Full review coming in a few weeks; after next week I have Spring Break!


Capital Seafood Restaurant
333 E. Huntington Dr.
Arcadia, CA 91006
Tel: (626) 574-8889

Capital Seafood on Urbanspoon

Capital Seafood Restaurant in Los Angeles

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

California Pizza Kitchen- Irvine

CPK Irvine Menu and Cup Placemat
(All exterior photos blurry so this is what you get! The exterior is actually quite modern and pretty though)

Following the workshops in the conference, our group went to California Pizza Kitchen, like the group did last year for dinner. According to the group, they have gone to CPK almost every year they have been to this annual conference. I find that quite interesting.

Interesting tidbit? While one of the group members was going to park their car, a Ferrari came by. We let the Ferrari have the spot and looked at the car after we parked. After all, even in Irvine, it is not everyday you see expensive cars parked. Plus, this convertible had the top cover off, so we could see the interior. Happy car fans are we.

Interior-CPK-Irvine
Interior: 1 fine, 1 ultra out of focus! The Sony W90's focusing is lacking as time goes on... :(

We went into CPK and then they had to prepare for our table. Hmm...I guess that my group forgot the suitable action of making a reservation for a large group. :( Funny thing is, they talked about it in the conference. How hypocritical.

Kitchen Area

In return, we waited for almost an hour for our table to be set up outside. Unlike Souplantation, CPK's tables were made of metal and thus were heavy to move around.

Heat Lamps

After the wait, we arrived at the outdoor patio, which was not really that chilly with all the heaters on. In fact, the heaters almost made us too hot instead. On each person's plate there was a take out menu for us to look at. No real menu- real menus were only the beverage menu.

CPK Holiday 2009 Gift Certificates
(Special Holiday Gift Certificate Advertisements- you can get 2 50USD gift certificates at Costco for 79.99USD too! (I do that now)

So, after about another 10 minutes or so, the waiter came out asking for drink orders. After the drink orders, the drinks arrived in another 10 minutes. This is slow, right? But my group did order quite expensive drinks like italian soda and pineapple colada. Not easy to fulfill all those orders! I ordered a simple glass of hot water, which they forgot about until I asked again. After all, we were eating outside already in the cold Irvine evening!

After another 5 minutes, we started to order. I ordered a simple BBQ Chicken Pizza. I debated on trying something not reviewed on the blog (or that I already took pictures of but have not posted yet to the blog) but could not make my mind on something else. During this ordering process, I also learned that you can split your toppings in a pizza so you could get two different toppings (almost like getting two halves from two different pizza)- one of the members of the group did this as he wanted both the Santa Fe Chicken and the Cheeseburger Pizzas (new product). It would cost an extra two dollars though for the split.

Bread and Butter

10 minutes later the bread arrived, and we were hungry. Members in the group complained about the long wait times for things like the bread in comparison to the Arcadia location, but that is one of the consequences for not reserving a table. :) The bread however was way better than the Arcadia location. The crust was a bit chewy while the inside was soft and tender. Delicious with butter, or just simply alone.

Another 10 minutes later food started arriving and the server made drink refills again. My food did not arrive for another five minutes. The servers were way too busy with drink refills of course. Who said refills meant 6 refills of a glass of soda, with flavor changes in between? Crazy. So when I asked for a refill of my hot water, it never came after I finished my pizza. So I requested again later on and got my wish fulfilled.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

As for the pizza, it was quite good. Simple but filled with slightly peppery pieces of firm chicken (not soft/ ultra tender like Arcadia), crisp red onions, basil chiffonade, and a tasty BBQ sauce. The crust seemed to be more fragrant with a bit more bite to it compared to the Arcadia location which I liked.

Jamacian Jerk Chicken Pizza

In addition, I also exchanged a piece of my pizza for a companion's Jamaican Jerk Chicken Pizza. Boy was it spicy! I know this is a spicy pizza, but this was very spicy (due to the sauce) compared to the Arcadia location. The chicken had a lime pepper seasoning to it, and the bacon added crunch and a textural contrast. On the other hand, the sauce was a mix of spicy and sweet. It seemed like as if there was honey added to the sauce- probably it was.

In the end we were full but the service was not very great. Now, some lessons:
1. Don't eat outside if no one else is (we were the only ones out). If you do, it is up to the server to come back to check on you. You can't flag a server now since you are outside; you have to go indoors which will annoy customers sitting next to the outside door.
2. Reserve a table if you have a large group. This is definitely of course should have been done earlier. We waited for a long time for them to set up- and you can not blame them either, as those tables were quite heavy.

As for the food, good as usual for CPK. If you like CPK, the food here is as good, if not better, compared to other CPK locations.


California Pizza Kitchen on Urbanspoon


This series in order:
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 1: Check-In and Public Spaces
Souplantation- Irvine
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 2: Rooms and Conclusion
California Pizza Kitchen- Irvine
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 3: Breakfast

Monday, March 15, 2010

Souplantation- Irvine

Souplantation Irvine Exterior

After the first session for the conference, it was time for lunch at an early 11:35AM. So, not wanting to go anywhere far but not wanting to eat at the hotel, we headed for Souplantation, which was about a 3-5 minute walk away from the Hyatt- basically just walking out from the entry to the hotel. It was just a quick decision made by our leaders on where to eat. The positives were that it was extremely close to the hotel and thus we just needed to walk. No need to arrange for transportation- always a nice thing.

Pricing Menu

Inside, we grabbed a tray and then went to the long salad bar, filling up with as much salad as we desired. In the front was a spotlight of an employee making salad for the dressed mixed salads. Plenty of people were coming to Souplantation during that day- not only conference members were going, other people came as well to enjoy their own Souplantation experience.

Souplantation Irvine Salad Bar

After the mixed salads, it was the make your own salad section, which had dressings, different vegetables, and toppings. Past all this was then the cashier's desk.

While I was waiting in line I took photos with the long waiting times. And what happened?

"You take pictures of food? Really?" (amazed expression)

So the lady from Chang's Garden (to be reviewed) was right. The stereotypical kid does not take pictures of food and it is unusual to take pictures of food. Aha...

Souplantation Irvine Interior

After paying the standard 8.39USD for the standard all you can eat plus 2.29USD for the unlimited fountain drinks, my large group of 20+ people got the outdoor patio to sit at. Unlike CPK for dinner, Souplantation's staff only took about 5 minutes to set the table, but that was also of course because we had the utensils/ plates, and they only had light plastic tables and chairs to move around. I also helped out as well.

Salad Plate

Here was my first plate and only plate of salad (as I did not know you could take taken more!) consisting of the Wonton Chicken Happiness, the Ranch BLT salad, and my own creation. Below are the descriptions of each item:

Asian Chicken Salad- Quite good actually. Slight hints of sesame, soy, and tangy flavors were in the salad, and the chicken and fried wontons added dimensions of textures and flavors. The veggies were fresh and seemed in place for the salad.

Ranch BLT Salad- Think of it as a simple mixed salad with bacon, lettuce, and tomato with ranch. It was a simple salad with ingredients I am accustomed to in a salad, so of course I enjoyed it.

My custom salad had lettuce, hard boiled egg, cucumber, and thousand island ranch dressing. All the ingredients were quite fresh and such a combination works anytime of day- so it was definitely yummy. The boiled egg was not overcooked and greyish green.

Other members compared the Irvine Souplantation's salads to the Arcadia location to this location (which at the time I had no knowledge of as I haven't been to Souplantation for at least 5 years at the time). Two, which were friends, had differing opinions. One said this location was better compared to Arcadia. The other had the opposite. Now that I just went to the Arcadia location a few days ago, I think both are about the same, but the salads in Irvine were dressed perfectly while the Arcadia location had a bit extra dressing which provided more flavor. I think there were a few more choices available to pick here as well compared to the Arcadia location but I didn't see the Souplantation cookies available here on the contrary.

Biscuit and Chicken Pot Pie Stew

After dropping off the salad at the table it was time to get some more things to go along with the meal. My first bowl of soup was the Chicken Pot Pie Stew, which was one of their featured items back in November. This was quite like chicken pot pie filling without being so thick (like Marie Callender's version), and the flavors were similar too! Not too salty, but creamy with plenty of veggies. But where was the chicken? I had none. As recommended on the advertisements, I also had a buttermilk biscuit to go along with the stew which was soft on the inside and a bit crispy on the outside. Quite nice with the chicken pot pie stew.

Clam Chowder

The yankee clipper clam chowder with bacon was actually quite good. It was creamy with plenty of potatoes and celery, and there was a hint of clam flavor. Where were the clams though? I was not lucky with the ladle as you see. The good thing about this was that the soup was not as salty in comparison to places like Sizzler or BJ's, but there was a definite lack of clams. More clams please! But of course, it is just a buffet and I am only paying 8.39USD for it...

Chili with Cheese Foccacia

On the other hand, I did not really enjoy the deep kettle house chili, as it was mainly tomato flavor. I like a earthy chili with plenty of herbs and spices. This seemed almost like meatsauce but with a chili texture.

Bakery Section Souplantation Irvine

As for the bread, I mainly centered around the Garlic Asiago Focaccia, Quattro Formaggio Focaccia, and the Chocolate Brownie Muffin. All were quite nice!

Bakery Items
(left to right: Chocolate Brownie Muffin, Garlic Asiago Foccacia, Quattro Formaggio Focaccia)

I liken the focaccias to a light pizza like bread with cheese. They pretty much are anyway! The garlic asiago foccacia is like a garlic breadstick you would get at a pizza chain without the oiliness and the quattro formaggio foccacia is like a cheese pizza with very little sauce and more bread, On the other hand, the chocolate brownie muffin is just like a cake like brownie with all the intense and gooey chocolate flavors of a brownie. So good, but also very fattening. :)

Pasta Section Souplantation Irvine

After having plenty of baked goods, salads, and soups, I went to the pasta station, where three choices were available for the choosing. What was fun was that they were served in skillets, an interesting serving choice. Do you see the tomatoes near the back of the image? They are actually timers. They switch out items every 20 minutes, if you did not know already. (I knew this after going to Arcadia's Souplantation)

Ragin Cajun Pasta

The Ragin Cajun Pasta looked to be the most appealing choice to me so I took a small plate of it. The pasta was overcooked a bit to my taste (as with most buffet pastas not cooked to order), but the multigrain brought an interesting texture that I haven't tried before. It was a bit too creamy/dry for my tastes but the "Cajun" flavors were ok, if a bit muted. I prefer a Cajun style pasta to be sauced with what you would see at the Clubhouse or CPK. On the other hand, the corn added plenty of sweetness which I liked. Corn is always a welcome addition for me!

Souplantation Irvine Ice Cream Machine

It was off for dessert and thus I went to the frozen yogurt machine to pipe an ice cream cone. However, the cones were TINY, so I just ended up getting a little. Well, that was perfect enough for me, so I was happy with that.

Dreyers Soft Serve Vanilla Yogurt

The vanilla frozen yogurt, which was made by Dreyer's/Edy's was very creamy/smooth and with plenty of milk and light vanilla flavor. It was quite comparable to Costco (much richer at Costco), McDonalds, and Yogurtland's version of vanilla ice cream/frozen yogurt. As you can see, the cone was completely not proportional to the frozen yogurt at all! Way too small. Even the pipe for the frozen yogurt was as large as the cone. Not good. Messy if you were just wanting a cone.

Everyone else in the group basically made gigantic sundaes, which were so beautiful to the fact I think they were made by professionals! Nice peaks, thoughtfully placed accoutrements. I didn't take any photos but they were BIG compared to this cone.


Chocolate Mousse and Grapes

I also took a small scoop of chocolate mousse and some seedless grapes to finish the meal. The grapes were light and crunchy, but the mousse was definitely not to my liking. I don't remember the notice about Splenda, but this had it and it definitely tasted like some artificial sweetener with a ultra thick and fluffy mousse with a light chocolate flavors. As Souplantation likes to say, only 40 calories for a 1/2 cup!

Overall, pretty much a good experience here at Souplantation. It is a buffet with very good pricing at that- less than lots of other lower end buffets but very tasty in that fact on most items. There were less people here compared to in Arcadia which is nice, but the overall experience kind of depends on what is available on the day you are visiting. To make sure you get what you want, check out their website which tells what each location is serving for each day- it helps! You can also see nutrition facts and the like.


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Other posts in this series:

Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 1: Check-In and Public Spaces
Souplantation- Irvine
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 2: Rooms and Conclusion
California Pizza Kitchen- Irvine
Hyatt Regency Irvine 2009 Review Part 3: Breakfast