Saturday, July 22, 2006

Good Taste Buffet - Commack, New York

Finding this restaurant was a lucky accident. We had intended to eat at another Chinese buffet in the Long Island town of Commack, but when we got there we found this other restaurant to be a single store front and a line just about out the door. We headed a little further east to look for a restaurant that my wife we sure she had seen driving past. It was right where she thought it should be and that restaurant was the Good Taste Buffet.

The Good Taste Buffet is located in a strip mall in the town of Commack, New York. It is on Route 25 in the Mayfair Shopping Center. The address is 200 Jericho Turnpike. It is a good size restaurant with pleasant decor. Large pictures of the Orient adorn the walls and in the center of the buffet area is a crystal chandelier. The prices are posted on the front door. You enter at the cashier's desk and we were seated immediately. There were a good number of diners for a Friday evening. The price on weeknights is $11.95 for adults for dinner and $12.95 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Children under 5 feet tall are $6.95 and under 3 feet tall are $2.95. There is a lunch buffet until 4:30 pm and this is $6.45 for adults on weekdays and $6.95 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Lunch for children is $4.45 for kids under 5 feet and $1.95 for kids under 3 feet. Unlimited soda is extra at $.75 at lunch and $1.00 at dinner. You pay at the end of the meal at your table.

The buffet area is large. There are four double-sided buffet tables and a fifth table against the wall. Your drinks are brought to you by your server. You take your own plates. Silverware and plenty of napkins are on the table and knives and extra silverware is available at the buffet area. Soda are Pepsi products - which I suspected and later confirmed when the waiter answered my order for "two Diet Cokes" with "two diets".

The first of the buffet tables had salads, oriental prepared salads, and sushi. There were many different sushi rolls - a number of them I did not recognize. There was tuna and there was also salmon slices without rice, as well as another white color fish, next to the cocktail shrimp. I tried the salmon and the tuna and it was very fresh and cut easily with a fork - many at these restaurants do not cut that easily. Ice was piled high with the serving dishes sitting on top - so nothing was getting soggy sitting on the ice. Among the salads were various seafood salads and kim chee - Korean spiced cabbage. The next buffet table had soup and appetizers. There were three types of soup - the usual hot and sour, wonton, and egg drop. The wontons were large and well-filled. There were a number of steamed and fried dumplings. There were some unusual ones - a sweet potato dumpling stuffed with a peanut filling and a pork and seafood "Chinese ravioli" which was a large, round, flat dumpling about the size of a baseball. It was filled with meat, seafood, and vegetables. There were steamed shrimp dumplings, fried pork dumplings, steamed dim sum, and steamed chicken dumplings. The shrimp dumplings were excellent - you could taste the shrimp and it was a whole, fresh, plump shrimp cooked just right. It was not mushy or bland as these usually are in other restaurants. There are many types of dipping sauces all around the buffet tables but I could not find dumpling sauce. There was a squeeze bottle next to the dumplings on the counter. I took a portion of this in one of the little plastic cups that are available for sauces. I looked like a thick variety of what I was expecting - but it was not dumpling sauce when I tasted it - it was very thick and salty. I believe this is called fish sauce and is made with anchovies. The dumplings were all good - even with out dumpling sauce - so it was not really missed. It may very well be there and I did not see it. In addition to the dumplings there were fried cheese wontons, egg rolls and Spring rolls, fried shrimp, shrimp toast, vegetable tempura, and many other appetizers. Many items are placed with two different, but related appetizers in a serving tray - doubling the variety. The egg rolls were very greasy - oil came out when you cut into it -but that is what made it taste so good. It was not like the dry, small, barely filled egg rolls in other buffets. These were well stuffed and tasted like egg rolls should. (My wife still says they were too oily.)

There were also the BEST Chinese spare ribs that I have ever had at a Chinese buffet restaurant. These were perfectly cooked - well done and crispy with a good portion of meat on each rib. These ribs were not soaking in the red sugar sauce that ribs cook in and are served in at other restaurants. They were not sticky. They were wonderful! A meal of these alone is worth the price of dinner - and this is what I returned to several times during the evening - despite all of the other good dishes - because they were that good.

Entrees are spread across two double sided buffet hot tables. There were the usual dishes like chicken and broccoli, etc. but there was also chicken and cashew nuts, vegetable mei fun, several different shrimp dishes including salt and pepper shrimp that was not salty, had no tails under the batter, and tasted like good shrimp, pork and mushrooms, salt and pepper crabs (whole half crabs), shrimp in lobster sauce - again with excellent shrimp and a very light sauce, several vegetable dishes, and a large pie-like dish called Seafood lovers in Birds Nest - this was a large, baked noodle nest filled with seafood and vegetables. There was shrimp wrapped in bacon - not the sealegs and bacon usually found at these restaurants. At the end of one of the tables was Peking Duck, carved rib-eye steak, and baked ham. Next to this was Oriental pork chops and chunks of chicken that they called chicken cutlets - but these were fried chunks. There was also sweet and sour chicken. There are steamed crab legs, but frankly, there is so much more.

To finish off the meal there was fresh fruit, qumquats in syrup, pineapple with mandarin oranges in a marshmallow sauce, puddings, filled sweet dumplings, cookies, cakes, nuts, and something they call Chinese Peanut Butter Brittle - large cookie chunks. There is also soft-serve ice cream, but on this night the machine was not working when I went to try it - it had been working earlier.

All of the food was very, very good. This restaurant was a delightful find. The service was good. Dishes were taken away regularly and more soda was brought and offered throughout the meal. There is a great variety and lots of food - they claim 88 dishes daily.

For me this restaurant is a forty-five minute drive and with the price of gas I cannot become a regular, but when I am in this area it will become a definite must-stop. The restaurant is open seven days a week and the hours are until 10 pm on weeknights and 11 on Friday and Saturday. There is no website, but the telephone number is 631-543-9583. If you are in Suffolk County on Long Island in New York, try it!

4 comments:

Faustian said...

I did a search on your Blog for "Cactus Willies" and did not find anything. This is a nice buffet that I go to often. Just thought I'de tell you about it.

http://www.cactuswillies.com/

You can go there to find locations if you happen to be in one of those areas you might want to check it out. I'de be interested in reading about what you think of the place.

I just stumbled onto your site today. And I have bookmarked it. I will checking it often.

Also a buffet fan :)

Robert A said...

Thanks so much for your contribution to the site! I did not know about this chain and thanks to your link in your comment I checked out the website! Low and behold! There is one in an area I am in regularly - Lancaster, PA and also sites in areas of Maryland that I do get to occassionally. I am looking foward to trying this. From the website, this chain sounds very much like Ryans.

Keep checking the site - it may be a while but I will go there and I will write about it! In the meantime, for all our readers - check out the link to this buffet chain and if you are near one, try it. If you have been there or go, let us know how you liked it!

Robert A

Kathi B. said...

Hi, Robert...

Just want to thank you for this blog and in particular this posting. My husband and I have passed this restaurant several times and never tried it because, well, you never know how these places are. But what a find...unquestionably the best Chinese buffet we've ever been to, and at such a reasonable price. I also appreciate the fact that you've got reviews from Pennsylvania, as we are planning a move there next year and look forward to the more "smorgasbord" buffets that are common there. I'll be visiting here often, and I'm linking you to my blog: foodforthemasses.blogspot.com.

Robert A said...

PLEASE NOTE THE DATE OF THIS COMMENT -

There was a fire in the restaurant next door to Good Taste Buffet in November 2009. The restaurant is TEMPORARILY closed. It will reopen soon according to a sign in the window.