Friday, January 31, 2014

Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet, Carle Place, New York

It has been about two years since I have written about Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet. This is a buffet that we go to just once a year for a special occasion. While it is not astronomically expensive, it is the most expensive buffet that we go to at $29.99 per person for dinner on a weeknight. The dinner buffet is $31.85 Friday to Sunday. It is also the most different buffet that we go to. It is all Japanese from the freshest sushi that I have had at any buffet to green tea ice cream as part of an extensive selection of desserts. On a very limited dining out budget and with my wife who does not eat seafood other than shrimp, this buffet restaurant has to be good for us to spend the money and keep going back - even if that is only once each year.

Minado is part of a group of several locations in New York and New Jersey. Some are called Minado and some are called Nori Nori. What was interesting on this night that I had not seen here before was that inside there was a mix of signs - some saying Minado and others saying Nori Nori. The sign outside over the restaurant still read Minado. Even some of the plates had the Nori Nori name on them. 

We went on a Thursday night. The restaurant was not crowded but it was busy. We were seated at a small table for four. The table was just about right for the two of us. There were similar tables with four at them but they had to feel cramped. There are much larger tables for big groups and also private party rooms.

As we usually do, we started the dinner with soup. There are typical Chinese restaurant soups such as wonton, egg drop, and hot and sour. There is Japanese miso soup. But my soup of choice here is Udon noodle soup made to order at the corner of the grill area. Here your noodles are heated in boiling water, added to broth, and then you are asked which or all of the ingredients out before the chef you would like added to your soup. I get them all - though I have no idea what some of them are. The most recognizable are tempura shrimp and two very large shrimp were placed on top of my soup with all of the rest of the ingredients. There are other types of noodles to choose also. I love this traditional soup and I have not tried anything else here.

Following the soup, I went for sushi while my wife went for dumplings. This is sushi unlike any other that I have had at any other buffet including Japanese buffets. The fish is extremely fresh and tastes as such. The selection of different types is wider than any other that I have seen. There is a selection of all types of fish - some of which I will not try - no raw octopus or squid for me. But if you like it, it is here. There was something different from other years that we have come here. They used to have a selection of different raw fish (sashimi) out on platters on beds of ice - just fish. Instead of this, there were small plates each containing a piece of raw salmon, a piece of raw tuna, and a piece of some unknown to me white in color raw fish. There was a mild marinade on top and some had a few small pieces of lettuce salad that they were sitting on - some did not. I try as much as I can - and want to - eat low carb and I have a problem for this reason eating rice. I usually take some sushi rolls and fish on rice, but when there is just raw fish out I take that primarily. It was always nice that there were, in the past, just the fish out on platters each clearly labeled as to what it was. I still do not know what the white in color fish was in the bowls. One piece was so chewy - I am sure it is supposed to be - that I did not finish it. There was another piece of the same in one of the other bowls and that I did eat all of. It would be nice to know what it was. I had taken yellowtail tuna on rice so I know it was not that. I also took red snapper on rice and it was not that. Part of eating here for us is trying new things. I certainly tried some fish that I have not had before. One thing here that tells me that this fish is of a different and higher quality than sushi that I have had at other buffets is the color, the greater flavor, and the texture. The red tuna is dark red/brown. If you wish, you could easily make the whole meal here sushi. There is so much more that I move after one or two plates to the so many other things that are here to choose from.

There is a cold seafood bar with crab legs, clams, and oysters. The oysters are covered in a light, thin sauce with some greens and a thin slice of lemon added on top. In front of the oysters there was a tub of a thin red liquid and all of the Asian people taking oysters were spooning this sauce on top. I usually put cocktail sauce on my raw oysters - and there was cocktail sauce by the cold steamed shrimp that were also out - but I thought that I would try my oysters as the others were eating them - and I spooned some of the red liquid on top also. I was halfway back to the table when I realized that this red liquid must contain hot sauce. For some reason that has not occurred to me - silly me! I had five raw oysters in there shells now swimming in this, and I was not going to let them go to waste. The oysters were actually the only thing out on the entire buffet with a line to get to them. OK. I got back to the table and I poured off as much of the sauce as I could from each oyster. It was a good thing that I did because the little that remained set my mouth burning. My mistake that I must remember the next time that I go. Even with the hot sauce, the oysters were good - and tasted very fresh.

After the oysters, I went to the long row of prepared Japanese salads that are out. These are an assortment of salads made of various vegetables, lettuce, some with raw fish, some with noodles, some with various seaweed. There was Hijiki with Shitake Mushrooms that is a type of dried seaweed mixed with the mushrooms and with a light dressing. It has a consistency and look unlike anything else and it tastes a little nutty, is slightly crunchy, and we both like it. This is saying a lot because my wife rarely eats anything with a dressing on it. There was raw beef, smoked salmon, raw salmon in a cilantro dressing. There was a noodle salad. All of it different and good. Again, I could have gone back and made my meal just these salads, but still there is so much more.

There are various appetizers. There are meats and shrimp skewered on sticks and flame grilled. There is slices of large beef ribs - sliced across the ribs including bones from several ribs - flame grilled. There were Japanese dumplings with pork and a shrimp dumping. There are tempura shrimp and vegetables. All continually being refilled.

Then there is a long row of entree dishes. The selections change each day from a list of dishes that may be found on their website. The website is linked on the side of this page and you can look there at the menu to see what may or may not be there on the night that you come. I enjoyed Japanese crab cakes, soba noodles, some of the whole pollock steamed in ginger, chicken teriyaki that was not the usual cubed chicken with thick sweet sauce poured over it - but large pieces of chicken cut from the bone with a mild teriyaki sauce that allowed the flavor of the chicken to come through, B.B.Q pork ribs that were unusual in that they had a just slightly sweet sauce on them but the bone seemed to be missing yet the usual grizzle end of the rib was there, and I had more. The ribs were tasty and different. It was all good. When I was younger I could eat so much more than I can now at a buffet. When I am here I wish that I could eat like I did then before I start to feel full.

What I did not have at this dinner was the hibachi grill. It was there and it was making hibachi beef steak and hibachi chicken breasts with large slices of onion and zucchini, grilled on a flat grill. I have always enjoyed this - and I was very tempted - but I recalled from other meals here and at other Japanese buffets, that the amount given at the hibachi grill is a meal in itself - a full plate of meat and vegetables. When I have this, I really don't have room to have anything else. I decided that I would skip the hibachi and go for the entrees instead. The hibachi looked good. All that were having it, looked to be enjoying it. Maybe next year. As I keep saying, there is just so much here to choose from, one needs to set some limits to be able to enjoy as much of a variety as possible.

Dessert also brings a lot of choices. There are several fresh fruits out. There are cakes, pastries,and cookies. All looking like the little squares found typically at Asian buffets, but these are not the same as those. The cakes taste like cake - and there was a variety to try. Despite that I should not have, I did take two small squares of cake - one a blueberry cake and the other green tea cake. The blueberry cake was the tastier of the two. The green tea cake was fine but the idea of it was better than it was. I also took some of the green tea ice cream with is in the soft serve machine. This was good. I have had it before. It is mildly sweet and very refreshing. You can taste the tea, and it draws you to keep eating it and go back for more. I was satisfied with the small swirl that I took. There is also cooked to order crepes. These looked wonderful! I have tried one here in the past and it is good. The crepes come with your choice of toppings and if you want to take it over to the soft serve machine and put vanilla or green tea ice cream or both on top, go right ahead!

I think that you can tell that I enjoyed this meal. My picky eater wife was very happy also. She found plenty that was not fish. This is one of those buffet meals that we both happily finish by saying "Oh my!"

The service was very good. The soda is extra - and costs $2.49. While this sounds like a lot especially when added on top of a $30 meal, it is only thirty cents more than what OCB is charging for soda now. The restaurant is opened on weeknights until 9:30 on weeknights, 10 on Friday and Saturday and 9 on Sundays. At about 9:00 pm on this Thrusday night, our server came to the table to tell us that if we wanted anything more from the grill or if we wanted crepes we needed to go and get them then as those stations would be starting to close. That is fair, and everything else was still being served.

Now, I have said this before about this particular location of this buffet - for a Japanese buffet, many of the servers are Japanese (or Asian), all of the sushi chefs behind the sushi counters are Japanese, but the rest of the cooking staff - at the grill, the crepes, and coming from the kitchen are Hispanic. This is a heavily Hispanic area and perhaps that is why. I just find that odd - but locally it is not unusual.

I very much recommend this buffet. Remember it is a lot more expensive than the buffets I usually recommend to you. The lunch price is less (about $10 less - so still a $20 lunch for one) so if you want to try it for less you might try lunch.

Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet is located at 219 Glen Cove Rd, Carle Place, New York. Their telephone number is 516-294-9541. There is a website and the link is at the side of this page. Hours may always vary from location to location so check on the website before you go. On the website you will find details for all of the locations.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Levittown, NY OCB To Get A Makeover

An email has been sent out by Old Country Buffet informing those on their email list in the Levittown Old Country Buffet will be closing temporarily to be remodeled to the "new" OCB look. This was fascinating as many - not just me - have the opinion that the Levittown OCB is the worst OCB in the country. Now, does Ovation Brands (the new name for the parent corporation of OCB) acknowledge this and feel that a remodel to the new floor plan and little shop-like food stations will change this Old Country Buffet? It would be nice to learn that they acknowledge that there is a problem there. What they fail to realize is that it is not the layout or look of the current buffet that is the problem. It is the management and employees.

This is not to say that the employees do not work hard. The problem is that there are not enough of them and I have been informed by more than one person on the inside of the corporation that the lack of employees in the dining room and taking care of the buffet stations in general at OCBs is well known by Corporate and that this is intentionally done to manage the operating expenses. Yet, here we have a rock bottom OCB getting a big investment in a remodel - and one that involves a design that is far more employee necessary. The other two problems in Levittown have been poor management (which seems consistent over the years no matter who gets the job - and managers seem to be on a revolving door at this buffet) and lack of cleanliness both in the dining rooms and at the buffet tables.

If you saw the Undercover Boss episode featuring the "boss" of then Buffets, Inc., now Ovation Brands, you saw at least one example of the "new look". Food is divided by type at each serving station and several of those stations require an employee there. Here at the Levittown OCB their person carving is often also tending the hot trays and away from the carving station. An empty "new" carving station will be no better than it is now. The same was true when there was the stir fry station. One person cannot do three jobs. At OCB they seem to be expected to do four.

The new look from photos that I have seen is cute and very similar to the layout of Golden Corral. Will it work for OCB? Sure, if they staff it properly. Will they? Time will tell, but from what I hear from the inside, that is unlikely.

There was no date in the email as to when the Levittown OCB would close. It may have been timely to that email. I have not been able to get over there to see if it is still open or not. If you are on Long Island and plan to go to OCB, call Levittown first to see if they are still open. The alternative is the Old Country Buffet in Bay Shore, NY which is about twenty miles further east on Long Island on the South Shore. 

OCB Levittown, are you ready ??? for this:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Yummy China Buffet and Sushi Restaurant, East Meadow, New York

For years there has been an Asian buffet in East Meadow, NY, that my wife and I refereed to as "the little Asian buffet". I have written about it a number of times. It went from fair to poor to terrible and back to almost fair over the years. It never had much business and we always wondered how they could stay in business, especially with the competition near by. It finally closed - at least it looked like it was closed and then a sign went into the window that it was under renovation, and then opened with the same name which shortly was changed with the addition of Yummy at the beginning of the name. We wondered if it was different. At the time we first walked in to the newly reopened buffet we knew nothing about it. There had been no advertising at that point, no sign saying "Under New Management" or "Under New Ownership", or if it was just the same place as it always had been with a temporary closing. We went in one night and walked right back out. Nothing looked different inside from what we could see standing at the reception desk. I asked the price and was told $19.99! Wow! This had been a risky dinner when it was $11.99. There was no way that we were going to spend $40 for the two of us on a weeknight. We turned around and walked out.

I had not written about this at the time. I decided that it would not be fair of me to do so without actually knowing for certain what was going on inside for this price. One of our readers wrote during the past year and told me that she had been there for lunch and that it was OK but not worth the $9.99 charged every day for lunch. Then we started getting ad circulars for the restaurant stuck into the newspaper. There were coupons for 10% off but even at that, this was not a buffet to try for still as much as it came out to be with the 10% off. Then just after New Years Day we saw a moving marquee sign outside that seemed to say "Dinner $15.99". I called to make sure and yes, the price "for the Holidays" was $15.99 and a free beverage. At that price, we would give it a try.

We went in on a Friday night and there were four tables in the entire restaurant filled. This was just too reminiscent of this buffet before. I did not recognize any of the people working as having been there before. I had found a small review on a local community paper that talked about the new owners and staff as being a family running and working at this restaurant. We went in. The room was the same but with improvements that had been much needed. The ceiling was replaced and no longer looked like it was about to fall in where it had leaked. The tables and booths were arranged the same but the tables were new - with, for some reason, a large straw sun umbrella in the middle of each one going up to the ceiling. The booths looked the same but had been reupholstered and perhaps the tables had been replaced in them as well. Across the ceiling were hung colorful Chinese paper lanterns.  The room was brighter. The buffet tables and counter were exactly the same. The area that had been a grill in the rear is now a small sushi bar with a sushi chef standing behind (more about this later). We sat down and a very pleasant young lady came over to ask what we would like to drink. We both ordered Diet Coke. What came was not Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi. It must be an off brand of soda with an odd taste. Their circular says "Coke" and "Diet Coke" - it is was the real thing it was not mixing properly in the machine.

We always start with soup and there were four soups - Wonton, Egg Drop, Hot and Sour, and Miso. Nothing special about the soup but the soup was good. We tried the wonton soup and the egg drop soup and both were good.

In an Asian buffet I usually go up for sushi next, when they have it. Since this buffet is being billed as a sushi buffet in its name, I expected to see a lot of sushi. I walked up to the counter and there were a few pieces of an unknown sushi roll on a serving board. OK. I looked for a sign - "ask the chef", whatever, but saw none. There was a menu of sushi rolls on the counter in very small print. Do I ask for the chef to make me these?  I had no idea. (I have to add here that I saw a review on the Web about this restaurant and the comment was that a sushi roll was ordered and an extra charge appeared on the bill. This discouraged me from asking for anything of the sushi chef. It was too bad that I saw that review because this is not the case here now at all. One problem when looking up reviews for this buffet is that reviews are mixed up with those about this location and the old owners.) Latter while we were there, someone asked for a sushi roll to be made and it was made to order. This is a nice idea but so very different from most other sushi buffets - especially in this area - that it is not a good idea. Also, I would not want all of one sushi roll but would rather pick and choose different slices of roll - and I don't eat the rice. When we come back to this buffet and we will likely do that, I will ask for just fish and seaweed rolls with no rice and see what response I get. So, if you are into whole sushi rolls, this is the place to come. At the sushi counter there also was cold seaweed salad which was very good.

I just joined my wife who was picking appetizers from the buffet. I will tell you what there was out that night and items do change from a list of items from night to night (and the lunch buffet will not have as many items and will not have certain "special" dinner items). There were pork egg rolls that were good and tasted the way a pork egg roll should take which is not always the case at buffets. There were Spring Rolls, Fried Shrimp, Chicken Wings, Pan Fried Dumplings, Cheese Wontons, Chicken on a Stick, Yummy Meatballs, BBQ Spare Ribs, and Boneless Spare Ribs. On the salad bar there were cold crayfish, cold shrimp in the shell, cold baby clams, cold mussels, Edamame, Crabmeat salad (not real crab), half hard boiled eggs, and the fixings for a lettuce salad. The dumplings were good. There were also hot steamed crab legs. These were single legs and not clusters. The BBQ Spare Ribs were in a sweet sauce but not the usual overwhelmingly sweet red sauce usually found. The dumplings were also good. The Yummy Meatballs were interesting and tasty though I could not tell if they were beef, pork, or chicken or any combination.The appetizers were mixed into the general hot buffet so walk around the whole buffet server to see everything before you decide what to take.

Main courses were interesting. There were somethings here different from other buffets and some things much the same as you find at most Asian buffets. Again, these change night to night. There are things on the list that the restaurant sends out about what is on the buffet that were there the night we were there and other things that were not. There was Chicken and Broccoli, Sweet and Sour Chicken (add the sauce yourself), Sesame Chicken, General Tso's Chicken, Chicken with Garlic Sauce, Taiwan Chicken (just very slightly sweet), Teriyaki Chicken, Vegetable Egg Foo Young, Sauteed String Beans, Shrimp with Lobster Sauce (missing the pork but one of the best buffet shrimp with lobster sauce I have had and no Krab mixed in - just nice size shrimp), Yummy Salmon, Yummy Scallop - a mix of scallop and cheese baked on a large scallop shell and nice), hot steamed clams, Salt and Pepper Shrimp, Baby Clams in Asian BBQ Sauce, Mushrooms, Corn on the Cob, French Fries, Fried Plantains, Vegetable Lo Mein, Vegetable Fried Rice, White Rice, Brown Rice, and Garlic Bread. I have saved the best for last and the most different thing from other Chinese/Asian buffets - House Special Roast Pork. This was a large serving of what could have been a side of a whole pig. This had the skin that was roasted crisp and meat that just fell apart as you picked it up off of the serving tray. It was delicious and I went back more than once for more. This is only served at dinner and hopefully is served every night at dinner. There was a good assortment of dishes to choose from
but you may notice what is not here - beef. There were not beef dishes served on this night (unless the meatballs were beef). There are beef dishes on their list. What also is not here and for some who may have been here when the price was $19.99 is lobster. The Lobster Cantonese is not part of the regular buffet any longer. More about this later.

All of the food that I have listed and that we tried was high quality, fresh, and properly cooked and served. The food was much higher quality than most buffets. It was clear while we were eating that this is a family restaurant and I suspect that the lady who kept coming out from the kitchen with more trays to refill the buffet is the mother of the family - and she is cooking as she does for her family. There was a lot of attention paid to make sure that nothing was drying out and nothing was missing for any length of time. The cooking is good. The food was good.

Dessert is more or less the usual Asian buffet assortment of desserts. There is hard ice cream and also soft serve ice cream. There were cakes, cookies, puddings, and fruit. They had one of the best almond cookies and it seemed as if these were baked in the kitchen. They were full of almonds and had a nice texture. There was also a chocolate fountain.

Service was very good. It was clear that the young lady who was taking care of us at our table was also a member of the family and she was attentive. 

So - for $15.99 with the soda included this was a good meal at a fair price. At $19.99, no. I asked before we left if the price was going to stay at $15.99. I was told that it would stay there for awhile and that they were trying out this price and to get the price to $15.99 they eliminated the lobster from the dinner. The lobster is still available if ordered for $5 extra. I hope that they decide to keep the price at $15.99 including the soft drinks. At that price I will go back. At $19.99 I would not - even with the Lobster Cantonese. From the look of the poor attendance of diners at this restaurant that night, a lot more people need to know about this price change, and more will come. They said that their new newspaper circulars will show the new price - though it has been a couple of weeks and there has been no new ad yet. I will be looking for it. If you are going to try this buffet, call first and ask about the price.

The Yummy China Buffet and Sushi Restaurant is located at 398 Merrick Avenue, East Meadow, New York 11554. The telephone number is 516-486-2525. There is no website. The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm. Prices are the same for weekdays and weekends. The lunch price is less. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Shady Maple Smorgasbord Off-Season Special Theme Dinner Weekends - East Earle, PA

If you are a regular reader of this site you know about Shady Maple - our top buffet pick for a number of years now. You may not know that when the winter comes, Shady Maple features special theme weekend dinners on Friday and Saturday nights. Those dinners started tonight but this weekend's special continues tomorrow. I am going to list those theme weekend specials and their dates here for your reference. These dinners include the special featured items along with the regular smorgasbord.

Asian Weekend

Friday, January 10th 4PM-8PM and Saturday, January 11th 11AM-8PM

Walnut chicken, pepper steak, Korean BBQ wings, BBQ ribs, spring rolls and egg rolls with a variety of sauces. At the grilles: fried rice, lo mein, chicken or shrimp with your choice of variety of vegetables, curry, teriyaki or sweet and spicy Korean sauce. Plus gourmet apple bread, hot pepper jack cheese and orange creamsicle dessert.

Shrimp and Grilled Fish Weekend

Friday, January 24th 4PM-8PM and Saturday, January 25th 11AM-8PM

Featuring steamed shrimp (hot and cold u-peel and eat), fried shrimp, shrimp noodles, Maryland crab soup, crab augratin, oyster stew, grilled salmon, grilled cajun catfish, orange roughy, crab dip, hot crab dip and hand dipped seafood croquets. Plus gourmet strawberry bread, sharp cheddar cheese and lemon meringue pie.

Western Weekend

Friday, January 31st 4PM-8PM and Saturday, February 1st 11AM-8PM

Featuring New York strip steaks, chopped steaks, salisbury steak, hamburgers and hot dogs, BBQ baked beans, chili, cowboy caviar and peanuts. Plus Shady Maple's very own western burger and also featuring gourmet peach bread, longhorn cheese and fruited bread pudding.

Prime Rib Weekend

Friday, February 7th 4PM-8PM and Saturday, February 8th 11AM-8PM

The grill stations will be featuring famous juicy prime rib as well as their own Smorgie cheese steaks! Plus also featuring gourmet spinach and cheese bread, muenster cheese and pecan pie.

Hawaiian Luau Weekend

Friday, February 21st 4PM-8PM and Saturday February 22nd 11AM-8PM

Whole roasted pig, pulled pork, ham balls with pineapple sauce, pineapple chicken, coconut mahi, carved steamship pork with sweet and tangy BBQ sauce, pineapple bread pudding, Hawaiian fruit salad, chocolate fountain, smoothies, fresh pineapple, coconut macaroons, and plus pineapple bread and a variety of Hawaiian salads and desserts.

Farmers Weekend

Friday, February 28th 4PM-8PM and Saturday, March 1st 11AM-8PM

Chicken pot pie, duck legs, fresh pork sausage, ham balls, lima beans. On the grill they will have chicken livers with or without onions. The soup and salad bar is featuring chunky chicken salad, and cream of potato soup and cabbage soup. Plus Amish butter cheese, gourmet apple bread and apple and shoofly pie.

Prime Rib Weekend

Friday, March 7th 4PM-8PM and Saturday, March 8th 11AM-8PM

The grills will be featuring prime rib and their famouse Smorgie cheese steaks. Plus they will be featuring gourmet peach bread, muenster cheese and peach crumb pie.

Several of these have my attention. I would love to try their whole roasted pig! Then again, the next weekend's Farmers Weekend looks good too! They all look good!  Each one is definitely recommended.  I only wish I was not over four hours and a good amount of tolls and miles away.

Past these dates the season starts to begin again and while there will still be specials, the menus will revert to the usual and great Shady Maple Smorgasbord.

Shady Maple Smorgasbord is located at 129 Toddy Drive in East Earl, PA. Take Route 23 East or Route 322 South to get to the restaurant. The phone numbers are 1-800-238-7363 and 717-354-8222. There is a website and it is listed at the side of this page.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Christmas Dinner at D. J.'s International Buffet, Garden City, NY

For the past several years we have enjoyed a very special Christmas dinner at a buffet that is no longer open - Best Buffet in Huntington, NY. When we saw during this past year that Best Buffet had shut its doors for good, we wondered where we would find a reasonably priced and good buffer for the holidays. We decided at the very last minute to go to International Buffet in Garden City, New York.

I have written about this Asian buffet restaurant many times over a number of years - from its first management, to its closing, to its reopening under different management. It is a buffet that has varied from good to fair and my last visit was not so good. When it reopened with different management, the "International" part of the buffet was pretty much gone. We had never been there on a holiday before this Christmas. I suspected that they would be open - but I was not sure. I called before we went to ask to what time they would be open (the regular closing of 10 pm) and how much the buffet cost ($28.99 - "special holiday dinner" which is three dollars more than their usual weekend price). I actually was not certain that we should go when I heard the price.

We went at 6 pm for dinner. The restaurant was busy but not full. Most of the people eating in the restaurant were Asian. The dining rooms were decorated for Christmas. As we walked through to be seated I looked quickly to see if there was anything special about the "special holiday" buffet. I saw the usual as I looked with the exception of a chocolate fountain and cotton candy. They could have been charging even more to be open on Christmas, so $3 more for the usual weekend dinner was fine.

We started off with soup and I was disappointed to find that the soup they are most known for - lobster bisque that has always been on the buffet from the first opening of the restaurant through the new management. In its place was a thin, milk based clam chowder which while tasty consisted sparsely of pieces of onion and a few pieces of clam.  It was fine but not what I expected as calm chowder. There were the usual hot and sour, wonton, and egg drop soups. There was also a soup labeled "Sickie Chicken Soup". I looked into the tureen  to see very greasy chicken soup. It was too hard to see if there was anything added to the chicken broth. Just the name made me decide not to try it. Perhaps it means something else in Chinese.

There is, and always has been a nice salad bar here with salad fixings and prepared salads, including a nice Mediterranean olive assortment. With so much, we skipped the salad -and it was not until dessert that I remembered that they have these olives.

There is a large sushi bar with a broad variety of sushi that includes some sashimi (just raw fish with no rice). The sushi bar was no different than it has been and the fish is good. There is also a raw seafood bar with clams and oysters and I decided to stop off there on my way back to the table to add some raw oysters on the half shell to my dish. There were two Asian young women serving themselves there and I politely waited my turn. When I had gotten there, the ice bed was covered in oysters. By the time they filled their plates piled with oysters, there were no oysters left. This was my first encounter with what was to be repeated several times during the course of our meal. I went back to our table and watched to see when more oysters were brought out again. I went back up and there was an Asian man who filled his plate piled hire with oysters. I was able to get six oysters from what he left.While I was there, a non-Asian man was pushed out of the way by a young Asian woman who wanted to get to the cocktail sauce. He had something to say about it - she just ignored him.

There was a great deal of seafood on this buffet - which is common to this restaurant. One dish that was particularly good - though very salty - was the salt and pepper crab which was half blue crabs fried in batter with salt and pepper - a great deal of salt depending upon the piece.  Another dish that looked interesting was scallops in a white sauce served on large scallop shells, but when I went toward the just refilled tray, a young Asian man with two young Asian women just got there before me, and as I waited for my turn, the three of them emptied the full tray. I just shook my head and walked away.

 One of the features of the weekend dinners - and of this "special holiday dinner" as well, is lobster in ginger sauce. While it was being brought out to the buffet servers regularly- and placed in different spots each time - if you wanted any of this lobster it was necessary to ignore eating anything else and just stand around the buffet watching for the cart to come from the kitchen that might have more lobster on it. As soon as it would come out, the tray would be descended upon by two or three people - Asian people - who would empty that tray onto their plates - piling the lobster high on the plate despite the sign that would accompany the tray that said "Please take no more than four pieces of lobster at time so that others may have some". I pretty much gave up on having any until just about the end of our meal I happened to be in the right place at the right time and got next to two Asian women at the newly put out lobster tray who only took half of the large tray. At that point I decided, polite was not the order of the evening and I picked out the rest of the tail pieces which are the only pieces that any decent lobster meat can be gotten out of. The lobster tray was another spot that tempers flared between the non-Asian and Asian diners. It looked very much like at various times through the night that there would be an actual fight - all over someone taking a lot more at one time of something than anyone should when there is a crowd. It certainly was not because the restaurant was wasn't trying hard to keep all of the trays full as fast as possible.

This competition for food was not going on over all of the food. There was plenty of dished to just walk up to and take. There were two carvings - roast beef and a rope of grilled Italian Sausage. This was not carved for you, but large carving knives and serving forks were out with it for you to carve yourself. The sausage was very good. I did not try the beef. There were skewers of hot meat - beef and chicken - also shrimp, and spare ribs at the grill.  The spare ribs were burned and covered in a sweet glaze. The skewers were glazed as well. There were three types of dumplings - shrimp, shumai, and fried meat dumplings. Near the dumplings was a sweet coconut soup. There were large steamed fish in ginger sauce continually replaced. There was ox tail stew and also a beef stew. Shrimp was plentiful and large - cold steamed, fried in a crunch batter, and in a variety of dishes. There was plenty to eat and most things were very good. There was good labeling also with one exception - on one side of the buffet server a tray was labeled Country Frogs Legs and on the other side of the buffet server the same tray was labeled crab cakes. These were large fried frogs legs and I am sure that someone took them thinking that they were an oddly shaped crab cake - and perhaps had no idea that they were eating frog. Frog legs are good if you get past the idea of Hoppity Frog. There were also steamed snow crab legs - with no great rush to take what was put out. These were not whole clusters but a one leg or two legs joined together.

There is a large variety of desserts here. Scoop yourself hard ice cream, cakes, fruits, prepared desserts in two different sections - cold and not. Some of the cakes are the typical "Little Debbie" squares that are common at Asian buffets. There was a regular layer cake cut and put out as well. My wife tried that and said it was fine. The usual Asian buffet hot apple strudel was good and not overly sweet.  They were also making hot crepes to order at the side of the grill section.

I have not seen what I saw here on this night in the same way - and attitude - by those dining at another buffet before. There is always a competition to get to the lobster at buffets that include lobster and partly that is a reason (besides cost) why you don't see lobster too often at buffets any longer.  Years ago, I wrote an article here called "The Lobster Grabbers". Here it was just so frequent at items besides the lobster and then to come to near blows was way above and beyond. I have never seen this at this restaurant before.

As I said at the beginning, the price for adults for this "special holiday" buffet was $28.99 per adult. Soft drinks with refills were an additional $1.55. Service was OK. Dishes were taken away promptly from the tables, but we were never offered a refill of the water that we had instead of soda, and I did not see other tables around us get offered refills of soda though the refills were included with the soda price.

Would I go back on another Christmas? Maybe. The food was certainly good and we were full when we left. Is is worth $28.99  - not really. When we come here we usually come on a special occasion during the week when the price has been $17.99 - still expensive but not as expensive as the $25.99 weekend price. My suggestion is that if you would like to try this buffet, come on a Monday through Thursday. The only thing that you will not get is the lobster. 

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 now a website, but I must warn you, there is music that cannot be shut off unless you mute your speakers. The website is linked on the right side of this page.