Stuff your face at House of Buffet on East State Street

When one buffet closes, another one opens…right? House of Buffet opened recently in the former Ryan’s Steak House building on East State Street. Each time I drive by, I see the standard four cars in the lot—but this time I went in.

Normally, I choose not to frequent buffets since I rarely gorge myself enough at one sitting to make the buffet experience a worthwhile one. This day, I felt I could tackle the buffet to get the most for review.

The lobby has a small pond that welcomes loose change, but there are few other adornments. The giant buffet lines are actually organized well­­­—the more ethnic Asian foods are the first case you see. Parallel to that is a whole case of fried dishes—both American and Asian. As you continue toward the back of the restaurant, you come upon the soups and sides. The picky eater has to pass by these cases to get to the American and popular dishes, which hide toward the back with salad and dessert. I was done getting the lay of the land and was ready to eat.

Round one included a mix of noodles with chicken and broccoli, a seafood combination, beef with mushrooms and green beans. I avoid the spicier fares (which there are a number of) and notice as I go that most of the dishes are correctly labeled. There are spaces for weekend night specials, such as crab legs, but since my visit fell on a weekday, a different fare sat in that space. Most of the food was heated to an acceptable temperature. I understand the difficulty of keeping a correct temperature when the customer volume varies so drastically, and it does not detract from the experience.

Round two had to include some staples of Asian cuisine. Crab rangoon, egg drop soup and an egg roll sat alongside a helping of peanut butter chicken. I’m probably biased since I eat more than my share of peanut butter, but I found it outstanding. The crab rangoon filling was a little more viscous than I normally eat, and the egg roll a bit stringy. I think I was happier with round one.

I know I have to try as much as possible, but I have to pass up the enticing dessert bar. House of Buffet offers a number of fresh fruits and light sweets, not the usual pile of junk a lot of places call a dessert bar. How I wish I would have brought my big belt. I have eaten beyond my capacity, and am ready to roll out the door.

Before you leave the House of Buffet, stop behind their register and check out the items for sale. If you know someone who loves Asian style, they sell bamboo pots, Buddha statues, figurines and tea sets. Prices here are much more reasonable than many places I have seen, and the quality is very similar.

House of Buffet also offers carry-out, with prices ranging from $6.95 to $10.95 for dinner-size orders. They are at 5051 E. State St., and their hours are: 10:45 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sunday-Thursday; 10:45 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday. I’ve driven by the other buffet places in town, and their lots are always crowded. If you’re looking to belly up to the grazing bar, House of Buffet is an excellent alternative.

from the April 18-24, 2007, issue

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