Elaine finds little wrong with the Hong Kong Buffet, and that’s saying a mouthful

Posted: February 29, 2012 in Best Places to eat in Spokane Valley, Spokane Valley Seafood
Tags: , , ,

Buffet restaurants are like vacations for me, some may be better than others but I love them all. Elaine on the other hand is like many other finicky, uppity eaters who refuse to look down their nose through the sneeze glass to scoop and tong and ladle the dishes they desire at the portions they prefer.

This to me is the ultimate egalitarian dining experience where  hungry citizens eat whatever they please whenever they please for as long as they please. It is never as long as I’d hoped going into the meal and far too long afterwards as the sidewalls of my stomach stretch painfully, suffering from the free-for-all my mind and eyes and mouth and hands had at its expense.

It is obvious that many of my fellow buffeters do not suffer the same limited storage problem that I do and perhaps that is why places such as the Old County Buffet and virtually every other buffet restaurant I have grown to love has been forced out of business. It might just be that as their popularity amongst the heavy hitters grows, their profits diminish in direct proportion to the expansion of their clientelles’ midsection.

At any rate, Elaine’s tummy seldom suffers at a buffet because she does not suffer buffets, partly because of  the earthy, well-fed crowds they often attract that she finds unattractive. Being fair-minded to a fault, I have never seen her point. But she is a sensitive thing and I would argue, a bit of a fool in that she continually has tossed out the baby  with dishwater, buffetly speaking.

One of her favorite stories goes back probably 27 years when it was just her and I and the Valley had two long-gone Chuck Wagon Buffets (one where the Grocery Outlet is at Havana and Sprague, and one where the Plasma Center is at Sprague and Farr). I remember we got in a bit of an argument about where to have a late lunch one Saturday. It centered around the unfairness I felt about living in the Valley with two buffets beckoning to me like sirens as I drove by at least one nearly everyday and yet I could not enjoy their bounty because this crazy lady I married refused to enter their doors.

But I almost got my way that day as she begrudgingly gave in and agreed to dine at the Chuck Wagon on Havana. There we were just a few feet from the cashier when the couple in front of us turned around to make small talk in a friendly sort of way. The trouble was the man’s generous belly peeked out grossly from below his dirty tight shirt and the woman had more teeth missing than she had present.

It was more than Elaine could endure and she wheeled around in disgust, leaving me alone in line with my new buddies as she crossed the street to eat at McDonald’s, which  was normally beneath her sensibilities as well. There was no way I was about to follow my snooty little bride with the smell of all those tasty dishes prancing around my nostrils.

As usual, I committed the sin of gluttony and suffered accordingly. Unfortunately for me, but to Elaine’s seemingly eternal amusement, something amongst the vast array of dishes I consumed for lunch came back to haunt and torment me through the night. How I suffered as I repeatedly leapt from my bed in agony to spew forth into the toilet. Each time as I weakly slipped back to bed, Elaine would chuckle as she rolled over and say with supreme satisfaction, “I guess that ought to teach you.”

I think she wanted my agony that night to teach me that she was right about buffets and hence pretty much right about everything. The years have unfolded to teach her that I learned neither lesson on that painful night. In fact, though I was a bit suspicious I never thought it fair to be certain it was food poison. Maybe it was a brief and violent flu bug. At any rate, I was willing to be generous and forgiving, never allowing my Chuck Wagon upchucking to dampen my enthusiasm for buffet dining.

After the kids, who all rejected their mother’s snobbery position and embraced my slobbery one, came along, I no longer had to buffet it alone.  The Old Country Buffet where we dined Motherless and they ate like little heathens and drank chocolate milk like rock stars, will forever be cherished memories for them as I still cherish the Sunday  buffets of my childhood including Tony’s on Couer D Alene Lake and U City’s Golden Hour (where I had the tastiest job during high school slicing the barren of beef each Sunday at the end of that historic buffet line.) Later in my teen years the Red Lion put forth a Sunday breakfast brunch that still makes my stomach growl and eyes moist every time I walk through the large passage way going into The Max at Mirabeau where they set up their incredible repast each Sunday.

Flash forward 35 years to the Hong Kong Buffet at the Valley Mall where a lifetime of making a pig of myself at buffet lines meets two of my most favorite foods : oriental and seafood. It is so good that Elaine looks forward to our second annual Mother’s Day meal there. Keep in mind it is Mother’s Day and so it is her call. To be able to say that is one of my life’s richest rewards.

I hold the Hong Kong high as my personal bastion of buffets based upon a lifetime of enthusiastic connoiseurism. I have snorted and stuffed my way through worthy buffet lines offered up by the Couer D’ Alene Resort at a few Thanksgivings and several Sundays, I ate myself silly at Suzy’s seafood smorgasboard on several Friday nights back in the day on Trent before that icon went down in a blaze of glory. I have feasted like a fool along the Vegas strip for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack. When the Longhorn and Kentucky Fried Chicken went buffet, I went nuts. If buffet eating were a destructive habit, I would not have made it out of my 20’s.

And so when I say the Hong Kong Buffet is good, don’t trust me. I have  never met a buffet that I did not like. But when I tell you that Elaine likes the Hong Kong Buffet, you must listen. I mean she is still a snooty little thing and does not like some things about the place like the occasional Buddha belly and the rather tacky but typical Oriental decor. (And I myself wish the staff had better rule over the English language so they understood what “football” meant when I ask them to change the channel). But she has finally come to see there is a buffet line here in the Valley with a vast array of delicious dishes that rises above the scenery and meets her incredible standards.

And so it falls on me to use whatever gifts of prose God gave me, to use all that I have learned about internet Search Engine Optimization to draw people into this deserving Valley jewel so that the kids and I can eat like heathens with Mom on every Mother’s Day for as long as we both shall live.

I mean if you love seafood like I do this place will make you wish you had a whale of a belly so you could eat like a horse.

Then there is their sushi bar complete with a sushi chef making the stuff up as fast as the diners can put it away.

This is round one and I have to be very careful because I can only go two rounds. Each morsel on this plate has earned the right to be there. The peanut chicken in the left foreground is fantastic but narrowly made the plate as it is almost crowded out by the heavenly coconut shrimp. And look up, there next to the glimmering mussel on the right is a frog's leg which I have to have one of every time I go because where else in this town can a guy get an honest-to-goodness frog leg?

This is round two and each item would have been first string at any other buffet. If you notice there are no repeats and also that this plate is slightly less crowded. Both are because of tummy restraints. If it were up to my mind's eye and tongue's tastebuds, this plate would be piled high with more to follow. Those little stuffed crabshells in front are so tasty I save them for last because they are like dessert.

And this is Jacque, the youngest of my four little heathens, so full of amazing Oriental food that she begins to look like a giesha girl. Notice how she gloats in her father's face because she is able to still eat dessert while he can only burp and groan, no longer having so much as a spoonful of stomach space left.

Hong Kong Buffet on Urbanspoon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s