New Nam King
4322 Summer Avenue
We were running errands on Summer Avenue on a Sunday, like we do, and inevitably found ourselves in search of a little lunch. Usually this is no problem as there are a handful of Mexican restaurants we frequent along the avenue. However, we had eaten at El Toro Loco the night before and couldn't do Mexican two days in a row. (Believe me, we thought long and hard before deciding against it.)
Basically we drove up and down the street calling out names until we found something. We were inches away from Central BBQ (Mmmm BBQ nachos! Chef salad! Chicken wings!) when I jokingly said, "New Nam King." Warren's ears perked up. "Okay," he said as he made a sharp left.
Growing up I was always a big fan of Chinese food. We ate Chinese at least once a week. I didn't get anything fancy-usually a couple of egg rolls, some hot and sour soup, and pork fried rice. That's still the basis of my ordering. In my day, there were no buffets.
We've taken the monkeys (Satchel, 8, and Jiro, 6) to a few buffets, but not in a loooooong while. Maybe a few years? Therefore the buffet concept seemed very new and exciting to them. "We get to pick out our own food?" they asked with a tone of utter amazement. "Awesome!"
A cute Chinese granny greeted us at the door, joked around with the kids, and then led us to a booth. Once we confirmed that we wanted the buffet, she set us loose. Jiro asked me to assist him, so I did. He was drawn to the buffet table that featured mostly American items. He selected chicken wings, french fries, mac and cheese, brocoli, a few vanilla wafers and a pickle slice. (It could have been worse!) Satchel also seemed more attracted to the American items, but he did get some pork fried rice and a Chinese pancake in addition to his wings, mashed potatoes, and corn.
I let the boys get settled in eating before gathering my usual itesm from the buffet. I noticed that they had white rice in a steamer and some pork dumplings, so I added those items to my plate. Warren got a medley of the standard Chinese offerings.
I was rather impressed by the hot and sour soup. It was very good. The eggrolls were so so, but the dumplings more than made up for them. Jiro and Satchel were busily eating and Jiro informed me that he was going to eat his broccoli first. "Excellent," I said. When Jiro looked like he was slowing down, I told him about the ice cream machine in back. This motivated him to gobble up the rest of his food. Satchel was going a bit slower, enjoying his food, as was Warren, so Jiro and I ventured off to the ice cream machine alone.
The only thing as cool as a buffet, is self-serve ice cream. Jiro was thrilled to pull the lever and fill up a big bowl with the chocolate and vanilla swirl. I followed his lead and we went back to the table. Satchel looked over enviously and Jiro said, "You have to eat all of your dinner if you want ice cream." He glanced at his plate which was still on the table and amended his statement. "You have to eat MOST of your dinner if you want ice cream."
Satchel took his last few bites and asked Jiro to show him where the ice cream was. I followed along, just in case, and soon the three of us were back at the table working on some killer ice cream headaches. (Or as Satchel said, "Ice cream aches.")
All the while, Warren was still eating from the buffet. He was only mildly pigging out. He's a much slower eater than the rest of us!
Jiro asked me to take him to the restrooms. On the way, I noticed a nice Chinese Grandpa trimming fresh green beans. I tried to keep this image in mind as Jiro used the less than stellar facilities.
The best part of our meal was the total cost: $19.50. It was $6.50 for me and Warren and $3.25 for the kids. Not bad! (Technically you don't tip on a buffet, but since writing my tipping story I can't help myself. I tacked on $2 for good measure.)
We had a little trouble getting out due to the "catch a stuffed animal" game by the door, but eventually we made it. I don't know how soon we'll be back, but when I asked Satchel where he wanted to eat on his birthday, he replied, "That place with the ice cream machine!"