Economy Claims Another All You Can Eat Buffet
I’ve got some really sad news to report to all-you-can eat buffet lovers: The International Food House Buffet on 35th btw. 7+8th has turned into a pay for what it weighs, by the lb. buffet. Considering the current economic state, this isn’t too surprising, but it is still depressing on many levels. 1) Serving up a wide range of Latin food, it was one of the only two or three non-Indian all you can eat buffets in Midtown. 2) It was a shockingly cheap $8.95. 3) By the pound buffets are a big kick in the pants to fat guys everywhere… especially when you’re serving heavy food like rice, beans, plantains, and stewed meats. For $5.95 a pound, the price can get up there pretty quickly.
Unable to turn away from their massive selection, I decided to see how I would fare under this new format. In the process I came up with a few suggestions for anybody looking to brave the *new* International Food House Buffet.
I think it’s pretty safe to say it would be impossible to like the new incarnation of this buffet as much as the old. The by the lb. buffet format adds a level of fear and trepidation you don’t experience in the all you can eat format. How heavy is this? Am i taking too much? How much is this going to end up weighing?
Here are two tips to get you through it partially intact:
1. Normally at a by the lb. buffet I warn against heavy starches… but you can’t eat Latin food without rice, beans and plantains, so just take a little less than you normally would. I would also recommend one of the rice/bean mixtures instead of taking them separately. With something like arroz con gandules, a lot of the moisture has been boiled away so it should be lighter than rice and beans taken separately. There is no science to back this up, but it just feels right. If you’re worried about the rice being dry, just put your stewed meats over the rice and beans, and the juices from that will be more than enough to moisten up your rice.
2. Normally at a by the lb. buffet I warn against taking meat with the bone still in… but there are too many tasty bone-in meats on this buffet. The good thing is, most of the meats are fall of the bone tender- so when you take them with your tongs, help them “fall off the bone” accidentally (leaving the heaviest part of the dish still in the steam table.) This tactic worked well with the baked chicken on my visit. I feel a little guilty about doing this one, but times are tough and you gotta do what you gotta do.
3. And finally… stick with the “big money items” as much as possible. Meats. Fish. Meats. Did I mention meats? I saw people with huuuge scoops of cold potato-salad-looking-stuff piled high on their plate, and just shook my head in shame. They must have spent $10 plus. I guess if that’s what you like… go for it. But man that is a lot of money to spend on potato salad.
Here’s what I ended up with:
Clockwise from the upper left hand corner: bone in fried chicken bits (sometimes called chicharrones), boneless fried chicken (sadly the heavier bone-in chicken was better), plantains (gotta do it), stewed steak, fried fish, some sort of pork stew (everything is mis-labeled at this buffet, so you have to be careful), the roasted chicken (pulled off the bone), and roast pork (once again… gotta do it.) And underneath it all- arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas).
Came out to about $6.50. Not bad, pretty filling, and cheaper than Sophie’s Cuban… plus you get more of a variety. The downside is I forced myself to hold back a little, plus the potential of a big surprise during the weigh-in phase of your lunch will always be there. If you don’t want to risk it, they do have a take out option: $7.95 gets you a meat, rice, beans, plantains, potato salad… pretty much whatever- but you have to order it over the phone in advance (they also deliver.)
International Food House Restaurant and Buffet, 240 W. 35th Street (btw. 7+8th), 212-564-7444