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“Best Seafood Buffet”
Review of Cafe Sierra

Cafe Sierra
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Ranked #1,254 of 9,980 Restaurants in Los Angeles
Cuisines: American
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast, Reservations
Neighbourhood: Universal City Area
Description: Famous for its unique Seafood, Lobster and Prime Rib Buffet in L.A. Cafe Sierra is located high atop the Hollywood Hills inside the gleaming tower of Hilton Universal City.
Mayaguez
Level Contributor
206 reviews
145 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 220 helpful votes
“Best Seafood Buffet”
Reviewed 3 February 2014

NAME: Café Sierra [called a “Café” but is a giant restaurant with hundreds of seats. Most seats filled when we were there.]

TELEPHONE: +1 (808) 284-4253

WEB PAGE: cafesierrahilton.com

RESERVATIONS: They accept reservations. They have room for hundreds of guests, but are very popular. Reservations may be a good idea.

DAYS/HOURS OF OPERATION: Varies by day. Check online. Their famous buffets are Friday-Saturday. We attended the Saturday Evening Buffet.

GREETING: None. We just walked in and found the maitre d' to sign us up.

LOCALITY: Hilton Universal City, 555 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, California 91608

DIFFICULTY LOCATING: Do not know.

OCCASION: We were fortuitously staying at the hotel for other business, but The Pirate had scouted out local California seafood and local seafood restaurants. The buffets were famous and had received excellent reviews.

PARKING: There is a parking grange, but I did not check on this.

SPECIALS: They advertise specials on their mailing list.

VIEW: None. Inside the hotel.

ATMOSPHERE: Despite having hundreds of patrons along large tables, it is still nice.

AIR-CONDITIONED: yes

FURNITURE: Real wood tables and chairs were comfortable and spacious.

BEER: I had a large, draft “Sierra Nevada” in a tall glass, which was good ($8).

WINE: My wife had a large glass of white wine, which was very good ($8).

DRINKS: NA

BAR: They have a full bar service.

WATER: Provided in large pressed-glass glasses

MENU FORMAT: There is a brief menu online.

WAITRESS: Service was good, but she did not know anything about their beers or wines. Told me that Samuel Adams was a local beer! This is a shame with so many microbreweries in the area.

SERVICE: The server at the Taco Station was oddly grumpy. Another reviewer said he was grumpy in mid-November. Looked like his mood had not improved. Management posted that they had addressed this problem, but I guess not. The servers at the other stations were more positive and polite, but did not speak English. Surprisingly, they did not seem to speak Spanish, either. Go figure. They knew nothing about the seafood. Not even about the ones they were serving.

BREAD: I never saw any. There is house-baked bread on their breakfast menu.

APPETIZERS: Oysters on-the-half-shell (rather small), Makizushi, Sushi, and Sashimi [the pickled ginger was white instead of pink]. I only tried the shrimp sushi, which was ordinary. I make better; however, the other items looked good. The grumpy Taco Station Man had Fish [1], Shrimp, Beef, and Chicken Tacos [2]; Shrimp Dim Sum and Pork Dim Sum

SALAD: There was a simple green salad and an ordinary vegetable salad.

ENTRÉE: Lobster Thermador; King Crab Legs and Claws; giant, boiled, you-peel, shrimp; Cioppino (California Seafood Stew) [3], Ginger Dungeness Crab; Pacific Halibut [4]; Atlantic Salmon; Atlantic Salmon in Teriaki Sauce, Ahi (Yellowfin or Bigeye Tuna) (all excellent), Shellfish Ceviche [5]; Peking Duck (tasted gamey); prime rib (slicing Station), roast pork, pork ribs, lamb (without mint jelly). At least 3 kinds of lobsters, King Crab, Dungeness Crab, and Opilio Crab pieces in various dishes.

SIDES: Seafood Paella, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, several rice dishes, pasta dishes, fried rice

CONDIMENTS: Salt and pepper shakers on the table, the shrimp sauce was pleasantly spicy but needed more horse radish, lemon and lime wedges, wasabi, shoyu (soy sauce), white pickled ginger, no jalapeno pepper (in California?), no mint jelly, no hot sauce, no melted butter

SILVERWARE: Adequate. Good cracker for the crab and some interesting picking-out tools.

SERVING TIME: NA, but dishes were quickly refilled.

DESERT: Fabulous and intricate. Chocolate fountain and Cotton Candy.

BATHROOM: Did not examine, but I am certain they were fine.

COST COMPARISON: Seemed a bit expensive ($47), but the food was so great, who could complain?

BILL: Handled well.

SECURITY: Inside the hotel. Sort of open-air to the lobby. Not certain how they keep up with who is paying or not.

PROBLEMS: (A) Many diverse food bars and manned food stations are well spread out, which is good for serving time. The only problem is that finding everything can be confusing. Some things are hidden around corners. (B) The line at the Crape Station was always long. (C) The grumpy Taco Station man. (D) They no longer have their Sharkfin Soup [6], no abalone, Jellyfish, Snow Crab Legs, Shrimp Cocktail, Pâté Platter, Calimari (Squid), Octopus, Clams, Clam Chowder, Quail, Haagen Dazs icecream, Scallops, Cheese Baked Lobster, Escargot, Walnut Prawns, Coconut Shrimp

SUMMATION: Best seafood buffet that I have ever seen.

Footnotes
[1] Fish Tacos is a famous California product, which I wanted to try. I closely examined the bloody, chunks of uncooked fish. It was shark. May have been Common Thresher (Shark), Alopias vulpinus, which I also wanted to try. An excellent tasting fish and California has one of the few, may be the only, legal and sustainable fisheries for this animal.
[3] This stew is another famous California product, which I wanted to try. It had the traditional black mussels, ribbed clams, shrimp, white fish, and crab legs. However, it also had pieces of lobster, which it not in the traditional recipe. It should have had scallops, but I could not find any.
[4] Hippoglossus stenolepis, I would have preferred to try the California Halibut, Paralichtys californicus.
[5] Ceviche is fresh, raw fish marinated in citrus juices. Lemon or lime juice denatures the proteins and make the fish appear “cooked.” Unfortunately, most dangerous parasites are unharmed by citrus juices. They incorrectly call all kinds of cooked things in California “ceviches.” Jim Williams used to take Queen Conch right out of the water after a dive, out on the reefs, thinly slice the raw meat, marinade it in a lime sauce for a few minutes, and serve it in the boat. It was wonderful.
[6] I would have liked to have tried it. There is nothing illegal or unethical about making “Sharkfin Soup” as-long-as the entire fish is harvested and utilized. I suppose it could encourage the deplorable practice of “Finning.” They stopped serving this June 2013 and it is now banned in California.

  • Visited January 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Ernest W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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104 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
San Diego, California
Level Contributor
43 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Food cold, fatty, boney (not a buffet review)”
Reviewed 1 November 2013

NOT a buffet review!

This review is for the Lobby Lounge, but we ordered off the full dinner menu from Cafe Sierra. Maybe the main dining room would have been a better choice, but I'm assuming everything comes from the same kitchen.

We sat ourselves and the server came right over to start us off with some drinks. He listened attentively and confirmed our drink order.

Appetizer was French sliders: they were dried out and very fatty. One slider was almost all fat and barely edible. However, the French Fries were good. Salad was a standard house side salad. I liked the mixed greens instead of Iceberg Lettuce.

Here's where it got worse: Entree was the Mandarin BBQ Combo. It had white rice, pork and slices of duck. The duck was so cold it was almost like it had been chilled before service and the sauce was overpowering and salty. Also, it was prepared very poorly, majority of the pieces were mostly cartilage and had small pieces of bones all throughout. The pork was barely warm and unseasoned.

We didn't receive bread until about the time the salad came out (which was after the sliders). Water was by request only.

Maybe we happened to choose the wrong dishes tonight, but from this first experience: not recommended. We'll have to try the buffet which is available on Fridays and Saturdays.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Jason C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Aurora, Colorado, United States
Level Contributor
33 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Not your typical buffet! Very classy, very tasty!!”
Reviewed 26 September 2013

We decided to stop in while on vacation after reading good reviews about it. They do a seafood buffet on Friday and Saturday nights, which is amazing. You will pay a little bit more for this buffet, but it is huge, there is a great selection and the food is incredible. When you first get there, they seat you at a table that has a tablecloth and a candle, and there is a musician in the restaurant playing music. The sushi was very very good, as was the lobster and the lamb. My husband liked the clam chowder and the ribs the best. They have a crepe station too that looked amazing but we didn't get to try because we were too full. This is the best buffet I have ever been to.

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Lisa C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
41 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
“Great Breakfast Buffet”
Reviewed 9 July 2013

It is $23 for adults and $10 for kids for breakfast. Great large selection and very tasty!! They had lots of hot items and lots of muffins. I had a blueberry one and it was still warm!! Some people think it's pricey but you gotta check out their selection and quality...that's why it cost so much. It's worth it if you eat lots!!

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank mustluvdogs0207
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Canton, Georgia
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Restaurant review”
Reviewed 30 June 2013

Buffet is too expensive. It appeared that some food was left out longer than the expected time frame. There was not a huge variety each day.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
Thank Phyllis B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
HiltonUniversal, Manager at Cafe Sierra, responded to this review, 2 July 2013
Thank you for your recent feedback. We are disappointed to hear that you did not enjoy your meal. We have forwarded your concerns to the appropriate managers and you love to contact you to discuss this matter further. Please send your contact information to your Marketing Manager at lbriones@hiltonuniversal.com. Thank you for bringing these issues to our attention and we hope you will consider dining with us in the future.

Regards,
Cafe Sierra Management
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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