Friday, October 02, 2009

D.J.'s International Buffet, Garden City, NY - Improved

In February of this year I wrote a follow up visit article about D.J.'s International Buffet which was not up to what it should be - as it had not been on previous visits. This primarily Asian Buffet restaurant was at one time one of the best on Long Island. A few years back it closed for an extended amount of time for "renovations" and when it finally re-opened to great anticipation it was far from what it had been before it "temporarily" closed.

I recently went back again. I was pleasantly surprised by improvement in the quality and variety of food. I went on a weeknight. The dinner price during the week is still $16.99 which is several dollars more than other Asian buffets in the region. There are infrequent coupons in the newspapers and community sales papers for two dollars off the meal - and they give you a coupon when paying for your next visit. Friday and weekend prices are considerably more in the mid-twenties.

As I said in the last article, I am not going to repeat the set up of the restaurant as that has not changed any since my first article after the renovations. The hours are the same as well, and it is nice that they are open late for late dinners. I must say though that two hours before closing they were sweeping behind the grill station and the sushi bar and this is very off putting - not because they are cleaning, but it is raising dirt and dust over where the food is still out and being served. I would understand this a half hour before closing (not the dust part) but two hours before closing is a bit much - but that was the only thing that I will say is my big complaint in this review.

The assortment of food and the maintenance of the food being served has improved since I was here last. It is now coming closer to what it once had been - though it still has a bit further to go to regain the status that it once had. On the weekend, many come for the Lobster in Ginger Sauce. This is not on the weeknight buffet. There are nice, steamed snow crab legs, cocktail shrimp, and schucked cold oysters and and clams on the half shell.

The Sushi bar is extensive and there are two Sushi chefs behind the long counter making sushi and refilling the serving dishes. There is a large variety of sushi rolls, fish, and cones. It would be nice if each was labeled. I cannot describe all of the different types because many were unfamiliar to me. One, that even my wife, who never eats Sushi, tried was a version of the Vietnamese Summer Roll - a rice paper skin rolled around cucumber, carrot, and shrimp. The only thing that was missing inside from the classic were the rice noodles.

On my last visit I found problems with the entrees. Many were not at proper temperature, had sat too long, and were excessively greasy - sitting in oil. NOT THIS TIME. Now, there were a few - very few - of the non-Asian dishes (the International part of the name) that had been sitting too long. The Asian dishes, however, were fine. There was a dish that consisted of large scallops that was very good. There was no problem this time finding a variety of things to try - many that you don't generally find at Chinese buffets or even on Chinese menus. Signs over dishes were not always accurate - most likely the result of substitutions of dishes without changing or removing the signs. Some with dietary concerns might find this a big problem, but most were obviously what the sign said, when the sign was wrong.

In addition to the entrees on the hot buffet servers, at the grill station there is a chef carving a nice looking roast beef - I am sure they would say "Prime Rib" - and also carved duck for Peking Duck. There also was cut up duck on the hot servers.

Dessert still consists of a large presentation of the typical "Little Debbie" cakes - those tiny squares of sheet cakes that are made to look like fancier cakes. If you skip by that there is a cold buffet server with an assortment of fresh fruits, puddings, and Creme Carmel, which as I have said before was always a centerpiece of the former restaurant's dessert offerings. It is there and just as good. There was a new addition to the dessert selection. The soft ice cream machine is gone, but in its place is an ice cream freezer case containing drums of Hershey brand ice cream. With a scoop kept in running water next to the freezer case, you scoop your own serving of hard ice cream from several flavor choices. Ice cream cones and some toppings are to be found at the side.

Service was good. Dishes were taken away regularly. Drink refills were offered.

I can comfortably say now that D.J.'s International Buffet is offering food enough different and of a quality now that makes the extra cost worth while - certainly during the week, with the lobster on the weekend, and throw in the $2.00 coupons to ease the cost. I am hoping that what I found on this night is consistent.

At this point I will say that if you are willing to spend the extra cost over the standard Chinese buffets, try it!

D.J.'s International Buffet is located at 1100 Stewart Avenue in Garden City, New York. Their phone number is 516-227-2472. The hours of the restaurant are Lunch Monday to Friday, 11:00am to 3:00pm;Brunch Saturday and Sunday 11:30am to 3:00pm; Dinner Monday to Thursday, 4:00pm to 10:00pm, Friday to Sunday, 4:00pm to 11:00pm. There is still no website.

No comments: