Friday, October 22, 2010

China Grand Buffet - Farmingdale, NY - Once More

Wow! I did not realize that it has been five years since I wrote about this buffet. China Grand Buffet is located in Farmingdale, New York. For a long time I was a weekly regular at this buffet. We would go just about every Friday night. We stopped going about two years ago when the prices went up higher than what this buffet was offering. It was hitting almost $16 an adult on the weekend for dinner and this was out of line with other local Chinese buffets. In addition, the selection of food on the buffet never changed, and frankly, I became very tired of the same things each time that we went. So we stopped going.

On a recent Saturday night we decided that we would go back and see if anything has changed. It was nice to find the price lower - now $14.99 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Weeknights are $12.99. Unfortunately, the food selection was pretty much as it had been. We could have just been there last week rather than almost two years ago. Compared to some other buffets that I have been to recently, this buffet was crowded and the dining room was full throughout the time that we were there.

The food is fine. There is nothing wrong with what is being served. But if you want to go several times to find a variety, you will not find anything different each time that you go (with the exception of some dishes missing on weeknights or at lunch). Not only is everything the same but it is in the same places on the buffet.

Service on this particular night was OK once it got started, but we were seated and it took at least ten minutes to be noticed for one of the servers to come over and take our drink orders. Drinks are unlimited but are not included in the price. Once we started eating, our plates were cleared and once one of the young ladies came over to ask if we wanted refills of our drinks. When we were done and ready to leave - just as when we came in -no one came by to give us our check. We had to flag down one of the ladies to get it. At times it seemed like our table was invisible to the table staff.

So what did we have. Soup selection is basic with one additional soup that is out of the ordinary - and on this visit that was chicken corn soup. Obviously, Chinese Chicken Corn Soup and not Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Corn Soup. (So - OK - this additional soup does change - well, at least it was not there two years ago.) The other soups are hot and sour, egg drop, and won ton. The hot and sour soup was not too hot and spicy and in my opinion that is a good thing. Some Chinese buffets put so much red pepper flakes in the hot and sour soup that it is inedible.

There is peel and eat shrimp, a small selection of sushi on rice and rolls, clams on the half shell and a variety of salads on the cold bar.

In hot foods there are a LOT of fried foods. Just about everywhere you look there is something that is fried . Fried shrimp, fried fish, fried crab claw, fried chicken, fried calamari, fried crab Rangoon, and on. They do a lot of frying. There are the usual egg rolls and summer rolls. There are three dumplings to choose from in steamers and also fried dumplings.

If you read my other articles about this buffet you are going to see mention of lobster. There is no more lobster on the buffet. This happened about three years ago when we were still going semi-regularly and just about when the price went up - price increase, lobster gone. There are still crab legs and they did refill the server several times with legs while we were there. These are small, separate legs and not full clusters. There is hot butter sauce near by the tray of crab legs.

The hot dishes are mostly the standards for Chinese buffets - chicken with broccoli, beef with peppers, General Tsao Chicken. There is also hot and spicy chicken, spicy tofu and vegetables, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed baked clams, a tray of baked salmon, crab (but not real crab) baked with cheese, sauteed string beans, bok choy, french fries, chicken on a stick, stuffed peppers, lo mein, mei fun, fried rice, white rice (no brown rice), sweet chicken meatballs, and other dishes.

Before and again this time, I take from different dishes and create my own - some chicken from the chicken and broccoli, some beef from the beef and peppers, both combined with string beans and bok choy. This buffet also still offers a grill station - like a Mongolian grill - in a window into a small cooking area, right to the side of the buffet tables. Then and now - this is open but no one ever seems to go and have anything cooked there. One problem perhaps is there is no one there to cook. There is a refrigerator case that has vegetables and meat, but the glass on the case is so fogged over that it is hard to tell what is in there - and everyone seems to ignore it. This actually would make this buffet more interesting as you could create anything that you desire. There is a counter bell to ring to get someone to cook. On this night someone asked one of the servers about it. The server brought her over to the window and showed her and then hit the bell - DING - and no one came out. I kept looking to see what would happen. When we left that night there was still nothing cooked on that grill. Despite large signs over the window - BUFFET INCLUDES GRILL - if you have to stand on your head to get someone to come out and cook, what good is it?

Dessert is the basic Chinese buffet Little Debbie cake assortment. There is also soft serve ice cream, fruit, pudding, and jello.

Now, this is very important. I eat at A LOT of Chinese and Asian buffets. Very rarely do I react to what we are going to guess is MSG in the food. Most use it, I am sure. It can give one sensitive to it a headache. I am mildly sensitive to it. But as I said, almost never have I had a headache at a Oriental buffet. Before I left this restaurant I had a walloping headache. Something - or everything - had to have had a heck of a lot of MSG in it.

Would I go back? Probably, but not right away. Would I recommend this buffet? Hmm. I want to say yes, but with note of everything that I have written in this article.

The China Grand Buffet is located in a strip mall shopping center next the Republic Airport in the Airport Plaza shopping center at 201 Airport Plaza Boulevard in Farmingdale, NY. It is just off of Route 110. There is a website and this is listed at the side of this page.

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