It is my first time at the IKEA buffet. If it is yours, maybe you will have the same questions as I have. Is it all that it is cracked up to be? Does it leave you clawing for more?
Actually we did read some reviews on IKEA’s crayfish event of the year but made an executive decision to see what the fuss (and complains) are all about since we like seafood so much. So we eked out $60 ($30 per adult) to join the IKEA’s buffet event of the year.
Arrival at IKEA
We arrived around 10 mins early and were faced with this. Yes, it is a long snaking line all the way from the cafeteria on the 2nd floor, to the first floor. There were probably around 150 people in the queue. However, the line started moving very punctually, albeit very slowly, so we probably stood in queue for around 30 minutes.
Let the Cray-Cray begin!
Is it all crayfish? Well, no. There are tons of other IKEA food available, all at IKEA standards. If you liked IKEA food, just give take it a notch down and that’s the kind of food at the buffet.
Over on the appetizer table with some smoked salmon, breads and herring on cucumbers, and salad. Then there are two buffet style long tables with hot food like boiled overly soft broccoli, the famous meatballs but drizzled with very little gravy, chicken wings that weren’t the usual kind, some paste like or eggy thing which I didn’t try, fried rice which which I also didn’t try and diluted mushroom soup. And finally there’s small dessert section with some cakes and tarts.
Then there are the crayfish.
Lots and lots of them. There is actually quite enough to go around but the queues are very long because there are only 3 trays of crayfish.
What we got
In the end we had a little meatballs, appetisers and about 5 plates of hot and cold crayfish to share among the two of us. It may seem a lot but crayfish is all shell and little meat.
I was actually super disappointed there were no cold water prawns instead, I’d seen those in some other blogger’s posts of crayfish buffets of the previous years.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Good: Crayfish, meatballs and the chocolate swiss roll. To be honest, it is quite hard to find anything good about the buffet in general.
Bad: The other food is quite terrible. I believe it has been 3 years since they started the crayfish buffet but things have not gotten better. And it is also more expensive now. I also feel kinda cheated as the $10 voucher promised for family members has a minimum spend of $50. The food is mediocre at best, like what you get at factory cafeterias and cheap birthday parties.
Ugly: I have been to many many buffets and this has got to be one of the worst that I’ve ever been in. The kind of crowd that gets attracted to this kind of buffets are pretty ugly, but I would get ugly too if I had to queue 30-40 minutes before getting my hands on the food. First of all, there are too little lines (around 3) for too many people. The restaurant is fully packed on all days and timings, that is around 300 people in total. Imagine a long line of 50 people waiting and waiting and waiting.
The crayfish, which honestly is what people are after, are placed right at the end of the buffet line. After 40 minutes, you finally get there and you will definitely try to take as much as you can carry or dread queuing up again. So this means every person will spend a good 5 minutes grabbing single crayfish and putting it on their plates.
Then there are the cheaters. Large groups would send a representative to stand in line. When the person finally reaches the end of the queue, where the crayfish are, all of their mates materialise out of nowhere and now they are all grabbing crayfish after crayfish and the line does not move. My husband witnessed someone who did this and they held up the line by 20 minutes.
While all this is happening, no staff bothered to “regulate”. It was totally a Lord of the Flies environment and the ugly behaviour is contagious. I have to reiterate that there was enough crayfish for everyone but the selfish and competitive atmosphere makes the whole experience terribly uncomfortable.
As you can probably tell, we didn’t enjoy the experience at all. If you are planning to go, you have been warned. Finally, the final nail in the coffin for me is that the crayfish used are Chinese Freshwater Crayfish. I thought it was the Scandinavian kind but apparently those are going extinct. Knowing that they are reared in chinese farms make me doubt the cleanliness and safety of these crayfish as there are plenty of horror stories that you kind find online, and I kinda regret having so much now. Besides, that kind of defeats the whole “Swedish Crayfish Party” feel for me.
Honestly, I’d rather have a cold water prawns buffet. That is still my favourite seafood item from IKEA.