Chow Time Buffet & Grill
4207 Hacks Cross Road
One of my editors, intrigued by the photo below, assigned me to write a feature about Chow Time Buffet & Grill.
I am generally not a fan of buffets or home cooking, but I like Asian food and adventure. Last week, after our trip to Sky Zone, the monkeys (Satchel, 10, and Jiro, 8) and I were already so far from home, I figured why not go ahead and venture out to Hacks Cross to check out Chow Time. Normally, they get super excited about buffets, especially Satchel, who is a little piglet with eyes way bigger than his stomach. For whatever reason, Satchel was only mildly excited and Jiro was downright not having it. "They have sushi!" I promised, hoping to get him in the spirit.
By the time we arrived, Jiro agreed that he would get out of the car, but he would not eat. Whatever, kid. (Look at that face! Ha!)
I had heard that things could get a little rowdy at Chow Time and that they even had an armed guard at the door, so I tried to prepare the monkeys. (Someone online likened it to a casino buffet minus the casino.) Inside it was definitely crowded, but not necessarily what I'd call rowdy.
We did take a minute to read the rules, which are many.
We were shown to a booth, and asked our drink orders. It was waters all around and then Satchel and I went in search of food while Jiro grumpily manned the booth. Satchel and I went straight for the Asian section, which was not at all crowded, and did not contain any kind of sushi. Uh-oh. I went ahead and got Jiro some egg drop soup, sweet and sour chicken, and rice. I noticed people with nice buns (haha) at another window, and went to get one for Jiro. (He is obsessed with the "buns without skin" like we had at Mulan.)
When I sat his plate down, he actually perked up for a minute, but only picked at his offerings. He refused the bun because it had "skin" on it.
As you can see from the closest plate, I tried the dumplings, hot & sour soup, and some beef stir fry. It was decent.
Satchel made himself a plate of fried foods and rice.
Satchel tried to get Jiro interested in going in search of more food by comparing it to the cruise ship, but he wasn't having it. The two of us went off for another round though I could have easily (not to mention, smartly) stopped after my first plate. (We were really missing Warren, who can be counted on to gorge himself and try all sorts of weird items.)
The home cooking section was really the most exciting part of the restaurant and maintained the longest lines. I thought I'd try to woo Jiro with fried chicken, catfish, mashed potatoes, and broccoli.
Despite the look on his face, he did perk up, and eat his chicken. I tried his mashed potatoes and they were very good. I don't recall what Satchel got on his second plate, nor did I take a photo. Here's mine:
The hot water cornbread was really good. The spaghetti and green beans were so-so. I was not a fan of the greens or mac-n-cheese.
And oh my goodness was I stuffed. I really hate that stuffed feeling only a buffet can deliver.
Jiro was in a slightly better mood after the fried chicken, and agreed to hit the dessert bar with us.
They had several pastry/cookies that you'd see in a Mexican panaderia, Jell-O, brownies, soft serve ice cream, etc. What was really exciting was three different kinds of cobbler. I had a small bowl of peach, which was so good I forgot to take a picture before digging in.
And then I felt really, really gross.
We had a lot of food left on the table and I felt like a super waster to boot. The only thing that consoled me, and I use that term loosely, was that there were other people pigging out way worse than us and wasting even more food. I saw a two year old girl with a plate piled so high, it was crazy. I was at once impressed with the parent's ability to fit so much on one plate and stunned that it was actually for a two year old.
We took our ticket and paid at the front: $26.14. Jiro got everyone ONE fortune cookie.
I made a quick run to the restroom before leaving, and should note that the pink, sparkly counter was pretty awesome. I didn't think to look for a changing table, sorry.
We piled in the car and headed back to Midtown. I emailed my editor and explained that while I thought the food was okay, I didn't plan on ever going back. When writing about restaurants in print, the focus tends to be on the positive, and while I could think of some positive things to say, I didn't want anyone going to Chow Time solely on my recommendation.
Now, if you like buffets, and especially home cooking, by all means give Chow Time a try. You might like it. Maybe you'll even love it. But me, I don't need to go back.