Cosmo Pan Asian buffet restaurant is the latest hype to sweep through the Belfast grapevine. I heard the name in passing from one friend, but a few short days later I had had about thirty conversations about how amazing this place is, and how the queue was a mile long at dinner time. So a few friends and I thought we had better check it out.
Cosmo is actually a chain restaurant originating from across the water in Britain, but the Belfast branch is the first to grace the island of Ireland. It is a fantastic concept for a dining experience - one set price, all you can eat, but where other Asian buffets stick to tired sweet and sour chicken standards Cosmo really pushes the boat out on variety with a range of Asian cuisine that journeys from Malaysia to Japan with a little Italy thrown in for good measure.
The night we went, we were told we would be waiting 45 minutes, but 5 minutes later we were sitting at out table. The layout is quite baffling to a Cosmo virgin and the service a little bizarre with the result being that we sat there for a good 5 minutes with no idea what to do. Eventually a waiter came and helped us organise ourselves and we were able to launch ourselves into the food. The choice was outstanding. For starters there was every kind of battered Asian thing you could imagine, spring rolls, samosas, bhajis, tempura, crispy chicken, duck pancakes, spare ribs. For mains we sampled Malay and Thai curries, Peking duck, King Prawn in Garlic Butter sauce and Sambal Chicken. And that was before we even approached the Live Cooking Stations (where the chefs prepare the food freshly in front of you) for pizza and Teppanyaki. We shouldn't have though, because none of us had space for marshmallows and strawberries for dipping in the chocolate fountain. I managed to squeeze in a mango mousse, which was delicious.
The food is, as with all buffets, not quite as fresh as a dish you would expect from a standard service restaurant, and I think we burned off some of the calories trying to chew some of the crispy chicken. However, the flavours were spot on and when you are only paying £13 for the privilege of eating yourself into a coma I think some of the little things can be overlooked. I would probably avoid it for a first date, but if you're hungry Cosmo is highly recommended.