Friday, December 03, 2010

D.J.'s International Buffet - One more time...

It has been almost a year since I have written about D.J.'s International Buffet in Garden City, New York. I have been there several times since my last article but I thought that I would come back now and let you know how things are.

The rebirth of this buffet had a bumpy start several years ago when it closed for renovations and reopened sometime later as much less of its former self. It had been a favorite of many. It took a few years to get it back to speed and now it is close to its former glory.

This is a large Asian buffet with a mix of foods from Asian to Italian. The price is not inexpensive - $24.99 per adult on the weekend (Friday through Sunday) with an additional $1.25 for unlimited fountain soft drinks. Monday through Thursday dinner is $17.99. This is one of the most expensive Asian buffets in the area. The meal is extensive and the food is good so the price is justified - NOW - for what you are paying. But for some of us, this is not something that is affordable every week, and I reserve this for dinners when I want something special.

The sushi bar is now extensive. There is a long sushi bar with sushi chefs standing behind the bar and preparing fresh sushi as needed. I have seen people request special rolls and sushi and it has been made for them. There is a large assortment already out and there is a nice variety of raw fish just on its own without rice or in a roll. I like their seared tuna. I like many of the sushi that they have to offer and some of it is labeled as to what it is. The chefs will tell you what something is if you don't recognize it.

There are several soups. The lobster bisque is good but it varies - it should be thick. It has been thick and thin. The taste is there regardless and there are small pieces of lobster in the salmon color red broth. Of course, there are the usual Chinese soups, clam chowder, and on this night, Italian Wedding Soup.

The salad bar is sparse. There is a little assortment, but if you want to fix a green salad there is enough there. There is also a crock of mixed black and green Mediterranean olives. These fit in with the international fare.

The dumpling selection varies but there are several to choose from and away from the steam table and on the nearest hot buffet table there are fried dumplings as well. Next to the dumplings there are grilled meats on skewers - nicely seasoned chicken and also nicely seasoned beef. There are also shrimp and sausage sticks.

There is also an assortment of cold seafood including shrimp, salmon, clams on the half shell, raw oysters, and half cold crabs. Some may recall the large, already peeled shrimp from the old days - now the shrimp is in the shell. There have also been on occasion cold crab legs here - in addition to the hot crab legs on the buffet server.

They have entrees that range from American to Italian, to Chinese - with a little bit of mix in between. The are often some unusual dishes included and each time I come there are a few changing and different dishes. This night there was beef stew, small chicken pot pies, and a Chinese sausage and tofu dish. I tried the beef stew which was tasty but grizzly and the Chinese sausage and tofu. There were no longer pieces of sausage left in the serving bowl. There were two pieces of tofu which I found turning the contents over several times with the serving spoon. They came up from the bottom and I took one of them. The rest of the dish was bean pods, sliced water chestnuts, sliced carrots, and onion. It was in a mild and thin brown sauce. The taste was very good. I really wanted to try Chinese sausage but the serving bowl remained the same for the rest of the evening - half full but with all of the sausage and the tofu taken out. There was plenty more to take so other than a minor disappointment of not finding what was a surprise to find in the first place, it did not matter much.

One of the big draws here are the crab legs served every night and the lobster in ginger sauce which is served only on the weekend dinners. The lobster is cut up into chunks. Depending on who is dining and the crowd you will get lobster easily or you will stand in a line waiting for a new tray to come out which will be descended upon by those in line and if you are lucky there will be pieces worth taking when you get up to your turn. They do regularly refill the lobster so it is likely that if you keep an eye on that part of the buffet you may just get to be the first on line. There are also nights without much of a crowd - or later on any one of the nights - where you can walk right up to the tray and take your pick. I find it interesting that the most meaty part of the lobster - the tails - are not always taken first, and if you move the pieces around in the tray with the serving tongs you will find sections of tail with large chunks of lobster meat.

If you feel that you would like even more then there are two carvings - Peking duck and Prime Rib of Beef. These are over by the grill and the dumplings.

Dessert offers an interesting assortment of fresh fruit, puddings, a large flan full of custard and covered in melted sugar, hard ice cream that you serve yourself from a freezer chest, and a large assortment of the little cake squares that are found at most Asian buffets. I call these "Little Debbie" cakes because they are the size and quality of the cakes by that name found in supermarkets in the snack cake aisle. Just in case you want something different for dessert they now are making - over at the grill - made to order hot crepes filled with your choice of filling and covered in gobs of whipped cream.

There is enough to eat. The food is good. Something I did not say when they first reopened. If you don't mind spending a little more then this is a good choice. I know readers that have traveled several states to come here - mostly for the lobster - that is a lot of gas to use and pay for to get lobsters. But, nevertheless, they have come and come back.

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 10:00pm. There is still no website.

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