Friday, February 03, 2012

Another Visit to Peking Buffet, Williamsburg, VA

In October 2011, I wrote an article about Peking Buffet in Williamsburg, Virginia. This is a buffet that I have written highly of in the past and in fact, was our Best Asian Buffet one year, several years back. As I had said in the article in October, I had not been back to the area to go to this buffet for about two or so years. In December, we were in Virginia again, and we made a point to go back to Peking Buffet to see if our poor experience there this past August was just an anomaly or was it typical of how this buffet now is.

I am not going to go through the whole description and detail about the restaurant. Use the link in the first sentence to go to that article and read it, if you wish. What I will talk about is our experience on this last visit.

The best thing here remains the noodle soup station and the Pho. As I have written before, this is not a Pho to be compared to a true Vietnamese restaurant, but the noodles are right and the soup is close enough to be enjoyed by someone who likes this distinct noodle soup. But you cannot spend the night just eating soup - well, I guess one could, but that is not why I came in the past to Peking Buffet.

After the soup the rest of the meal was a problem for both of us. Let me state right off, because of the outcome of my last meal here, that my stomach did not become upset after eating at Peking Buffet this time. That is a good thing. I believe, it is because I chose my selections very wisely and avoided anything with spice and hot peppers. That was a problem because what that left were sweetened dishes and high carb dishes - and with the restrictions in diet that we are both on, this left little to nothing. Much of what is on the buffet is "hot and spicy". I thought that I could get around this by going to the Mongolian Barbecue to make up my own dish of selected raw vegetables, strips of beef, and I put on should have been a basic brown sauce which unlike other sauce selections should not have been spicy. I watched as chef grilled it and plated it. When I got to the table I took a forkful and immediately I tasted and felt the heat in my mouth - not the temperature but the heat of the spice that could only have come from the sauce. Frankly, and I hate to leave what I take over in any way, I did not finish the plate. I was not going to take any chances on this trip. I did go back and prepare a plate with no sauce at all. This one was not spicy and edible - though it had no taste at all. I added some soy sauce to give it a taste. I have been to many Mongolian Barbecues at buffets and I have never had this problem. I eat at many Asian buffets and never have a problem finding selections from the buffet that are not spicy, not sweetened, and are not pure starch. Here it was a problem. Now, if you like spicy Chinese food, if you eat heavily sweetened dishes, and you have no problem with dishes that are primarily rice or starch, then you will not have the problem that we had. BUT in the past at Peking Buffet - with the same diet restrictions, we never had a problem enjoying a plentiful meal here. Not any longer.

I did go back to the Sushi Train - again, see the October article. I thought that I would over come the awkwardness of taking little plates with one or two pieces of sushi on them by taking over a dinner plate and putting the contents of the little plates on that as I took them as they went by on the belt. Good idea, but there was no place to put the little dishes, so I was balancing several little plates, with my dinner plate and this just did not work. Again, the sushi as it went by was not properly labeled or not labeled at all. There was no way to know what was going by but guessing. If I saw something that looked interesting, but I missed taking it from the little door in front of me, I would try to follow along to get to it again, or come back to find it on the next loop, but every time, it was gone - and there was no big crowd here this night - in fact at one point I was the only one at the sushi train. I said this before and I will say it again - a sushi train has no place at a buffet. In the old days here, there was a serving counter, just like every other Asian buffet with a sushi chef behind filling serving trays with sushi. Some one here saw this Sushi Train (it is very popular in Japan where you sit in front of it at a counter and take what you want as it passes by) and decided it would be a great addition to Peking Buffet. That was a big mistake.

Since I was watching closely what I was taking on the buffet and avoiding a lot of things, I pretty much did not feel that I had all that I would like to eat. I even went back for more soup. I was a bit hungry when we left. A buffet needs to meet a broad range of diets. This one always had. What USED TO BE good here was the large number of basic Chinese restaurant dishes - chow mien, moo shu, a number of plain vegetarian Chinese dishes, and more. These all are gone.

We both agreed that Peking Buffet was not worth coming back to again. My wife had said to me later that she was surprised when I pulled into the parking lot, as she knew from the last visit that this was a buffet to cross off our list of places to go when we are in this area. I explained that I wanted to give it one more try - hoping. She was right - I should have gone back to one of the others - even her not so favorite Golden Corral, which is actually just across the the road. I said when I ended the last article that it would be wait and see until the next time. This was the next time and all they get from me is two strikes - and now they are out - for us. At least I didn't get sick. Again, if you like hot and spicy, you might like it.

The Peking Restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia is located at 120 Waller Mill Road in the Big Kmart Shopping Center. (Kingsgate Green Shopping Center – Bypass Road (Rt.60)). There is a website and that is listed at this side of the page.


Priscilla said...

On the subject of NY asian buffets, my neighbors told us that they just went to the Asian Buffet in Hicksville and they raved about it. They said that it was much improved and it only costs $11.99 for dinner 7 nts. a week. We haven't tried it again yet but would like to see a new article about it.

Writer said...

The Oriental buffets in this area are lowering their prices to compete with the new buffet in Levittown, NY - Chen's. It is going to take a lot for the one's that are doing this to come close.

I was at Asian Buffet about a year and a half ago and wrote an updated article about it then. We found at that time that we had a difficult time selecting things to eat. Many of the entrees were in very sweetened sauces. This is not a problem for many, but a big problem in regard to health for us. It is rare that I have a problem finding things to eat at a Chinese buffet. Here, for me it was a problem. I have not gone back for that reason - despite coupons that often are found that lower their price even more. The food was fine but just not for us.