Ming Kui Lau Chinese Restaurant (Buffet)
Sun-Thursday 11a- Midnight
Fri-Saturday 11a – 1a
Meal: Dinner / Weekend / 7pm
Price: $23.95 (For Two – Does Not Include Tip)
Chinese buffets are usually harder to review, because you have to try a lot of stuff to get a feel for the overall quality of the place. That said, Autumn and I sampled over a dozen items to most accurately share our opinion of Ming Kui. Located in a spacious corner of a Shoprite-inhabited strip mall, parking should not be a problem whatsoever. With weekend hours ’til 1am on Friday and Saturday, Ming also warrants consideration for those late night hunger pangs.
The exterior of Ming Kui is nothing out of the ordinary, with a sort of boxy building off of Route130. The parking lot spills over into the ocean of available spaces in the Shoprite/Kmart complex, and it might be a good idea to park further away just to burn those extra two or three calories. Contrary to what some still believe, American ‘Chinese’ food is certainly not a consistent choice for healthy eating. =)
On the inside, it’s a textbook buffet as far as I’ve ever been in one. Expect to find neon fixtures and ceiling highlights, green tables, and green chairs. In terms of atmosphere, there is a minimal amount of wall adornment and I think they were even playing contemporary jazz lightly over the speakers. You pay first, which I’m not crazy about, but I can’t blame them for implementing that policy. On weekends, two adults will set you back $11.95/e, with kids a very manageable $6.95. The price is generally reasonable, and they do not charge you extra if you want sodas.
As far as the buffet items, you’ll find a salad and dessert section, in addition to three other ‘bars’ of mostly Chinese items. We tried quite a few choices, including chicken and broccoli, chicken teriyaki , pepper steak and onion, dim sun, wonton soup, egg roll, crab legs, seafood delight, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed clams, spicy shrimp and chicken, sweet and sour chicken, sauteed stringbeans, and probably some odds and ends we missed. Overall, we thought the chicken items were mostly tough and overcooked (with the exception of the sweet and sour and spicy chicken entrees) with the seafood and steak entrees faring considerably better. One total oddity was the stuffed clams, which were simply shells with stuffing — there was no meat or blend whatsoever. It was rather disgusting to realize I was just forking in worthless breading. The crag legs were the obvious choice if you’re looking to really get your money’s worth, as they’re fairly expensive anywhere you might order them ala carte. They’re not the ‘jumbo’ variety, but considering you can get a virtually unlimited supply, the size doesn’t matter.
Pretty much everything was lukewarm even considering what appeared like 2/3 capacity during our visit. The service was fine, with the waiters and waitresses pooling together to take care of all tables. Compared to other buffets we’ve been (but not yet reviewed), the selection was on the skimpy side. In fairness, a lot of other buffets include stuff like pizza and burgers, which are really just olive branches to get large families in there that have stingy kids who might not be interested in chinese food yet. You also won’t find anything in terms of exotics.. no duck.. lamb.. shark.. or even scallops, which you might find elsewhere. There was a pretty good variety of patrons, including groups of teens, families with young kids, and seniors.
Quite possibly the best offering was the soft serve ice cream. It was surprisingly creamy, and rivaled that which you might pay a few bucks for at a dairy queen. You won’t get any cones or toppings, which is disappointing, but it ended our visit on a positive note. Overall though, we were thoroughly underwhelmed.
– Immediate seating
– Competitive Pricing
– Crab legs (at least on Saturday)
– No extra charges for soda
– Mostly subpar chicken stuffs
– Lots of lukewarm items
– Smaller selection than other buffets
Autumn’s Score: 2.3
Guru’s Score: 2.3
Combined Score: 2.3 Chews
Subjective rating: Just okay.
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