To celebrate Father’s Day, our family got together yesterday for dinner. We were invited to a Japanese Sushi Buffet. The restaurant was clean and the food was piping hot, but I nearly filed a missing item report because what was missing was FLAVOR. Okay, so that might sound very critical, but let me explain. I “used to be” (the key word here is “used to be”) a fan of buffets – remember Ryan’s and Golden Corral? The endless salads, entrees, and desserts laid out on a ten feet of steel filled food warmers and heat lamps. That was great then, but now that I am a home cook, all the buffet food seems like a distant memory, until last night that is. This buffet had more than a handful of variety of sushi, tempura fried meats and vegetables, and ceviche (dishes made from fresh raw fish that’s been marinated in citrus). As I said, everything looked gorgeous. Here’s a kicker, I don’t eat sushi – long story – so I opted for a more safer route and got tempura shrimp, shrimp skewers, chicken skewers, white fish, crab cake, and pork dumplings. Aside from pork dumplings, everything else was pretty much tasteless. So tasteless that I could not distinguish chicken from shrimp and shrimp from crab cake. That’s not good! The greasy, overcooked food did not leave a lasting impression on me, and judging by other peoples’ opinion at our table, I would say the food was sub-par. But by whose standards are we critiquing the food? As a home cook, the first thing I look at is the quality of ingredients. If buffets offer dishes made from farmed fish that was purchased from Sam’s Club or Costco, now that’s a scary thought. And to say that buffets are cheap and those who cannot afford to buy expensive seafood dine there, is a big understatement. This sushi buffet was nearly $30 per person! I’d rather spend that money on a pound of wild-caught Alaskan Salmon and cook it at home. Wouldn’t you? But to anyone who enjoys the massive offerings and long lines of hungry diners vying for the last sushi roll, I bid you good eating!
What are your thoughts on restaurant buffets, friend or foe?