Vegas Seafood Buffet: My First (and Possibly Last) Look
Defining the characteristics of the all you can eat buffet fanatic is not as easy as you might think. Girth is part of it, sure. And I will not deny the fact that part of the reason I love eating at buffets is because they are the only restaurants in Los Angeles where I find myself squarely in the bottom 10th percentile weight-wise. But more than being fat you have to prize variety,
sometimes most of the time to the detriment of quality. To most buffet aficionados, getting to eat a lot of different things is way more important than getting to eat as much as you want. But winning the game is important too, and a true buffet fan will attack a newly opened buffet like an M.I.T. card counting team takes down a newly introduced casino game.
And last week the opening of Las Vegas Seafood Buffet on Hollywood Blvd gave me a chance to put my Rules to Beating the Chinese Food Buffet to the test once again…
While driving to a buffet I’m usually focused on the task at hand, preparing myself for the onslaught that winning the game requires. But Vegas Seafood Buffet’s location threw me off my pre-game preperations a bit. Located one block away from Mann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd, parking was clearly going to be an issue. They validate if you park in the garage (enter on Sycamore) but for how long?! 60 minute validation was a definitely possibility, and would clearly throw the advantage back to the $13 buffet, which I was already splurging for. But I was relieved to discover that at lunch you get 90 minutes (dinner time a full 2 hours!) free parking; not ideal for prime buffet eating purposes, but certainly workable if I maintained my focus.
The buffet itself lives up to its name, transporting you immediately to a shitty Las Vegas hotel buffet.
The buffet has about 10 small stations, almost half of which are devoted to the typical hot Asian’ish foods you’ll find at most buffets. There are a couple of dim sum options (pork buns, shumai) but overall the dumpling selection is pretty small. In fact the selection of most items is pretty small, so if you’re expecting a “super buffet” you might be disappointed. Only one kind of spring roll (no egg rolls), no more than two fried meat dishes in a gloopy sauce, one noodle, one rice.
The salad station was pretty pathetic too, which would normally be a good thing in my book. I don’t want them wasting money on fancy lettuces and fruits that could be used to upgrade their sushi from completely shitty to moderately shitty. But we are in L.A., so if the prepared salads are part of your gameplan when hitting up a buffet you will be pretty disappointed with this one.
They also have the bare minimum of seafood offerings that putting the word “seafood” in your name would require. The shrimp in the shrimp cocktail station were too small to be bothered with. And all of the shellfish was covered in sauce and cheese, a popular preparation no doubt, but never a good sign. The website would lead you to believe they have crab legs at night, so if you want the full range of seafood options you’ll need to go at dinner- and be willing to pay $20.
There’s also a sushi station with 3 chefs behind it, constantly stocking the platters full of pieces of sushi and low grade rolls. They’ll also make you hand rolls fresh if requested. For a $10 buffet this station would be awesome. For a $13 buffet, I’m on the fence. But if you like your maki stuffed with fillers, battered and deep fried (a typical buffet technique these days) you will be more than happy with this buffet’s options.
Their Mongolian BBQ station is also pretty standard, featuring shrimp, chicken and steak plus all the requisite veggies.
The real eye opener is the Brazilian style churrascaria station, featuring two kinds of beef, chicken, and sausage. This is could be the make or break option at this buffet…
For my first “feeler” plate I stuck with the “Asian” stations. Salt and pepper shrimp were fine, as was the dumpling, and assorted deep fried meats covered in gloopy sauces. The pork bun was probably a mistake (so much bread!) and maybe the noodles and rice too, but I couldn’t help it. Nothing was so good I felt compelled to return immediately for seconds, so I pivoted to the sushi station.
You always want to go super slow to start at the sushi station. The chances of something being terrible are pretty high, so you don’t want to risk stocking up on something that is going to end up being bad. You know that for $13 you’re not going to be getting high quality raw fish, so a lot depends on the rice. Here it’s not terrible, but it’s also not good enough to make you want to use up prime stomach real estate for something that is going to continue to expand after it’s dropped down gullet.
But the biggest disappoint of all was the meat station. The two red meat options were unbelievably tough, and the chicken and sausage didn’t go down easy either.
The dessert station was the one highpoint, not because it was great but because it just showed up. Most Asian buffets have terrible desserts, but this one actually had three things that I wanted to eat, and all of them were totally edible if not borderline enjoyable!
I don’t know if I was off my buffet game that day (I did go for ayce Korean BBQ the day before) or what, but my gut reaction to this place is that I probably won’t go back. There are definitely ways for you to win the game, especially if you are into just eating plate after plate of Mongolian BBQ and salt and pepper shrimp. But my instinct is that this is a $10 or $11 buffet that has to charge $13 because of its high traffic location. If it was $10 or less I probably would have liked it a lot more. For $13 you gotta show me something! For that price I’d rather pay a few extra bucks and get some quality Brazilian BBQ. Or even bump it up to $17 for this place in KTown. Or, go down a few extra bucks and get gross at King Buffet in East Hollywood. It’s definitely not better, but it’s $5 cheaper… and sometimes dropping down a class is what it takes to be a champion.
Vegas Seafood Buffet, 7021 Hollywood Blvd. 323-462-4300