East Buffet - Disappointing visit
I am a long-time patron of East Chinese Buffet and have been to all of their New York locations over the years. It has, over time, been one of my family's favorite places to eat because of the consistently good quality and broad selection.
We went to the Flushing location about two weeks ago and were very disappointed. East has been running a half price special (unbeknownst to us) in order, I assume, to drum up business. The competition has increased sharply in recent years in terms of both quantity and quality and they are probably suffering a bit. Be that as it may, buyer beware.
We showed up at about 8:30 pm, about 1.5 hours before they were slated to close up. The long and short of it is that there were too many people and simply not enough food which at a buffet, is absurd. I was lucky to get one of the last steaks in the building. When I went back for seconds there was no more to be had. Peking duck was being rationed out forcing those of us that wanted some to stand in line for 15 minutes. At one point, there were no bowls to be had for the soup and somewhere along the line, my favorite house soup got cut from the menu and seems to have been replaced by something with less flavor and fewer herbs. As fast as it was made, the sushi disappeared since there was little else fresh being put out. Fresh cooked shrimp were served in twos and threes by one of the waiters so there would be enough to go around. And the desert table looked nearly empty.
Seems to me they cut price but tried to make their traditional profit. In doing so, they totally screwed up my dining experience. I will go back perhaps once more but if I see half price, I will probably go someplace else. Very disappointing.
For what it is worth, I think that their Huntington location is not involved in the 50% off promotion so it may still be worth visiting.
So maybe, if you are free at that time, you should go at 5 PM on a weekday. All the food will be out and freshly cooked, there won't be any other diners, you can saunter over to the buffet and leisurely pick the best items.
We went to the one in Huntington a few weeks ago and it was fine - typical chinese buffet, but no problems with overcrowding or anything like that. The price was $26.95 or something, which is high for a chinese buffet, but they did have a raw bar, sushi, crab legs and plenty of other expensive items. The peking duck wasn't very good, but the suckling pig with crackling crisp skin was terrific. That plus crab legs made for a great meal for me! I've heard terrible things about the Flushing location but I would give it a go on half price night, I guess - but I would take Brian's advice and get there early!
While I understand what you are saying and do not disagree, realistically, 8:30pm on a half priced night is asking for (or at least flirting with) disappointment. Remember, by 8:30-9pm, most buffet goers have come and gone. Anything already prepared has to be tossed (ideally) given awy or incorporated into the next day's lunch prep.
Brian is (as always) right. You need to hit it much earlier. Also keep in mind that you are going on a value priced evening along with many folks who might otherwise not be able to afford to dine out, so of course it will be more crowded. if you can afford the additional cost, choose a reg priced evening. and get there by 7-pm. The seniors and families with young kids will be, or already have, finished up by then. :-}
I haven't gone to the Flushing location in years. The quality of their food sucks and the other patrons are rude and obnoxious. I heard about this Half Page Promotion from my aunt and she was as disappointed as the OP. When she went they also didn't refill the plates and bowls and she vows never to go back to that branch.
The Elmhurst location is better imho. Although it can still be hit and miss. I went for mother's day 2 years ago and it was fantastic. They had lobster, cold lobster claws, geoduck, so much food. But when I went back last year it was a complete waste of $40 (not including tip, tax, drinks). I was there a few months ago on a weekday and it was good, for $26.95 you get ayce buffet and hot pot. They really beefed up their hot pot selections and had a really nice raw bar. Sushi was fresh and even more food than I remembered.
The Huntington location isn't bad either, but their Chinese selection is not as large as Elmhurst. They have more American food like french fries, fried chicken wings, pasta, etc. It's not as crowded though and people don't bumrush the lobster.
I think I'll stick with the Elmhurst location for now.
Buffets are for long slow eating. 1 1/2 hours is just not enough time to enjoy all the food available.
East has become a tourist trap and the food sux. When going to Flushing there dozens of places to eat that are authentic and reasonably priced. East's food is over sugared and over salted, I don't know whether to go into diabetic shock or have a stroke from high blood pressure. Buffet prices have been increasing. There is the International Buffet on Steward Ave. near Roosevelt Field that was very good, but it changed ownership recently. I haven't been there since the change so I cannot comment. It used to be the best around. A good place is Harvest Buffet on Northern Blvd. Great Neck. Lunch $17.00 includes tax and tip. Beer & wine are extra but other drinks are free. Dinner is $30.00 and includes the same as lunch. The food is the same at lunch and dinner. At lunch I asked the guy serving duck for the leg, he cut the whole leg and put it on my plate. I later went back for another leg and got it, no skimping there.
"Buffets are for long slow eating. 1 1/2 hours is just not enough time to enjoy all the food available"
Actually, I think the opposite is true. Buffet are for relatively quick eating. The restaurant counts on being able to 'turn over' a certain number of tables within a certain time frame. If they have patrons lingering, they are not able to seat new customers and they sufffer a loss Unlike a regular restaurant, they don't have the high end items like after dinner drinks and dessert to bloster the bill. If too many customers stay too long, the prices will eventually have to go up to compensate for the loss of revenue.
I've been to the International Buffet a couple of times in the past few months - it's pretty much your standard buffet, nothing special. I would say it's about on par with the East Buffet in Huntington, but that's mostly because the crab legs were about the same in both places, and that's what I was there for. They don't have the raw bar or hibachi stations that East does, but I felt those options were pretty lackluster at East in any case. BF prefers International because of the prime rib and the chicken skewers. Either way, you're in for your basic, trashy buffet experience. Not that that's a bad thing, just don't expect it to be something it's not and you'll be fine!