Some nights are cook-at-home nights. Some nights are eat-at-fancy-restaurant nights.
Then there are Chinese buffet nights.
What can you really say about a Chinese buffet? They are all more or less the same (OK, I take that back – some are considerably worse than others, and that one Neil took us to in New Jersey was actually amazing), offer the same things, and all pretty much emphasize quantity over quality.
We occasionally go to the Asia City buffet on Washtenaw. This is because A) it’s close and B) it is next to the giant Asian grocery store (I think it used to be a used car dealership!) where Noe buys his rice (for those who don’t know, Noe eats rice with most meals).
Asia City, like the grocery store, is gigantic. It is decorated in a very over-the-top style, heavy on the red and gold, fake waterfalls in the entry way, all that jazz. They serve a sit-down menu and dim sum as well as buffet, though we haven’t tried either (I’ve heard the dim sum is good and the sit-down dinners aren’t worth it, but, once again, haven’t tried it).
The food is what you’d expect – plenty of fried meats, dumplings, a few veggies drowning in butter, skinny crab legs…you know, the usual. However, Asia City has several qualities that would compel me to choose it rather than other buffets in the area:
- Every time we have been there, they’ve been extremely good at keeping the chafing dishes filled with fresh food from the kitchen – nothing looked old or like it had been sitting out for too long
- Their (very un-Chinese) soft-serve ice cream machine has never been broken (I really look forward to the soft serve ice cream at Chinese buffets and tend to get kind of heartbroken when the machine is out of order)
- They actually do have pretty good sushi on the buffet
You are probably cringing at the thought of eating buffet sushi. Generally, I would be right there with you. But the sushi guy at Asia City makes beautiful rolls that actually stay in one piece when you pick them up with chopsticks. Better yet, the fish – at least, every time we’ve gone – has looked, smelled, and tasted fresh. Just as good as you can get at many of the numerous sushi joints around here, and probably better than a few of them.
Even classier than the fact that we dine at the Chinese buffet is the fact that we tend to do it when they send out coupons for buy one, get one half-off…yep, we’re THOSE people.
So, for as much as I pretend to be a restaurant snob, I do enjoy my rather low-brow dining experiences from time to time. It will never be the best food in the world, but Chinese buffets do satisfy a quintessential need in the dining realm, and Asia City does that job admirably.