Post image for Bali Breakfasts – or, an exercise in gluttony

Bali Breakfasts – or, an exercise in gluttony

September 5, 2010 · 73 comments

Happy Fathers’ Day! Today being the special day in Australia at least, I thought I’d write a special post in honour of my Dad.

There is little else that demonstrates that I am my Father’s daughter quite like witnessing my efforts at a buffet. While I’ve often said that my eating abilities are a force to be reckoned with, this is not always apparent in my everyday life. Present me with a full buffet breakfast however and my talents can really shine. If the buffet breakfast also happens to be the only prepaid meal while away on holiday, then hang on to your hats (especially if they’re particularly tasty looking).

Padma dining room

On our July holiday to Bali my sister K and I, both seasoned holiday buffet breakfasters, put our genetic buffet talents to the test. It’s not all nature though – nurture also plays a role and to maximise the experience you need to be aware of a few pointers:

  • allow at least 1.5 hours for breakfast – 2 hours is better – and be aware that some items may not be replenished when time is creeping towards the end of breakfast;
  • do the rounds of all the options before beginning your first course – you need to be tactical in the use of stomach space when faced with so many choices;
  • if you see something you love, DON’T WAIT until a following day to treat yourself with it – many large buffets will cycle through items and no amount of tears the next day will magic up some chocolate waffles;
  • pace yourself – it’s a marathon, not a race;
  • be aware of tasty morsels within reaching height of children – they may be contaminated with germ of child;
  • use the opportunity to try out new foods, but don’t load up your plate with things you have no intention of eating – wasting food is not cool, kids;
  • take advantage of the quality people watching opportunities while enjoying your leisurely breakfast – you are guaranteed to be amazed/repulsed by some people’s food choices and to witness some odd family interactions;
  • if you can, get in a good weights session at the gym before starting all of this – most things are more enjoyable if you have to work for them, you can always eat more after a good workout, and you can try and fool yourself into thinking your stomach is sore due to too many crunches and not too many pancakes.

One of many breakfast dessert courses - anyone know what those stringy white bits of fruit are, next to the pineapple? They tasted of nothing.

We got to apply our method to two buffets during the trip. The first was at the Conrad Hilton in Nusa Dua. As far as Bali hotels go, this place is over the top. Super fancy pants. Unfortunately it has prices to match, and we just stayed here for a few days for my friend’s wedding before heading up to the more affordable Legian for a few more days. The ridiculous prices meant that K and I were extra determined to make our breakfasts last as long as possible so we could hold out until afternoon tea or even dinner time, with perhaps some complimentary fruit to see us through.

Dessert course on day...uh I can't remember, it's all just a beautifully hazy sweet memory

It was very easy to spend a good couple of hours enjoying the Conrad buffet breakfast, given the range of food choices on offer. Delicious tropical fresh, dried and tinned fruits to accompany a range of cereals, yoghurts and bircher muesli; a large bench of antipasti, salads and sauces; a soup/noodle station with different noodles and all sorts of condiments; a Japanese station with miso, nori and various pickles; a selection of various Asian hot dishes; all your standard western hot dishes; a different hot roast each day, carved off the bone for you; a selection of various breads, pastries and other sweets; and some sort of children’s station that we avoided. There was even a massive bamboo steamer, holding little steamers inside it which in turn held a selection of dim sum dishes. We made no attempt to hide our joy upon spotting this.

Buffet breakfast options at the Conrad Hilton, Nusa Dua

My breakfast typically consisted of five courses. We would start off with a cereal/fruit course, then I would move onto a salad/antipasti course before hitting up the hot food selections and then finishing off with something sweet.

There was always some type of glutinous rice goopiness at the sweet pastries station, and it was impossible to resist (especially if it was bright green pandan glutinous rice goopiness).

My typical breakfast - please don't judge me too harshly, it took a couple of hours to eat.

While taking our sweet time to ingest as much delicious food as possible we would enjoy the views and discuss such important matters as whether we would spend some time at the pool before getting a massage, or vice versa. I also spent some of the time trying to convince K to come on the flying blowup mattress thingy with me as you needed a minimum of two people to do it, but by the end of the trip I remained unsuccessful in this endeavour.

Pretty hard not to spend 2 hours eating breakfast when you've got such views...

After three days it was time to head north to Legian, where we were staying at the Padma. After the awesomeness of the Conrad buffet we readied ourselves to be disappointed, but the Padma was even better than the Conrad! They even had some special rice for those who find theirs a little too straight, if you know what I mean..

Just a tiny selection of the food options at the Padma, Legian - kinky rice, anyone?

The combination of even tastier food choices, a nicely stretched stomach and the knowledge that we had to hold out until 4:30pm when we had free food in the Garden Club lounge meant that even more food managed to get magicked away during our breakfasts here. I was particularly impressed with the hot sweet dishes, always including some sort of sago/coconut and sweet bean options.

Just one of many multi-course breakfasts at the Padma, washed down with countless coffees

If anything apart from my nose and eyelashes is going to prove my paternal lineage, this is it. I hope you are not too horrified, but I just can’t fight my genes (some fighting with my jeans may or may not have occurred when I got home).

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

gcroft September 5, 2010 at 2:53 pm

It is now breakfast time in London, and I wish I was in a nice hotel for their buffet breakfast. I have to admit, I much prefer savoury over sweet options for breakfast, and special rice over straight is definitely my bag. Thankfully, I have prepped some roti dough, so am off to see if they are going to turn out ok.


Conor September 5, 2010 at 6:18 pm

When faced with normal (non buffet) options for breakfast, I always have to go for savoury over sweet, no matter how amazing the sweet options look. I guess that’s why I love buffets so much – I can get my savoury cravings met and still have a few sweet treats too! Ooooh roti dough, now I’m jealous.


Jess September 5, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Oh I do love a good buffet, I am glad to see you got your money’s worth
Solid effort.


Conor September 5, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Thanks, we did our best :D


Mei September 5, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Kinky rice? Over here please!

Oooh that dim sum on the Conrad brekkie looked good. There’s nothing like the buffets of SE Asia… I really need to get a waffle machine!!
Mei´s last blog post market @ palmyra ps – fremantle


Conor September 5, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Extra kinky for you!
Oh, totally. Noone does buffet like SE Asia does buffet. The hotel buffet breakfasts in Perth pale in comparison!


pierre September 5, 2010 at 5:52 pm

defintely my kind of breakfast ! but unfornutaley when i enter in my kitchen in the morning this is just fresh baguette and butter with coffee!!
pierre´s last blog post ..Crème brûlée- senteur thym citron


Conor September 5, 2010 at 6:22 pm

You know what though Pierre? It’s still hard to go past fresh bread, especially a nice crusty baguette.


Simply Life September 5, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Ha, looks like a great way to celebrate father’s day!
Simply Life´s last blog post ..Perfected Marinara &amp Brat Hans GIVEAWAY!


Conor September 5, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Wish we could have recreated it today!


Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz September 5, 2010 at 8:26 pm

OMG…and I am reading this on a Sunday morning. I am so hungry now. Obviously where I am there is no such thing as such an exotic breakfast buffet. I would be in heaven there. But 5 course in the morning, really? How do you do it? And I have to know what that pink round creamy stuff is? Is there a recipe for that?
Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz´s last blog post ..Bordeaux Exchange- Round 2


Conor September 5, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Sorry Evelyne. I got pretty hungry myself going through these photos, and there is surely no such buffet anywhere near me right now! Bali trip? Shall we? 5 courses in the morning requires a lot of time to eat slowly, a greedy disposition and a sense of determination. I think the early exercise helps a lot too, I’m always ravenously hungry about a good iron pump! (erm, you know what I mean)


Celeste @ Berrytravels September 5, 2010 at 9:20 pm

WOW. I’m really impressed by the breakfast spread. I never like hotel breakfasts as they tend to be cold and yucky and consist of just cereals. But with a breakfast spread like that, I’d be there the whole morning to eat.

Lucky lucky!
Celeste @ Berrytravels´s last blog post ..June Cookoff- Macaron Duet – Peppermint w- Dark chocolate ganache Vanilla w- coffee cream cheese frosting


Conor September 5, 2010 at 10:37 pm

The trouble with these types of hotel spreads are that they totally ruin you to all the regular lame ones. Yep, these types DEMAND you to spend hours enjoying them! ‘twould be criminal not to :)


Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite September 5, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Yeah, uh, I am reading this on Sunday morning after a meagre blow of cereal. You did your dad proud in this post :-) I also love the hotel buffet and the fact that you can make it stretch (haha no pun intended) a couple of hours meaning you don’t have to eat until the next (buffet) meal. Us travelling together? Danger Danger Will Robinson!
Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite´s last blog post ..Bon Appétit RSVP Redux September – Blueberry cornmeal pancakes


Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite September 5, 2010 at 9:46 pm

And that would be a meagre “bowl” of cereal. Right hand in brace means some typos to be expected over next couple of weeks.
Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite´s last blog post ..Bon Appétit RSVP Redux September – Blueberry cornmeal pancakes


Conor September 5, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I quite like the idea of a blow of cereal. It sounds like such a nice mixture of illicit and dull. Thanks, I like to think we were channelling Dad every morning as we piled another plate with goodies. And yep, the next (buffet) meal consisted of doing it all over again. We totally have to travel together one day, if only for the reactions from onlookers at the buffet table.
Also, v. sorry about your poor hand. I wish you a super speedy recovery! Hands are quite useful things to have functioning pain-free :(


Trix September 6, 2010 at 1:41 am

You have summed up my feelings on buffets perfectly! I have been known to shock and amaze people at the sheer amount of food I can stick in my belly – but it really is all about pacing. I am not a fan of Las Vegas, but if you ever find yourself there, the buffet people watching is beyond belief. (Good advice about avoiding child germs.)


Conor September 6, 2010 at 10:42 am

Trix, we’re clearly buffet sisters too! Oh my goodness, I can only begin to imagine the buffet people watching at Las Vegas. I think it would be worth the trip there purely for the people watching. My sister is going to Las Vegas next year and I will pass on your comment to her – I can already hear her excited glee at the thought!


tasteofbeirut September 6, 2010 at 3:03 am

I enjoy big spreads like these especially in that type of setting; however, I am not that keen on eating a lot in the morning, preferring a roll or a man’oshe with zaatar and some coffee; love to have someone make the breakfast for me though!


Conor September 6, 2010 at 11:07 am

A man’oshe with zaatar and some coffee sounds like a great day to start the day (hehe, especially if made by someone else) :)


Carven September 6, 2010 at 3:38 am

Oh, you just gotta love SEAsia hotel buffet breakfast, particularly Thais and Malaysian!! Makes me feel like having one now!
Carven´s last blog post ..Assam Prawn


Conor September 6, 2010 at 11:10 am

They really know how to rock a buffet breakfast. I’m glad Australia is located right here.. and as much as I’d Australia to have such good buffets, it probably is for the best that we don’t (and it makes going on holiday extra exciting).


Nancy/SpicieFoodie September 6, 2010 at 8:32 am

Now that’s a great looking buffet! I love them because I like to try a little bit of everything. Looks like you had fun eating all of those delicious goodies.
Nancy/SpicieFoodie´s last blog post ..Angelinas Eggplant Parmesan


Conor September 6, 2010 at 11:11 am

I sure did, Nancy. Had fun getting into my jeans when I got home too :s


pachecopatty September 6, 2010 at 8:34 am

Great advice on how to maximize enjoyment at a hotel buffet- definitely should stake it out before making any selections like taking macaroni and cheese out of a steam dish only to discover a design your own pasta station around the corner- from the looks of this buffet it may have been wise to have run at least a half marathon before taking the plunge:)


Conor September 6, 2010 at 11:14 am

Patty that is the perfect example of what can happen! Or you scoop some dried out scrambled eggs from the bain marie then encounter an omelette station with a smiling man ready to make whatever delicious omelette your heart desires. Yes, some of the days may have required a full marathon ;)


Ellie (Almost Bourdain) September 6, 2010 at 9:06 am

Hmmm… lucky you! I want all these for breakfast now!
Ellie (Almost Bourdain)´s last blog post ..Brioche French Toast with Maple-Banana Sauce


Conor September 6, 2010 at 11:18 am

Me too Ellie! Let’s go to Bali!


Ladybird September 6, 2010 at 9:10 am

I am heading to Bali in November.. I will be sure to try and follow your advice.. hehe :)
Ladybird´s last blog post ..How to make gelatine free panna cotta


Conor September 6, 2010 at 11:20 am

Ooh I am jealous! It hasn’t been that long since I got back and I’m definitely ready to go over again. At least spring is definitely springing here now which makes the call to Bali not quite so strong as in winter!


April @ My Food Trail September 6, 2010 at 11:17 am

Haha, love all your buffet tips! I also feel like I have to get my monies worth at a buffet, but end up eating way too much and hardly being able to move afterwards! Breakfast buffets are great but breakfast is not my maximum stomach size time! :P
April @ My Food Trail´s last blog post ..Taste of Melbourne 2010- Part 2


Conor September 6, 2010 at 11:32 am

Ah well April, that’s the real joy of it – you don’t have to move afterwards! Well, you just have to move to the side of the pool, and then be able to turn the pages of your magazine ;)


Hannah September 6, 2010 at 11:43 am

Could it be jicama? I’ve heard that that occasionally gets thrown in fruit salad, but I really don’t know for sure…

I”m so far from being horrified that my feelings aren’t even in the same realm. I bow down to you magnificence, and only hope that one day I get to witness you partaking in a 13 course breakfast in person :)

P.S. Loving the child-germs-threshold pointer. Shall definitey keep that in mind!
Hannah´s last blog post ..This Precise Moment


Conor September 6, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Hmm, I think it was more soft and ribbony than jicama, but a good suggestion. I should have just asked while I was there. Too busy eating though, oh it’s always my downfall.

Ooooh 13 courses? I could totally do it! ESPECIALLY if I’ve just run across the country!

P.S. Child germs = gross. You know how people say you never know where other people’s hands have been? With children, you know where those hands have been, and it ain’t pretty.


penny aka jeroxie September 6, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Can I just say I am freaking JEALOUS!!
penny aka jeroxie´s last blog post ..I made Rojak


Conor September 6, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Yay I made Penny jealous! I must’ve been eating well :D


ylenate September 6, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Five courses is insane! Well done!
Your buffet guidelines are very true and I have to take heed of the one where you suggest grabbing your favorite thing immediately to avoid disappointment – I tend to always miss out on pancakes/crumpets. And it never occurred to me to avoid low-lying food … might explain the high proportion of bad-buffet experiences that some have.


Conor September 7, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Thanks! :D
Yes, you only have to go through that disappointment once before vowing to be more proactive from then on. When you have a hankering for pancakes or crumpets, toast or muffins just won’t do.


Agnes September 6, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Great tips – must remember them next time I’m confronted with a buffet. ;) And kinky rice? Did they dress it up in leather, whip it and tell it that it’s a naughty, naughty carbohydrate?

(PS: I love the fact that I can leave you awful, inappropriate, terribly unfunny comments, and not be ashamed! Whoo hoo!)


Conor September 7, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Oh Agnes, I love that you can do that too. Rest assured that I find your terribly unfunny comments terribly funny :D
I have a beautiful mental image of a little plump sort-grain rice grain all dressed up in bondage gear, being punished by a bigger long-grain rice grain.


mademoiselle délicieuse September 6, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Hehe, “germ of child”! And I like your buffet strategy – I, too, am deceiving in looks when compared with buffet consumption but I’m afraid this has definitely decreased with age… Gone are the days of, well, even more impressive eating from my mid-teens – ahhh, those were the days!
mademoiselle délicieuse´s last blog post ..Epicure Recipe Card 31- Baked Custard Tart


Conor September 7, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Noooooo say it isn’t so! I don’t want to have to reduce my number of courses as I age! It’s just not fair! At least I have these heydays recorded in my blog now I guess… to look back in less gorgetastic times.


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella September 6, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Wow, that was the breakfast spread? :o What on earth do they do for dinner then! lol at germ of child! I never thought of that!


Conor September 7, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Dinner was more buffet gorging, but definitely less options. It was free however, so I guess we can’t complain about the lack of options. Free cocktails too. It was a hard life. A hard, boozy, food-filled life.


Karen Harris September 6, 2010 at 10:45 pm

My delicious breakfast of cold pizza pales by comparison to your beautiful buffets. I am all of the sudden hungry for some fresh fruit and a little champage and OJ, my favorite holiday breakfast. Your trip sounds lovely.


Conor September 7, 2010 at 11:30 pm

I haven’t had cold pizza for breakfast for ages! I feel like making pizza right now just to be able to have cold pizza tomorrow. I am however tucked up in bed and there is no way I’m leaving the confines of my doona to do such a thing, but I can wish it nonetheless.


Pam September 7, 2010 at 12:07 am

I wish I would have eaten breakfast before reading this post… I am starving now!


Conor September 7, 2010 at 11:42 pm

It was pretty torturous going through the photos for this post, Pam. So much good food and none of it magically appearing in a plate in front of me :(


Cakelaw September 7, 2010 at 6:13 am

LOL – thanks for the buffet tips. These breakfasts look devine, so I don’t blame you one bit.
Cakelaw´s last blog post ..A foodie trip through Sydney


Conor September 7, 2010 at 11:43 pm

My pleasure :D And thanks! I’m glad to be getting a lot of justification for my overindulgences!


denise @ quickies on the dinner table September 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm

WHAT??! You went…….WITHOUT ME!?!?

ROFL – we might be distantly related, if our magnetic attraction to buffet tables (especially breakfast buffet tables) and carefully strategised eating game plans, are anything to go by ;) The hubs doesn’t call me “scarf face” for nothing *blush*
denise @ quickies on the dinner table´s last blog post ..Just Pointing in the General Direction


Conor September 7, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Um…. I tried calling but you weren’t home! You must’ve been out buying bacon!!


MaryMoh September 7, 2010 at 7:44 pm

This is quite like many Malaysian hotels which serve a wide array of food. You really need 2 hours to slowly enjoy it and then skip lunch :D You’ll probably still be full when dinner comes…haha
MaryMoh´s last blog post ..Strawberry Cheese Scottish Shortbread Tart


Conor September 7, 2010 at 11:50 pm

SE Asian hotels really know how to shine in the buffet stakes. Lunch was certainly skipped (most days), that’s for sure!


Cajun Chef Ryan September 8, 2010 at 2:58 am

This is indeed a grand breakfast! And the views are just as amazing as the food display and offerings. Having worked on a Sunday Brunch menu at the Hyatt Hotel New Orleans for several years, I can appreciate the volume and dedication to detail the chefs put into the one at the Conrad Hilton. I worked the omelet station many a Sunday.

Très magnifique et bon appétit!


Conor September 8, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Thanks CCR! Yes, I’m sure you made many a stomach very happy during that time. The omelette station is a place of magic :)


5 Star Foodie September 8, 2010 at 9:24 am

An amazing breakfast buffet there! We do like to do breakfasts like this when we’re on vacation and then afterward we skip lunch altogether and eat a late dinner.
5 Star Foodie´s last blog post ..Summer Trip 2010- Crete – Sights- Wine Tastings- Cretan Diet- and Dakos


Conor September 8, 2010 at 8:07 pm

I could never hold out until late dinner, but lunch was generally skipped!


Iron Chef Shellie September 8, 2010 at 11:12 am

surely those stringy white bits are coconut?

I suddenly feel the need to get my buffet action on!
Iron Chef Shellie´s last blog post ..Quesadillas with Guacamole


Conor September 8, 2010 at 8:08 pm

That’s what we thought, but then it didn’t taste of coconut. Could have been bland coconut?


Juliana September 8, 2010 at 11:16 am

Wow, what a wonderful place to have breakfast…I would be “rolling” out of this place because I’d tried everything :-) Awesome!


Conor September 8, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Cheers Juliana. We were certainly very close to rolling out each morning. Luckily it was purely a trip of leisure so we didn’t have to roll too far :)


Maria@TheGourmetChallenge September 8, 2010 at 11:18 am

The phrase – “may be contaminated with germ of child” should be stuck on any/all sneeze guards!!!

sriously impressed with your buffet eating abilities. One envies hair or even skin…..eating ability is truly a talent!
Maria@TheGourmetChallenge´s last blog post ..Royal Mail Hotel


Conor September 8, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Thanks Maria!!! It is great to be envied in these feats :D I’ve got nothing on that crazy wing eating lady who’s been on TV lately though…ayeeee…..


Magic of Spice September 9, 2010 at 11:11 am

Wow that is some breakfast spread… How wonderful :)
Magic of Spice´s last blog post ..Whats on the Side Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Tomato and Pluot Marinara


Conor September 9, 2010 at 11:57 am

It was a spread to remember… :)


Harriet September 9, 2010 at 7:48 pm

That looks like a supercool breakfast, they do say that you should ‘breakfast like a king’ after all!
Harriet´s last blog post ..Used TAG Heuer Aquaracer


Conor September 11, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Harriet, we certainly felt a bit like royalty with so much overindulgence and people to clear away our dishes and serve us coffee. Just needed some slaves to massage our bellies ;)


Forager @ The Gourmet Forager September 10, 2010 at 5:33 am

Hilarious post! I thoroughly enjoyed it and have a renewed sense of respect for your brekkie demolishing abilities. I’ll remember to hold onto my hat and any other tasty looking possessions or appendages when you’re close by and hungry!
Forager @ The Gourmet Forager´s last blog post ..Singapore Chilli Crab – one for the crab lovers


Conor September 11, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Thank you!! You might want to buy a hat with a chin strap just to be safe.


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