High-tech idea en­hances buf­fet

Or­der­ing by iPad much eas­ier than ex­pected

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life -

pen­sive to set out all that food in hope that cus­tomers will con­sume it with min­i­mal wastage.

To solve these prob­lems, Jay Chen, re­cently ar­rived from China via Toronto, is in­tro­duc­ing a new kind of buf­fet at The One (5222 Ma­cleod Trail S., 403-2598585). He’s serv­ing sushi and Chi­nese, Korean and Thai dishes on his buf­fet, 160 se­lec­tions in to­tal. Not bad for a $17 lunch buf­fet ($28 for din­ner as there are some pricier op­tions on the evening menu).

But the thing that makes The One dif­fer­ent from other buf­fets is that there’s no buf­fet.

In­stead, there’s an iPad that’s been pre-loaded with an or­der­ing sys­tem. Each of the 160 dishes ap­pears with a photo and the op­tion to order one or more serv­ings. Se­lect a list of, say, hot and sour soup, a dy­na­mite sushi roll, bul­gogi, pad Thai and gen­eral Tso chicken. That’s a good start. Then press the send but­ton and the order is sent di­rectly to the kitchen. Very shortly the dishes — mostly ap­pe­tizer-sized — start ar­riv­ing, hot from the kitchen.

If you like the bul­gogi and want another go at it, en­ter it on the iPad again with any ad­di­tional dishes you’re eye­ing. Keep or­der­ing un­til you’re full or un­til the iPad starts to smoke.

Your in­ter­ac­tion with the staff is lim­ited to them wel­com­ing you and show­ing you how to use the iPad and then de­liv­er­ing the food, drinks (ex­tra cost) and the bill.

I was won­der­ing if the com­puter or­der­ing sys­tem might be off-putting to non tech-savvy folks. But it re­ally is easy, even sim­pler than se­lect­ing dishes on a real buf­fet.

Chen learned about this vir­tual buf­fet style while work­ing at 168 Sushi in On­tario. (There are seven out­lets there.) When his friend Henry Zheng, a sushi chef, moved to Al­berta last year, the pair started talk­ing about open­ing their own place. They brought chef Leo Lin on board to han­dle the Chi­nese, Korean and Thai op­tions.

To­gether, the three part­ners took over the mori­bund Home Food Inn site on Ma­cleod Trail and did a full makeover, mod­ern­iz­ing the room with new floors, lights, kitchen equip­ment and seats. It’s now done in dark browns, blues and blacks with a mul­ti­tude of small lights il­lu­mi­nat­ing the ta­bles. Seat­ing nearly 200, it’s re­mark­ably quiet and calm.

Kids un­der three are free; for those ages three to five, the cost is $4 for lunch, $5 for din­ner; ages six to 12 it’s $9 for lunch, $16 for din­ner. Se­niors pay $17 for lunch, $22 for din­ner.

The One is open daily for lunch and din­ner. The din­ner menu is avail­able all day for the en­hanced price. Like many buf­fets, if you order ex­ces­sively, they re­serve the right to charge you for your glut­tony. And there is a sep­a­rate take­out menu.

If straight-up sushi — with a bit of tem­pura and Ja­panese noo­dles in the mix — is more your style, Sho Sushi at 7212 Ma­cleod Trail S. (403-252-5199) has re­cently ex­panded to more than 200 seats. Owned and op­er­ated by Steve and Grace Trang (they also own the two Sakana Grills), Sho opened only a year ago fronting a long, nar­row build­ing onto Ma­cleod Trail.

But even with an up­stairs lounge and deck, they needed more room for their pop­u­lar busi­ness. So they knocked out the back wall and added an ex­tra 60 seats, cre­at­ing a space that can also be used for pri­vate events. It’s been nicely in­cor­po­rated into the front part of the res­tau­rant with stone-cov­ered walls and its own bar. They might even have to re­name the res­tau­rant The Big Sho now.



Stu­art Gradon/Cal­gary Her­ald

Part­ners Jay Chen, left, Henry Zheng and chef Leo Lin of­fer a unique buf­fet at The One sushi res­tau­rant, fea­tur­ing 160 se­lec­tions, but there’s ac­tu­ally no buf­fet.

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