Sherman's Food Adventures: Feast Buffet (Dinner)

Feast Buffet (Dinner)

Before we get into this post, I would like to state that I much prefer proper sit-down meals rather than sloshing through mounds of mediocre food found at a buffet.  Okay, with that out-of-the-way (and hopefully silencing some haters), I do admit that the occasional all-you-can-eat meal can be fun and offer up a selection of food that even the most bountiful of meals cannot match.  One of the better AYCE spots in the Seattle area is Feast Buffet in Renton.  I've been here before several times for lunch but never for dinner.  This time around, it was as good as any other time to experience the difference between the two (other than the price $26.99 vs. $31.99 adult weekend lunch vs. dinner).

The biggest difference was very obvious when we were seated.  All we had to do was look over to the Seafood section of the buffet where there was a long lineup.  This was for the Half-Lobsters which were served individually to diners by a staff member.  Yes, I wouldn't trust anyone with a tray of lobsters either!   You know what?  These were actually quite good.  Yeah yeah, I know they were of the frozen variety.  They still had a bouncy meaty texture to them and were not overcooked.   In addition to the lobster, we also found Snow Crab Legs, Fried Shrimp, Mussels and Fried Fish as well as Black Bean Clams.  The best of the bunch was the plump clams and surprisingly, the snow crab.  It was fairly meaty and had a springy texture (even though we know they were also frozen).  To get you money's worth, it really was all about the lobster though.

One of the largest and most popular food stations is the Sushi and Sashimi.  I believe Feast boasts the largest selection in the Seattle area (maybe Mizuki comes close).  The main difference between lunch and dinner is pretty obvious with one quick scan of the station - much bigger selection of sashimi.  We found salmon, tuna, hokkigai, hotate, unagi, red tuna and tai.  Although no one can ever compare buffet sashimi to the expertly prepared variety at legit Japanese restaurants, these ate fresh and were fine texturally.  The variety of Nigiri was also more extensive compared to lunch with hotate, hokkigai, salmon, tuna, unagi, tai, seared salmon, tako and inari.  Again, considering the venue, I thought the rice was acceptable.  Yes, it was a bit dry and lacking in seasoning, but it wasn't terrible either.  As evidenced in the picture, the fish on top was vibrant in colour with a fresh sheen.  Not the best, yet certainly not bad either.  To round things out, there was a selection of "California-roll" based Maki Sushi as well as tempura and condiments.

With the cooked food, there was plenty to choose from, but I decided to hit up the Chinese and Dim Sum stations first.  If we were to compare the dim sum here with what we would normally find in a regular restaurant, some items were respectable.  Their chicken feet must be from gigantic chickens because they were extremely plump.  As such, there was plenty of soft cartilage and fat underneath the fried skin.  Tripe was tender while the spareribs were meaty.  I wasn't impressed with the Shrimp Dumplings and Siu Mai though.  Both were dry and lifeless.  I decided to try some of the Chinese food in the Broccoli Beef, Honey Shrimp and Sweet & Sour Pork.  Pretty typical North American-style Chinese food.  At least they didn't overcook the broccoli.

Other than the seafood, the one station that does it for me would've been the Mongolian Grill.  Yes, it ain't the sexiest food nor is it particularly the most "worth it", but I enjoyed the freshness.  With an array of choices for vegetables, noodles and meat, one can have a customized plate food.  Only problem is that it will fill you up really quickly.   They did a good job here where the noodles were still al dente and the veggies crunchy.  Shrimp was bouncy while the steak was surprisingly tender and well-charred.  This is best shared amongst a few people.  One needs to save room for more variety!  Only issue is that you have to wait there for it to be done.  I saw some people leave, but then your dish could be hijacked or waiting there getting cold.

One of the most disappointing stations was the Carvery.  For the pricing, one would expect more than mashed potatoes, sausage, ribs and roast beef.  I mean, not that anything was necessarily bad, it just wasn't that important to eat.  That is the complete opposite of most buffets where we would find chicken and/or turkey, ham, prime rib and the sort.  Making up for this was the massive Dessert Bar where it occupied the whole center of the buffet.  Not that anything was amazing, but the variety was good.  In addition to cakes and little bites, we found fruit, a chocolate fountain, hard ice cream, made-to-order crepes and a Taiwanese shaved ice station.  Now if I had to choose between the lunch or dinner service, I would pick lunch hands-down (especially on the weekdays, if you can make it).  The extra cost for dinner is just not worth it for a few more items.  With all that being said, Feast doesn't do everything well, but for a buffet, it does it well enough in relation to everyone else.

The Good:
- Lots of choice
- Decent Japanese food station
- Relatively reasonable price for weekday lunch

The Bad:
- Carvery is embarassing
- Dinner is hardly worth it


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