Gaming the Chinese buffetChinese
Posted 06 January 2007 - 07:20 PM
I should add, I've never encountered this problem. I can, on a good day, be a pretty scary buffet customer. Yet nobody has ever been anything but supportive. Maybe I'm choosing particularly good buffets, but my experience has always been that the staff encourages me to eat and enjoy. I think the first time I experience an all-you-can-eat buffet with an anti-enjoyment attitude, I'll find it quite unsettling.
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Posted 06 January 2007 - 09:13 PM
(And then there was the time that I was at the MGM Grand Buffet in Las Vegas, years before the current fine-dining explosion, and discovered that their prime rib was as good as any bar mitzvah I'd ever been to, and ate 5 end cuts - honest. Of course, nobody there is going to say anything or care, but I too await the day that a small place tosses me out.)
We also wondered "how" they would charge for wasted food if they did, and we couldn't imagine. (The pancakes that we used to be required to take, for example.) Are there places that do it by weight?
Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”
Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”
Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”
Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”
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Posted 06 January 2007 - 09:43 PM
My name's Emma Feigenbaum.
Posted 06 January 2007 - 10:04 PM
I could understand a buffet charging if you took and then wasted a whole bunch of food--not only from a business standpoint, but because I was brought up to think of food wastage as seriously Evil. But if any staff of any buffet ever gave me guff about taking too much of one item, I would feel no compunction whatsoever about letting them know what a stupid business decision that was--especially since they'll have lost not only my business but that of every person I can alert over the Net. Chintziness is its own reward.
(Signed, she who, before her weight management odyssey, regularly porked out on spareribs at various Chinese buffets)
Posted 10 January 2007 - 07:06 PM
While I've heard of families being "banned" in some places for their kids "wasting food", I've never witnessed or experienced it, because we're pretty good about making the kids take only what they'll eat, and of course I never leave anything on a plate. And I can't believe any restaurant around here banning an entire industry from their clientele, just because of the cutthroat nature of our market.
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>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...
Posted 07 February 2007 - 12:18 AM
Do buffets where you are not charge for excessive wastage? The ones I'm familiar with always charge a certain amount per 100 grams of wasted food.
I've seen those signs too(although nothing about measuring) and think that buffets have every right to that policy. I've witnessed people at all you can eat sushi buffets, where they will take the whole thing- the rice and the topping, but then only eat the topping and throw away the rice.
As for Chinse buffets, I haven't eaten one in many years since my family went on a tour guided bus trip to Yellowstone, where we stopped at every all you can eat Chinese buffet for lunch or dinner for the entire trip from California through Idaho and Wyoming to Montana and back. The first Chinese buffet on the trip wasn't very good, and it didn't get any better when you ventured into states such as Idaho for Chinese food. Part of the problem was that the food was exactly the same, horribly mediocre at every buffet. I'm convinced that every single buffet used the same source, where it was all bottled up and shipped to them. Every buffet had the exact same menu- fried rice, won ton soup, general tsao chicken, a few spare rolls pretending to pass itself off as japanese, and the dessert would be the ice cream you see at soup plantation and sizzlers.
Posted 07 February 2007 - 03:40 AM
I'm convinced that every single buffet used the same source, where it was all bottled up and shipped to them. Every buffet had the exact same menu- fried rice, won ton soup, general tsao chicken, a few spare rolls pretending to pass itself off as japanese, and the dessert would be the ice cream you see at soup plantation and sizzlers.
This is actually not too far from the truth. There are dedicated companies who provide basically a Chinese Restaurant starter kit. They provide everything from the menus to the decor to the food which is part of the reason for the homogenity of American Chinese food at a certain level.
Posted 25 March 2011 - 03:11 PM
So anyway, my wife and son love these Chinese buffets. Sometimes I'll go along, but often they'll just go themselves when I'm otherwise engaged. Or I just don't want to go.
But then they told me about the place with the crab legs - all you can eat. Awesome. I'm there. But no bread. It turned into a hollow experience. Like if you go to a restaurant, have a great entree, but the waiter never delivers a single drink order. You just feel a little bit incomplete and unsatisfied.
So how evil would it be if I turned to smuggling - filling the pockets of my trenchcoat with baguette slices spread with cultured butter, and turning up my collar to conceal the consumption of my illicit fare?
Yes, I'm sure it's unlawful and unwanted. But, c'mon, it will necessarily mean that I'll eat less crab (I don't really eat that much in one sitting anyway).
Do I risk disembowlment at the hands of a dragon-tattoo festooned tong enforcer? Or rapid-fire whacks from the cane of an elderly matriarch? The disapproving stares of my fellow diners?
Or, maybe, a lucrative black market trade?
Posted 03 May 2011 - 09:27 AM
I have found that not only do you go at the beginning of a service time (lunch, dinner), but go at the busiest times and days (Friday nights and Sundays at Dong's) to get the freshest prepared items.
Posted 04 March 2012 - 05:09 PM
Bryan, my experience has differed from yours in one respect. Yes, I have often experienced the limited supply phenomenon, where a ration of lobster tails comes out every half hour and runs out in five minutes. But no, I have not noticed that they don't bring any out until the restaurant is full -- just the opposite, the last time I was at East Buffet (Queens) we went right when they opened and ate our fill off the first tray of lobster without much competition, whereas subsequent trays were descended upon by vulture-like crowds.
I was reminded of this thread as we again were invited to join my son and his wife at a Chinese buffet restaurant today. Again, I was not enthusiastic about it, but at least, I was assured, there would be the unlimited crab legs.
As it turned out, no, there were no crab legs at all. But they had added some sort of (barely acceptable) Texas toast. So I had the bread I longed for in my previous post (just two posts up, I think), but no crab legs.
Ironically, after coming home I found myself watching the Vegas episode of No Reservations again. In this, Tony Bourdain expounds upon his own buffet strategy - eschew the starches, and go for the expensive proteins, because the starches are meant to fill you up. (which, in fact, I was using as a justification for bringing my own bread).
It turns out that my son inquired about the crab legs, and was told that there were too many people coming in and eating only crab legs.
Oh, and there was another new item on the Chinese buffet - Pizza.
Much of our conversation centered on how crowded the restaurant used to be.
Clearly, premium protein offerings on a buffet are akin to a high wire act. Balance is everything.
Posted 04 March 2012 - 09:28 PM
How do people here feel about Chinese buffets that ban customers or kick them out for taking too much of one item and not more of the other offerings?
I know this is a late reply but that strikes me as unbearably and shockingly rude.
Posted 10 March 2012 - 11:00 AM
I don't overthink the buffet. I try small amounts of several things, and go back for the ones that are good. If you eat at the same buffet frequently, I think the "sweet spot" isn't opening time when everything's new: it's the first mass replenishment, after the initial locust-like swarm of regulars. The initial fill often has items prepared ahead and held, while the refills are more often made fresh as needed. That's my experience, anyway...YMMV.
Posted 11 March 2012 - 06:56 AM
If you're not fond of masses of other people's children running, laughing, giggling, pointing, pounding on things, hollering, gathering by your table and talking excitedly, don't sit next to the fish tank.
Posted 13 March 2012 - 04:25 PM
Also a Sunday brunch buffet strategy. The Hotel del Coronado charges like $80 a plate for their Sunday brunch. It is one of the few buffets I feel I can't wrangle my money out of.
Posted 14 March 2012 - 01:35 PM
It seems the shiny new buffet has taken some business away from the older one. I went out last week for my fix. I usually go to the older one because their food is better, and I really like their hot and sour soup. I pulled in the parking lot and noticed the signs out front for $4.99 all you can eat. Yikes. That scared me off. I drove to the shiny new one. They had a sign that said, "Under new nice and responsible management". Plus you have to pay before you see the food.
I think they're both off my list.
Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:44 PM
So, we spent a couple of days abusing the "Buffet of Buffets." For 44.99 you get a 24hr pass to like 6 buffets: Rio, Planet Hollywood, Paris, and the rest were too far to visit.
We did it not for the culinary delight, but it was an affordable way to knock out 4 meals on the strip (breakfast, lunch, dinner, breakfast) while we were spending the real money on shows and shopping.
The first meal (with friends) I employed the 'high dollar protein' strategy, and certainly felt I got my money's worth. After that I was in pain, so I did the 'small samples till I find something I like' strategy, and that left me a bit less over-stuffed, but pleased nonetheless.
I did notice that it seemed these buffets shared a supplier and/or menu coordinator, because it seemed there were lots of similar dishes/preparations among them.
Anyhow, it was nice, and we got to experience that particularly Vegas-flavored-tackiness of watching a bride and groom enjoy their pre-wedding dinner (in dress and tux) at a buffet. ;)
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Posted 14 March 2012 - 03:03 PM
In Rowland Hills, CA (an upper middle class Hong Kongese refuge East of Los Angeles)... there are a number of Chinese Banquet / Wedding Halls that do $39.99 per person buffets... with excellent, high quality food... much of it being prepared to order... and with very small steam table pans (if used) i.e., high batch turnover.
I had a similar experience with Indian cuisine in Parsippanny (Central New Jersey) at Indian wedding halls... were I was the only person not fluent in Gujarati (btw... these people ain't Punjab... if they say it is very spicy... it is VERY SPICY)
But I understand the typical Chinese or Indian buffet is marketed to an unknowledgable, value seeking crowd in the <$10 price point.
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