Buffet King is busy to capacity! Or at least it certainly was during a weekday noon hour late last week. The only ads I’ve seen for it have been published in El Mundo newspaper. There were many speakers of Spanish among our fellow diners, but every demographic of Austin was well represented, a true cross-section of the populace, including every age as well.
Among those dining at Buffet King were numerous children, many of high-chair age. Noise isn’t a factor, since this is quite a cavernous space. It’s not too loud for table conversation, but the piped-in music (Hong Kong pop) could be heard only in the restrooms. I believe there were at least a couple of wall-mounted televisions, but they were inaudible and not one person seemed to be paying any attention to them. Many of the children were treating themselves to an ice-cream cone for dessert (soft-serve?).
Although takeout food is sold by weight and there’s a menu for ordering individual dishes, the buffet was the attraction. Upon arrival, diners are seated, order a beverage if they wish, and then proceed to the all-you-can-eat buffet, sushi, or Mongolian grill areas. There were no sushi authorities at our table, but the selections did look fresh. Among the buffet items, the hot and sour soup was tasty and generous with tree ears. The Thai roll was better than the standard egg roll, we thought. We concluded that the best main dish was the mysterious “jolopeno chicken,” with chicken and broccoli a close second. Lovers of shrimp were going to town, returning for more again and again. Five-spice powder was prominent as a seasoning in one dish, and plenty of fresh ginger in another. The steamed rice had a nutty flavor that was very appealing. The mei fun noodles were also a treat.
I lost my register slip, but recall that the buffet was ten dollars or under (iced tea included or not, I’m not sure). The default for iced tea seems to be sweetened beyond belief, so it’s important to make it clear that unsweetened tea is what’s wanted, if that’s the case.
If there’s a Web site for Buffet King, I haven’t found it. The address is 5451 North I-35 at Capital Plaza. Seven days a week, Buffet King is open continuously, from 11 am until 9:30 pm Monday through Thursday, 10 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 9 pm on Sunday. There is a distinction between the lunch buffet and the dinner buffet (the latter begins six days a week at 3:30 pm and is available all hours on Sunday). The telephone number for Buffet King is 452-1888.