To start off, I can’t even believe I went here to begin with, but my companion really wanted to go to the Grey Eagle Casino back in May (yes, this is a scheduled post!), and despite my misgivings, I grudgingly agreed. Every Wednesday they have an Asian buffet, which was advertised as having ‘hand-rolled sushi’ featured as a dish. Now.. what kind of sushi do you expect at an ‘Asian buffet’?
If you said anything other than “lousy”, you fail this little test.
My first issue came with the smell of the Casino. The stench of stale, recycled cigarette smoke was nearly nauseating. My stomach hurt though I didn’t actually get sick, mind you I had my nose covered for most of our wait in line to get into the buffet. It seemed poorly organized to have a line-up wait to get in, but you pre-pay to go in, and then I suppose pay later for your drinks. (We didn’t order any drinks, so no worries there…) More than one till might have been a good idea, or a more efficient process perhaps.
Sushi selection from the Grey Eagle Casino
When we got in, I went for the first table of items – a small buffet table with two sushi roll flavours (a BBQ eel roll and a crab/radish/cucumber/salmon roll that I thought was salmon/mango…) two small platters of sashimi (which was already well picked over by the time I got there, with salmon, tuna, octopus and mackerel, a platter of nigiri-style steamed prawn sushi, and a bowl of raw oysters. I love raw oysters, but something about seeing them buffet-style turned me off. There was also a small section for condiments with cocktail sauce, lemon wedges, wasabi, soy sauce, onion soy sause, and ginger. (The ginger had already been ‘contaminated’ by a piece of shrimp by the time I got there too.)
I tried the:
- eel roll (dried out as though it had be rolled a few hours earlier)
- salmon/crab/cucumber/radish roll (which I found kind of gross, and picked off all the cucumber before having the second piece which wasn’t much better – the radish was just the wrong flavor for the salmon – mango was what I had expected, and would have been far preferable!)
- salmon sashimi (inedible because of several small bones still in the fish)
- tuna sashimi (the best of the first batch)
- mackerel (very ‘fishy’ – though I don’t often eat mackerel, so I don’t know if this is normal. It was cut strangely, and sort of fell apart on it’s trip from the platter to my plate.)
So round one was a disapointment, and I wasn’t too keen on going back for seconds of anything from that buffet table.
Next I headed to the salad buffet table where there was a large selection of (mostly mayonaise or dressing heavy) salads. I picked a Greek salad and a hard-boiled egg, then looked at the hot Asian food items. (Clams, pork, chicken, shrimp…) None of them appealed to me in any way – they were missing my favorite standards like sesame chicken, ginger fried beef, chicken balls, or salt-and-pepper squid, so I skipped that entirely and stood in line for the hand-rolled sushi and sashimi.
I would love to be able to review this properly, but after standing in line for 10+ minutes, only two or three people had been served, and I was behind about another 7-8 people… this didn’t bode well. I decided to skip this, go eat my salad (I’d eaten my egg while in line…) and let my companion go get her next plate of dinner… (We always trade off at a buffet, so that we don’t have to carry our purses, or worse still, leave them behind!)
When I was ready to go refill my plate, the line up for the hand-rolled sushi had barely moved. What a terrible system! I could see that they did have ingredients to make my favorites, but it was insane to be lined up for 20-30 minutes… since only one chef was working. This could be done so much more efficiently. For instance, you could have a menu sheet, write down your order, and your table number, and have the (ample) servers deliver it, or have more chefs working, or something. I didn’t even see a menu of what you could order – though perhaps I just never got close enough. Also, the line up completely blocked one side of the hot food… Very poorly designed!
There were a few pieces of ready-made sushi rolls nearby though, though the platters were completely picked over and apparently weren’t being replenished. I took a single tempura roll piece with a strawberry on top – which was terrible, so I didn’t go back for more! Instead I headed to the desserts.
Dessert – much better than the rest of the meal
So, my sushi experience at the Grey Eagle Casino was, in a word, horrible. I wouldn’t ever bother going back again for food. However, the desserts were much better. I had:
- A small slice of red velvet cake (good, but the icing was too sugary and not cream-cheese-y enough for me)
- A little cake ball that I thought was a rum ball, but was actually a diabetic-friendly nutmeg cake thing… it was surprisingly good!
- A square of chocolate cake (quite good)
- A funny doughnut unlike the Tim Horton’s doughnut with a FAR superior chocolate icing on it
- .. and then we went for some fruit (strawberries) and mini-cream puffs from the chocolate fountain in the middle – which was wonderful.
My advice, if some cruel, sadistic person insists you go here, skip the food and go straight for the chocolate fountain. It was the best thing about the meal.
The few positives… If you really like Asian Buffets and want to eat a LOT of food (and don’t mind limited selection), and can tolerate the smoke/etc – this might be ok. There were several families there with plates piled HIGH with food, who seemed to be enjoying their meals. Also, there were AMPLE servers, and my water glass never went empty before it was refilled, and my used plates were usually (not always, but usually) taken away swiftly. The door staff seemed overworked and irritable, but the servers were very pleasant.
So, not a place worth going or that I would ever go to again. While the stench of smoke wasn’t really noticeable within the restaurant, just the walk past the untended garden-turned-enormous ashtray outside should have been a signal that this was not going to be a place I would enjoy. And I didn’t.
Grey Eagle Casino Buffet
3777 Grey Eagle Dr S.W.
Calgary, AB T3E