Beyond buffet: Four Seasons Amman offers a new Asian experience

Four Seasons
Four Seasons Amman’s Olea restaurant features a new Asian buffet concept on Tuesday evenings, bringing together several Asian cuisines: Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, and a mixed-cuisine dessert section. (Photos: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
When planning to eat out, we face the age-old dilemma of sorting through an ever-growing list of restaurants. Thankfully, along with web reviews, our cravings are there to help guide us towards a certain cuisine, narrowing down our options. But what happens when your friend is thinking sushi, while you just cannot get noodles out of your mind? اضافة اعلان

While the label “Asian food” usually covers a range — from Mongolian to Chinese, Japanese, and even Indian — when it is time to eating out, we must pick one of the above. If different cravings are involved, a compromise is inevitable. But Four Seasons Amman is here to tell us otherwise. 

I was invited to a pre-launch event at Four Seasons Amman for their new Asian buffet concept at Olea restaurant. The buffet brings together several Asian cuisines in one place: Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, and a mixed-cuisine dessert section.

Ready to assist
The word “buffet” tends to conjure up do-it-yourself service, boring salads, dried-up food items in stainless steel serving trays, and the same old selection of desserts; where quantities of food increase, creativity goes down the drain. However, at Olea’s new Asian buffet, dining is an entire experience, with a heavy focus on guest interaction amidst a delectable spread.

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As soon as you walk into the restaurant, the buffet is to your left, with a live sushi station in the middle and live cooking stations in the back. Multiple waiters and chefs are ready to assist, making you feel very welcome, with someone ready to help you around every corner.

I toured the buffet briefly prior to being seated, and was impressed by several of its features. First, I liked that each cuisine had a designated aisle with an array of answered food items. I also enjoyed the fact that the chefs were very interactive and explained any questions about the menu.

Tasteful offerings
The culinary offerings were bursting with creativity. The selection of salads was unique. A fresh seaweed salad immediately caught my eye. This was a must-try.

A variety of steamed dumplings were being served as well, stuffed with either chicken or shrimp and accompanied with multiple mouth-watering sauces.

Then came a fritter station, with homemade spring rolls and a number of sauces, including a sweet and sour sauce.

The sushi options included maki and nigiri, made fresh at the live sushi station, with chefs explaining all about the rolls and helping you with your selection.

The scents of spices and curries wafted from the Indian section, which featured fish and chicken dishes and a hefty selection of vegetarian options. As I passed by that station, I promised myself I would try the butter chicken, one of my all-time favorite Indian dishes.

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The live noodle station was a melee of various proteins and noodle types — that station by itself could serve as the concept for an entire restaurant specialized in fried noodles.

Finally, the dessert station was infused with Asian flavors, the highlight clearly being the dessert sushi.

Techniques masterfully executed
I wanted to sample a little bit of everything — an ambitious mission at a place with so much to offer.

Dumplings, a duck and mango salad, and the fresh seaweed salad were my first foray. The technique behind filling and shaping the dumplings was very precise. In my opinion, you usually find either ready-made dumplings or limp, unappealing ones in a buffet, but here every dumpling is made with evident care, the careful folds providing symmetry between each piece. The filling was flavorful, and dipping these dough-wrapped delights in a little bit of soy sauce brought them to a whole different level.

The duck and mango salad was masterfully executed, with a spicy kick towards the end that was not overpowering. The sweetness of the mangos and the saltiness of the duck paired nicely. Meanwhile, the seaweed salad was very crisp and light. You do not usually find fresh seaweed in Amman given that resources are limited, so it was a pleasant surprise to see at a buffet.

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The sushi tasted great — beyond buffet expectations. The salmon was fresh, the combination of flavors and rolling technique was executed properly, and the selection was very appealing. It would be sufficient for an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet, given the variety and the freshness of on-the-spot preparation.

When it comes to Indian cuisine, many make the classic blunder of preparing the dishes with raw spices. Especially in Indian cuisine, the spices should be roasted in some sort of fat, such as ghee. Olea’s butter chicken did a good job of toasting the spices, and the chicken was tender and flavorful.

Throughout this whole experience, I was most excited about the dessert selection. I sampled the chocolate-banana samosas, the sushi dessert topped with strawberry cheesecake, and the coconut sorbet with ginger compote. The flavors were well executed; and even though I had planned to just take a few bites from each dessert, I ended up consuming the whole plate.

Experience a continent
My overall experience at the Asian buffet was beyond expectations. Four Seasons Amman once again executed a concept cleverly by focusing on guest experience. Meanwhile, the hotel manages to keep coming up with fresh ideas, an ingenious approach for such a long-standing institution in Amman.

I won’t go on discussing their impeccable service — they seem to exceed expectations every time with their amiable staff and their competent specialists (think chefs).

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As for beverages, they do have their selection of Sake and Japanese Whiskeys that can be paired with food selections.

The Asian buffet is available every Tuesday starting at 7 pm for a very reasonable all-inclusive JD35 per person. For the level of service and food variety, that is a definite value for the cost. I highly recommend the experience for friends, couples, and families who want to enjoy tasteful culinary offerings from the Asian continent, while broadening their food knowledge.

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