Friday, December 04, 2009

Return to the Golden Buffet, Centereach, NY

In 2006 I wrote about a Chinese buffet in Suffolk County, New York in the town of Centereach called the Golden Buffet. I have not been back in the last three years only because the restaurant is located some distance from me and I am not in that area much any longer - at least not at dinner time. We found ourselves nearby on a Saturday night and it was a choice between this restaurant and another that I have not been back to in some time. We decided - as this was closer - that we would return to Golden Buffet.

I am not going to give a total description of the restaurant as I have already done that in the first article from 2006. Just click on the restaurant name at the start of the above paragraph and read that article first.

When I go back to a buffet restaurant that I have only been to once before I look at it as if I had not been there before and try to get a completely new impression. I then come back and before I write the re-review read what I had to say before to see how things compare. There have been some changes here at the Golden Buffet.

First, I am happy to report that the prices at the Golden Buffet have actually gone DOWN in the past three years. Prices were pretty good before and now they are even better. Weekend dinner is now only $12.99 - down a dollar. Monday to Thursday the price is down to $11.99 and again this is down dollar. These prices make this buffet one of the most reasonable on Long Island - especially for the type of foods and quantities offered.

I have often commented that when you go to an ethnic restaurant and you see a number of tables filled with people of that ethnic background you have a pretty good indication that the food is both authentic and good. On this night at this restaurant there were a number of tables of Asian people. All seemed to be enthusiastically eating. This was the first thing that I noticed when we were seated at our table.

The food was good three years ago and it is fine now. There were some disappointments adn had I not been there before I would be much more positive but there have been some changes here too. Was everything great? Well, no. Not because it should not have been, but because the trays of food out on the buffet servers needed tending. What do I mean by tending? A good buffet has staff going around the buffet tables stirring and checking that nothing is drying out. When food is found that has been out too long, it needs to be taken away and replaced with fresh trays. This was not happening on this particular Saturday night Now, we did arrive to the buffet later than we wanted to - about 8:00 pm. The restaurant is open to 10 pm. There were a number of tables filled and people in the restaurant eating and going back up to the buffet for food. Yet, there were too many trays of food that had dried out and items not edible any longer because of that.

Items that were fresher were very good. There is a lot of assortment here and more than the usual number of buffet servers that you find in these restaurants. There were some items that were very well served - and need to be. There were raw oysters and clams out. They were on a thick bed of ice and were not dried out by any means. I like raw oysters but will only eat them if I feel that they are properly cold and have not been sitting. Other than a bit more loose shell and sand in the oysters they were good. Whoever shucked them should have both rinsed them better and cut the oyster from the shell. Never the less, they were fine. The sushi was also good and there was a broad assortment of sushi for a buffet sushi bar at a restaurant with an $12.99 dinner price.

The variety was not what it was three years ago. While there are many dishes - there was a lack of Chinese entree dishes. What do I mean by that? Many of the entree dishes that were out were single item dishes - fried shrimp, fried fish, roast duck. There were not many dishes like X with Y in Z sauce - the types of entrees that you will find on a usual Chinese food menu.

One thing that I had stood out and that was steamed flounder in ginger sauce. When I have had this at other restaurants the fish is on the bone and is difficult to eat without getting a bone in a mouthful. Here the flounder is filleted and the thin sauce nicely seasoned the fish.

There were a few odd dishes such as a long thin roll that was filled with a mildly seasoned fine chopped meat. I am not sure what it was because while there were signs over most items not all of them matched was in the tray. There was something called Italian Tacos - filled taco shells of chopped meat that looked just like Mexican tacos. I was not bold enough to try that - and it was a bit dried out looking. My wife tried the boneless spareribs - a staple at these buffets. It looked as usual with the meat strips in the typical thick red gel. But she did not eat it after a bite, as she said that the sauce just did not taste right.

I had praised the egg rolls here in my last review - they must have changed considerably since then because now they are just your standard buffet egg roll - small with more roll than filling. There was nothing wrong with them but they are not praise-worthy now.

You know, when I started writing this article my thoughts were more positive than they are now as I see what has been coming out on the page. So we are coming down to a mixed review on this return visit - though three years later - that I had praised the first time around.

The restaurant was clean. The service was good. We were satisfied when we left. Not hungry by any means and we felt fine after the meal - the most important thing to know about any restaurant.

So, was the problem the time that we went? In some areas 8 pm is late for dinner but in metro-NY on a Saturday night - not late by any means. But still I would like to see this restaurant again earlier in the evening. By comparison to another Chinese buffet on Long Island was similar pricing - and as I said this is few and far between at this price - this restaurant is far better - cleaner and so much more in many ways.

For the Golden Buffet in Centereach on our return visit after three years we are left with a mixed review. Some good, some not so good - yet the good is still there. Would I go back again? Yes, absolutely, if only to see once more if it was the night, the time, or if this is how it is now.

Golden Buffet is located at 1973 Middle Country Road in Centereach, NY. This is in the same shopping center on Route 25 as Walmart so it is not hard to find. There is no website. The phone number is 631-588-5188.

No comments: