Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hometown Buffet ? out of 5 stars

In part because of its impressive reach (90 locations in California alone) that means even B&B fans outside of our home county of Stanislaus can participate in engaging discussion concerning the validity of the premises we are about to make, and in part because it’s a really short drive, this time we chose to sample the cuisine of a Hometown Buffet, the one on Countryside Drive in Turlock specifically.
Now, since this is but our second buffet critique, you readers will not appreciate a fundamental difference between Hometown and a majority of the rest of the buffets we will try in the future: Hometown Buffet does not serve Asian food. For some inexplicable reason (or maybe it is easily explained by facts like Asian food is well-suited to making a profitable buffet since 80% of it is variations of rice and chicken, but I’ll go ahead and disregard that since I’m sick of Asian buffets at this point and would rather just assume that the minds behind their creation are somehow partly or wholly flawed) all but two of the seven-or-so buffets we have eaten at locally serve Asian food exclusively.
Why are there no Mexican buffets (Hometown does have a make-your-own-taco/ taco salad bar, the quality of which disqualifies it from counting), Thai buffets, Italian buffets, Cambodian buffets? Or, since buffets are uniquely suited among types of eateries to provide a wide variety of different foods, why are there not “world buffets” that combine them all, or switch between regions every so often, or have SOMETHING FLIPPING ELSE BESIDES ASIAN FOOD? Maybe it’s just that the region we’re in is not keeping up with the kinds of fun, original, hip buffets you may find in a San Francisco, Santa Monica, or Bakersfield.
Anyhow, through its novelty it’s serving American food alone, I will at this point award Hometown with twelve points out of our five point scale. How many will it retain? Find out when I finish typing this later at home, or most likely on Thursday back here. Same time, same place. Maybe a couple seats over, this specific computer may be occupied on Thursday, but the same building in any case. Same computer, really, to, I’m pretty sure that these are all the same machine. Look the same anyway. So, yup, check back in two days, dear readers.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

DeChina 1 Buffet, Turlock * out of 5

Broham: For our first review, we chose a popular buffet in Turlock. Unfortuneatly, this is a case where “popular” and “quality” are mutually exclusive. DeChina’s slipshod quality is apparent before even walking in the building. It’s sign claims that the establishment is called “China Buffet.” It is known as the “DeChina Buffet,” and our receipt adds a third moniker to the mix, the “DeChina 1 Buffet.” Where exactly are we eating?

Bogart: Apart from the name conundrum, the place looked like a cheap whorehouse that just happened to serve Chinese cuisine, but I thought “hey maybe the food is so great that the appearance doesn’t matter”, unfortunately the joint had reached its high point in my respect-o-meter. Don’t get me wrong there was some good food (one or two dishes), but these diamonds in the ruff were so well hidden that one felt they were playing Russian Roulette with food poisoning instead of bullets with every new bite.

Broham: Cheap whorehouse? I’ve never been to one of those with a fish pond and Benhihana’s style stir-fry bar, but then, like you say, you have about the same chance of walking out of the door with a disease. Some of it would be apt for a game of Chicken then Russian Roulette; it would take a braver man then I to put any of DeChina’s sushi in my mouth. Rather then fresh crab and salmon, their rolls look like McDonald’s decided to add California rolls to their dollar menu. Leathery-looking seaweed and avocadoes that suffer from the WalMart syndrome of looking kind of OK, but was probably pumped full of growth hormone and synthetic coloring to look pleasing at the cost of taste not only make the sushi bar entirely unappealing, but also raise doubts on the quality of the rest of DeChina’s selections .

Bogart: Speaking of the stir-fry bar, although it was probably their only claim to fame to separate them from every other Chinese buffet, it was such a sad example of looking aesthetically pleasing but once it got down to the nitty-gritty was as horrible as putting more salt on fresh fish. When I saw this man that looked like he had the concentration and skill of a master samurai with for lack of a better term spatula’s (they were pretty fancy spatulas, though), I thought to myself this god among men will make the most amazing orgy of taste I have or will ever taste… but the more he got into the preparation the more something in my gut told me to run away with my hands up saying shoot me please. Unfortunately I did not follow my instincts and waited what felt like thirteen minutes to get more of his “masterpiece”. Once Broham and myself got to our cubicles to “enjoy” the fruits of his labor we both ate some of the fried noodles, slowly twirling them as one that twirls their hair when they are uneasy, and just as soon as we tasted the abomination of food is as soon as we felt partly betrayed and partly ashamed that we did not learn our lesson from having seen and tasted the other offerings in the buffet.

Broham: Agreed. Seeing your food being prepared in front of you at a buffet is a novel gimmick, but if ever you hear someone recommend DeChina for it’s stir-fry bar, save yourself the drive and just watch some stuff being fried on the Food Network for a few minutes before emptying a tablespoon of salt and half a bottle of soy sauce in your mouth and you’ll have the same experience while saving yourself $11 and a drive. If DeChina’s coup de grace is so disappointing, you can imagine how their stable foods are. Eggrolls with stale who-knows-what as filling, mussels with a distinctly soil-ly aftertaste and, soggy and tasteless orange chicken make a majority of DeChina’s dishes ones to avoid. Most of the non-asian buffet regulars are thought-provokingly horrible (as in “How on earth did they mess up something so simple?”) Chocolate pudding that could easily be mistaken as melted-down pencil lead, utterly tasteless and nigh inconceivably dry baked goods, and French fries that taste as though they contain a core made of pure salt do a fine job of making DeChina’s mediocrity multi-national in nature.

Bogart: Of course they weren’t all bad, (remember the one or two dishes) but they are maybe ones that would be incredibly hard to mess up that my seven-year-old son could most likely make. One of these mythological foods were the buffalo wings, as far as non-sauced buffalo wings go they were pretty good. What Broham and I both agreed on were the black pepper chicken (which was the best thing in there by far, but I don’t recommend paying $11 dollars just for that) and… well that’s really it.

Broham: As Bogart mentioned earlier, perhaps we should have expected the stir-fry to not meet the expectations we set while watching it being stirred and fried right before our eyes since the rest of food looked and tasted decidedly sub-par, but an even earlier indication of the restaurant’s failure is its fish pond. Rather than the large, impressive koi flaunted by more classy Asian restaurant’s, DeChina’s pets are embarrassingly tiny. Whether it is because they regularly kill their fish by feeding them leftovers or if patrons catch and eat the fish after realizing that that’s a better alternative then anything at the buffet I do not know, but surely the pond is fitting addition to DeChina’s atmosphere. If DeChina were more reasonably priced I could see giving it a two, but eleven dollars per person is a ridiculous price for the quality of cuisine. One out five from me.

Bogart: Me, Myself, and I believe that this place is, forgive me if your parents own this place and you are reading this… well maybe you should be ashamed too since you are a part of this god forsaken establishment, it deserves a… *drum roll* one out of five a one out of five and a one out of five.

Recommended: Black pepper chicken, chicken wings, butter shrimp, chow mein (iffy)

Avoid at all Costs: CHOCOLATE PUDDING!!, clams, anything at the stir-fry bar, most everything at the dessert bar barring the macaroons

Friday, January 9, 2009

Our Creed

Bogart and Broham are dedicated to bringing you unbiased testimonials of local buffets, diners, and other various types of eateries that tickle our fancy in and around Stanislaus County. Many critics claim to refuse incentives to fluff up their reviews and turn a wilted tongue to substandard cuisine, but we'll turn down whatever offers of free food, money, hot co-eds, or vacations that may come our ways (well, maybe not so much the hot co-eds) in exchange for a more lenient review of an establishment that fails to meet our standards. Becoming your source for strangers telling you where to eat is our passion, our life, our dream.

As the Spanish say, the belly rules the mind. Let us help you make up yours.