High-tech idea enhances buffet
Ordering by iPad much easier than expected
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.
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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.