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May 28, 2006 05:58 PM

New Chinese Buffet

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If you go to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet you are looking not for Michelin stars but for value. On that scale, Buffet Palace, 3026 N Ashland (next to Graceland Post Office, at Wellington), open three weeks, is a winner. I don't know what the $6.99 lunch includes but the $11.99 dinner today (a Sunday) had the following: dozens of hot Chinese-type dishes, four soups, a dumpling bar, a sushi bar, a salad bar, a pastry bar, a soft ice cream machine, a fresh fruit bar, and a Mongolian barbecue (where the griller will also carve you some very tender roast beef or grill you a New York strip steak). Shrimp was offered in about a dozen preparations and there were also mussels, frog legs, and Alaskan crab legs, all of it ad lib of course. The fresh fruit was extraordinary: watermelon, honeydew, kiwis and oranges cut in eighths, mangos cut in thick slices, and fresh lichees. Price includes hot tea (in a real teapot) or soft drinks. The place is family-owned and service was prompt and kind. BTW this week's Chicago Reader has a coupon giving a 20% discount; coupon is good through June 30.

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  1. Thanks for the review. I was looking for someplace cheap after Sicko today, and dumplings, sushi and crab are right up my daughter's alley. I've been curious about the place since it opened, and at $12 a pop, I can afford to take a chance.

    1. I think that Buffet Palace has gone downhill in the last 8 month. I'm not a buffet aficionado, but growing up in an Asian family, buffets are inevitable, so I have a bit of experience under my belt. The sushi bar is probably best to be avoided as the fish gets very dry after sitting on the bar for hours (I did have a decent hand-roll here though). The steaks are okay, the salad bar is damn good. Back in the day, Buffet Palace had dungeness crab and snow crab abound with no limits on how much you could take, now, you're lucky if you get a lonesome looking leg at the bottom of the pan. By the way, there's no chinese restaurant I know that serves fresh lychees (the price is too prohibitive)--all that stuff is straight out of a can. It's still worth 12 bucks, just don't expect the world.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Eaterlover

        Well, we went and your opinion is spot-on. The crab was decent, but you have to lurk around waiting for a tray to be brought out, some of the Chinese dishes were surprisingly good (honey chicken, for one), the stir fry was fair, and while the sushi was fresh (there was a young woman there hand-rolling it), it was very bland. The salad and fruit bar was terrific; my daughter is on a fruit kick, so she was very happy with the variety and freshness. I didn't get the steak, but it looked decent. The dumplings were the definition of so-so.

        As you said, it's worth the $12 and I will probably return when I'm in the mood. Oh, and the service was terrific, which surprised me.

      2. I had an awful experience. the first time I was here in was great, I just returned tonight and I will never again. I ate a half a plate of food, and then bit into a piece of Mongolian beef. I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my bottom teeth. I spit out the beef an was in shock staring at a sharp of clam shell in my beef. I sat there for a little bit waiting for the pain to subside. It didn't, so I called over the man who had been getting us soda and told him what happened. He asked me to talk to the manager up front. I walked up with my plate and told the cashier. She went into a back office and called a girl out who looked to be about 16. I told her and she brushed it of and said it was a customer's fault. Even so I think I deserve a refund, and now I need a trip to the dentist.

        1. I tend to avoid the salad bar when I go to a chinese buffet, but I must say they have the best salmon salad... all I needed was a kaiser roll and I could have made it a day... I've been a few times, and the quality here is above average. Large selection, like the California rolls....I like the vegetarian options..stir-fried spinach, stir fried bok choy...a tasty sweet n sour soup ..for less than 8 bucks at lunch, you can't beat it....Wasn't too crazy about the chicken on the stick- I've always taken a pass on the pizza!!!!!!