New Hunan of Memphis
5052 Park Avenue
We’ve been to New Hunan at least five times, but I have always failed to write it up. I’m not a big fan of buffets—I prefer getting my food prepared fresh. (Or at least I like to believe it is being prepared fresh!) However, buffets are very alluring when you have two wild monkeys to feed. I really enjoy eliminating the “Order drinks, peruse the menu, wait for your server to take your order, wait for your server to deliver your food” portion of the dining experience under certain circumstances (i.e. being hungry and cranky and lazy).
New Hunan is an extremely family friendly restaurant that seems to cater to children. In addition to the special buffet table featuring such delicacies as chicken nuggets, fried cheese, French fries, fried shrimp, mini corn dogs and jello, there is an ice cream machine, numerous aquariums, fawning waiters and waitresses, tattoo dispensers, and a small walled in area with a basketball hoop and lots of (once brightly colored) plastic balls. (The latter was much more impressive a year ago, now it is a bit skanky.)
I especially liked going to New Hunan when Satchel was 2 1/2 and Jiro was six months old because they were both free. (The adult dinner buffet is $8.70. Lunch is $5.75. Kids over the age of 3 pay $5.00 at both lunch and dinner.) I usually try to get my money’s worth by eating sushi. New Hunan makes it difficult to milk the sushi option though. You can only order two (maybe three) rolls at a time and they charge you $1 for each piece you don’t eat. I usually find myself sweating as I try and cram the last crunchy shrimp piece in my mouth before the MSG from my egg rolls makes my stomach bloat.
The monkeys vary in their desire to partake of the New Hunan offerings. Satchel (age 4) loves the egg drop soup and always eats a big bowl. He also likes the drumsticks and fried rice. Jiro (age 2) used to enjoy eating the tofu out of my (kind of nasty) sweet & sour soup. He can occasionally be seen eating an egg roll or a drumstick. Oh, and they both really like the chow mein noodles. And ice cream. (I never leave feeling proud of the overall nutritional content of their meals.)
Warren usually makes sure we come out on top by eating three or four plates of whatever looks best to him. (He comes from a long line of buffet enthusiasts.) It isn’t uncommon to see Warren sitting at the table eating alone long after me and the monkeys have abandoned our plates in favor of fish who resemble Nemo and once brightly colored plastic balls.
New Hunan is fast and friendly enough that I overlook the actual food quality (and skanky basketballs). Like I said, I’m not a huge fan of buffets, but as far as buffets go, New Hunan is pretty good.