Back at D.J.'s International Buffet, Garden City, NY

It has been almost two years since we have been to D.J.'s International Buffet. This is an Asian buffet that is a considered to be a step above most of the others in this area. It has been around for a long time - closed suddenly, reopened a year or more later, with a new owner though keeping most of what it had been prior including most of the menu. Since then it has changed in menu and interior decor a few times. There have been newspaper ads in the past several months - maybe longer - saying new menu and changes. There are usually coupons and we clip them just in case we decide to go. We don't generally go. The price for dinner here is $19.95 on weekdays and $27.95 from Friday through Sunday. This is just too much for just any meal. We have in the past gone to this buffet for "special occasions" when spending the additional amount for dinner for the two of us to celebrate seems more justified. We just had a special occasion and considered two "special" buffets to go to -  Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet or D.J.'s International Buffet. Since the dinner price at Minado is $31 on a weeknight we decided to go to International Buffet - and we had a $3 off each dinner coupon. Prices for dinner do not include the beverage.

There have been some changes since we have been here last. The food on the hot and cold buffet tables is being served now in porcelain platters rather than in metal hot trays. Under the platters are the heaters from the steam table and everything was kept properly hot - or cold. This gives the buffet a nicer appearance than most - though there are not as many dishes now being served - as the platters are going across the middle of each buffet hot table and where there would have been two trays of food - one on each side - there is now one large platter going across. So half as many choices. This is still a large buffet and there is plenty of food to chose. In addition to the buffet tables there is a long sushi bar, a cold seafood bar turning the corner, a hot appetizer grill, and now where there used to be dumpling steamers, there is Udon Noodle Soup which you prepare yourself. Across from this is a soup bar with five soups. Across the buffet room is a dessert bar that is along the wall including a chocolate fountain and soft ice cream - and a hard ice cream treats freezer case.

I did not see the Udon Soup when I went for soup and took what has been my favorite of their soups for a long time - lobster bisque. This is a pink, semi-thick. cream bisque with no recognizable pieces of lobster - though it tastes of lobster. I scoop out a wonton from the wonton soup and add it to the lobster bisque. I like it. It has varied over the years. It was good on this visit. My wife told me about the Udon soup and even though I enjoyed the lobster bisque I like Udon Soup too. Well, before dessert, I went and took a bowl of the Udon Soup. There are bowls full of Udon noodles, shredded "krab", and a head of broccoli in each bowl. These are kept cool next to a pot of broth. In front are items to add to your bowl if you wish. I added dried seaweed and something that I have always seen put in Udon soup that looks like bread crumbs but I suspect are a dried fish of some type.  The hot broth brings everything hot in the bowl by the time you get back to the table. I first removed the broccoli, stirred the bowl to mix the contents and get everything swirling in the hot soup. The soup was very good.

My next course was from the sushi bar and since I don't eat rice I went directly to the tray of just raw fish. I took several large chunks of salmon and tuna. I also took a few other things that I will describe but do not know the names of - all of which I have had before in Japanese sushi restaurants - a partially cooked tuna crusted with black pepper in a thin sauce, the same but with a white fish, and raw, marinated beef with a pepper crust. All were very good. There were many different sushi rolls. If you would like to make a meal of a good variety of sushi it is very possible to do here. Of course, there is a lot more to eat here than sushi so I took a good sampling of what I can eat and then moved on to the rest of the buffet.

I will tell you about the things I took and will not try to tell you about everything that was here. There were two types of dumplings - lightly pan fried pork dumplings and also steamed shrimp dumplings. Both were very good. These were much better than they had been in the past. There were spare ribs that were nicely charred on the outside and while they were brushed with a sweet sauce, it was not the usual Chinese buffet too sweet red sauced spare ribs. There was a lot of meat on the ribs - close to but not quite traditional Chinese restaurant spare ribs (that only one buffet that I know of serves). The ribs were good. There was fresh corn on the cob at the grill that was made on the grill - I took a half ear of corn that was well charred. I have not had corn this way for a long time - not Asian - but good. Steamed flounder in ginger sauce was very good. There are crab legs here every night. They are not full clusters but individual legs. Your server brings an empty plate and a nutcracker to your table. The crab legs are fairly steadily replaced and remain hot - so you are able to open them and get the crab meat out without it sticking and remaining inside a mushy shell (which happens as crab legs start to cool). There was a dish that I have wanted to try - that I have seen on a menu at a Japanese food stand - called Chicken Katsu. I knew that it was a fried cutlet - and these are made with various meats. I was able to try it here and it was good. It is a breaded and fried chicken cutlet with a mildly sweet glaze on top. It is served here cut up into strips. I liked it (and now I know if I go back to that food stand it is something that I would enjoy - I don't only eat at buffets.) I tried stuffed lobster - not what you think. These were lobster heads that were hollow and filled with a crumb stuffing and what must have been bits of lobster. It tasted of lobster, though it was more crumb stuffing than anything else. These were baked. They had similar in crab shells. I tried Mongolian steak - good and and beef in black pepper sauce - OK.I had a King Seafood Roll - this was odd - a breaded fried roll shaped like but softer than an eggroll filled with chopped seafood. It was different and good. I took shrimp and some scallops out of the Seafood Delight platter and this was very fresh tasting shrimp and scallops. I tried Grand Marnier Shrimp which looked like what other Asian restaurants call coconut shrimp. It had the same texture but tasted very different. It was good - but not something that I would take more than one piece of. There was a lot more. These dishes must vary each day as the menus on the website of all of the dishes served only includes some of the things we had and saw and some of what we had are not listed at all.

It is easy to eat too much here but I made sure that I did not walk out feeling like I was going to burst. I stopped when I started to feel full and did save some room for a dessert.

The desserts here are a mix of the typical Chinese buffet little pastries and cakes plus an entire cold buffet table of fruits and desserts. One of the desserts on this table was Tirimisu. Intertnational Buffet for the longest time has had flan on the dessert buffet and it is still there - but it was orange in color (as I have recently seen it at another Asian buffet). I took a serving spoon full (one) of Tirimisu. It was very good. There was a liquor under taste to it but I am sure there was no alcohol in in it. There are lots of children who are at this buffet with families and there is nothing that is going to not be OK for kids as well as adults.

You should know that the weekend dinner includes Lobster in Ginger Sauce. This is why the price goes to $27.95. From past experience here, when there is lobster on the buffet there is a line of people waiting for a new tray to come out and the best of that tray is gone in a few minutes. Lobster is nice - it is not worth the fight or the money - and then come away with a few small pieces that are mostly shell. 

The meal was good! The service was good. There were three birthday parties going on in the room but the servers were still able to attend to them and all of their tables. Dishes were taken away promptly and drink refills were offered and brought.

We were very pleased with this meal. It was a nice celebration for our occasion. Will we go back? Yes,but for an occasion. This is too expensive for us for a weekly buffet meal - even with the coupon. If you feel that the price is within your budget and you are in this area of Long Island, NY try it.

D.J.'s International Buffet is located at 1100 Stewart Avenue in Garden City, New York. Their phone number is 516-227-2472. The hours of the restaurant are Lunch Monday to Friday, 11:00am to 3:00pm; Brunch Saturday and Sunday 11:30am to 3:00pm; Dinner Monday to Thursday, 4:00pm to 10:00pm, Friday to Sunday, 4:00pm to 10:00pm. There is a website linked on the side of this page.