Friday, November 17, 2006

East Buffet - Huntington, NY

When you do an Internet search for Chinese buffets on Long Island only one name comes up - East Buffet. It is known to be one of the best Chinese buffet restaurants in New York and perhaps it might be considered to be "the best" any where. East is located on Route 110 in Huntington, NY.

I have been to East a number of times over a number of years. I have not been there in over one year - until this Wednesday night. We have not gone because the price has gone beyond what a usual night out should be for us. A week ago the newspaper ran an ad for the restaurant and there at the bottom of the page was a coupon for ten percent off the bill for up to twenty persons at lunch or dinner from Monday to Friday. We decided to go to East mid-week - figuring that the price would be somewhere around $15 to $18 less the coupon.

East is a very good restaurant. The food is very good. The variety is extensive. The price is very, very expensive. What you get is well worth what you are paying, but it is expensive. The weekday dinner price is $21.99. Children are $10.99. Beverages are extra. A lobster brought to your table is an additional $4.99. Lunch prices are about half at $11.99 each with children at $6.99. The weekend prices were not posted on the wipeboard in the lobby, but from past experience I could safely say that they are about $6.00 or higher more per person.

What you get is a very interesting mix of authentic Chinese dishes with a mix of Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, American and Italian. The center of one of the dining rooms and the entire rear of the restaurant are buffet servers and grills. There are two double-sided, half, buffet tables in the dining area and one long double-sided buffet server in the rear. Along the entire rear wall are grills, carving stations, and a sushi bar. Along the wall next to the half buffets is a dessert buffet.

On one of the two half buffets are fruit and salad - the salad being just lettuce, toppings, and dressings - along with a variety of cold Oriental dishes, many very exotic and some recognizable such as cold noodles with sesame sauce. There is also cold peel and eat shrimp here. The fresh fruit included papaya, kiwi, a variety of melons, etc. The website says that there are 11 types of jello - and there are. The other half buffet has hot dishes including fettucini alfredo, chicken marsala, baked ziti, eggplant Parmesan (which was oddly made with chunks of eggplant rather than the usual stacked slices), spare ribs, braised short ribs, two kinds of fried rice, boneless ribs, and a variety of unusual Chinese meat and appetizer dishes. There was a crispy shrimp roll that was a whole shrimp wrapped in a thin wrapper and fried.

The long buffet server in the back has four types of soups - wonton, hot and sour, miso, and seafood soup. There were several types of dumplings, all fully stuffed and each set out in steamers. There was a steamed shrimp dumpling that was bulging with several full size shrimp in each one. The shrimp were very flavorful. There are crab legs - whole, large clusters. The rest of the table is filled with Chinese dishes - some familiar, many unusual. In between the hot trays set into the table, they set out serving platters of more entrees. There were crabs in ginger sauce, scallops in black pepper sauce, very jumbo shrimp made into salt and pepper shrimp, salmon, shrimp and lobster sauce (made like a real Chinese restaurant makes it- full of pork, egg, and only large shrimp (not mixed with fake crab), Chinese Fillet Mignon, and other excellent dishes.

Along the back wall they are carving real Prime Rib, Peking Duck - carved off the duck in front of you and placed into the pancake, and leg of lamb. The grills are cooking appetizers from all over the Orient. These come off the grill and into hot pans set along the top of the counter. They are constantly refilled. Here were pan fried pork dumplings and scallion dumplings. There is Thai sate chicken and beef served on skewers with a sate peanut sauce on the side. There is Korean short ribs, grilled pork loin, a rolled beef grilled with chopped greens. There is tempura. There are scallion pancakes. There was an unusual French Seafood Roll that was a thin wrapper filled with fish and pork - it had the taste of the seasonings of Italian pork sausage. There are several seafood dishes and appetizers coming off the grill. The sushi bar is more extensive than the usual buffet offering. It is continually made at the counter and there are a mix of raw fish and vegetable offerings. There are a lot of different raw salmon sushi offered. One really nice thing is that there is low sodium soy sauce out for the sushi.

There are so many dishes on the various buffet tables that it is impossible to list them all (as I am able to do at other buffets). They do change night to night - and during the night. The web site claims 250 dishes - and I would doubt that, as it seems like more.

Dessert will not disappoint. There is a lot more besides the fruit and 11 jellos already mentioned. There is a variety of little cakes, cookies, and pastries - a step above the usual Little Debbie type cakes. There are a number of Oriental desserts - puddings and custards. There are fried bananas. There is even a Chinese dessert sweet soup. Of course, there is a soft serve machine with creamy ice cream.

There is a mix of Asian and American in the customer-base of this restaurant. On some nights the dining rooms are filled with Asian-Americans. They know what many of the exotic dishes are and that is what you see them eating. One night here I ran into the owner of our local take out restaurant dining here with his wife. (East is about a 15 mile drive from our home.) Asian people take the private room here for parties. An excellent indication that the food here is authentic and good.

Service is as good as the food. Dishes were taken up from the table as soon as they were empty. We did not order sodas (to keep the price more affordable, even with the ten percent off coupon), but the water glasses were refilled when they were half empty. There are extra napkins on the table and knives with every place setting. Often at Chinese buffets as soon as you take dessert, the bill is plopped down on your table. Here you ask for it when you are ready. The servers were all friendly.

When the bill comes it comes with a 12 and one half percent tip automatically added on. This is fair for the quality of service. But when you get the bill, with the tax and tip included dinner for two is running about $54.00. That is a lot of money for a weeknight. We usually reserve this restaurant for a special occasion - and never on the weekend.

The restaurant closes every night around 9:00 pm and I mean they close - not just stop seating. It is always best to get here no later than 7:00 pm and even that can be too late if there is a crowd. You can wait here on a Saturday night over an hour to get in. There have been waits on other nights as well. The wait and the closing time can be a problem.

The restaurant is located at 179 Walt Whitman Road (yes, that Walt Whitman - his home was just around the corner from the restaurant) in Huntington Station, New York. The phone number is 631-385-0800. There is a web site and it is listed at the side of our page.

If you can afford it and you want a Chinese food extravaganza try East. There are many who say so - the Internet has many reviews about this restaurant. And that is unusual for any buffet.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

East is now Best and it's not the same. They were good in the beginning but then went downhill. My wife is from China and she nixed the place when it went sour. We now got International Buffet on Stewart Ave off the Meadowbrook. IMO the best is Harvest Buffet in Great Neck.