Captain J's International Buffet in Raleigh, NC
This restaurant has to take the "Most Incongruous" Award for all time. The restaurant is located on Capital Blvd. just above the 401 split. The buffet tables are just what you'd expect from a place that bills itself as Mexican/Chinese and they look pretty damn sorry (although the made to order tacos smelled very good). This is not why you're there. When you're greeted, tell the young Chinese man at the counter that you'd like the traditional Chinese menu and watch his eyes light up with joy.
You will receive the two sided sheet of paper below and you order as if it were a sushi menu. According to the waiter, the XLB and Tea Leaf Smoked Duck are the most popular dishes with Chinese customer. Get this - they make the XLB to order. You can walk to the back of the buffet and watch the chef roll out the dough, fill, and steam them on the spot. Only the pork XLB are offered. They are juicy, drippy, and delicious. The Offspring thought they had too much ginger in them but the Spouse and I were very happy.
The Shanghai noodles are also made by hand in house. I wouldn't have minded a little more bite to the noodles and they don't quite have the same wok breath that the noodles at Asian Grill had, but they're still a winner.
We also ordered the Salt & Pepper Short Ribs and the Seaweed with Garlic Sauce. The ribs were actually pork, not beef as I expected. They were well cooked and nicely presented, covered with heaps of garlic, scallion, and bell pepper. The seaweed wasn't bad, it just wasn't much of anything and I doubt I'd order it again. The meal was ended by a plate of complementary fresh fruit, a welcome change from the usual fortune cookie and/or orange.
There's a choice of 3 hot teas - green, red, and oolong. All sadly are from teabags but the waiter will refill your hot water and replace the teabag as often as you'd like.
We was told by the waiter that we were the first non-Asians to ask for the traditional menu. He very politely felt us out about our familiarity with the food and was very eager to help when needed and to back off when not needed.
There's a 10% discount offered to first time customers and there is a Valpak coupon out now but it's only for the buffet.
We are looking forward to returning and trying more things off the traditional menu. The staff really wants you to be happy and enjoy the food. Captain J's, beyond it's odd name and split personality, is worth the visit.
4420 Capital Blvd
Raleigh, NC 27604
Folks, the incongruity continues...
First of all let me update the buffet situation. Buffet is still available during lunch on weekdays and all day on weekends.
The Fitzgerald people have started serving seafood over the weekend. I finished work late last night so I got a chance to try the seafood entree while the Chinese chefs were on their dinner break. I had the fried flounder platter with fries and applesauce (some of the side items weren't ready yet). It was typical; not bad but nothing extraordinary. Flounder was nicely seasoned and not greasy at all so that was good. Tasted just like the one in Rolesville.
Fast forward to this evening... My evening activity got cancelled due to the miserable rain so I went back there for another run, but with a slight twist. I wanted to order the Taiwanese pork chop rice along with a piece of fish but they ran out of big porkchops. What a shame so I ordered XLB instead, along with a piece of grilled catfish.
Fish was nicely grilled and I actually would prefer that over fried. XLB was excellent, as usual. It was quite enjoyable to eat hushpuppies with chopsticks and XLB with a fork. Miraculously I didn't have any serious squirting mishaps lol.
So what's really the reason behind the seafood? As many of you know, the buffet is not good and they had to toss the leftover food out every night. Lisa the owner finally had enough and she believes a sit down restaurant would generate more money. She loves the Joe's Crab Shack type seafood so she wants to have a seafood "front" while keeping the authentic Chinese up.
Some of you might also be wondering, are the Chinese gonna be serving any seafood stuff? Sure! How about $14.99 lobsters?
I stopped by for lunch yesterday and had a great meal. This place is the real deal. I ordered pork XLB, cold beef tendon app, and twice cooked pork. The soup dumplings were tasty. I learned that the trick is to pick them up with chopsticks at the top of the wrapped so you don't pierce the lower part, where the soup is. The beef tendons were tasty. The taste is faintly beefy. There's lots of good stuff in them for our skin and connective tissues. I thought I ordered twice cooked pork, but what I received wasn't what I was expecting. The dish I received was a mix of pork belly, mushrooms, onions, a little eggplant, & peppers. It may have been twice cooked pork through a Shanghaianese lens or it may have been the other pork belly dish one the menu. Regardless, it was quite tasty and I would order it again. The prices are quite reasonable. My entree was $10.99 and it was a healthy serving. They also gave me a $10 off coupon on the way out. I hope to return in April.