I know SE:NY's Zach Brooks loves Chinese buffets, so I wondered why he'd never told me about the buffet mentioned in the New York Times this weekend, East Buffet and Restaurant in Flushing, which includes both Peking duck and suckling pig. I had to investigate. Why? Look at these prices:
Weekday lunch: $7.50 Weekday dinner: $14 Weekend lunch: $9 Weekend dinner: $15.50
Well, it turns out that even Chinese buffet lover Mr. Brooks had tried East and found it wanting. "We tried it a couple of months ago and thought it was pretty mediocre." Clinton Street Baking Company chef-owner Neil Kleinberg came to visit SE World HQ and said, "Hey, did you see that cheap all-you-can-eat Peking duck place in the Times? I spent 90 minutes driving out there yesterday, first to Brooklyn to pick up my son, then to Flushing, and man, were we disappointed. The Peking duck was so fatty."
When I mentioned the idea of cheap Peking duck preparations, Serious Eats' Kathy Chan suggested the $1.75 Peking duck window in Flushing. She even sent me a photo.
Now this looks like cheap Peking Duck worth trying.
The moral of this story: Be skeptical of those Times round-ups. They're often culled from old reviews and compiled without revisiting the restaurants; in this case the Times critic last visited East Buffet in 2001. Who knows, maybe the Peking Duck was fatty back then as well? Also, maybe Zach can be trusted when it comes to Chinese buffets. And third, trust the young serious eaters like Kathy Chan. The woman gets around food-wise.