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East Valley buffets

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okay - yeah, LV has buffets...but we're doing a round-up on buffet restaurants in the East Valley. Who has a favorite? Which would you never go to? What's in Ahwatukee? I know the chains...any special local "hidden" buffets???

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  1. Yes, as a matter of fact, one of my favorite places to go in the East Valley is all-you-can-eat. It's on the northwest corner of McClintock and Southern, called YC's Mongolian BBQ. It's a build your own stir-fry place- grab a bowl, fill it with meats, veggies, and your favorite sauce blend, then hand it to the cook who then proceeds to cook it on a four-foot wide round grill. Once everything is piping hot, all that's left to do is enjoy. I've been to 7 different Mongolian BBQs around the state and YC's is the best by far. There is another mongolian bbq in downtown Tempe called BD's, but it's way too expensive for what you're getting. I may as well give a rundown of all the different ones I've been to, in order of preference:

    1) YC's Mongolian Grill, Tempe (more sauce choices, and numerous sauce recipes too!)
    2) Iron Grill, Tucson (almost as good as YC's, and they have yummy sesame bread)
    3) BD's Mongolian Barbeque, Tempe (easily the biggest line there is with 5 different meats, seafood, and sauces from around the world, but easier to screw things up if you're not careful what you put on)
    4) Maxim, Tucson (big buffet line, good grill but they cook too slow)
    5) Rose Garden, Tucson (very little choice of sauce, cooks too long)
    6) Panda House, Tucson (worst sauce choice, and nickels and dimes you to death with options like 75 cents extra for tofu. Any place that penalizes being vegetarian is MEAN)

    There is one other one that I've been to, but I don't remember much except that it's near Tri-City Mall in Mesa, and that the line for the stirfry was really, really long.

    One other place popped into mind- Sweet Tomatoes. You probably know about it already, but just in case you haven't, it's pretty good stuff- nice long salad line, some different pastas, breads, soups (you *must* have the chicken noodle), and that's it. I balk a bit at their 8 bucks to get in the door for salad, but sometimes it's what I crave.

    8 Replies
    1. re: JK Grence

      Thanks, JK! I'll check out the Mongolian BBQ's for sure. This is for a freelance piece I'm writing - you wouldn't happen to know of anything in Ahwatukee, would you? The features I do focus on Ahwatukee, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, and sometimes AJ. This piece is to show the a) wide variety of buffets available through the EV - Phoenix region, and b) talk with a few of the folks who might be regulars.

      1. re: patricia

        I'm sure you've already thought of this, but all of the Indian restaurants have lunch buffets, which I think are a great way to try out Indian food. Also, the Pink Pepper in Mesa has a lunch buffet that is pretty good, but it may only be on weekends. Maycayo's has a happy hour buffet (at least, they used to).

        The Ethiopian restaurant (Labiella - sp) may still do a lunch buffet -- aren't they in Tempe?

        1. re: Jeanette

          I think Lalibella may have stopped their lunch buffets, but I'll double check. And can I quote you on the "great way to try new cuisines?" ; ) The Macayos on Dobson? Happy hour?

          1. re: patricia

            Certainly you can quote me -- in fact, it's how I introduced my husband to indian food. he Became quite fond of the naan and tandoori chicken! You might also add that the local newspapers often carry coupons that make the Indian lunch buffets an even better bargain.

            Yes, the Macayo's on dobson used to have a happy hour buffet, and you might also check Aunt Chilada's at South Mountain and Macayo's Cantina in Tempe. I suspect they both have *something* at happy hour.

            John Henry's on Elliot also has a happy hour buffet, but only until 6PM, and I think only Mon-Fri.

            You might even be able to get two articles out of this -- one for lunch & dinner buffets, another for happy hour buffets and other 'deals.'

            1. re: Jeanette

              SInce I'm not reviewing the food - only the ambience, it's probably only one story! But that's okay - I went to two last night (Furr's and Moon Star) - I'm not sure which left me more askance - the pepto-bismol pink cake at one, or the unindentifiable frying objects at the other. But send me the correct spelling of your last name and town J., on my yahoo mail, so you can be identified correctly. (I went to Star of India at lunchtime today - and wished I had been eating - it looked wonderful, I sampled fresh nan - mmmm - and they have a fabulous tandoor. I can't wait to get back there for dinner.

              1. re: patricia

                I've lost your yahoo mail -- got a new computer and forgot to copy the address book. Want to send it to me again, please?

                BTW if you like thin crust Chicago style pizza (not my person favorite, but it is Jay's favorite style), Rosati's is quite good. Also in our neighborhood.

                J.

                1. re: Jeanette

                  Thanks, J. I'll give rosati's a try some night - i've been stuck on cosmic pizza, since i can stop on my way when i'm really craving something. and i tried making grilled pizza a while ago - not bad, but i need to work on the dough a bit.

        2. re: patricia

          Alas, I don't know of anything over in the Ahwatukee area. When I was still living with the parental units as a kid, we were in Gilbert- they've since moved out east of Apache Junction (just 1/4 mile from national forest territory!). I haven't spent much time up in Phoenix over the last few years.

          A couple tips I just thought of for mongolian grills:

          1) Squish your meat. At YC's, it comes frozen in little rolls. If you don't flatten it out with your hand or another bowl, you will find that an entire bowl of meat will vaporize to less than a fourth its original size. It's amazing to see it. In the same vein, noodles don't shrink down much at all (especially at YC's- I think it's fresh ramen there. So far, their noodles are the BEST) so get a little more meat than you think you need, and a bit less noodles until you get the hang of what you like.

          2) Meat first. At some places (actually the only one I can think of is Iron Grill down here in Tucson) they have the vegetables first on the line. If you put the veggies in the bowl first, the meat goes on top and meat will soak up a lot more juice than vegetables. This means that the meat is extremely flavorful while the veggies are bland by comparison. If the meat goes in first and the vegetables are on top, the vegetables will soak up enough to make themselves taste good, leaving the rest to the meat which still gets well seasoned.

          3) More Sauce Is Better. This isn't a problem at YC's, where they have all kinds of different recipes you can do posted above the sauce area; these all add a generous amount of sauce. If you don't put a bunch of sauce on (a common problem at BD's), you get dry meat with not too much flavor. I would try to give a guideline for how much to put in, but I'm not standing over your shoulder watching you. If you aren't sure, it couldn't possibly hurt to throw in another ladle or two of house sauce, or whatever you choose to use.

          Getting really good mongolian grill is something of an art- it does take a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, you'll feel like you could go on Iron Chef.