Date Night At The Chinese Buffet

There’s a new buffet in town!

Saturday date nights are sacred. They are the one evening we go out together for the point of doing something fun. Usually they revolve around dinner and sometimes, they’ll include a movie or friends. I look forward to date nights each week.

The few weekends ago, we visited New City Buffet, the newest restaurant in town that also advertises having a hibachi grill and sushi. My local blogger friend said she enjoyed her meal so we went to try it for ourselves.

The inside of the buffet is deceptively large. I had pictured a small buffet line and one room of tables, but there were rows and rows of booths and almost all of them were full. It was really busy and I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many people in one place yet, in Mason City.

There were so many options. Just like any other buffet, I found some items more appealing than others, but most everything we tasted was thoughtfully prepared and nicely flavored.

I love Chinese food and I love Americanized Chinese food. I’m no snob regarding authenticity. What really bugs me is when Chinese take-out is overly oily, bland, filled with grisly meats or soggy when it should be crisp.

Honestly, I didn’t find any of these issues at the buffet. Because the restaurant was so busy, the turnover of food trays was high. The staff hustled to quickly replace dishes and clean up tables so they could seat more customers.

There are some foods I never try at buffets, such as mussels. However, I did try the whole shrimp with their heads and legs fully attached, fried in a crumbly salt and pepper coating with thin slices of fresh jalapeno. I think we both chickened out on trying the fried frogs legs.

The fillet of salmon was moist and flavorful and there were a couple of meat dishes that actually tasted spicy. Sauces for the other dishes tasted better than what we’ve typically found. The whole, garlicky green beans with blistery skin reminded me of those I used to eat at Cleveland Wok in Saint Paul, MN.

I didn’t get too adventurous with the sushi but the California roll was fine and the creation covered in mayo and eel sauce was sweet for my tastes, but still edible. Certainly good enough to scratch the basic sushi itch and I appreciated that the rice wasn’t mushy.

It was hard to eat the fried foods in moderation. I’m terrible when placed in a situation with unlimited cream cheese wontons (more commonly referred to as crab ragoons in Iowa). And then there were those donuts rolled in sugar.

All hail the Chinese buffet donut!

They taste like deep fried bam/wham/whomp biscuits, a treat an old childhood friend’s family used to make the morning after sleepovers. They were special then and they’re special now.

I’m generally not fond of buffets. I can’t eat that much food at one time and hate feeling pressured to overeat so I get my money’s worth. I’m happiest if I can take home my leftovers and enjoy them in the comfort of my own home at my own pace. Fortunately, it looks like New City Buffet offers a take-out menu that we will likely order from.

We enjoyed our dinner, all for $10.99 per person before tax and tip. The price includes sodas and even hot coffee with real cream. The restaurant appears to be family run and they were all welcoming and worked hard to keep up with all of the guests. We hope they succeed.


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    I am glad you found some great food there—it has been cram packed whenever we have been by so I think it is going to be a winner . I agree—everything was fresh and hot and they kept things filled up so well. The wait staff was great–very friendly and accommodating!

  2. Debbie's Midwestern Kitchen

    This restaurant sounds great! I haven’t been there but may have to try it now. Maybe we should do our next girls dinner there!

    • Jeni Flaa

      I’d love to do that!

      • Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids

        That sounds like a great idea! I haven’t been there yet either but I’m sure once I tell my husband about this he’ll want to try it out.

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