I Cook Buffet (Toronto) – Yes! I CAN cook buffet!
The name of this place is hilarious. I Cook Buffet. If I change it to iCookbuffet, it suddenly appears more Mac-like no? It isn’t quite accurate though. You don’t really get to cook a buffet, so to speak. Buffet to me means cooked food in metal pans heated with small gas flames. Regardless of what it was, I really liked this hot pot place in Toronto. The service was speedy, the place was clean and didn’t smell too strongly, and there was enough ventilation to keep the place cool. Overall, it was one of my better hot pot experiences. For those of you who don’t know, hot pot (da-been-low, or DBL as my sister likes to call it) is essentially fondue but with soup instead of cheese or chocolate and meats/veges/noodles instead of fruit or bread. It is one of the things I really miss from Calgary that I wish we had in Kingston.
I wish that there was a bit more counter space. I like to have a good food management system when I eat hot pot. I like to take my boiled food and place it into a small bowl to cool/drain. I then dip it into my sauce and then I place it into my mouth in a cool and flavoured state. Just talking about it is making me salivate. You will notice from this photo the presence of orange pop. Yes kids, there is all the orange pop you can drink!
You can see how busy the DBL table can get. Again note the presence of orange pop.
Making a fun sauce is part of the excitement of DBL. Like most DBL places, I Cook Buffet has a large selection of sauces and green onions that you can mix together (peanut, satay, soy, sweet, etc.) What I Cook Buffet has on top of it is some nice additional things like peanuts and my favourite: fried garlic slices. The above sauce is peanut sauce, sa-cha sauce, some green onion, and fried garlic slices. Yummmm.
A legendary soup. For a bit extra ($3.99) you can get a special broth. This one is the insane super hot. I asked for it. The server tried to back me down from it. But that just got me more excited. This was way too hot. If you look closely, you can see maybe 1cm of red spicy oil sitting on top of essentially a hot pepper paste soup. There are also hot peppers sitting in the bowl. This was just insane. Needless to say, I loved it. I couldn’t taste much of the other food after I dipped into this so I had to stop using it after 20 minutes of eating (yes, I ate for greater than 20 minutes).
The legendary fridge. Look at how much stuff there is! And it all looks fresh too! I have never seen a fridge so well stocked. You essentially grab your raw veges/meats/seafood from here and bring it back to your table.
Overall, at $14.99 plus the surcharge for special soup bases ($3.99 for most), this was a fantastic meal and a great deal. I would totally come here again if there weren’t so many DBL places in Toronto. It is hard to give it a super strong recommendation if I haven’t compared it to anything. What I can say for sure is this: this beats down any Calgary DBL place.
Addendum from September 2nd, 2009 – I came back to I Cook Buffet after a year long hiatus from Hot Pot. The selection of items in their freezer remains excellent. I only wish that they would scrub the place down once. I find is starting to feel a bit grubby. Otherwise, still a great place for DBL (da-been-low).
I had the mushroom soup base this time. Verrrrrrrry good.
I Cook Buffet, 7030 Warden Ave, Toronto, ON, 905-307-7878.