Friday, April 09, 2010

One of my Favorite Buffets - Good Taste Buffet, Commack, NY

One of my favorite "local" buffets is a Chinese buffet in Commack, NY - about twenty miles each way from my home. I wrote about this buffet first in 2006 and since I have been there a number of times since that first happy discovery, I keep thinking that I have updated the review. I have mentioned the buffet in several articles, but I have not actually gone through a re-visit review. Since gas prices are lower than they were in 2006 I have been able to go to this buffet more frequently.

In November 2009 we set out one night on this long drive to go to Good Taste, arrived in the parking lot, got out of the car and walked up to what seemed to be a dark restaurant. In the restaurant next door on this "strip" mall, we saw that there had what appeared to be a serious fire in that restaurant with the windows and front all boarded up. Good Taste was closed and a sign on the window said nothing more than that. Oh boy. Some time later we were in the area again and drove past and it was still closed.

On this night I decided to try calling and see if they had reopened. Someone answered the phone! Yes, they are open again. No question about where we were going to go to eat!

Why do I like this restaurant so much? The quality of the food, the selection of the dishes, the spare ribs, and the value in the price make this Chinese buffet stand out from all others on Long Island - including the big, high priced Chinese, so called international buffets. Now, you notice out of all the foods I could mention, I mention the spare ribs. I wrote an article in April 2009 about these ribs. Yes, they are that good. But it is more than the spare ribs here.

Let's talk about the restaurant. First thing to note is that there is no evidence inside of any damage that may have resulted from the fire in the restaurant next door (that restaurant is still boarded up and does not look like it will ever reopen). There is no odor of smoke inside. The wall touching the wall of the other restaurant looks freshly painted white - but the very large, lighted photographs of Hong Kong and China on the wall look untouched. Everything inside is just as I described back in 2006. The layout of the buffet servers and the dining room is the same.

There has been a price increase - add a dollar to the prices that I listed in 2006. In three years that is not too bad an increase considering the increases in the other buffets in this area.

Food selection is has pretty much stayed the same as well over the past three years - with some new dishes added or substituted. There is a nice selection of sushi - a number of rolls and fish on rice. There are several vegetable rolls and a few spicy rolls. In addition there is sliced raw salmon on ice - nice to take if you like the fish and don't want to fill up on all of that rice.

Hot appetizers are plenty here. I do not see shrimp toast at any other buffet but here. There are several types of steamed dumplings still including the shrimp dumplings with whole shrimp inside and there is a variety of pan fried dumplings as well. I must still complain that there is no dumpling sauce to be found anywhere in this restaurant. There is a tray in the condiments section that is marked dumpling sauce, but this (after trying it countless times) is only soy sauce and in no way tastes like dumpling sauce. There is tempura, fried lobster balls (I resist making any joke here), sweet dumplings, and more along with the standards like egg rolls (nice ones) and spring rolls.

Then there are the spare ribs. I will not go on again about how good these spare ribs are, but I am not the only one in this restaurant that makes a meal out of these spare ribs and little else of the many excellent dishes that are offered. These are old fashioned, Chinese restaurant spare ribs. They are thick and full of meat, crispy on the outside and no sauce on them of any kind. None of that gloppy red sugar sauce that all other Chinese buffets have a need to saturate their spare ribs in is found here on these ribs. If you really want that sauce, there is a tray of boneless ribs close by and they are graced with this over-sweet sauce. There is real Chinese duck sauce and real hot mustard at the condiment section if you want to sauce your spareribs to taste. None is needed, but if you want sweet you can have it and if you want hot and spicy you can do that too.

If you are a crab leg lover there are substantial, snow crab legs on the hot buffet. One night that we were here they used the cluster tops to make salt and pepper crab - the cluster is coated in a batter with salt and pepper and fried. Break through the shell and suck out the crab meat with the taste of the salt in the batter on the shell and it is very good. There are also salt and pepper blue crabs - usually in the same serving tray. These are good too, but blue crabs only have meet in the sides and usually this is just a small nugget of crab meat.

There are a variety of hot entrees from the common chicken with broccoli - a staple at all Chinese buffets - to more exotic dishes ranging from Cantonese to the spicy dishes of China. There is a very nice shrimp with lobster sauce with meaty shrimp and a mild and egg filled lobster sauce. There are often additional entree dishes brought out on dishes and placed between the filled hot server trays. These tend to be the more unusual dishes. When you see one come out go up to get it while it remains hot. These special dishes do stay warm while on the hot server but they do tend to cool down some if they sit. There are also carvings at the end of the last hot buffet server. There is ham and a carved steak. You carve these yourself. Also here is Peking Duck. Overall, there is a good assortment of meats and seafood to choose from in the entrees.

Deserts take up a long buffet server along the back wall and there is a soft serve ice cream machine at the end of that counter. The desserts are a mix of the usual little squares of sheet cake common to most Chinese and Asian buffets and some of their own backing. There are home-baked almond cookies. The dessert is adequate but the meal is the focus is here.

Service is good. There are plenty of napkins brought to your table and if they are not there when you sit down, just ask your server for some. Dishes are picked up quickly. Soda dispensers are at the buffet counter and while this is not to be a serve yourself soda station, if your server is busy and you want more soda, I have seen many go up and fill their glass. I have found that the server will bring you refills promptly anyway.

This is a restaurant worth going out of your way for. It may just be the best Chinese buffet on Long Island and maybe in other areas as well. Many agree with me.

The restaurant is open seven days a week and the hours are until 10 pm on weeknights and 11 on Friday and Saturday. The last dinners are let in up to an hour before closing. There is no website, but the telephone number is 631-543-9583.

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