Friday, January 13, 2012

Another Christmas Dinner at Best Buffet, Huntington, New York

I was not sure that I was going to write this article or not, but apparently, Best Buffet, a Chinese buffet in Huntington, New York has a lot of fans who read this site, there have been a lot of comments about Best Buffet on a recent article that has nothing to do with this restaurant. Last year in 2010, we went to Best Buffet for a special Christmas dinner. I wrote an article then about how good it was - and I have been thinking through 2011 that come Christmas we would go back for that special holiday meal again. This dinner is actually served on four nights - Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day. As the holidays, approached I looked to see if it would be offered again, and on their website, I saw that it would be. Our plans for Christmas dinner were then set.

The price of this special dinner has gone up a dollar since last year. A tip of 12% is automatically added to your bill. Soda is unlimited and costs extra - we What is offered on the buffet has slightly changed as well as the Oriental Hot Pot section - Shabu-Shabu is no longer offered at the restaurant and, of course then, no longer included on the meal. This was no great loss, though if you are Asian it may be something that you would miss. For the uninitiated into this type of eating, a lot of raw things that you pick to be boiled for you - this was a bit daunting to try. I did not see it mentioned any longer on their website and I knew that it would not be there this year - which was fine with me.

As I said a year ago, this is a Chinese restaurant that caterers to Chinese people - which is great because they offer many dishes that you will not find in most Chinese restaurants and almost never find at a Chinese buffet. Many of the people dining here are Asian and they appear to be enjoying what they are eating - so I can only assume that it is being prepared authentically. Again, this is a good thing.

Many of the things that I wrote abut last year still hold true. I will focus on some of the things that I had that were different this year and also something that is a bit of a problem. I am going to start with the problem first - and I will preface this by saying that it was not so much of a problem that we did not enjoy the dinner and we were not happy - but, it is a concern. When I first reviewed Best Buffet several years ago when it reopened from its former incarnation - the wonderful, East Buffet, the food that was being served on the buffet tables and at the grill area was not hot - in fact, then it was cold. For that reason (and the high meal price of this restaurant) we did not go back. When we did go back a year ago with my fingers crossed that this had been corrected, I was happy to see that it was. This year was another story - and the food was not cold but just warm. This is not good. First, things that are fatty are terrible if they are not hot. Second, it is not safe to not keep food being served at the correct temperature. It was not that the restaurant was empty and that food was sitting. The restaurant was crowed with diners and food was being put out repeatedly - but not hot. It is a problem, and Best needs to correct this. If the Board of Health came in as a surprise and put a food thermometer into the serving trays, there would be violations of health code to answer. I am sure that I will go back again, and hopefully again, they will have corrected this. You know, if you don't put out your best on a special meal like this - well, it is just wrong. Now that I have gotten this out of the way, I will tell you about the meal - and really, we had a good time.

There were several soups on the main buffet server - Lobster Bisque was there again, as it had been last year. It was, though, better last year as it was thicker and there was good pieces of lobster in the soup - last year. This year there was no lobster to be seen in the soup but it had a good lobster taste. Despite the lack of chunks of lobster the soup was good. Later in the meal I saw that there was two other soup servers against a small side wall next to the carving area with two very Chinese soups. I tried the Duck Soup. I knew it was a Marx Brothers movie, but I never saw duck soup served anywhere before. The duck soup was a thin duck broth with pieces of duck in it. It is a simple soup, a little on the fatty side, but it has a solid duck taste. It was an experience.

Last year I said that there was a sign for lobster but on lobster was served other than steamed lobster claws mixed in with the crab legs. This year there was lobster in ginger sauce served at the carving station - and this is good because when this is served at buffets that you go up and take it yourself, there is always a line waiting for it to be refilled and the first three people on the line take all of it. Here, the man behind the counter filled a plate for you - and mostly good tail pieces. No big crowds and fairly distributed portions of lobster. It was very tasty. There was also half lobsters covered with slices of cheese and grilled under a broiler. These were cooked on demand - you asked for one and a grill chef prepared it and put it under the grill. When done, it was placed on your plate. This was good but tended to be dry. Again, as last year there were steamed lobster claws.

There was roast suckling pig again this year. It is cut up into small pieces and served on a hot tray - not hot enough though. It would have been better had it been really hot, but it was OK warm. Looking back at my review from last year, the pig also was just warm then.

There were several carvings - and all looked good! There was ham, turkey (a real turkey), Peking duck, Prime Rib, and Fillet Mignon. There was a chef preparing the Peking Duck in the traditional style or you could just ask for pieces of duck. The duck was crispy and good.

There is an extensive sushi bar that includes pieces of raw fish without rice, if you are like me and enjoy the fish but don't want the rice. There were also a variety of rolls. One of the nice things here is that they have low sodium soy sauce available - sure, lots of salt in oriental cooking anyway, but the low sodium soy sauce tastes exactly like the full salt kind and is a little better for you.

There is an extensive salad bar that not only has regular salad fixings and plenty of them but also has a whole side of Asian prepared salads. On one end were cold shrimp and raw clams and oysters on the half shell. The oysters were good. So was the shrimp. (I tend to skip the clams though I do eat them occasionally.)

There is a large dessert bar that includes a number of Asian desserts in addition to the little cream puffs and pastries. There is soft serve ice cream and sundae toppings.

What stands out about this holiday meal is that there is so much and so much that is different that you WANT to try, that you can't possibly try it all. I went past what I knew was my limit at this meal because I kept seeing more things to try- and most of you who read this site know that when I try things I take just a little - not a whole portion. But I was overfull with the many little portions that I tried - and I could have kept going if my stomach and my better sense were not telling me to stop. This is what I like about the holiday dinner at Best Buffet and this is what brought me back from last year - and likely next year as well.

According to their website, this meal seems to be going to be repeated (though they do not give menu details) for Chinese New Year on January 21, 22, and 23, 2012 (the year of the dragon). Make reservations if you are interested in going for Chinese New Year. (The Christmas buffets need no reservations.)

So, Best Buffet - if you are reading this - get the food hot and keep it that way - and keep offering this wonderful holiday feast for Christmas and New Year's.

I do recommend this special dinner. I cannot speak for the day to day regular meals, as it has been awhile since I have been to one here. I can tell you that weeknight prices are almost $20 a person and weekends are $27! They seem to have a lunch special going on now that the website says will end at the end of February where lunch is $8.99 (regularly $10.99). It is this lunch special that brought all of the positive comments that I mentioned at the beginning. Yes, it is a bargain at $8.99 to get close to what you get at night for twice that price - but for me and I am sure many who live on a budget, $8.99 is still a lot to spend for lunch- though I would not expect a buffet like this to charge any less - even at $10.99. I am sure that there are many who can afford it - and the time on a weekday to have a lavish lunch.


Millicent R. said...

We are on a budget too, and $8.99 may seem like a lot to spend for for lunch as you say, but we make it our only meal of the day so it turns out to be very economical for us. In fact, we try not to eat the day before, cannot physically consume the day after (sometimes 2nd day also), so this is a huge bargain for us. Last time, the nice couple sitting acoss from us was liberally filling large Ziplocked bags so it was even more of a bargain for them I would venture. Of course, we would never do that. Anyhow, we get at least three days of eatin for $8.99 which is such a wonderful thing for two seniors on a very fixed budget.

Tse~Yong said...

我们将使它热为了您能吃下次和每次和抱歉天气没有热的。Best Buffet.

Writer said...

As best as I could translate with a web translator what Tse-Yong commented above in Chinese - they are sorry that the food was not hot and that they will do their best to make sure it is hot the next time. There may have been more to what he said, but because the Chinese characters can have many different meanings, I could not piece together what may have been more of the comment - about stirring or mixing up. Anyway, I suspect that Tse-Yong is from Best Buffer and I really appreciate his commenting on the article and about their intention to correcting the problem. Their food was OK warm but it would be wonderful if it was properly hot.

Thank you, Tse-Yong.

songbird's crazy world said...

This place is a bit expensive, but I always liked it.