Buffet eating without the buffet. That, in short, is what “a la minute buffet” is, a new concept in eating that the Kensington Hotel in San Roque is introducing at its spacious Loria Restaurant that allows diners to eat as much as they want at a fixed cost while maintaining social distancing rules.
“We wanted to open the restaurant and at the same time become close to the people of Saipan by serving them unique flavors and good food. …I focused on how to make this safe for everyone…” said executive chef Lee Inok.
Inspired by Asian and Western flavors, the “a la minute” buffet costs just $38 for adults and $19 for children 4 to 11 years old. It is somewhat similar to buffet-style dining but, instead of getting food from different stations and getting food as often as you want, a la minute buffet means food is prepared and served to you at your table when you order it.
According to Inok, he used his imagination to serve the community the right way while navigating through the pandemic.
Inok, who has over 10 years’ experience making Italian dishes and each of his chefs being experts in Japanese, Chinese and Korean dishes, thy combined all these expertise into 17 different kinds of dishes that are made available at Loria Restaurant for a culinary adventure for its diners.
“We make it a point that we use ingredients grown in our own garden and many of the side dishes are 100% made in-house,” he added.
Guests can choose from 17 dishes and Loria Restaurant makes sure you start with freshly prepared bread, butter, garden salad, and soup of the day. The main entrées are served in small portions so that you can order any of the dishes as frequently as possible.
It was suggested that you order two dishes (same or different kinds) at a time, every time so they can prepare dishes hot and fresh while maximizing your food adventure.
Western entrées include melted mozzarella cheese, spaghetti, lasagna, chicken piccata, seared fish fillet, seared sous vide pork belly, and Angus Beef striploin steak. I started with the familiar ones on the list—lasagna and the Angus Beef striploin—and they didn’t disappoint. Trying the rest on the list makes you think, “I’ve never had this flavor before.” This was especially true with the spaghetti filled with shallot, mackerel ragout and dill crumble and the chicken piccata surrounded by mushroom risotto and tomato vinaigrette.
Korean entrées include “Kalbu Jim” soy sauce braised beef short rib, steamed rice and radish kimchi and “PaDak” crispy fried chicken that is known as a Korean pop culture dish. These two dishes transport you to Korea without leaving Saipan as it is prepared traditional Korean style.
Japanese entrées include Chef’s Special hako sushi, nigiri sushi board that has three pieces of fish and seafood, ginger pickle, wasabi and soy sauce and California roll, crab meat filled with avocado, ahi tuna, cucumber, hinger pickle, wasabi and soy sauce.
Chinese entrées include stir fried seafood rice noodle, poached sliced beef in hot chili oil, and kung pao chicken that comes with cashew nuts and spicy kung pao sauce.
One cannot skip dessert when it includes house-made fruits sorbet and their delicious espresso tiramisu. Have the house-made fruits sorbet in the middle part of your lunch or dinner to cleanse your palate so you can dine on more dishes.
This 5’4” tall and 135-lb writer was able to take on full 11 dishes by herself and the other dishes by picking from her friends’ plates. Overall, Loria Restaurant truly delivers, with a relaxing, unhurried ambiance, and good food for the community. Kensington Hotel Loria Restaurant’s makes the “a la minute” style the new normal and gives a glimmer of hope for fine-dining amid the pandemic.
Loria International Restaurant is open four days a week. Thursday and Friday serves dinner only from 6pm to 2pm, Saturday open for lunch from 11:30am to 2pm, and dinner from 6pm to 9pm, and Sunday open for lunch from 11:30am to 2pm. For the whole month of August, Loria will offer special discounts and offer free “mimosa” coupons that people can get from Kensington Hotel’s Facebook page.
For more information, call (670) 237-4584 or go to their website: kensingtonsaipan.com.