But then, tragedy struck. Crazy Buffet became a victim of its own success. What was once the well guarded secret of Orlando’s semi upper crust soon leaked its way down the socioeconomic spectrum. Pressed shirts gave way to shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops. Couples and adult gatherings gave way to hordes of children running through the buffet area. It was like that episode of The Facts of Life, where Jo opens a pizza business and eventually had to start cutting corners as her orders escalated. Demand exceeded production capabilities, and management started making cutbacks to keep the tables turning over regularly. The crazy wok (their name for the Mongolian barbeque) vanished. One of the three sushi stations was mothballed. The Chinese food selection was simplified, and the duck station found itself relegated to weekends only. Eventually, Crazy Buffet became an ordinary Chinese buffet with a sushi line. Sadly, in researching this entry, I learned that Crazy Buffet closed in August--either a victim of the economy or health inspectors, depending on the site.
Optimus Prime or Megatron (you remember, the one that transformed into a gun, before he was Brady-Bill-ified into a tank, truck, or whatever vehicle was available) and instead getting a box of Go-bots under the tree. And not even the good Go-bots from the TV show, like Leader-1, Turbo, Cy-kill, or Cop-turr. We’re talking the D-list of Go-bots here: Scooter. All you could do was begrudgingly take the offering while nursing a quiet inner loathing as you braced for the first school day after the holiday, when your friends returned with Cybertron’s finest…while you had the store brand equivalent of transforming robots. Yeah, the sushi on those buffets was always that disappointing. Save for one place near NCSU that only offers a very limited sushi spread on a lunch buffet, I’ve never had good sushi at a Chinese buffet. But, as I’ve said in the past, a fix is a fix.
Hibachi China Buffet in Cary with my roommate, promising myself that I wouldn’t allow myself to get my hopes up at the thought of sushi. If I pulled a Go-bot, I pulled a Go-bot. It was almost like a clichéd scene from a movie. Through the framed glass doors, I saw crowds congregating in front of the maitre’d, obscuring my view. As I opened the doors and stepped through, the crowds parted and revealed the buffet in all its glory. I felt myself falling in love all over again.
It was like stepping into Crazy Buffet, circa 2001, all over again. All that was missing was the pretentious waterfall, the lacquered driftwood bar tables, and a piano player laboring his way through “My Heart Will Go On” for the third time that night, in hopes of perhaps fishing a tip from one of the couples waiting for a table. My Sotalol-restrained heart almost skipped a beat.
|No "you'll shoot your eye out" here|
|"Think he'd roll me some eel, cream cheese, masago, and scallion?"|
“If you have any special requests for sushi, please let me know.”
|Special orders don't upset them...|
The hibachi station was more of the offspring of a hibachi grill and Mongolian barbeque—with a selection of meats, vegetables, starches, and sauces that are put into a bowl and handed off to a chef for cooking. The hibachi chicken plate I assembled was okay, but it was nothing spectacular.
On one of the hot stations sat the added bonus for the weekend—dim sum. There were eight bamboo steamers, each with a small card in front of it. Some of the dishes were familiar, like shumai dumplings, shrimp dumplings, shrimp rice (served in leaf wrapper), while others were a bit more exotic. For example, when I saw the steamer marked “Phoenix Claws,” I obviously wasn’t expecting parts from a mythological critter, but I also wasn’t expecting chicken feet.
The desserts were standard fare—eight flavors of hard serve ice cream with the almost ubiquitous assortment of pastries: the same cream puffs, Napoleon, cream cakes, and other pastries I’ve mentioned in the past.