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The Week in Yelp: Buffets Are Nothing But Trouble

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From the people who brought you The Week in Craig, one of the all time great uses of the internet, comes Eater's newest feature: The Week in Yelp, wherein Amy Blair takes aim at the ridiculousness that is the world of Yelp. Her intrepid Yelp-surfing, and words, follow:

2008_01_yelp.jpgI definitely don't have one of those insane, debilitating germ phobias, but I do know that there are certain disgusting things that I'm going to do my best to avoid. For one, classrooms full of children. They are disease factories, and should be steered clear of at all costs. Also, garbage cans. It kind of amazes me how often I see otherwise clean enough looking people taking newspapers out of filthy garbage cans to read. Finally, buffets. Soggy food, heat lamps, sneeze guards. None of these things particularly work up an appetite for me. Instead I find myself thinking about grubby fingers, E. Coli, and spending the next four hours with my toilet. But, to each his own. I guess some people are willing to sacrifice hygiene for the opportunity to stuff themselves full of all-you-can-eat mac and cheese served up with a side of bacterial infection. Buffets — yum!

First up, a buffet at the Grand Hyatt Hotel gets four stars from a chubby dude with a bizarre air quality neurosis...

If you read enough of my reviews, you know that I am very conscious about air quality / circulation (Which is why riding the subway at rush hour is TORTUROUS for me. Just thinking about it makes me shudder.). The Regency Club in the Grand Hyatt Hotel passes the circulaton section of my review with high marks. Cool breezes wafted over my shoulders throughout my visit. The air was so chilled that my sturdy German friend had to put his jacket back on after half an hour.

We arrived at 7:30 PM, just as the hors d'oeuvers buffet was being cleared for the night. As you can tell from my waistline, I love food. But, that is not the sole reason I like buffets. I crave variety. If I had to order room service for the same amount of different tastes in one meal, my bill would likely cost over $1,000. Also, I wouldn't be able to finish all the full sized portions.

I've had good buffets & I've had bad buffets. This was the former. Highlights: (This is just a sampling of what I tried -- Not a complete list of what was offered.)

-- Small rosemary & olive bread loaves
-- Plate of cheeses -- I had a wedge of brie, which could have been creamier, but was good nonetheless
-- Plate of raw veggies -- I had the cauliflower & celery -- Carrots & broccoli were also offered
-- Sundried tomatoes -- Excellent -- Not too tart, wish I had taken more
-- Spicy tapenade
-- Grilled asparagus
-- Mozzarella & tomato salad

The only truly subpar items I had were the sushi rolls, but that's to be expected anywhere you're not paying by the piece.

I would have liked some fruit, but there wasn't any to be found -- Not even an hour later during the dessert buffet, which was far less tasty & impressive. I had chocolate mousse & raspberry cheesecake. The former was good enough, but the latter only merited two bites. Actually, it only merited one bite, but I took two just to make sure. I skipped the blondies, brownies & cookies.

Liquid choices were outstanding:

-- Small bottles of Pelligrino / Pepsi / Diet Pepsi (Though I would have preferred Diet Coke) / Ginger Ale
-- Generous bottles of Acqua Panna
-- Starbucks coffee
-- Well stocked selection of tea
-- Fresh wedges of lemon
-- Cream / milk / sugar / Equal (or whatever the blue one is) / Splenda

Good, tidy presentation. Excellent air circulation. The club is only accessible only to lounge key holders -- There is a special slot in the elevator for this. Good hours. I stayed until 9:50 when I noticed one of the cleaning ladies standing two tables away. I got up to leave in what looked like a hurry to her (I'm one of those NYers that almost always looks hurried -- I'll run for a train even though I will have 45 minutes to spare when I reach my destination. ...But maybe that's because I hate the air quality on the waiting platforms. Hm...) & she encouraged me to take my time. Gold star for her!

So, you might want to ask why the Regency Club does not get five stars from me...

Because, dear friend, I had to go all the way to the lobby to use a rest room! There are no such facilities for public use in the lounge itself or even on the floor. I still can't believe it.

Regency Club, I wanted to give you five stars. I really did, but you blew it. Sorry.
For some reason my favorite part of this entire (30,000 word) review is his "sturdy" German friend who had to put his jacket on due to the high-quality air circulation system in the restaurant. If a sturdy German is cold, then the air quality MUST be good!

Next up, Los Angeles’ King’s Buffet ? Poohaha!!

If you ask me to name a buffet of all buffet place in LA, it has to be King's Buffet. Poohaha!! Yeah I said it and screw you if you respectfully disagree. If you think I am an Idiot that's okay. We all know each other.

Buffet is a very special thing. Some thinks it is there so people can enjoy variety of dishes at one price. Well, screw that. Buffet is a simple survival feast. Only way to sock up on all kinds of nutrients to keep you alive for another month. They will loads you up with plenty of transfat, lard and shortening and preservatives and artificially flavored shituff that you will be "preserved" for another month without any deterioration of your skin color. Extra grease will make sure of that. Removes wrinkles too.

King's Buffet is a happy place. People there are happy. They are served with most thought out menu in LA. When most Chinese buffet places serve you what looks like left over from another party, King's Buffet serves you with food that is planned and carefully calculated feast just for you. Medium sized shrimp is main feature with fish and main strays of Chinese dishes. But you can tell they have picked ingredients with much consideration. It is plentiful and low cost items but they have brought out decent flavour from it with thier cooking. And made the presentation "plentiful"

Anthony Bourdain said something like when you serve a slap of meat fresh off the cow, that isn't cooking. Cooking is using every part of the damn cow until all it's meats and bones and toe nails are consumed. or ability to make edible dish out of rotting carcass. which we now famously refer to as French cuisine.

The point is King's Buffet seems to cook the cheap ingridients and inject the flavor back in. Cheap ingridient, good cooking and plentiful and well thought-out selection of menu makes this a finest Chinese Buffet establishment in the World! I figure I have been to 4 chinese buffet and this was best so it must be best in the world. I know no other better.

How does it taste? Pretty good if you are hungry. If it wasn't tasty you really didn't deserve to be at King's Buffet. Go run 8 miles and tell me it's bad. lazy ass.

People who eat here appreciates and it is noticeable in their face. In a area where asians with any cooking talent avoids stands King's Buffet, masterfully cooking and happily serving underserved populations with its fine Chinese grease. But it's doing it with class and attention to detail. If I was any smarter I would have said with servitude.

With all the jokes and cynicism aside, send your tired and your poor, King's Buffet feeds you for $6.99.
I'm not sure that anyone could make a Chinese buffet sound less appetizing. They seem to cook the cheap ingredients and inject the flavor back in? Transfat, lard, shortening, preservatives, artificially flavored "shituff" and extra grease that will remove your wrinkles? Although I guess he does have a point about a buffet being a simple survival feast. Now go run 8 miles and tell me it's bad. Lazy ass.

And finally, China Fun Express and why buffets are bad for your Jesus muscles?

I'm 6'4 about 185 pretty skinny but not emaciated and about a year ago I started finding it difficult to get those good Jesus muscles to stick around. You know those nice lines you see on Jesus's hips when he is hanging on the cross waiting to die. (Don't worry everyone who I just offended - supposedly he comes back).

I work out, I play competitive volleyball, I kick-box against other people, and on Friday's I start crying around 11am cause I know around 12 I'm gonna start walking towards China Fun Express for a 2000 calorie lunch that will cost exactly $9.43 and keep those Jesus muscles away.

So there I am like a fat girl with an abusive father and an eating disorder crying as I shovel pork fried rice and the special house BBQ chicken onto my plate....

FUCK YOU DAD!!!!!!!!

Two huge pot stickers and a big pile of the Garlic Beef......


Rice noodles, white rice, three eggs rolls.......


I scurry back to my office and eat quietly at my desk as I blow snot bubbles and slurp my 7-up. She's truly Come Undone.
Every time I eat a General Tso's I think, damn, there went that hot rockin’ Virgin Mary bod, and then I'm all FUCK YOU MOM FOR DOING THIS TO ME, and then I blow some snot bubbles and all is right with the world again. Seriously, people. Buffets. They're bad news.

—Amy Blair