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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Don't Eat at Chinese Buffets on Weekends

Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.
 - Chinese Proverb

Greetings everybody!  May today be nothing short of simply wonderful for you and those who surround you.

Tiffany and I experienced a new Chinese Buffet that recently opened in the Sanford, Florida area over this past Labor Day weekend.  Guess what?  Chucky learned something (ugh... the hard way, of course).

(pic borrowed from Wikipedia)

I don't know about where you live but here in the Orlando, Florida area a typical Chinese buffet costs around $6.95 per person on weekdays and some tack on another $3 ($9.95 per person) on weekends.  Tiffany and I were running around Sanford on Saturday and it was getting around the lunch hour.  We began to explain where we might eat lunch.  Firehouse SubsPanda ExpressItalianPanera Bread?  Hmm...  What are our vegetarian dining choices?

Chinese!  Yes, there is a new Chinese buffet that recently opened and we've wanted to try.  We drove up and had to question whether they were open on weekends.  Yes they were.  We had arrived when they first open.

Our first observation was the cleanliness and welcoming ambiance of what appeared to be a former Bennigan's restaurant location.  This Chinese buffet had done a rather nice job with the building.  

(pic borrowed from Wikipedia)

We took our seat, enjoyed our delicious meal, and service was top-notch for being a buffet.  The buffet wasn't as diverse as most local buffets but it looked fresh and tasty.  Our choices?  Vegetable Mongolian stir-fry, steamed broccoli, steamed bok choy, salad, soup, seaweed salad, noodle dishes, French fries, mashed potato, Spring roll, etc. to name but a few.

A misunderstood but loveable 'lil cuss, ain't he?

When all was said and done (we completed our delicious & fresh meal), I grabbed my axe, tugged up my overalls, and Tiffany & I scurried up to the counter to pay.  Neither of us had paid much attention to price but noticed no obvious buffet pricing sign.  $12.99 per person (drink not included)!!!  A brand new buffet establishment charging above the norm?  A smaller buffet selection than its competitors and they want more?  Oh well, too late... We had already consumed and enjoyed the meal.

Now... I will attest the food was delicious, the place clean, the service top-notch and had it not been for their pricing scheme I would certainly return in the future.  But... what am I paying for?  Usually the weekend premium ($3 for most places, $6 for this one) compensates for prime rib, steak, sushi, endless shrimp, salmon, crab, scallop, and other "premium" buffet entries.  They appeared to have about half of what their competitors offer but did offer a carnivore a relative nice food selection.  Neither vegetarian nor carnivore was walking out of this place hungry, this I can assure you.

But then I began to realize ~ exactly what is a vegetarian paying a premium price for?  To feed the carnivores?  Yes, Tiffany and I had made a poor decision.  In a nutshell, we were paying $12 additional for absolutely nothing!  There was absolutely nothing on the weekend buffet that probably wasn't on the weekday buffet for us vegetarians.

Lesson learned, my friend.  But ~ again I'd like to emphasize that this place was certainly worth $12.95 (or more).  But when stacked up against their competition, I do feel sorry for the proprietors.  I do not believe that this particular buffet will survive the current economy.  Local Sanford residents can drive about four or five miles down the road for a competitor that charges only $6.95 per person weekdays and $7.95 weekends.

I'm not submitting this post to show that I am cheap (frugal, perhaps).  Instead, it's the principle of paying a premium for something you have no desire or wish to participate.  More power to the carnivore!  Let them have their crab.  Let them eat their shrimp.  Let them drown in salmon.  But... I prefer not to subsidize their dining choice.  And... Those carnivores?  They smell funny!

Count me a one-time weekend buffet visitor.

Hi-dee hi-dee careful-not-to-subsidize-the-carnivore-ho my friend.


  1. Oh Chucky.
    Carnivores have distinctive scents. As do vegans.

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  3. Ha! Love this post! 5 friends and I booked a villa in Jamaica last year, and most of our meals were made in-house by our cook, who had no clue how to cook for a vegetarian. By day 3, I was honestly weak from lack of protein, and getting cranky. On day 4, we took a road trip to a nearby town, then our driver took us to a place he "just knew we'd like" for lunch. Well, it was a buffet full of meaty Jamaican delights and ONE vegetarian option - rice and beans. I threw a tantrum at the entrance to the restaurant. I was NOT going to pay $21.99 to eat effing RICE AND BEANS while the carnivores pigged out on multiple dishes and got their money's worth. I think I kind of startled our driver. After just a bit more searching, we found another local place that served tofu as well as all the other Jamaican specialties, a la carte. I got my protein fix and all was well with the world :)

  4. Hehe. I don't feel so bad about my Chinese buffet after hearing your story RocketQueen. I got a pretty nice value for my buck compared to all-you-can eat rice & beans for $22!

    I'm glad to find that I am not the only one who cannot understand why buffet proprietors can't have equitable pricing levels. Maybe a reduced price for vegetarians and have them use different colored plates so they don't cheat the restaurant (don't want a carnivore in vegetarian's clothing).

  5. ^Brilliant idea. The only buffets I'll gladly fork over full price for are Indian buffets, where typically HALF their dishes are vegetarian. And awesome :)

  6. Such dishes offer nutritional value that is not contained in traditional plates like lo mein, which are noodles soaked with oil, fats and carbohydrates.Phoenix Chinese Restaurant