Friday, September 30, 2005

Asian Buffet - Hicksville, NY

The Asian Buffet is located at 276 Old Country Road in Hicksville, New York. This buffet over the past several years has changed names three times and tried different approaches to bring in business. The owners seem to have remained the same throughout. Business here remains sparse mainly because of the price. This is a Chinese buffet that wants to be one of the large, international style buffets but does not offer any way near the quantity of variety that the big ones offer. The restaurant is large and mostly empty. The price on the weekends was just raised to $15.99 per adult because they have added lobster to the buffet. Monday to Thursday are $13.99 without lobster. For a while they were printing $2 per person off coupons in the newspaper. Business picked up - but the price was lower then. With the raise in prices they have printed coupons again that are good on weekdays. I go when I can get a coupon - otherwise the price is more than I want to spend. The weekday buffet offers less seafood. Soda is unlimited and one dollar. The servers bring the soda to you. You pick up your own plates at the buffet tables. Silver ware and plenty of napkins are at your table. Additional silverware is available including knives.

It is a shame that they do not bring the price more in keeping with what they have to offer because the food is good. This is not one of the cookie cutter buffets - though there is a Chinese buffet in Lancaster, PA that has many of the same items (like exactly the same recipe) on the buffet. Asian Buffet has a nice assortment of dumplings and dim sum. It also has some basic sushi with salmon.

There are three double-sided, short buffet tables at the side of the restaurant along with a small desert area. The rear buffet table has mixed green salad, some toppings and dressing. There are also prepared salads and some cold Oriental vegetable dishes such as kim chee - spiced cabbage. The sushi is on the table, as is a section of iced seafood including shrimp and raw clams. The far side of the table has fresh fruit and puddings.

There is an appetizer table with four soups including a hot and sour soup that is spiced just right to enjoy it and not steam your collar. There are egg rolls, fried cheese wontons, chicken wings, chicken nuggets that are real slices of chicken fried to a crunchy crust, Chinese donuts, spring rolls, fried dumplings, french fries, pizza (one of the better Chinese buffet pizzas!) and other appetizers. At the front of this buffet table are several "American" entrees including baked ham, salmon, baked clams, stuffed shrimp, etc.

The entree table has Peking duck, flounder steamed in ginger sauce, stuffed mushrooms, king crab legs (broken clusters and pieces), teriaki chicken, fried shrimp, shrimp and "crab" in lobster sauce, fried rice, lo mein, spare ribs (that vary from night to night from having too much glaze to being just right), beef with vegetable, seafood in butter sauce, and other Chinese entrees. Also here is the lobster - cut up and tossed in ginger sauce. At the end of this buffet table are several steamers with dumplings and dim sum. Here you find shrimp dumplings, pork dumplings, shu mi, lotus rice, honey potato balls, scallion pancake, and fried vegetable dumplings.

There is a small desert corner with the typical assortment of "Little Debbie" cakes and cookies. (There has got to be a Chinese buffet supply warehouse somewhere!) There is a soft serve ice cream machine - it is more ice milk than ice cream - and some toppings.

As I have said, the food here is good. You can make a full meal of appetizers and dumplings - plus there is a nice assortment of entrees. The lobster - what you could get of it - was moist. It was taken as soon as it was put out and was not replaced more than once while we were dining. As this is the big feature that is linked with the price increase, that lobster tray should be full at all times. (There is a sign now as you enter that says "all you can eat lobster" - well, only if you are quick and leave none for anyone else.) Lobster in most Chinese buffets has the same problem. It is put out sparingly and it is descended upon as soon as it hits the steam table by every diner in the house. If you are not one of the first two to get near it, it is gone. The restaurant is open until 10 on weeknights and 11 on Friday to Sunday. Diners were still seating at 9:30 on Friday night and some items were being refilled, but the lobster tray sat with one small shell in it and the pizza never came out but once while we were dining.

The service is quick and dishes are removed right away - sometimes too right away when my wife's soup dish was taken away with the spoon in she just put the spoon down in mid-bowl to take some soda. The server will come and ask if you would like more soda. The manager - probably owner - walks around the dining room. At first you get the impression he is watching over your shoulder to see what you have taken, but in reality, he just seems that he does not know what to do with himself and walks around to be friendly. He does make an effort to come over and chat - and as we have been there a number of times, he makes a point of acknowledging us and making friendly conversation when we come in and while we are dining. It is nice.

The atmosphere is "Chinese" restaurant with booths and tables. There is a large fountain in the middle of the dining room. The background music is odd. Instead of the usual Oriental melodies they have been playing show and movie tunes, and tonight there was oldies rock and roll playing with lots of 70's bubble gum music. It is not unpleasant - but not what one would expect. The building many years ago was a well known American restaurant and the layout of the rooms has changed little. For those who miss "Cookies Restaurant" there is a lot of nostalgia just being in the dining room.

There is no website. The phone number is (516) 433-6688.

If you don't mind the price, try this buffet.

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Anonymous said...

this buffet is fantastic, especially with their price changed to 8.99 for lunch and dinner, it makes it even better. All the food was absolutely delicious! really recommend this place!

Robert A said...

$8.99! Really? I have to check this out. I have not been back in quite some time because the price was just too high. If they have lowered the price to $8.99 I will be heading back there soon and letting you all know what is currently happening at Asian Buffet in Hicksville, NY.

Robert A said...

The $8.99 price is only Monday to Thursday (all day). The weekend price is more than double that - $18.99! We were heading there tonight and it is a good thing that I called first. Also - if it is a holiday during the week call first because I am certain that you will not be paying $8.99.

Eventually I will try it on a weeknight and let you all know what you will get for $8.99.

Robert A said...

I should add that the $18.99 weekend price includes lobster (whether you want it or not) but be aware that this buffet when they have lobster put it out very infrequently and you will fight the crowd to get a piece. It is possible to go a whole dinner with only an empty lobster tray on the buffet server. These are not whole lobsters but cut up small pieces - many of which contain no meat - cooked in ginger sauce.