Jul 28, 2014

I'll Walk The Line At King Buffet

Foodie puts reputation at risk, approves of all-you-can-eat King Buffet in Renton.

I must admit in writing this I'm feeling a little nervous — putting my critic's reputation at risk by saying I enjoyed my experience today at King Buffet

For viable health reasons, I am not a fan of all-you-can-eat restaurants, by which I mean the societal excuse/opportunity to down copious amounts of high-caloric foods for a more-is-better low price. And my husband, refuses to eat anywhere that has a sneeze-guard in place. So I took a willing 'victim' to lunch and...

The selection is huge and has something for everyone. Deep-fried macaroni and cheese and onion rings? They've got it, even though I passed those up. Spicy baby octopus salad and egg-swirled hot and sour soup? Check.

Going into a buffet situation, I decided to judge on the following criteria:

  1. Was it fresh, clean, and appetizing?
  2. Are there healthy options?
  3. Is it a good value?

Surprisingly, I answered yes to all three questions.

Even after 2 p.m., there was a steady stream of customers of all ages and ethnicities. Children ages 2 - 12 are charged 60 cents per year for the lunch buffet, and 80 cents per year at dinner. My seafood-loving nephews would go shrimp wild at this place at dinner or at their Sunday All Day Seafood Buffet (90 cents per year).

Let me spell out the lay of the land for you, as you almost need a game plan, unless you are determined to stuff yourself silly.

There's one main table of steam trays that focus on what I will call "entree items." To the left of that, there is an island of fried finger foods and soups. Adjacent to that you'll find a sushi bar with a few bowls of Asian salads. Then there is a fairly traditional salad bar set up with various puddings and fruits at the end.

Apparently as part of the dinner package, a Hibachi grill opens up as well. Complete this with a dessert bar with slices of cake and cookies, plus a soft ice cream machine. I saw many a kid blissfully licking a chocolate ice cream cone beneath the neon welcome sign. 

Let's break it down...

At the main table you'll find prepared starches as fried rice, steamed rice is available at the end of the sushi table, FYI. Then you've got a myriad of stir fries — both vegetable and meat-based — with various trays of broiled fish fillets which we both passed over based on their over-cooked oily looks.

Fried rice was fluffy, the vegetable lo mein was a bit on the greasy side, and the stir-fried ham vermicelli noodles earned our vote as ‘favorite starch.’ There's a good variety of chicken-based stir fry dishes featuring vegetables, and we both complimented the crisp quality of the broccoli and carrot spears, button mushrooms and zucchini moons.

I cannot give my blessings to the Kalbi-like ribs, which were blackened and gristly, nor the sushi rolls that were available at the end of the lunch hour. I didn't expect sushi to begin with, and a chewy seaweed wrap didn't make me long for more than the two pieces I tried. After 3:30 pm, the fresh plates of rolls looked tempting.

At this magic hour, the prices go up slightly from $7.45  to $12.95 per adult (ask about the Senior discount) and the big guns are rolled out. I saw folks piling their plates high with all-you-can-eat Snow Crab legs with drawn butter, spicy crawfish, whole wok-tossed prawns, and slabs of rosy sashimi (at these prices, I doubt it's the sustainable-type I try to support.)

Warning, there's not much to offer vegetarians unless you go for the salad bar, deep-fried starches, or order Buddha's Delight off the menu.

Soda is an additional $1.25 with free refills, and there is a large take-out menu if you prefer to skip the buffet route. They proudly advertise, "NO M.S.G."

I'll bet this place is packed to the gills on Sunday for the special All Day Seafood Buffet for $13.95, 11 am to 10 pm.


King Buffet

20 SW 7th St suite,#A

Renton, WA 98057


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