Thanksgiving 2009: East 33

Thanksgiving in Beijing has a very different meaning from in the US, where everyone gathers at home with family. In Beijing, its a time to get together with friends and head out to one of the city's few restaurants that serve turkey and follow this very American of traditions. The past few years, the Raffles Hotel has done Thanksgiving events at its restaurants East 33 and Jaan, once again this year we headed to East 33 to enjoy the Thanksgiving buffet.

As many Chinese don't fully grasp the "traditional Thanksgiving menu" of turkey with stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc etc, a buffet is the perfect option to satisfy all tastes. Plus, this one is all-you-can-drink, need I say more? The other nice thing is that this year there was a real expansion of the offerings, including a large seafood raw bar.
a seafood bounty my seafood bounty

Of course, the main reason to come is for the turkey. For me, turkey isn't the most flavorful of birds (then again, I've never done an organic, free range heritage turkey before) and it is far too often overcooked, but this one was well cooked and moist, I had no complaints. At the carving station, a nice honey baked ham was also available, offering a nice saltiness and deep flavor if turkey is too boring for you.
turkey being carvedthe turkey carver in action

Other stations included Italian pastas and Chinese noodles cooked to order with a variety of options as well as a grilled meats station. There was sushi and prepared hot foods of both western and Chinese provenience (seafood lasagne or lazi ji anyone?). Of course no buffet is complete without a dessert bar, this one was especially impressive, including cakes, tartlets, a cheese section, homemade ice cream, and some cute little dessert bites.
desserts on offerJust some of the dessert bar offerings

At RMB298, it wasn't cheap, but considering most the other options were above RMB200, comparatively, it was a bargain. The Raffles Thanksgiving buffet is quickly becoming my own Thanksgiving tradition in Beijing, this year's buffet offerings were even an improvement over last year and our party walked out completely stuffed. The only problem with attending a buffet is that you don't get turkey leftovers for Friday's lunch, oh well.

East 33 (东33)
Raffles at Beijing Hotel, Wangfujing
Price: ¥¥¥ out of ¥¥¥¥¥
Rating: 4 out of 5 (a damn good buffet and a great way to celebrate the holiday)

pro: all you can eat&drink, great turkey, excellent raw bar, nice dessert bar
con: RMB298 ain't cheap, no leftovers, some of the sashimi was still frozen

Finally, a Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

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