Please help yourself: Oi dines at The Log

 The Gem center is a multilevel and multipurpose complex which, as you enter, has the look and feel of a modern art gallery or museum. Tall, white ceilings contrast with polished wooden finishes – both in the interior fit out as well as the ground level cafe – punctuating the spacious feeling as you’re making your way through the venue.

Gem center buffer res 2

Located inside Gem Center is its signature restaurant The Log (Gem Center 8 Nguyen Binh Khiem, D1). Upon entering the dining room we were greeted by Billy the manager who took us on a guided tour. A few paces down the hallway, away from the a la carte section, was the buffet spread (buffet dinner VND1,050,000/person, 6pm–10:30pm), which we immediately knew was going to be no ordinary buffet experience.

Gem center buffet res 1

Gem center table set up

At the seafood bar were rows of individually arranged oysters, fresh blue swimmer crabs, prawns and a variety of seafood cocktails. The entire bar was illuminated with lights reflecting off the ice, giving the impression of a jewelry display case. A few paces away were the soup and stir fried stations housing a variety of vegetables along with protein ingredients for the soups. They were arranged so diners can select and place their main ingredients and noodles inside a soup bowl then passed to the chef to be finished off with the broth.

Gem center buffet restaurant

The scent of fennel wafting from the Italian sausages temporarily diverted my attention to the charcuterie section, with its giant wheels of cheeses and five types of sausages. Another turn took us face-to-face with bamboo steamer baskets containing 12 types of Shanghai style dumplings. Other Asian fusion inspired items such as sautéed kungpao emu, barbecued ribs, beef stewed with truffles, pork ribs, roast beef and a number of other hot items lay there to satisfy the carnivores. To complete a surf and turf combination was a selection of lobsters and giant river prawns, all ready to be laid on the grill.

Gem center hot dishes

Our brief tour ended at the dessert station where a chocolate fountain towered over an assembly of miniature cakes and a selection of seasonal fruit. I thought to myself that making it as far as the dessert bar would be an achievement itself given the number of items starting from the seafood bar.

After the Food Tour

I decided to restrict my selection to the oysters and sashimi to allow room for the other remaining courses. Only two large plump sized oysters and a few slices of sashimi managed to fit onto the plate, which turned out to be the right amount given the sashimi’s rich and creamy texture, and the oysters were accented by the ginger vinaigrette. Wasabi lovers can rejoice at the mound of freshly grated wasabi sitting next to thinly sliced tuna, salmon and kingfish that tasted of the sea.

Gem center buffet hot counter

For my soup, I selected the pork balls, roast pork slices and the fish wrapped in betel leaves and bacon. There are a variety of noodles to choose from but I opted to enjoy a noodle free soup with the spicy broth. The fish in betel leaves and bacon was given its second bathing in hot oil to add another layer of texture to the dish. The spicy broth had a milder and smokier note than I had expected. The consistency was thicker, reminding me of a Japanese or Korean soup stock, rich in pork bones that had been simmering all day long.

Gem center buffet

My dining companion decided to skip the seafood grill, but the lobsters that caught my eye during the tour were too tempting to pass up. Smaller in size, I was concerned that the char broiled lobster would dry out easily on the grill, however, such concerns withered away after the first bite of the succulent flesh, brushed with a mild garlic butter.

Gem center seafood

The theme for the dessert bar is best described as playful. I headed straight for the chocolate fountain. Barely giving the chocolate any time to temper, I gobbled down two strawberries as we eyed the 10 different mini cakes behind the glass counter. We split the 10 between us to sample and if I had to nominate a favorite, I would opt for the chocolate mousse topped with red currents that added acidity and balance to the overall desserts.

Adding to the pleasant ambiance throughout the evening was a live band performing popular ballads. The volume and music was coordinated perfectly and didn’t become a distraction. Dining at The Log was a special experience, from the moment we walked through the front door until the final bite. It is a luxurious experience with personalized buffet options, attentive service and an intelligent use of lighting to accentuate the mood and the feeling of intimacy in a large space.

*Images provided by Gem Center

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