Friday, December 08, 2017

Back again to Global Buffet, Levittown, NY

This is a follow up to the several other articles that I have written about this buffet and since it is local, it is only fair to keep this up to date, especailly when things are positive. We went back to Global. We have been back a couple of times since the last article and this last visit was the most positive.

This was a Sunday night. The meal was pleasant.  I focused on this as an Asian buffet rather than try to get it to be more than that - even though there is the American meat carvings and a few non-Asian dishes and a taco bar. On two Sunday visits including this one there was lobster in ginger sauce. This was whole lobsters in the shell cut up into small chunks - and on this visit they even cut up the claws which made them much easier to get good pieces of lobster meat out of. What surprised me most - give that this is Long Island and is notorious for huge crowds descending on lobster trays as they are put out at Asian buffets leaving the tray empty almost as soon as it enters the steam table - was that there was none of that. I went up twice to a near full lobster tray and helped myself to several nice chunks of lobster. There is no price increase on Sundays or the weekend and there has not always been lobster here - so if you go, don't automatically expect lobster. Things seem to change a lot here as to what is put out.

There is a section next to the sushi bar of oriental salads and there were some interesting salads there to try. There was a beansprout salad and another salad that might have been artificial crab shredded in a cold white sauce that was more than just mayonnaise and it was tasty.

MeiFun noddles with shrimp was good. The fried rice is decent. The lo mein is OK.  Italian sausages sliced in half length wise and grilled with peppers and Onions was OK. I tried the turkey again, and it was much more like turkey should taste - the turkey gravy is thin and could be thicker. It is a turkey breast. I tried a short rib but there was not much meat on it and whatever the sauce they have on it is, takes away from the short rib. So I went back to the Asian dishes. There was a whole crab shell stuffed with a breadcrumb mixture and crab. That was OK.

There are still inconsistencies here. The stuffed baked clams that they used to have are now changed - and that is too bad because the Italian style baked clams that they had were good. I did not try the new ones - it looked as if there was cheese on top of them. There had been pulled pork on the taco bar which made for a good dish just on its own, has been gone for the last visits. Taco meat is now just chopped beef that looks dry. I took Pepper Steak which is a basic Chinese restaurant and buffet dish and it is never spicy - here it is hot and spicy. Maybe you like hot and spicy, but I don't expect Pepper Steak to be that way.  Labeling could be better also - what had a sign over it as Beef Stew was Curry Beef. The actual Beef Stew had a sign over it that it was clams. Definitely not clams.

They seem better at putting things out as the trays empty. They need to pay attention to what the signs say above where they are putting them out.

The soft serve ice cream here is very good - much better than many buffets - regardless of the type of buffet. The ice cream is cream and not icy at all. We top apple strudel with the soft serve ice cream and that makes a good desert - though they have a number of other desserts here.

The women who wait on the tables have always been excellent. They make an effort to keep coming over and cleaning away plates and offering refills on drinks. They are all very polite and welcoming.

Will we go back now? More likely that we would have before. As long as it remains as it is right now - and they don't slip back - and/or they don't raise the prices. I have wondered how set their $14.99 price is going to be, especially if they are throwing in lobster every so often. The $14.99 price is just right for this buffet. A higher price would keep people away. And they are not coming in droves now. Don't expect the crowds that once were here for Old Country Buffet. We were commenting on that to each other as we were leaving the buffet. Those coming here are very different from those who came here when this was OCB. There are more older people coming here and some families. Another Asian buffet that we go to on some Sunday nights is generally jammed with a wait for a table - and that is a large buffet. Not here, but that buffet is priced a dollar lower on weekends and two dollars lower on Monday to Friday. Here the price is the same every day for dinner, less for lunch.  There are coupons here in local newspapers and coupon mailers for two dollars off each person up to 10 at a table. Of course, the other buffet also has coupons with $1.50 off their lower prices.

At this point everyone is going to have to decide for themselves. I don't know if there are still off nights. So far we have been happy twice in the recent past. I can't say that about before that.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Three Times Prime Rib

We were in Lancaster, PA for a Fall trip and, of course, every night was a buffet - actually every night was at one of the top buffets for the past year. It just so happened that the nights we went to Yoder's, Shady Maple, and Dutch-Way/Gap Prime Rib was the feature for that night. Prime Rib can vary a lot at buffet restaurants and at these three there were differences. There are times that I prefer Prime Rib to steak - if the Prime Rib is good.  Given a choice between a bone in slice and a slice with no rib bone, I prefer the bone in slice but I have never come across a buffet restaurant that serves a bone in Prime Rib.

We first went to Yoder's Restaurant - Tuesday is Prime Rib night there. Yoder's Prime Rib is carved at the grill and they will try to accommodate your request for rare, medium, well done. While I was up at the grill someone before me had wanted theirs very well done and they had that piece on the grill top for extra cooking. I wanted mine rare - no surprise to our regular readers - and the carver cut into the Prime Rib at a spot where the meat was rare - red rare - and sliced me off a nice slice. The outside of the Prime Rib was a herb rub without any type of sauce added. The meat was very tender. It did need a little salt to bring out the flavor but that was fine. There was very little fat in the meat and even less grizzle. Later in the meal I went back for a second slice and this time the carver was different and she carved a very thick piece - thicker than I really wanted given the point in the meal I was at - but she cut a generous slice. This time the meat was not as rare as the first but again the meat was very tender. Both slices were very tasty - even though the first needed a little salt added.

Wednesday night is Prime Rib night at Shady Maple Smorgasbord. It surprised me how crowded Shady Maple was for mid-week Fall. Prime Rib is carved to order at two of the grill stations at Shady Maple. Here they have different Prime Ribs to carve each done to a different wellness. I saw one carver at a very rare looking Prime Rib and I went over to him for a slice. The slice was generous and this slice of Prime Rib was the most like in appearance to a slice of Prime Rib that one would get in a menu restaurant. At the side of the grill counter was Au Jus gravy to ladle on your meat yourself. There was also ground horseradish to spoon on. There was a large circle of fat at a corner of the slice. The outside of the Prime Rib was black and semi-crispy and the meat was coated with a sauce that tasted like a combination of Worcestershire Sauce and A1 Steak Sauce. This was cooked onto the outside of the Prime Rib. The outside had a distinct flavor because of this. I was given a slice per my request that was red rare. The meat of this Prime Rib was interlaced with grizzle and while eating there was a lot that had to be cut off around what was cut to eat. It was tasty but chewy. It was good enough but because of two nights of Prime Rib for dinner, I did not take a second slice and continued the meal with several of the many other good things that Shady Maple has to offer.

Friday night (and Saturday night - but this was a Friday night) is Prime Rib night at Dutch-Way restaurant in Gap, PA. The Prime Rib here is also carved at the grill. One Prime Rib is out for the carver to serve from, but from past visits I know that if you ask for a piece cooked differently from what is out, they usually have it. I asked for rare, as did the man after me. The carver told me that he had to go and get another Prime Rib that he could cut off rare slices from and he went off. When he came back he had a tray with a Prime Rib in it. He opened a hot draw inside the carving station and picked up the remaining Prime Rib on the cutting board and added that to what was in the tray in the drawer. He pulled out the tray and put it aside - to be brought back into the kitchen when he was done carving my slice and the slice for the other gentleman there. He cut into the middle of this Prime Rib and it was pinkish-red inside. Not as rare as I had hoped for but still rare. Perhaps one might say it was medium-rare, but that is better than well done and dry. This slice had some fat marbled through and just a little grizzle mixed in. The outside of the Prime Rib at Dutch-Way is crispy and also may have been a steak sauce cooked onto the outside. It was tasty, there was little to have to cut around and perhaps if this night was not a night we had to drive back for a three plus hour trip I might have eaten more of the fat than I did. The slice was a good sized slice. Did I go back for another? Well, no but only because on the buffet was Dutch-Way's meatloaf and since I have been good meatloaf craving for awhile, I forgo another slice of Prime Rib for some really good meatloaf.

Of the three buffet restaurants, I found the Prime Rib at Yoders to be the best. It was the most tender by far. It had little waste on the slice and it was tasty. There was no sauced crust on the outside to detract from the taste of the meat. It was also the most satisfying. Yoder's on a Tuesday night is the place to go for all you care to eat Prime Rib along with their other good things on the buffet.

All three buffets are linked at the side of this page.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Golden Corral, Middletown, NY

We are rarely in Upstate New York - this for those who are not familiar with New York is considered anything north or west of Manhattan by those who live in the Metro NY area. We were going to spend the day up along the Hudson for an event we wanted to attend and I started looking for where we might find a buffet - and I was in particular looking for a Golden Corral.  With the conversion to Golden Corrals of some Old Country Buffets, etc. that had closed I knew that there was at least one up in this area. The one that I searched for first was the Golden Corral that opened in a former OCB in Newburgh, New York. I had heard about this in early summer along with the opening of a similar take over location in Connecticut. When I had looked up the reviews for this new Golden Corral in Newburgh, the reviews were not good - in fact they were terrible. When I went back to look now I discovered that this Golden Corral had closed! It was not open a half a year. There was some problem between management at the buffet and the NYS Department of Labor - I don't know the details - and Golden Corral pulled their affiliation and closed the restaurant. So, what else might be near enough to make a detour on the way home worth the drive. What I discovered was that there is a new Golden Corral in Middletown, New York. I did not read any reviews - I wanted to see for myself.

We drove about an hour plus out of our way and in the wrong direction to get there on a Saturday night. It is the most unusual Golden Corral I have ever seen. It is not a free standing building but part of a strip mall in one of the store spaces. At first I thought that it must be another OCB conversion - as it just seemed that way from the outside. As we went through the door there was also an open entrance - no doors to a large and noisy game arcade. Odd! I have since found out that this was not an OCB or any other restaurant before but was built as an add on by the arcade.

As we were parking two very large travel buses were parking in the parking lot near the restaurant. On the outside they had the name of a school in Georgia and they also had the name of a sports team. Oh boy!, I thought. and I commented that I hoped that they were on their way out and ont on their way in. It was about 7:00 pm and they were on their way in.

The area with the cashiers and where a line forms to go into the restaurant were very small. A big crowd here would be out the door. As we were on line one of the coaches from the bus was arranging for the team to come in. Looking at the crowded dining room we wondered where two bus loads of hungry athletes were going to be seated. It turns out there is a private dining room that they came into after we were seated.

The interior of the buffet is the smallest Golden Corral I have seen - which even more led us to thing that this had to have been an OCB. The buffet sections were smaller than usual and abbreviated in what they could hold. There was one section I have not seen before in a Golden Corral and that was an Italian foods section.

Now, this is still during the Smokehouse BBQ feature and it is a weekend night so the price is a dollar more - and for this you are supposed to get the Smoked Turkey (which they had for a while), Smoked Brisket (which they did not have), Pulled Pork BBQ (which they did not have) and several other specials for the feature. None of which they had. OK. So this was a weekend extra cost meal with nothing out that makes it special cost - except the small remains of a smoked turkey - that were pretty much totally gone during the time we were dining.

Because my rare opportunities to get to a Golden Corral now has to make up for no longer having regular buffet dinners weekly at the now gone two OCB locations that were near us, I am looking for particular things. One is steak - and they did have steak. After soup and a small salad, I went right for the steak grill - and did manage to get a piece - not a large piece as I expect to get at a Golden Corral of just about rare steak. The steak was not seasoned and pretty bland. It was also rather tough around the sides. My picky eater wife likes Golden Corral's meatloaf - as do I. She went to where the sign said Meatloaf and found a hot tray of some odd looking meat with some vegetables in a brown gravy or sauce - it was not pot roast - the pot roast was on the other side of the buffet section. This was not meatloaf - and we both were disappointed. This was not late. Something like meatloaf should not have run out - and this was before the sports team had come up to the buffet.  Some of the basics at Golden Corral were also missing which made my wife's choices very limited. She also likes the pulled chicken in gravy - there was no sign of that.

When we got up for the second plate, the fried chicken was gone. I waited awhile for it to come out - it did not come out. No fried chicken. As we were leaving several pieces of fried chicken were finally put out. I went looking for the pulled pork BBQ - a featured dish - and in the place with the sign for Pulled Pork BBQ was another tray of that same odd looking meat with vegetables and gravy. While I was there a man came over also looking for pulled pork and looked at that meat in the tray and asked me what it was - I said, "I have no idea, but it is not pulled pork!" He shrugged and put some on his plate. It did not look much better plated. Trays would empty and never get refilled. I went over to the Italian section and there were fried raviolis. I was interested and took a couple. I almost broke a tooth biting into one of them. It was not fried hard but fried too tough to chew and the edges were hard. So much for that. There was a baked ziti with cheese and that was fair, but nothing I go to Golden Corral for. I went back for another piece of steak and despite a "look" for rare, I was given what would more be described as medium - and this piece was tough and full of grizzle. I like the steak at Golden Corral - this was not it. This was not the thick cuts of steak that Golden Corral usually serves.

There is not much to go on further about in regard to the food. This is not up to Golden Corral standards - if Golden Corral cares about their locations following consistent standards - which seem to vary from location to location.

Service started out being good - and then went downhill and the server did not have a large section to cover. When it was time to refill our soft drinks I had to wait by the table until I saw him and go over to tell him to please bring us refills. When I got back to the table my wife was there and on the table next to our empty cups were two of the large take it with you plastic cups - that cost more than the regular soft drinks. My wife told me that the server brought these and said that they are "out of glasses" and he brought the refills in these. OK - a way around being out of glasses - but "out of glasses?!".   Our two glasses were on the table - no wonder they were out of glasses! In other Golden Corrals the server takes the glasses we have and refills them - either bringing a pitcher of soda to fill them with or taking the glasses to the soda dispenser and bringing them back. Not here. But OK. We had refills - and large ones at that - and the server had a chance to disappear again. So now a short while later we are going back up to find something more to put on our plates - not something that should be a problem at Golden Corral - but it was a problem here. We managed to find something. I went looking again for fried chicken - hoping to salvage something good from this meal. Still no chicken. I took a small slice of pizza that was under cooked - the cheese was not melted and the sauce was cold. I had such hopes after the experience we had just a couple of weeks before at the Golden Corral in New Jersey (see last article). Well, at least the food here was not overly salty - it was pretty much tasteless. Well - while we were up looking for food, when we got back to the table our silverware was gone, our charge receipt - which is all you are given to put on the table - and the server puts his name on the bottom and is to stay out - well that was taken away - but the empty soda glasses remained and the large cups that had been brought - still with plenty of drink still in them were still there. My wife saw this and asked me what happened. I had seen the server when I was getting up from the table and he saw me going over to the buffet - but he decided - I guess - that we had left - but why leave the cups then?  Everything here is beyond understanding.

So - another not good dinner at a Golden Corral. Before writing this article I went to reviews to see what others have had to say and it gets mostly only one or two stars and most say they will never go back. We will likely never be up that way again - so we are not going back. I would love to say that even a bad Golden Corral is better than no Golden Corral at all - but with this one - skip it! Outside in the parking lot there was a Carl's Jr. fast food restaurant - which we were surprised to see as we thought there were none in the North. We kidded driving in that maybe we should go there instead - since it is very rare that we eat on one of those due to location. We should have done that - we would have enjoyed it more and it would have been a lot cheaper.

This Golden Corral - if you care by now - is located at 360 Route 211 E, Middletown, NY 10940. On the way home I hoped that this meal would sit well as it was a long drive through the mountains and no rest areas. It did, but the trip home took a few hours and when I pulled into the driveway I was hungry. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

An Urge for Golden Corral

To start we will go back to August and I had a really big desire to go to Golden Corral for dinner. The nearest Golden Corral is about 70 miles away and requires taking two expensive toll bridges. I figured that between the tolls and the gas, I could just pick a restaurant that I cannot afford and just go there to have dinner, but the urge was specifically for Golden Corral and my wife knew this.

One afternoon while we were having lunch my wife asked if I would like to go to Golden Corral for dinner - despite the gas and tolls and ride. Yes! I really wanted to go and we started out at about 3:30 pm for the Golden Corral in Freehold, New Jersey.  according to the GPS we should be there in one and a half hours. Fine with me! The afternoon was bright and sunny.

I can never get around the idea that "rush hour" here starts that early and we should have been driving opposite to rush hour traffic but from the start we got caught up in heavy traffic.  I decided that until we came to the first bridge we could always just turn around and head back home so we kept going.

We crossed the first bridge and where at that at the point of no return. On the way to the second bridge we heard on the radio about traffic backing up along the route we were taking. I was using a GPS app on my phone that has traffic alerts but never seems to find a way to get one around it. So we continued along the route. Getting to the second bridge - a ride that should take less than twenty minutes took over an hour. The approach to the bridge was bumper to bumper. We moved along slowly and continued on in traffic. Now we were approaching "real" rush hour - it was after five and business were all letting out and the roads were filling even more. The thought of the prize at the end - and having already spent the money on the bridge tolls - kept me driving.

We finally got to the exit that would take us to Route 9 South which is what the Golden Corral is on - eventually. The exit ramp was stopped and cars were bumper to bumper and then the radio traffic report said that there was an accident on the Garden State Parkway which was backing up Route 9. We inched along. It was over a half hour sitting on the exit ramp and we were not getting anywhere.

Eventually we were able to get onto the actual road that much further south the Golden Corral is located on. It too was bumper to bumper and that was compounded by traffic lights. And then there was an alert on the radio. Not traffic this time but weather. There was a severe storm warning and they starting listing where it would hit and when and it would hit hard. There were recommendations to not be outside - take cover - the whole bit - and there we were sitting bumper to bumper and no way really to be able to even turn around and just give up.  I went on because I really did not want to have to come all this way just to give up. It was about 8:00 pm - not when we arrived at the restaurant but when the sky suddenly grew dark and looking at how far more we had to go it would be past 8:30 before we reached Golden Corral. Golden Corral on weekdays closes at 9:00 pm! I said to my wife that there was no point in going any further as we could not make it to the restaurant in time and I asked her to look for someplace to turn around and head back. We had been driving for four and a half hours for a trip that should only take an hour and a half.

We headed back and by the time we were home we had driven six hours. We could have driven one way to Virginia in six hours. By the time we got near home we headed for the Chinese take out that we go to and brought dinner home - no meatloaf, no steak, no Golden Corral.

We move forward now to October - a couple of weeks ago. The urge for Golden Corral was still there. The urge was even stronger. Earlier in the day we decided to try it again. This time we made it! Was the wait worth it? Well...

We have been to the Freehold, New Jersey Golden Corral many times before. It had started out just fair - sometimes poor to fair - and had improved somewhat over time. This is in the middle of their most recent feature - Smokehouse Grill - featuring on the weekends Smoked Brisket and Smoked Turkey and on weeknights pulled pork, baby back ribs, and smoked chicken - those also served on the weekend. This was a weeknight.

Almost everything we took tasted as if someone had taken a salt shaker and dropped its full contents into the pot or the mixing bowl. I was there for steak and  meat loaf. The steak was fine and the grill chef understood what the meaning of rare is and served me a nice rare steak which did satisfy my urge for steak. The meatloaf was more salt loaf. And along with that the mac and cheese, the pulled pieces of chicken in gravy, and the rest of what I tried. My wife was also not happy.  I went over to see the pulled port and what they had out was a tray with dried out pork on the top that below was sitting in a pan of grease. There were three different BBQ sauces to squeeze on. Looking at the grease and the really unappetizing dried out pork, I decided to skip this. I then went to see the baby back ribs and on a carving board next to the grill was a six inch section of dried out ribs with a few bare bones sitting next to this on the board. Forget Roadhouse Grill. It all looked inedible and certainly not anything I was going to take. A second piece of steak - almost cooked right was the rest of my dinner. There was also less out than there usually is here on a weeknight plus there were two and even three trays with the same item. Some trays were filled with rolls that should have had entrees or sides.

There was bread pudding on the dessert bar and there was little else that was not "sugar free" - no pies were left, no cake. My wife decided to take some of the soft serve ice cream which was more ice than cream. It was not late and the restaurant would be open almost an hour after we had finished our dinner.

It was a long hard road for a disappointing meal.

The next article will be about another Golden Corral - one we have never been to before.

Friday, September 15, 2017


What happened?!?

I had not intended to write an article but just make a comment on the last article about our third visit to Global Buffet but it just seemed that it needed to be set apart. We had not intended to dine at Global Buffet on this night but we were heading to another restaurant (we don't just eat at buffets) and realized as we got there that they were closed to host a special event, so we decided to go over to Global Buffet.

My experience, in particular, at this dinner shows that Global Buffet at this point is inconsistent. Because we had not planned to dine at an Asian buffet, I decided that I was going to eat primarily American - which has not been a problem on our past two trips. I had planned on sliced turkey with a few other American dishes.

The turkey as unlike it has been on either of our first two dinners here. It was hard to distinguish this turkey from ham. It is in a serving tray next to the ham - each labeled - and the ham had pineapple slices on it - and the turkey did not - though on the outside and the meat both resembled each other closely. If this was turkey it was a cheap, processed turkey breast - a ball that was roasted - evenly brown/black on the outside - the meat was less white than turkey and more the pink of ham. The flavor was slightly salty - like ham. I would just say that this was another ham put out in the turkey tray - but as I say it was not covered in pineapple slices as the ham was. It was not good at all. There was nothing wrong with it but it was not good.  Even OCB Turkey which was never a great turkey breast was better than this. After the first slice I decided that I had to find something else to complete the meal.

As I was going around the buffet to see what I would eat, I saw that the pork spare ribs looked different - more like I expect Chinese Spare Ribs to look - and still not in thick red sauce - but definitely covered in some type of thin sweet sauce. I took one of those. I also took a small beef rib. The beef ribs were now sitting in a tray with a thin reddish gravy on them - that was not there the last time. I wondered as I saw the spare ribs if they are reading this site and tried to create the ribs I described in our last article that I find better than the ones I had here on the last visit. These, on this night, were not better - and maybe not as good as they had been. The beef rib was better without any sauce on them.

So onward, to the next trip up to the buffet and I went to a tried and true choice from visit one and visit two - beef stew. Oh boy! It looked right. One bite of beef and it was spicy. At best that I can identify the spice I would say the stew sauce was full of curry. In the past few years my stomach has become sensitive to anything that is spicy and I knew if I continued to eat this I was going to have a problem. I tried a piece of potato from the stew - same taste of curry. What did they do? Did they change the recipe? If so, why? One possibility - the beef stew and the chicken curry sit in trays next to each other. Did someone mix the sauce from the curry into the beef stew? There was too strong a taste of spice for it to have been just the curry serving spoon finding its way from one to the other. I went back to look at the beef stew tray. The sauce on the beef stew looked exactly the same as the sauce on the chicken curry. I hope that this was a one time mistake and not an intentional change in recipe because the beef stew had been the best dish here.

Lastly, and minor, I took a slice of pizza which looked good and looked pretty much as the pizza at another Asian buffet that we go to regularly. The cheese was nicely melted on the top, but under that layer of melted cheese was another layer of the same cheese that was not melted at all.

My wife was not as disappointed as I was but she had intended to have the beef stew also and when she found out that it was spicy, she was not going to take it. She eats more general Asian buffet and does not mind the usual pepper steak and chicken with broccoli. She was the one of us who described this meal as inconsistent. 

To the positive, there were stone crab halves that I did not try. They were large and they had nutcrackers next to the serving tray. Global buffet has  started putting discount coupons in the local major newspaper, Newsday and also in one of the mailer discount coupon books. The coupon is for $2 off adult dinner prices up to 10 at the table.

And for the OCB nostalgic about this location, the men's and ladies rooms are in the same location as they were when this was OCB but you will not believe the transformation. They are fancy with fancy plumbing fixtures. There are paper towels and hand dryers. And they are clean. Seems that everyone who walks into these has the same reaction - wow, are these so much better than they were!

I really want this restaurant to succeed. I want to go and have a nice "international" meal at a good price. They maybe still have to break themselves in more, but right now it is inconsistent. Inconsistent is not good.  We will go back - but things will have to go back to where it was a week ago and what should not be spicy must not be spicy, if we will go back after the next try.


We went back a week later. The turkey was a little better - at least it was white and looked more like turkey. It is cheap turkey roll/turkey breast. At least it was edible. The beef stew was moved away from the the curry chicken - that is behind the beef stew and two trays over now. The beef stew was now edible and no longer was spicy or tasted like curry. 

I tried the hibachi bar. I added what looked like a steak to my plate of vegetables. When I took the steak I had second thoughts. it was grey, lacking in any marbling, and was frozen solid - the frozen part did not bother me any. It was good and I brought it back to the table. I cut a piece of "steak" off and tried to eat it. I could not chew it. It actually was like rubber. I tried cutting pieces off in various parts of the meat. None would chew. Each came back out of my mouth and on to the plate. I ate the vegetables which were fine.

My wife has been eating the pepper steak here - from the buffet table - since we started coming here. She took a bite at this meal and said it was so spicy that it was burning her mouth. She said it has never been like that before - and I, too,  have had it here before and no, it was never spicy. I asked her what tray was it next to. We went to look. It was right next to Hot Pepper Chicken - a very hot and spicy dish. So just like the beef stew the last time, either the serving spoon or something from the Hot Pepper Chicken went into the Pepper Steak! This is very serious. If one were allergic to something in that other tray  - and ate the pepper steak they could be in serious trouble!

Inconsistent is still the best way to describe this buffet! Each visit there have been surprises and only on our second visit were the surprises not unpleasant. I cannot recommend this buffet to anyone at this point until they get their act together! 


Saturday, September 09, 2017

Global Buffet, Levittown, NY - SECOND VISIT

We went back to Global Buffet. (See our first article about this buffet.) They have made some positive changes in the past two weeks since they opened.

Either they read our article or someone there was told or realized that their steam tables were set at too low a temperature, but now the temperature of the food is correct. Nothing was cold or just warm. Everything that needs to be hot was properly hot.

When we were there the first time, we overheard someone ask the manager why there was no Egg Drop Soup. There is now Egg Drop Soup. The soups section has changed. Gone is the so-so chicken noodle soup and also the soup that was unidentifiable in the serving pot. The soups now are WonTon Soup, Egg Drop Soup, Hot and Sour Soup, Miso Soup, and Clam Soup. They have also added in one of the spaces for a soup pot server, steamed Dim Sum filled with meat. I tried the WonTon Soup. It was good. I don't know if it was just chance but the wonton was the largest wonton that i have ever had. When I walked past later it may have just been chance as what I saw was standard sized. There is not much to do with wonton soup to make one different than another. The broth was better than most.

There was an additional meat on the American meat carving section. They added large beef ribs. They are big and long ribs with a lot of meet. The meet is stringy but that is how beef ribs are. They do not have a light sauce on them based on what was in the pan they are served in, but this did not add any different flavor to them. They were pretty good. Now, I know what some are going to think - just like OCB's long gone beef ribs - not really. These are cooked more like short ribs than OCB's beef ribs were - but they are something you rarely see anymore - and don't see at a buffet. In this section, they have made a place for the turkey gravy to sit in the steam table and it was kept properly hot. The turkey seemed more to be a roasted turkey breast - but it was juicy and good and the gravy makes it better.

My wife found a shrimp dish that she says was not there the last time. It was called Seafood Delight - which in other Asian buffets usually is a mix of shrimp and fish. This was just shrimp and that made her happy. She said it was very good.

I tried more Asian dishes this visit than I did the first - as I was focusing then on the American offerings. The sushi bar was full and there was a tray of large pieces of raw salmon - no rice. They were big and moist - and good. Then there were the usual sushi in addition. Next to the sushi bar there are Asian cold "appetizers" including peanut chicken with noodles. That was good - not spicy and that made it even better. I tried the pepper steak and the beef was not overcooked, a little chewy, but tasty. The sauce did not overwhelm it - as it often does in other Asian buffets. The Spring Rolls are standard - but not over cooked as they are in some other buffets. I tried stuffed fish - a roll of fish stuffed with more fish. It was fine. I tried their spare ribs. The spare ribs are close to Chinese restaurant spare ribs - not covered in sticky red sugar sauce, but just broiled under a hot broiler. Teh spare ribs were good - not as good as the spare ribs at Good Taste Buffer in Commack, NY which I have written about several times in the past that to me have the best Chinese Spare Ribs of any buffet. These at Global are close but not as good. I can only describe the ones at Good Taste as having sizzle - these lack the sizzle. BUT not bad - and better than most.

I did go back to the things I liked the first time - the turkey, the beef stew, and the baked clams. All still good! I even tried a french fry to see how it is - something very basic but not all Asian buffets that serve them do it well. Not much of an achievement but here it was good. 

The ice cream machine is working and the soft serve ice cream was nice and creamy - not at all icy. There were a few different cakes including a chocolate cake with cheesecake on top and a coffee cake. I tried both of those and they were good. I had intended to take the hot apple strudel and took these instead. I was happy I did. My wife took the strudel and liked it.

The service was still good. The Senior price has gone down to $12.99 from $13.99. The adult price stayed the same. An effort was made to keep everything moist and also empty or near empty trays were refilled fairly quickly.

At the end of the meal my wife summed it up - "It's pleasant!". Yes it is. The food is fine. The decor is nice - not at all like it was as OCB. It is funny sitting in there after all of those years sitting in the same space as OCB. We were near the side door and my wife said to me, that we were near where the claw machine was - yes, we were!

They still don't have a web page but they do have a Facebook page. From the Facebook page I saw that they had a special dinner for Labor Day that included lobster and steaks and with on increase in price. There was a negative comment that there was no lobster while they were there - I don't know. I am looking at negative comments about this restaurant in view of what I am seeing for myself - especially now with the improvements I have seen in just two weeks. The restaurant across the street is trying hard to get their business back - which many of us know went down long before this new buffet opened - and I am not sure that some negative comments I have seen have not been planted.

At this point I will say, "Yes! Try it!"***. It is primarily an Asian buffet but it is not hard to sit down and not eat any Asian dishes for the entire meal with the meat carvings and other "American" dishes and sides. You could have corn on the cob, fries, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes and any of the meats out to carve. We have not tried the hibachi grill - it is standard to what most are like. I looked closely at the grill area behind the counter - there is a flat grill and also a char flame grill. I don't know what they make on that grill but it is there. I know many were expecting an OCB like buffet and this is not it. Give it a chance for what it is. I will be going back.

Global Buffet (the and grill seems to not be on any sign now - but the grill is here and open) is located at 3541 Hempstead Tpke, Levittown, NY 11756. Here is the phone number (516) 605-1799. Hours on their Facebook page say they are open 11:00 am to 11:00 pm. Good for a late night dinner or if you are running late and all others have closed for the night.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Global Buffet, Levittown, New York

We went for dinner to the just opened Global Buffet which is located in the space that Old Country Buffet last occupied. You enter through the entrance that you entered when this was OCB and going through a second set of doors (as you did before) you come into an area that will become a bar or wine bar. There is a long bar counter along the wall to the left, and a lot of glass shelves on the walls holding decorative wine bottles lying horizontally across the shelves. To the right is an opening and this is the entrance to the restaurant. To the right is the cashier but you do not pay as you enter. You pay at your table at the end of your meal. A host brought us to our table. You may just be able to make out the form of the OCB when you see the room but there has been extensive work done and a lot has been added.

There are mostly booths through the restaurant with a few tables. There are two party rooms - one in the back where the OCB party room had been and another area in the front that is separated from the rest of the restaurant by a wall with glass decorative etched windows looking into the restaurant and an open entrance - that did not seem to have a door. There is a very small stage in the back corner of that room for parties. The dining rooms are fancily decorated and are very nice. On the east side of the restaurant are the buffet tables (nine hot/cold, double sided buffet serving tables), a dessert bar that is along the front of the wall that is an L shape - the short leg of the L parallel on the front to the front party room, then a hot foods carving area, followed by a long hibachi grill. Moving back from the grill there is another L with a sushi bar.

Outside in the entrance area from the street there is a sign with prices. The prices are pretty good. There is a lunch price of $9.99 for adults ($8.49) for seniors) Monday to Friday - and a children's price. The dinner price is $14.99 for adults and $13.99 for seniors plus a children's price which is for Monday through Saturday. There is a Saturday brunch price which I did not note. The Sunday lunch and dinner price is the same and is also $14.99 for adults and $13.99 for seniors. Soft drinks are not mentioned on the sign but are $1.99 and you get refills.

Now I will tell you what so many have been waiting to hear. This is an Asian buffet. There is a carving section that has you carve yourself Roast Turkey, Roast Brisket, and Glazed Baked Turkey. With that there is turkey gravy, mashed potatoes, and chunk pan fried potatoes. Over on the buffet tables mixed in with a large variety of Asian dishes are pork chops with peppers and onions on top, lamb with cream sauce, corned beef and cabbage, chicken Marsala, macaroni and cheese, french fries, mashed sweet potatoes, and beef stew. There is fried chicken that has been cut up into pieces - I don't mean whole pieces of fried chicken, but those pieces cut up into pieces. There was Sausage with Peppers and Onions, seafood pasta, Italian-style baked clams and "Italian" shrimp. There were also several fish dishes including a rolled and stuffed fillet of fish that was baked. There was typical Asian buffet pizza. There is also a Taco Bar and a decent salad bar with both salad greens and toppings and also prepared salads - a little better than you usually see in this area. There were six soups: Won Ton Soup, Hot and Sour Soup, Clam Soup, chicken noodle soup, and what appeared to be a seafood bisque of some kind. Most things are labeled, this soup was not.

The Asian foods are just about all that you generally find in an Asian buffet. There is a sushi bar and then there is an hibachi grill. The hibachi grill is a long row of raw vegetables and cut up pieces of various meats that you assemble yourself on a plate and hand it to the chef behind the grill at the end. This is the extent of the grill. Do not expect whole steaks or anything like that.  The majority of dishes here are Asian.

How was the food? I am writing based on the second night they are open. Let's say that what I am going to report is opening shake out issues which hopefully will improve. There is a problem with serving temperatures. Many things were not hot enough. When something is first put out it is hot. Sitting on the steam table, even with hot warming lights over it - in the middle of the table covering both sides and not directly over each tray, the some of the food that I took was cold. I focused my meal on American food items, as at this point, I am "Asian buffeted out". For soup I took the chicken noodle soup. It turned out to be a thin watery cream soup with pieces of chicken and bowtie noodles. It had little flavor.  I took corned beef and cabbage. Corned Beef is a favorite of mine and I was excited to find it. I understand that corned beef varies a great deal and there are many cuts. Some cuts of corned beef are very tough - almost difficult to chew. I took two pieces of corned beef - one from the bottom of the liquid in the tray and the other nearer the top. Both were cold. Both were so chewy and tough they were impossible to eat. I left most of both of them - trying each just in case one piece was better. It wasn't. I carved myself turkey twice during the dinner. The first piece I took was sufficiently warm. There was a small tray of gravy in the turkey tray and I took some gravy and put it on top. Together on that first try it was all fine. Later in the meal I went back for more turkey and this time when I ate the turkey it was near cold - and the tray of turkey gravy had been taken out of the turkey tray and put on the side of the counter and left there - with no heat under it or over it. I was not going to take the gravy this time. I took some of the ham - it was fine and warm enough. I took a pork chop which is more a slice of pork cooked like a pork chop. It was also cold, did not have much taste, and it was very tough - also hard to chew - to the point that I left over some of that as well. I tied chicken salad from the salad bar - real mayonnaise style chicken salad as opposed to Chinese Chicken Salad. It was also hard to chew. I tried the seafood and pasta - the pasta was underdone and chewy.

My wife was choosing a mix of Asian and American foods and she liked what she was having. What did I like? The beef stew was both hot, tender, and tasty both times I went up for it. I liked that a lot. The carved ham was fine. The cut up fried chicken was fine. The mashed potatoes tray had been empty for awhile and when it finally was refilled I took some mashed potatoes and it was fine. The mashed sweet potatoes were fine. The turkey the first time around was fine. I liked the baked clams a lot.

The desserts here include several cut up fresh fruits, puddings, jellos, etc. along with the usual Asian buffet little pieces of commercially baked cakes and a big assortment of cookies. Some of the cookies look beyond usual buffet cookies - but I tried one expecting it to be soft to the bite but it was not. I looked really good. They have hot bread pudding on one of the buffet tables. It is a mixture of egg custard and slices of bread baked on top and it was tasty. Not as great as some bread puddings but good. They also have apple strudel cut into slices and hot. This is found at some other Asian buffets. My wife had it and liked it. They have a soft serve ice cream machine but it is not yet working. It will be shortly. The waitresses were talking about it at a near by table and it will be a few days before they can get it into service.  

I don't want you to come away from this article thinking that the food here or dinner here is not good. They need to progress a bit from their first two days being open. All the time we were there, there were Asian men who worked there going around to all of the food trays making notes on forms on clip boards. They need to get the temperatures of their steam tables adjusted, go around and stir the dishes so that they heat evenly and at the same time don't dry out. We certainly found things to eat - some of it could have been better. We did not leave hungry. The quality of the food seems fine. The price is decent. No coupons - or any advertising at all has shown up yet in the local newspaper for this restaurant - which is surprising. We will see if any start to show up. There were many people around us that seemed very happy.

Service was very good. Our empty dishes were taken away as soon as we were finished with them. Drinks were refilled with our waitress asking several times if we would like more - and it was promptly brought. There were a few moments of confusion by the waitress which were promptly corrected - no big deal. Everyone working was very polite and nice.

Will we go back? Yes. While it is a couple of dollars more than the Asian buffet we have been going to in Baldwin, it is much closer. If I am in the mood for Asian, it has all that I would expect and then there is the added benefit of the American dishes - which most of my readers know have been sorely missed in this area. (Maybe someone could introduce them to a good meat loaf recipe?) So I recommend it? If you are eager to see it for yourself and try it - sure. Just understand that there are some improvements needed which they will pick up on and fix. If you want to wait and give them some time to shake out the wrinkles, we hope that giving them some time will bring it up a notch or two. And is they are smart and read this article they will know exactly what they need to look closer at.

As we go along we will let you know what happens. As I say, we will be going back - and when there is something to write about, we will write it.

Global Buffet (the and grill seems to not be on any sign now - but the grill is here and open) is located at 3541 Hempstead Tpke, Levittown, NY 11756. I have seen three different phone numbers on two different phone listings - one with one number and another with two different numbers from each other and the one on the other listing. As a result I am not listing any phone number. There were no hours listed that we could see at the restaurant. There is no website and there is no Facebook page. Anything that you find about Global Buffet on the Internet if it does not say Levittown, NY it is not them. There was a Global Buffet that closed in Oswego, NY a year ago and there is a Global Buffet in Canada - that is definitely not related to this one. At some point there should be a website and a Facebook page -  but that is only a guess based on standard operating procedure for restaurants for this day and age.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017


Global Buffet and Grill has not yet opened. The sign is still on the building saying it is "Coming Soon". From outside it is clear that work is continually being done - so we sent scouts out to go there and tell us what could be seen inside.

It is very obvious from what could be seen - it it that was considerable - that this is going to be an Asian buffet - or perhaps a combination Asian and international buffet. The rear wall of the restaurant could be seen fairly well through the windows (though it was very dark inside) and there are large backlit painted or stained glass art pictures lining that wall. Since they are backlit, they could been clearly seen. They seem to be framed in chrome or polished steel.

There seemed to be a lot of polished steel or chrome and/or brass in the decor. The buffet tables are set up and plentiful and they line up in rows front to back taking up about half the main dining room of what once was Old Country Buffet. These were seen from a distance through an open door. It was not possible to see anything of the grill.

This does not seem to be in anyway a "simple" or "everyday" buffet restaurant. From the decor that could be seen, it will be a surprise if this turns out to be what for this location an "affordable" buffet.

As to one of our readers who somehow was convinced that this will be a "Halal"  restaurant - highly unlikely - and in fact - the restaurant this reader came across or found out about is an catering hall/restaurant with the same name - Global Buffet and Grill - that is located in Canada and can be seen with a simple Google search.  This nothing like that - and it is extremely highly unlikely that there is any connection.

To lend more to that, looking up the corporation information on the new to come restaurant in Levittown, the corporate name has been modified to "Master Grill and Global Buffet, Inc.".  When I saw that ("Master Grill") before we knew what the interior is looking like, I was pretty certain that this is a name for an Asian Buffet company.

So - this is all conjecture based on what could be seen in a dimly lit room under construction through partially closed blinds and one half open side door. It is more than we knew before.

I was hopeful that we were getting an affordable "home-style/country" buffet. From what has been seen - it will not be. The one thing we don't need in this area is another Asian buffet. With one directly across the street, another in the next village that went out of business thinking that this area could support an Asian buffet at upscale prices that despite one time great food and even an attempt at lowering prices could not remain in business, and an upscale priced "international" buffet in the town north west of that.  Maybe we all will be surprised. The decor of Flaming Grill in Baldwin is similar in style to this - chandeliers and fancy decor, and is one of the most reasonably priced Asian buffets on Long Island - but they are part of a chain. There is no chain involved here that we can uncover.


Don't hold your breath for a Golden Corral to come to Long Island. The company has emphatically said no - not unless a franchiser wants to put up the money and take the risk. The two new Golden Corrals - Newburgh, NY and West Milford, CT - both in former OCB locations are having problems and we have been advised by readers to not go until they get themselves straightened out.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Top Buffet of 2016 - Shady Maple Smorgasbord, East Earl, PA


The one buffet that has been consistently named as a Top Buffet or Best Buffet is Shady Maple! Whenever we are asked by someone who has never been there or who is going to Lancaster County for the first time and wants to know what buffet they should go to, this is the one that we tell them. The reason is that Shady Maple is an experience. It is likely the largest buffet - maybe one of the largest restaurants in the Country - maybe in the world. This is not like any other restaurant or buffet in this area. Located in the middle of the farm lands and surrounded by farms, the restaurant inside is not what one would expect in this area. It is lavishly decorated. It has crystal chandeliers. It is big. The buffet section runs the length of the large restaurant on one side and you enter in the middle and it spreads down each side with buffet serving tables, flanked in the front by four cooking stations serving more foods.  Some will get the impression that if you go down both sides you will just find the same things - but that is only partially true. Many of the dishes on one side are different dishes on the other. This buffet is overwhelming - in a good way. You can easily eat far too much here - and start to get the idea that it is a challenge! Well, we have covered that idea since this site has started. It is not a challenge - it is an offer and one must need to know when to stop - especially if one plans to save room for dessert.

Each night is a featured food night. Monday is steak night. Tuesday is seafood. Wednesday is Prime Rib. Thursday is BBQ night. Friday and Saturday are a combination of the best - Saturday includes New York Strip Steak, Friday includes Beef Brisket. Prices do vary by night. You are not going to pay the same every night. Prices include local tax and a small service fee for the server so there is no tipping. Your beverage is included in the price of the buffet and you serve yourself your beverages from one of the largest assortment of beverages in any buffet. There is a senior discount. There is a free buffet on your birthday with proof and the purchase of a dinner for someone else.

The food has always been and is excellent. The food is prepared properly and kept at correct temperatures. There is an assortment of soups, an extensive salad bar, more entrees and sides than any other buffet including carving stations and grills. Desserts are coming from Shady Maple's Farm Market - on another part of the property - which is known for their baking. Foods include PA Dutch favorites along with a large variety of "American food".

I have said this before - several times - you can be anywhere in Lancaster and overhear people talking about Shady Maple. I have been in other states and have heard people talking about Shady Maple. When you go you will be with locals, tourists, the Amish, and the Mennonites. Everyone goes to Shady Maple.

During the winter, they have special menu weekends - and when I read what is coming, I am so tempted to battle the weather on a winter trip to get there for these.

We went several times in 2016 (and we have been there already in 2017) just to make sure all is the same and good. Of course it is.

Go hungry. Don't go after having a "big" lunch!

There is no question that this is a top buffet!

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. There is lots of parking (free, of course). 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. Like most other local buffets and restaurants in Lancaster County, Shady Maple is closed on Sundays - and some holidays, but not all. Dinner ends at 8:00 pm.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Top Buffet of 2016 - Bird-In-Hand Restaurant and Smorgasbord, Bird-In-Hand, PA


Bird-In-Hand Restaurant and Smorgasbord has been a well known restaurant and buffet in Lancaster County, PA for a very long time. I have had dinner and lunch there many times over many years. We have watched this buffet grow from a small counter along a wall with hot trays to a completely renovated restaurant with a good sized, dedicated smorgasbord section. The restaurant's building continued to grow to what it is today that includes the restaurant with two full sized dining rooms and on a lower level a theater featuring entertainment and local themed plays. With the theater the restaurant/buffet became part of a dinner theater package (which has not (in our experience) interfered with diners who are there for dinner only. The restaurant is owned and operated by the same family for generations and the property across from the restaurant is the family farm.

As prices have increased in a number of the buffets in this area, the price of this buffet has now come more in line with the others. In the past this buffet has offered sporadically offered coupon savings on the price of the buffet. It now has a coupon included in the Visit Lancaster County Guide which is available free all over Lancaster County - and will be sent to you on request from the tourist board. There is a price difference on Friday and Saturday night dinners which add carvings to the buffet. This buffet definitely gives value for what you pay and what you get.

The food here is excellent. This restaurant offers not only a buffet but also menu dining. One can also just opt for the Soup, Salad, and Bread Bar alone or with a menu item. One can also go just for the Desert Buffet. All is included with the full smorgasbord and the price includes a beverage with unlimited refills which is not included at many buffets in this area. Regular readers have read my raves about my favorite items on this buffet. I love, and have always loved, the Chicken Corn Soup prepared and served here - it is the best anywhere - and different from most. There is a secret to this soup that after many years of attempting to duplicate it at home, I cannot figure out. Another of our favorite items here is there turkey - served in a tray in liquid that keeps both white and dark meat moist and full of flavor. Of course, there is a wide assortment of other foods on the buffet. On some nights there will be a local dish called Chicken Bot Bei or Chicken Pot Pie to the tourists - which is not like a chicken pot pie in other areas. This is one of the better Chicken Bot Bei's which is not served often enough at other buffets. It is regularly here on certain nights. Another Lancaster County favorite - which is served at many PA Dutch buffets - is Pork and Sauerkraut. There are other soup choices and also a salad bar and a large dessert section. Deserts are full of choices and you will find whoopie pies - a local favorite of cake rounds with cream in the middle, a variety of pies including shoofly pie, chocolate shoofly pie - and a pie that I discovered two years ago that I have only seen in this area, Lemon Sponge (wonderful!). There is soft serve ice cream and a frozen soft drink machine. There is fruit and a number of prepared deserts as well!  The baking here comes from the well known Bird-In-Hand Bake Shop which is also owned by this family. The food has been consistently good. That does not mean that you will not find something that you don't care for because you just don't like that food or seasoning, but it does mean that you will enjoy here the foods that you like. 

For the children! There is a children's buffet bar that features kid favorites - hot dogs, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, hamburgers, spaghetti, etc. There this is only available Fridays and Saturdays until 7:30 pm. (The restaurant closes at 8:00 pm.)

If someone at a table does not want the buffet and wants to order of the menu they are welcome here to do that. Some buffets do not allow this. Here they do.

Service is good here. The wait staff are attentive. Dishes are cleared regularly and when it is time for a refill of your beverage, it is easy to spot your table server and ask.

When we come to this area there are so many buffets to choose from. Bird-In-Hand comes to mind often as a top choice to go to. 

One of the things that we like about Bird-In-Hand Restaurant is that you are going to encounter a good number of local people including Amish and Mennonites dining here. Of course, you are going to encounters tourists also - this restaurant is located on a main route - Route 340 - that goes through the heart of Amish and Mennonite farm lands. 

If you have never been this is a must try. If you have not been in awhile go back. If you are a regular then you know what we are talking about.

Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant is located at 2760 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505. The phone number is 1-800-665-8780. There is a website located at the side of this page.The restaurant closes at 8:00 pm and is not open on Sundays. You will not be seated for the Smorgasbord after 7:30 pm.

Friday, May 19, 2017


It is later then usual in getting this post out and I am sorry for that. Things just seem to happen that keep one from doing what they know needs to be done.

I have seen a few articles on restaurant sites with lists of the best buffets. I am sure that many of these buffets are very nice, but the one thing that all of them seem to have in common are big price tags on their buffet meals. As my regular readers know while this site is focused on all types of buffets at all price ranges, we try to keep a focus on buffets that are affordable for a working individual's family - one that you can go out to for a nice nice dinner with a few kids and not feel a pinch in the budget that week. Just because a buffet is inexpensive does not mean it is not a quality place to eat. And when it is not serving quality, I am the one who is going to make that clear right away. In choosing our top buffets we look to those affordable buffets - and not ones that are going to set you back over a hundred dollars for dinner for two.

For a top buffet, a buffet needs to meet certain criteria. The buffet must give excellent value. The buffet must serve quality food. The food must be prepared properly and taste very good to excellent. The restaurant must be managed properly. The service must be good. And all of this must be consistent - meal to meal, visit to visit.Then it must be a buffet that comes to mind to go back to whenever possible. There must be something that sets the buffet apart (in a superior way) to all the rest.

Last year right after our Top Buffets for 2015 article came out, a local buffet named in that article as a Top Buffet raised its prices and changed the quality of the food that they were serving. That buffet has since gone out of business. They lost our business after two visits with these changes. I am sure that  others felt the same way that we did.

This year, our top buffets are all located in the Buffet Capital of the US- Lancaster County. Three of these buffets have been Top Buffets before - and continue to be. One is new to this designation of Top Buffet. The four Top Buffets of 2016 are (listed in random order)  - Yoders Restaurant at Yoder's Country Farm Market in New Holland, PA, Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap, PA, Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl, PA, and - the newest Top Buffet - Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord in Bird-In-Hand, PA.

Bird-In-Hand is not a new buffet. It is one of the longest operating buffets in Lancaster County. There have been reasons in the past that has kept this buffet off the top list but after several meals there in 2016, it was a definite must include in the Top Buffets list.

Why are all the buffets in Lancaster? Non-Asian buffets are becoming few and far between. The one place that one can still eat out every night of the week at a different "American Food" or "Regional Food" buffet is Lancaster County, PA!

In the next several weeks we will update our articles about these buffets with Top Buffet of 2016 articles. We will try to keep to our usual schedule of a new article every two weeks on Friday nights posted at night. 

Friday, April 07, 2017

A Dissappointing Birthday Dinner At DJ's International Buffet, Garden City, NY

D.J.'s International Buffet is a Long Island, NY buffet that is primarily Asian cuisine. It is one of the higher priced buffets in this area and that dinner price has recently gone up to $20.95 on Monday to Thursday and 27.95 on Friday to Sunday. There are often coupons in the local coupon saver books and mailings but there has not been one in some time. Their website is now calling this D.J.'s Seafood Buffet, but the sign outside still is International Buffet.  We had a birthday dinner to celebrate and not able to go out of state to one of the Lancaster buffets or up to Connecticut to one of the casino buffets, we decided on D.J.'s International Buffet nearby.

Maybe the change of name on the website should have been a clue because this buffet seems to have forgotten the "International" part that it once featured. Now, it is strictly Asian. It was not Asian that I had a taste for this night, but since it has had American and Italian dishes mixed into its Asian menu, we figured there would be enough of an assortment. As a side note, the only buffets in this area now for almost 70 miles are Asian - and getting off the Island to anywhere else means taking two expensive and constantly increasing in cost toll bridges and gas. If you are in this area and want to eat in a buffet it is going to be Asian.

So we went. This was a weeknight. There were a number of tables filled and both dining rooms were needed. Many tables were filled with Asian families. Even with large tables scattered around the second dining room that were empty, a large family came in just after we did and they were seated at a large table located right behind us and added a high chair to the end of the table that came almost up against ours. We both wondered why this group was not sat one table over which was of equal size and with more room all around for they and us to get up and back down from the table. OK.

So, when we got into the restaurant there was another couple waiting for a table and the four of us were taken into the dining room together. Now, as that table was being seated, the woman in the couple left the man and went to the buffet, while he was seated. We were seated behind them - fine - but I was curious as to why she had to run to the buffet before they even got to their table. We settled into our table and then got up to go off to the buffet. As I was heading toward the buffet tables, the woman passes me with a plate filled and overflowing with snow crab legs. As I soon discovered, she has emptied the steam tray of snow crab. This set the way the rest of the nigh went when it came to snow crab. That tray remained empty for almost an hour. It evidently got refilled some time between our third and fourth trip back up to the buffet but with that fourth trip back the tray was empty again - all except one small leg and one claw at the bottom of the hot water in the tray. They were soon gone as well. No other snow crab went into the tray until we were going up for dessert. One of the reasons for the price being what it is here is the hot snow crab legs. I never got any.

The quality of the food here and assortment of dishes is what does set this, now Asian, buffet from the other Asian buffets left here. However, there are problems here that were not here in the past. Some entree dishes that I took were not properly hot in temperature. Some were dried out. Signage at the buffet leaves a lot to be desired - some trays have different items in them with signs identifying them as the same - far from the same. Some items were obviously labeled incorrectly. Some are not labeled at all. At the sushi bar - which is extensive - and if you like sushi this surpasses the rest - except for a Japanese and sushi buffet not far from here that is even more expensive. And I saw something that I have heard about being in some Asian buffets, but never before have I been in one that said this - if you take sushi that has rice and do not eat the rice, you will be charged a surcharge! I can't eat the rice - I like sushi. They do have a platter out just with the raw fish and that is what I took - but there were some interesting looking - yet totally unidentified things on the sushi bar that I might have tried and pushed off the rice. I did not dare.

There was one item at the grill appetizer section that seemed to be a dumpling of some sort. It was a soft round, tan ball. I took one to try. I cut into it and discovered large chunks of octopus. It would have been nice to know this before I took it. A beef dish that should not have been spicy - was spicy.

This is not the first time that we have been here. I have written about it before - the last time in 2015. It was pretty good then - and in the past there have been various unusual things - always clearly identified - that were intriguing to try. Maybe I am Asian buffeted out, but I just had a hard time with what I was going to eat and what I was picking had issues. There was a good steamed halibut in ginger which had the advantage over other steamed fish in other Asian buffets, that this is not a "flat" fish, like flounder - and the section of bones easily separated whole from the fish preventing finding an unwanted sharp bone in your mouth eating the fish. There is fresh mozzarella cheese sliced with tomatoes on the salad bar - the last of the International selections - not counting pizza and mac and cheese which are now standards in most Asian buffets. The cheese is fresh mozzarella.  They also have a nice olive assortment with Greek olives on the salad bar.

There is a sign over the grill area that says ask for a steak from our grill. There was no one around to ask for a steak. There is a section that makes dessert crepes. There was no one around to make crepes when we went up for dessert. In fact, there was no one behind any counter at that point at all. The restaurant is open according to the sign on the door until 10:00 pm and on the blackboard in the lobby the buffet is seated until 9:30 pm. The staff were cleaning behind the grill and sushi areas at 8:00 pm and were gone before 8:30.

So I got no snow crab legs, no steak, and no dessert crepe. When the check came which after tax and tip was over $50 for two (no beverage, just water or the price would have been a lot more), we figured out that had it not been for circumstances that we could get not get out of town, we could have driven to New Jersey (a long drive) and gone to Golden Corral (with the emailed free buffet birthday coupon) - including price of dinner, gas and tolls for less.  We shall keep this in mind from now on.

D.J.'s International Buffet is located at 1100 Stewart Avenue in Garden City, New York. There is a website, linked at the side in the right column. Beware that when you open the website it plays annoying music, which can be turned off, but if you turn it off and go to another page (except the price page) the music starts again.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

OCB Levittown Former Location News

We drove past the former location of Old Country Buffet in Levittown, New York today and there is a change. There is now a sign on the side of the building - and soon to be one on the front of the building. The sign says, "GLOBAL BUFFET".

I have tried to find out about what Global Buffet might be. From the name, I say that this is ANOTHER not needed, Asian buffet which will be in direct competition from another large Asian buffet directly across the street. I have found a Global Buffet that WAS in Oswego, New York. This has closed.  It was a Chinese/Asian buffet with mixed reviews that tended toward the negative - and since it has gone out of business, evidently those who though poorly of it were correct. The other is a chain of buffets in Great Britain - though this is named "JRC Global Buffet". These seem to actually be a combination of world foods including American, British, French, Asian, Thai, Brazilian, and more. That would have possibilities but I doubt that this is what this Global Buffet will be - and their website talks about making reservations SO unless that is something that Eurpeans just expect to be able to do, it will not go over well here with the usual buffet dining crowd.

So now we wait and see. It will not likely be long until we know. This does put to rest any idea that Golden Corral was coming here.  I would so much like to see an American buffet or an actual "international" buffet open that is not Asian based. There are enough Asian buffets near by - and the affordable ones all seem to serve the same things. I have been looking forward to a buffet coming with things like meatloaf, carved turkey, steak - maybe, roast beef, real ribs - maybe, fried chicken... Well, I am not so hopeful anymore.

If I can learn more, I will be back with another article.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Finally a Buffet Dinner Not in an Asian Buffet!

Locally there are now only Asian buffets where we are. I have been craving a meal at what I will call an "American" buffet for about three months. I want meatloaf. I want steak. I want fried chicken! I have thought a few times of just taking the trip across two expensive toll bridges and driving the hour and a half to have dinner in the nearest Golden Corral (the nearest American buffet) several times in the past several weeks. Despite the cold and the snow storms, it seemed almost worth it - but to pay those tolls and then pay for dinner, we could have gone to a non-buffet and ordered meatloaf. Well, it is late February and we have annual business in New Jersey - weather permitting - and we went to Golden Corral!

I really was looking forward to this - even though this particular Golden Corral has not been one of our favorites and it is one of the Golden Corrals that charge more than most others - but I did not care. I needed to eat at a Golden Corral!

It is a Saturday night. Surprisingly warm weather all day. The line - as we have found before at this Golden Corral - was out the door and the length of the building outside. As we got inside on the line a large group that apparently had only a few of their party on the line ahead of us suddenly all arrived and went to join the rest of their party of perhaps twenty five or more at the front of the line. They were polite and apologized so it was fine. We finally got to the cashier. Premium weekend prices were in effect - $14.99 per person and $2.29 each drink. OK! I wanted steak, meatloaf, and fried chicken! My picky eater wife on the other hand was anticipating a hard time finding what she eats as she often does not find at any Golden Corral and with the current weekend feature of seafood, this was not helping as these features often remove some of the basic items on the buffet.

We were seated at an uncomfortable table for two that was stuck out in the aisle with another table for two - and the table had an uneven leg that rocked. One thing we both enjoy at Golden Corral is their chicken soup with thick, doughy noodles! That was first! A full heaping bowl of those noodles and broth with carrots and celery mixed in along with chunks of chicken! It is always good and now it was not wonton soup!

We skipped the salad and went right to the hot buffet. I went directly to the grill for steak. The chef at the grill understood what rare is and when I said "rare!", he picked up a steak, cut into it and saw it was red inside but not raw and cut me off a good chunk! It was charred and crispy outside and red inside - to me an almost perfect steak - only not perfect as there was a good amount of fat inside which is good in moderation. I went next with my plate with the steak looking for the meatloaf. The tray was empty! I eyed the fried chicken and took a breast (I should have taken something smaller). I added an onion ring to the plate, and then some mashed potatoes and gravy and fried okra! I passed my wife walking around with an almost empty plate. OK - there were things for her to eat and it was up to her to decide what she was  going to take. I headed back to the table as did she.

I cut into the steak, red juices ran out! It really was crispy outside and red inside! I took a forkful in my mouth and made a Galloping Gourmet face! (Galloping Gourmet - one of my favorite daytime shows as a kid in the late 60's. He was (is) an international chef from Canada who had his own syndicated show that played here in the US during the late afternoon. I learned to cook watching the Galloping Gourmet - still have two of his cookbooks - and when he bit into something wonderful his face lit up and a smile came across his lips!) I had the steak that I was craving. Thick and juicy and cooked just right. I cut around the excess fat - ate some, left some - but I ate every bit of meat. The chicken was OK. Not great - too big a piece and that was my fault for taking it - and the crust could have been more crispy. I ate most of it. The mashed potatoes were good. The gravy was good. The onion ring complimented the steak nicely!

Next plate. I went straight to the meatloaf. It had been put out again. I put a hunk on my plate. The special feature (that makes the weekend prices cost more) is scallops with garlic on a skewer, two types of fish, two types of shrimp, a honey teriyaki chicken breast, and carved sirloin steak with lemon and rosemary. Another steak to try! I went to the carving counter and the man behind the counter looked at the little piece of steak on the carving board, looked at me, and discarded it. Good! He went to the grill and took a large sirloin steak that looked too under cooked, even to me. He put it on the carving board, looked at it, picked it up and took it back to the grill. He came back with another - this one better done. He reached into a crock with a ladle and filled it with lemon rosemary sauce. He poured that over the top (less you think this steak is marinated in lemon and rosemary - it is not) and moved it around the steak with the ladle. He then cut it into pieces. He took one of the pieces and cut a section off and put it on my plate - it was red inside but now raw - good! I added some large cut fries and a hush puppy to the plate along with a big spoonful of mac and cheese and returned to our table. My wife was there with meatloaf also on her plate. The meatloaf was very good. I go back and forth between meatloaf with brown gravy and meatloaf with tomato gravy or catsup on top. My wife does not like meatloaf with tomato sauce or catsup and likes it with brown gravy. Golden Corral varies how they serve it - on this night it was with brown gravy. That was fine with me and that made my wife happy too. The meatloaf was good! It satisfied that craving well! The lemon rosemary steak was fine but not spectacular. It was rare and good in that respect. I feel that the lemon took away from the taste of the meat that would have been better just left alone - which means just as the steak is ordinarily served here charred on the grill.  The mac and cheese was thick and gooey and wonderful!

Just an aside about the weekend feature. The big feature of the added weekend pricing was that it would include Prime Rib carved at dinner. This is not so any longer - at least not with this feature. They seem to feel that scallops on a skewer brushed with garlic are equivalent to Prime Rib - and even though I have generally liked the Prime Rib that Golden Corral has served - the scallops are not the equivalent. I have read that scallops are expensive recently due to a shortage of them due to the temperatures of the ocean water, and perhaps that is why they replace the Prime Rib with this feature. I don't know. I did not try them. I do not like garlic all over what I eat so I passed. I saw them. There were maybe six or so small scallops on a skewer cooked on a flat griddle. They may have been very good.

Next plate. I did what I generally do at buffets. The third plate is a combination of the things I like best. I went back to the steak grill - "Rare, please!" - and got another piece of steak. I then went back to the meatloaf tray. I saw the pieces were cut very large, so I cut one in half with the serving spatula and took that. An onion ring when on the plate and then I realized that all I had eaten were meat and carbs so I took some string beans - and a small spoon of baked beans (more carbs). This steak was almost as good as the first. The meatloaf just as good. And during this plate the feeling of I have eaten too much meat hit me. I finished it all but knew that this was my last plate of meat for the evening. I can no longer eat as much as I once could. I find that I hit that wall a lot sooner. That is OK - as this site is called - it is not a challenge - and we will be doing more business in New Jersey in a couple of weeks so we will be back for more!

I finished the meal with a bowl of bread pudding. I love Golden Corral's bread pudding. This is something else you don't get in an Asian buffet!

The service was good, but the poor guy was way over worked. Two servers who also buss tables is not enough for a large section of tables. This man was running back and forth and doing his best. When you could get his attention - and that was not his fault - he dropped what he was doing and ran over. And I did not see other tables leaving a tip - a problem at buffets. I always leave the server a tip - unless the service is horrendous. He got a tip!

For the time being craving satisfied. You know OCB is gone - at least from here and none anywhere possible to get to just for dinner - and you don't know what you've got until its gone - to borrow from an old song!

We'll be back!

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Request for an Interview

Every so often we get requests to be interviewed for television stories, news stories, articles, etc.  Those who are looking to put us on film are told that we wish to be anonymous to keep our site honest and allow us the ability to walk into any buffet and have no chance of being recognized, so this means no video - and generally no audio. Those interviews never happen. They want you full face on camera. We don't do that.  When it is a print or web article I am happy to be interviewed through email and that satisfies the author. Recently we had a request from a writer who was doing an article about buffet dining for a financial website. I wondered what buffet dining would have to do with finance - other than from a business prospective of running a buffet, but this was not what he was looking for.  He said he had questions about dining at buffets. Fine. I responded saying that if he emailed me his list of questions I would answer them and email my responses back. What I received was not a list of questions but this -  Give "some "finesse" tips. How do you choose a buffet restaurant? How do you scope out their specialties in advance? ...That sort of thing."

Well, he certainly could have gotten that from reading several of the articles on this site, but I decided that I would give him exactly what he was asking for. As it turned out, little of what I provided him made it to his article - which turned out to be a slide presentation rather than a straight article - though, the presentation was accompanied by the text of each slide. Much of what he wrote was way off the mark of what this site presents - and its finance connection was mostly how to get the most bang from your buck when dining at a buffet.  To us, the idea of eat something because it is expensive is not really a way to get a good buffet experience.

Here is what I wrote for him to use. I am sure it will be a benefit to some of our readers and I am sure that regular readers will see a lot of the what has always been the philosophy of buffet dining on this site.


 The subtitle of my site is "All you can eat is not a Challenge!" (this was mine before it was used by anyone else) and that is the basis of rational eating at a buffet. I have seen people fill a single plate with so many different foods at the same time that there is no way to distinguish anything on the plate other than the top layer that must go four layers of food down. This is no way to eat. One can go back as many times as they wish. We eat in a normal fashion - start with soup, next go up for salad (if we want salad), and then go for a first plate of entrees and side dishes. That first plate at the hot buffet for me will be a sampling plate if it is a buffet that I have never dined at before. I will take a little of the items that appeal to me - maybe just enough for a taste if it is something that I am not sure that I will enjoy. If it is a buffet that I have been to before, I will go to the items that I know that I like and if there is something new take a small sample to try. After that plate the next plate will be those items that I really liked. We tend to set a limit of three plates - you don't want to walk out feeling sick and I have seen this happen way too often with others. Depending on how full I feel before that third plate, that plate is just skipped. We avoid eating bread or rolls. Those just fill you up for no reason. There is a reason why most buffets give you unlimited soft drinks - the liquid and carbonation will fill you up quickly. If it is a hot day, drink as much as you need to, but otherwise drink to enjoy the soft drink as you eat but don't drink just because you can get more - which is the same approach with eating. Just because the food is there, you don't have to keep eating it until you are ready to burst. After the "main course" there is also dessert and the best thing to do after eating all that is to decide on one dessert that you will enjoy the most and take only one. If you feel like another - and your eyes are not bigger than your stomach - take one more - and then stop. This is not your last meal so don't eat like it is. During dinner carry on a conversation with your dinner companions, don't just sit there and eat. It is also only polite when two are dining to wait to go for your next trip to the buffet until your partner is ready to go also. You will not only enjoy the food but you will also enjoy the companionship of dining.

How do we pick a buffet? Price and, if available, a quick look at reviews. If we get there and there is no one inside, we may not go in. The food will not be maintained properly in an empty buffet restaurant. The food trays on a buffet table must be, as I say, kept "tended" at all times. Someone from the restaurant needs to go from tray to tray making sure that nothing is drying out and they need to stir whatever can be stirred. Food that they find that is too dry or no longer appetizing in appearance needs to be removed and discarded. Proper food temperature needs to be maintained as well. Putting out a microwave and telling customers to warm the food themselves is not acceptable. The food should never be cold or cool when it goes from the serving tray to your plate unless it is intended to be eaten cold - and then it needs to be properly cold. I also will not eat raw clams or oysters at a buffet when there is not an employee at the clam/oyster bar shucking the shellfish as they are taken and making sure that the oysters and clams do not sit for any length of time and are not drying out and going bad.

Since the beginning of our site we have grown a list of "Rules of the Buffet". Here is the most recent updated complete list -

These rules say it all. Anyone going to a buffet should read and remember these rules. Buffets should post them at the entrance. None do - though I know a number of buffets have read our site.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Holiday Dinner at Flaming Grill Supreme Buffet, Baldwin, New York

We have been dining fairly regularly at the Flaming Grill Supreme Buffet in Baldwin, New York (Long Island). We have written about this buffet when we first went there when it had recently opened in 2014. It is one of the few decent affordable Asian buffets in this area. We have learned - seeing another of this restaurant in Pennsylvania, that they are part of a chain.

This year they had a "special" dinner for both Christmas Day and also New Year's Day - no reservations necessary and a price only $3 more than their regular Saturday/Sunday dinner price of $12.99 (less one of their regular $1.50 off coupons). For the holidays there were no coupons accepted but they did offer their Senior price. At $15.99 (plus $1.69 for unlimited soft drinks) is the best that can be found in this area on a holiday where holiday buffets offered in non-buffet restaurants start at $50 and go up from there. We went and were happy with what we found.

This buffet included several items not offered at other times - lobster with shell in ginger sauce, cold snow crab legs (small clusters), whole flounder in ginger sauce, and a full roast turkey that you carve yourself. All of their usual buffet items were also there along with the large sushi bar, hibachi grill, the raw oysters and clams, dessert bar and chocolate fountain.

This buffet has changed a little in the past four years on regular nights. Weeknight prices have gone up only a dollar to $11.99. The several dumplings once offered are now down to just fried meat dumplings. There are no longer egg rolls but only spring rolls. Small things that do not really matter as there is still so much.

We had a great meal. The usual problem that takes place at Asian buffets with lobster took place here as well - they bring out a full tray of lobster to a crowd of people waiting like vultures for it to appear and then descend on it and strip it clean in a few minutes. The thing though was that once the dinner time crowd has diminished, the tray of lobster would come out and no one ran for it. I was able to fill my plate several times with good lobster pieces. The roast turkey was very good. As I say it was a whole turkey and it clearly was not the first one that went out that evening. There was a carving knife and fork in the tray with the turkey and it carved off easily. It was very good - no turkey gravy, but, after all, this is an Asian buffet. The crab legs were on ice which means they are hard to get the meat out of the shell, but they were tasty and there was hot butter sauce in a tray on the counter next to them. The flounder in ginger sauce went at first almost as quickly as the lobster, but they kept bringing it out and it was possible to get servings of it with patience.

While we had been there a few nights before for a regular dinner, we found enough different added to the things we generally like to eat here, that we were happy. Service here is good and for a very busy buffet they keep up well with replacing empty trays - with the same item - and keeping everything fresh and at the correct serving temperatures.

We had a nice all you care to eat, holiday meal for little money compared to what this could have cost. I am not sure which other holidays they do this for but if you are in this area and don't want to stay home for Christmas or New Year's Day dinner this is a buffet to consider.

 The Flaming Grill and Supreme Buffet is located at 1773 Grand Avenue, Baldwin, New York 11510. The phone number is 516-544-2222. There is a website and it is listed on the right side column of this page.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Want A Golden Corral Near You?

For many of us the only buffet restaurants left anywhere near us are Asian buffets, and while they are fine, the loss of OCB, Ryan's, or Hometown Buffet has left a large gap in buffet choices in many places. For some that gap is filled by a Golden Corral that was not too far off to go to. For the rest of us - nothing!

Golden Corral's posts on Facebook are often responded to with requests for a Golden Corral to open some time soon nearby. Golden Corral does respond to these with the suggestion to go to their website and contact page and let them know where you want a Golden Corral. To make this easy for our readers to do here is a link that will take you directly to that page. There will be a drop down subject menu and BE SURE to pick this Subject - "I Would Like a Golden Corral In My City"

Golden Corral has announced that they have obtained some OCB, Ryan's and HomeTown closed location to make them Golden Corrals. They are not coming anywhere near us - and I know many in my area who keep asking where to go that OCB is gone. I have no answer - until now that I can share that we all need to let Golden Corral know that there is a lot of business waiting for them here!