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I don’t go to Chinese buffets much, in part because I eat too much when I do.
And that isn’t getting easier as the size of the new buffets seems to be expanding.
China Buffet in Goshen moved down the road to a new location at 2008 Lincolnway East with around 200 items on the buffet and seats for more than 300 people. And now it’s called Supreme China Buffet.
The buffet in the former Ponderosa at 3535 S. Main St., Elkhart, is now called Super Buffet, has at least five buffet tables and lots of items. It is operated by the same family as King’s Buffet, though I’m not sure if that’s one of the previous buffets at that location or another.
Like I said, I don’t go to Chinese buffets much.
But people love buffets. Not everyone, of course, but a lot of people.
You walk in. You don’t even have to sit down before you start getting your food. Someone cooked at a lot of food for you. If the steam tables are cranked high enough, the food is even hot.
There’s comfort in that. And you get to choose what you eat.
There is healthy food on a Chinese buffet — sauteed vegetables, salad and seafood. But how many of us load up our plates with that stuff first when the pans of fried food are there glistening under the lights?
I like fried food. And I come from a line of people who salt their food before tasting it. So going to a place where someone has not only fried one thing for me, but many, can be dangerous.
I like that the Goshen buffet has a decent sushi bar. And the hibachi bar allows you to compile a plate of meat and vegetables that they saute while you wait, though the one time I got it there it got a bit more sauce than I hoped.
So on those rare occasions when I find myself at a buffet, what do I want?
Ÿ I want broccoli that’s still green. I don’t want the vegetables to have been sauteed until they’re gray. That’s tough when food stays on a steam table. Food isn’t designed to stay on a steam table for a long period of time.
Ÿ I want the operators to be able to say definitively whether they use MSG. When I asked at Supreme China Buffet, I couldn’t get a very explicit answer. I know someone who simply feels bad after eating MSG, so going somewhere where they can’t tell you for sure carries risk for her.
Ÿ I want meat that’s not tough or dry. That’s hard to accomplish when the cuts are cheap and the food stays on a steam table.
Ÿ I want interesting options. That may include three kinds of Jell-O. It may include pineapple chicken or honey chicken. It does not include pizza, roast beef or Nutty Bars. (Super Buffet had Nutty Bars on the dessert portion. I love Nutty Bars. But when you take them out the wrapper and put them on a buffet, they get stale. Stale Nutty Bars are not good Nutty Bars.)
Ÿ I want to see “old” food leave the steam table rather than having a fresh batch dumped in with it and mixed together.
Both buffets offer inexpensive food and a lot of it. The Goshen buffet is $6.53 before tax at lunch and $9.34 at dinner. The Dunlap buffet is $5.99 plus tax at lunch and $8.99 plus tax at dinner.
Both of them are putting fresh food on the buffet throughout meal times, but some of the meat was tough. And the flavors don’t pop the way they do at some of our local Asian restaurants.
I get it. It’s what people want. And sometimes, that’s fine. But I won’t go too often to a buffet. It’s just not good for me.
I’m hungry. Let’s eat.
Marshall V. King is news/multimedia editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth/eTruth.com. You can reach him at email@example.com, 574-296-5805, on Twitter @hungrymarshall or via Facebook. His blog is at www.blogs.etruth.com/diningalaking/.
If You Go
What: Super Buffet
Where: 3535 S. Main St., Elkhart.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 to 10 Friday and Saturday.
What: Supreme China Buffet
Where: 2008 Lincolnway East, Goshen
Hours: 11 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 to 11 Friday and Saturday.
Both locations also have carry-out available.