Linden Place Fancy Former Dim Sum Place now a buffet? LWong?
You know... the fancy shmancy wanna be Versailles-style place just off of Northern on Linden that has hosted almost every one of my Chinese students' Sweet Sixteens... Someone told me it is now a buffet. Anyone been?
What with Harvest, East, Mizumi, and the recently opened and oft-heralded The Buffet in College Point by BJ's, it's not big on my radar, but I am curious.
Anyone know where Lwong is? Haven't seen him on these Chinese threads in awhile...
Happy Year of the Snake to the Zenfoodist family!
Sorry that Mother Nature did not cooperate with your planned Chinese New Years celebration at a Dim Sum restaurant several weeks ago on the Chinese New Year’s weekend when the Nor’easter dropped 11 inches of snow on NYC.
Yes, we are still alive and well, although it indeed has been a long time since we posted on Chowhound.
We have not been back to the faux French style decorated Chnese restaurant on Linden Place for a number of years now, since our last outing at their Dim Sum lunch was not too memorable.
As for your post discussing Chinese Buffets, it just happened that we ate at another new Buffet restaurant that opened in the location of the former “Gala Manor” restaurant now called “Oceanica Seafood Restaurant,” (海上天大酒樓, 37-02 Main Street, 37th Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354, (718) 463-6666), before the Chinese New Years weekend. We had tried the lunch Buffet last fall when it first opened and only charged $10 per person, which we thought was a reasonable price for the food offered. When we went again to Oceanica, we were surprised to see that they had steamed lobster claws and deep fried garlic battered Dungeness crabs, which were not offered the first time we went. Every time the tray with the lobsters or Dungeness crabs came out they only lasted for 2 to 3 minutes before the tray was empty. One had to have good timing to be at the Buffet tables when the restaurant brought out new trays of Lobster and Dungeness crabs, otherwise one was out of luck.
Not all of the lobsters and Dungeness crabs were alive when prepared, as some of the lobster and Dungeness did not have firm flesh, but at $11 per person, one cannot complain too much, as Dungeness crabs sell for $8 per lb at the Chinese grocery stores and each Dungeness crab weighed 2 to 3 lbs each. We had two lobster claws and more than one whole Dungeness crab, hence just eating the Dungeness crab more than covered the $11 charge for lunch (plus tax and tip). In fact, we are not sure how the restaurant makes money when they provide lobsters and Dungeness crabs at the Buffet. There were also the standard sushi, salads, Dim Sum, dessert, and other cooked food items, but one has to be lucky that there are the special seafood items to make the Buffet especially worthwhile. It is possible that the lobsters and Dungeness crabs were a special Chinese New Years offering and there may or may not be lobsters and Dungeness crabs at the Buffet in the future.
At night the restaurant has a Buffet Hotpot dinner, with a rule of 1.5 hours per table, otherwise they may add on a surcharge for exceeding the 1.5 hour limit. It is not clear how stringent the restaurant is in holding diners to the 1.5 hour limit. Our lunch bill was date and time stamped as to when we started eating, but we easily exceeded the 1.5 hours during our lunch.
One caveat is that when we had a plate full of lobster and Dungeness crab, we asked a waitress walking by if we could have a nutcracker to break the shells, but the waitress just smiled and kept walking. From her facial expression, the understanding was that this was the standard restaurant practice to slow the diners down in eating the expensive Lobster and Dungeness crabs. (LOL)
We improvised by using the thicker end of a chopstick to break the shells by viciously stabbing the shells with an up and down motion, although to be fair, most of the Dungeness crab claws were cracked by the restaurant already. If one plans to try out the Oceanica Buffet, one might want to make life easier on themselves by bringing their own nutcracker, assuming that there will be lobster and Dungeness crabs, otherwise they will have to learn on the fly the technique of breaking the shells using a chopstick. Eating at Chinatown Chinese restaurants can sometimes be rough and tumble affairs compared to the niceties at non-Asian restaurants, but when one only pays $11 per person for an AYCE Buffet with very expensive seafood items, one has to expect less than white tablecloth service.
If one is willing to accept minimal levels of service and décor at Chinatown Chinese restaurants, one can eat reasonably well and get good value for their dollars, but this also means that one is an accessory to exploiting the many low paid Chinese workers, legal and illegal, who work in the Chinatowns, but nothing is free in this world. There is a moral cost in getting good value for one’s dollars in eating at the cheap Chinatown restaurants. To paraphase a line from the novella, “Shopgirl” by Steve Martin, “we cannot justify our actions except that, well, it was life.”
So great to know that you are alive and well, lwong! I always love to read your posts. I am a tenacious girl, like so many of my beloved Chinese clients, and even with the Nor'easter managed to go out and treat a bunch of friends and family to a large spread at "the buffet" ( such a boring name, huh?) in College Point a few blocks down from BJ's.
Billy, one of the owners, put out quite a great assortment of foods on Lunar New Year's Eve. It was really enjoyed by all. Very fresh and great variety. In a brand spanking new venue with a very modern, swanky feel and a lovely view of the sunset over the NYC skyline in the distance. Have you been there yet?
At pricier places, in which the establishment is making more money on the food, oftentimes (but not always) more money is able to be paid to the workers. When the workers are paid more, they tend to stay longer. Win, win situation for everyone. I have a lot of students whose parents are in the restaurant business....the front AND the back of the house. The cooks at the pricier places definitely do much better.