Friday, October 20, 2006

China Buffet Restaurant - East Meadow, NY

The China Buffet Restaurant is located on Merrick Avenue in East Meadow, New York. Years ago this was a neighborhood regular Chinese restaurant. A number of years ago they became a buffet that includes a Mongolian grill.

This restaurant is just a mile from my home. About two years back we had gone to this restaurant regularly, but then stopped. At the time the dinner was $8.99. The reason that we stopped was that it never seemed to be kept as clean as it should be. One of their problems is a carpeted dining room floor and anything that falls or spills is very obvious. Tonight, we were looking for some place different and this restaurant was brought up. My wife said that in two years things could be very different. So we decided to give it another chance.

There is a primary difference in two years - the price has gone up two dollars. The dinner price is now $10.99. The lunch price is $5.99. The prices are the same seven days a week. Children under two eat free and under seven are half price. Soda, RC products, is $1.20 with free refills. The price is low compared to other local Chinese buffet restaurants, but the variety offered is limited.

The restaurant is one large room. The seating area of booths and tables is divided down the middle by one long buffet server and the Mongolian grill behind it.

I must say that many of the things that diners look for in a Chinese buffet are here for the price. There are crab legs - single legs, not clusters. There is sushi - California Rolls and salmon on rice. There is the Mongolian grill. At the grill there is chicken, beef, shrimp, and pork. The meat should be frozen and kept that way - here it was not. There is an assortment of vegetables, but the usual chopped cabbage that should be the filler vegetable was missing. There were noodles. There were two sauces - both unlabeled and both looked the same (soy sauce?). There was hot pepper and garlic to spoon on top. In addition there was crab in ginger sauce, fried dumplings, cocktail shrimp, egg foo young, several chicken dishes, sweet and sour pork that was made up with vegetables (not the usual fried chicken pieces with red sauce to pour on top) shrimp with lobster sauce, and the usual beef and peppers and chicken with broccoli. The chicken with broccoli was made with a nice brown sauce and was better than most. There are also the usual fried appetizers. There are three soups - wonton (with the wontons on the side to add in), egg drop, and hot and sour.

Most other Chinese buffets offer more variety in the dishes served. The Mongolian grill can make up for that here, as you can make yourself almost any combination.

There are NO knives to be found in this restaurant. Several of the dishes need to be cut - unless you have a very large mouth or extremely strong teeth. This was a problem two years ago and it is still a problem now.

The desert selection is very limited. There is pudding, soft serve ice cream, jello, orange sections, a non-labeled pie that could have been like a cheese cake pie, and bananas in a red sauce. There were none of the little cakes usually found at these restaurants.

If the price were still $8.99 I might be inclined to go back sooner than later, but for a few dollars more there are better Chinese buffets to be found. The cleanliness issue is still marginal. The same carpet holds the dirt on the floor and unless you are there when they open for the day you are not going to see a clean floor; the carpet is not cleaned until they close. The dishes seemed clean,and the table seemed clean. The food was refilled regularly and there was someone maintaining what was out on the server - stirring, etc.

There is no website. In summary I will say that this is a coin toss - not great, but not bad.

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