Category Archives: Buffets

Question of the week: Best Chinese buffet

A photo for the memory book: The fabulous fried section from the Kwan Court buffet.

In just about four weeks, Kwan Court will be no more. The restaurant at 1443 N. Rock Road is closing after 21 years, plagued by financial troubles. (You can read my farewell story here.)

When it goes, Kwan Court will take with it what has been in my opinion Wichita’s best Chinese buffet — one that, even through ownership changes, has always emphasized quality over quantity. (Though there was always plenty to choose from.)

This week’s question: Where else in Wichita can Chinese fans find a decent Chinese buffet? If you know of one, name it in the comments section below, and tell us why it’s worth checking out.

Mudbugs and Cajun food on Saturday

It’s one of the hoppin’-est nights of the summer each year when The Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band plays its annual gig on Oeno’s patio in Old Town Square.

The group will be back there on Saturday, and the bar will be cooking up a Cajun buffet that’ll include a shrimp and crawfish boil, red beans and rice, fried catfish, chicken etoufee, creamed corn, dinner rolls and bread pudding.

The buffet is $15 a person and available from 8 to 11 p.m. The band will fire up the fiddle sometime between 8 and 8:30 p.m.

I’ll be there. See you then.

Feed your father on Sunday

Restaurants are of the belief that dads like beef.

I always feel bad for dads. Restaurants don’t feel the need to roll out the buffet carpet for him as much as they do for mom or for Easter and Thanksgiving.

Sorry, dad.

Still, there are plenty of places willing to give dad a deal and a meal this Father’s Day, which is Sunday. Check out my story, which will appear in tomorrow’s Go! section.

Newport now serves brunch, including Mothers’ Day

Stuffed French toast is among the brunch options at Newport Grill's new Sunday brunch.

There’s a new Sunday brunch player in town, and you and mom can check out a amped-up version of it this weekend.

Newport Grill, the fine dining seafood restaurant that opened late last year at 1900 N. Rock Road, recently added a Sunday brunch, served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Theirs is set up a bit differently from most.

On a typical Sunday, the restaurant will offer all-you-can-eat access to a cold bar, which features, among other things, shrimp, oysters on the half shell and more. A dessert bar also is included.

Diners then are able to choose from a list of plated, composed brunch meals, ranging from stuffed French toast to eggs Benedict (one version is served atop crab cakes.) A few of the restaurant’s non-breakfasty entrees are offered among the options, too, including a chicken dish.

Normally, the brunch is $18 for adults and $12 for children. This Sunday, for Mother’s Day, the restaurant will add several things to the usual offering, including crab claws on the cold bar. This time, the price is $25 for adults, $12 for children ages 4-12.

For more information, call 316-636-9555.

Also, if you want to see a full list of who’s serving Mother’s Day brunches this year, you can see my story that’s coming out in Friday’s Go! right now.

Reader questions: Unhappy campers

My new question-and-answer forum sends the questions to me and only me, with no place for me to answer them publicly. So from time-to-time, I’ll try to answer some of them here. (For the record, I answer one question every week in my “Dining with Denise” e-mail newsletter, which you should sign up for IMMEDIATELY if you haven’t already.)

Today’s topic: Customer complaints. I often get e-mails from readers unhappy with their experience in a restaurant, and here are a couple of examples.

A reader named Sharon writes:

“Problem…ordered from a vegetarian restaurant the dish Macadamia Surprise. My friend and I were splitting the meal because we also wanted to try a few appetizers.  The dish sounded so delicious but when it arrived it had cashews and broccoli. Two items that were not mentioned in the dish. NO macadamia nuts.

When we asked the waiter if there’d been a mistake he said, “no, we just ran out of macadamia nuts.” They did NOT offer to make us anything else or rectify the situation. They didn’t mention being out of any of the items before serving us, nor did he suggest we could order something else even after we expressed our dislike with the whole situation and especially broccoli and possible allergies to cashew nuts.  They just expected this to be okay.  What should have been done to insure happy customers? We will not return due to lack of concern shown to us regarding our visit. Thank you!”

Well, Sharon, I run into this a lot at restaurants. There was a time when unhappy customers regularly would be taken care of by comping part of the bill or offering something extra for free. That’s rarer these days. Although these kinds of situations infuriate me, I think there are really only two options. First, you have to complain to the manager on duty on the spot. You can’t just imply that you want something taken care of. You have to say it explicitly, and a lot of people aren’t comfortable doing that. It’s also better to complain before you dig into and devour a meal, I find.

That’s no guarantee it’ll be taken care of, though. In fact, many disorganized restaurants with insufficient help don’t have any idea how to deal with this issue. They’re just trying to stay alive day-to-day. Then, your only recourse is to not return and to advise friends not to go. I’ve had some luck in the past sending letters to restaurants when I’ve been particularly dissatisfied, but sadly, lack of customer service is more of the rule rather than the exception anymore.

Here’s another dissatisfied customer named Tom.

We ate Easter Brunch at the Marriott, advertised for $21.95 per person. When we got the check, there was an 18% “Hotel Buffet Charge” added to the ticket along with the expected sales tax. Why wasn’t this posted in the “where to eat”? Is this a usual practice? The $21.95 per person for 2 meal turned out to be $66 for 2 with tip.

I called over to the Corporate Hills Marriott this morning and talked to the food and beverage director, who says it’s always been the hotel’s practice to add an 18 percent gratuity charge on to holiday buffets, such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. (My presumption is that people usually don’t tip too well on buffets, and they want to make the holiday shifts worthwhile for the staff.) She also said, Tom, that if you added a gratuity on top of that, not realizing that you weren’t expected to, she’d happily refund it.

Question of the week: Best brunch?

More and more restaurants are offering lavish Sunday brunch buffets with lots of extras — and not just on holidays. I’ve always loved the eggs Benedict station at the Granite City brunch, and Yia Yia’s has recently added a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar to its weekly buffet.

In honor of Easter, one of the brunchiest of holidays, I’m asking you to share your choice for best brunch buffet. Need a refresher on who’s serving? Read my story that’s going in this week’s Go! section that offers a guide to Easter Sunday brunches.

Oh, and answer the question of the week in the comments section below. Please?

Ginormous sushi buffet

sushibuffetIf you’ve driven past the old Chi Chi’s building (that’s what longtime Wichitans call it) at 511 S. West St. recently, you might have noticed a bunch of ladders, construction trucks and a new sign promising sushi.

This morning on my way to work, I marched through the double doors and demanded to know the story. I met Liyong Chen, who was busy nailing tree branches to a post in the back of the giant space. The restaurant, called Hibachi Grill Sushi, is another mega-buffet, and it is quite a spectacle. Chen, who also owns Asia Town Buffet at 6160 E. Central, has added a giant fish pond in the middle of the restaurant and disco lights in the ceiling.

He’ll offer sushi, hibachi grilled food, Chinese, Mexican and American from a spread of all-you-can-eat buffet tables.

Chen plans to open Nov. 10, he said, and the restaurant will be open daily for lunch and dinner.

I’d start fasting now.

Gindi adding a Thai/sushi buffet

gindi2Gindi Thai & Japanese Diner at 7010 W. 21st St. is one of those restaurants that I love but never get to.

That’s going to have to change now that the restaurant is adding a Thai and sushi lunch buffet, which will be offered from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays starting on Tuesday.

The buffet will offer a rotating selection of items from the regular menu — about 10 Thai dishes per day, ranging from Pad Thai to drunken noodles. It’ll also include sushi.

The price will be $6.95. Owners are contemplating offering it all day Sundays, too, but haven’t yet decided.

Sooooooo sensuous

maharajaI think I’ve established this week that I love Indian food, and I love the Indian food at Maharaja, 3008 W. Central.

I really, really love the full official title Maharaja has give itself: “Maharaja: Sensuous Cusine of India.” It makes me blush when I eat it.

But I do worry about Maharaja, which seems to have a strong local following but rarely has many cars in the parking lot. Perhaps a change the restaurant just instituted will help: The delicious lunch buffet, which used to cost $9.95, has been reduced by $2 to $7.95. It’s served from 11 .m. to 2:30 p.m. daily except Mondays, when the restaurant is closed.

Call 316-264-0777 for more information.

Sunday brunch, only on Saturday

Wichitans love buffets, particularly on Sundays, when they flock to local eateries for huge spreads of eggs, potatoes, waffles, fruit, prime rib and more.

A couple of smart restaurateurs have recently realized that the Sunday Brunch formula might translate to Saturdays as well.

Starting on Sept. 4, Piccadilly Grill at 7728 E. Central Avenue will begin offering a Saturday morning brunch buffet in addition to its existing Sunday buffet. It’ll be offered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. include made-to-order omelets, eggs Benedict, scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy  plus panini sandwiches, wraps, salads and soups. It’ll be $9.95 for adults, $8.95 for seniors and  $5.95 for children 6 to 12. (Kids 5 and under eat free.)

Granite City restaurants in Wichita also offer a brunch buffet on Saturdays, though it’s a little smaller and a little less expensive than its whizz-bang Sunday spread. It’s offered from 9 a.m. to noon and includes an omelet station, homeade cinnamon rolls, eggs, sausage, potatoes and other breakfast fare. It’s $9.99 for adults, $5.99 for ages 6 to 12 and free for ages 5 and under. Granite City has restaurants at 2244 N. Webb Road and 2661 N. Maize Road.