FOOD MONSTER: The Laughing Buddha in Lincoln
Being the type of person who likes to try a variety of foods, I'm a firm believer in the notion of a buffet.
I'm not talking about curled up, dry sandwiches and sausage rolls – done properly a buffet can be a great way to showcase a variety of food and allows people to try things they had never previously considered.
With this in mind, my dining partner and I headed to The Laughing Buddha to taste test their vast array of Oriental cuisine.
We arrived just after opening at 6pm and were shown to a table. The staff were polite enough, but with it being a quiet evening I got the impression they were a little bored.
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Our drinks ordered it was straight into the buffet. With it being a Tuesday evening it was 'Chinese night', but there were still one or two Malaysian and Thai dishes.
For an extra £1 per person we could have upgraded to a 'Steamboat' or Chinese hot pot. A table nearby had done this and it looked to be amazing value for money. It consisted of a large tray filled with thinly sliced meat, vegetables, seafood and dumplings which were then cooked in a simmering metal bowl at the table.
Not feeling that adventurous we decided to stick with the normal buffet option, heading for the starters section. The usual suspects were there – prawn toast, spring rolls and crispy won ton.
But there were also a few more surprising and non-Oriental choices such as onion rings and hash browns, which we declined.
The food was a little greasy and each component had a similar taste, but once dipped in sweet and sour sauce it wasn't terrible.
The great thing about this Chinese buffet is that it offers crispy aromatic duck pancakes, something that I've not seen in similar places.
This is one of my all-time favourite Chinese dishes and to be fair, considering it had to be kept warm, it wasn't bad at all.
A little dry, but once combined with the tangy hoisin sauce and spring onion and rolled in a pancake it was pretty tasty.
Now, on to the main event. There was plenty of choice, especially with regard to rice and noodles but try not to fill up on those.
The Singapore noodles were good and I also tried the staples of sweet and sour chicken Cantonese style and chicken in black bean sauce. I added to that some pak choy with garlic and stir fried vegetables.
The meat dishes were fine although the sauces were a little glutinous having been sat under the heat lamps. The vegetables were nice and crisp and there was a good selection of ingredients when it came to all of the food.
My dining partner had a similar selection and seemed to enjoy it as she cleared her plate and headed back for a second helping. Despite being fairly full myself I joined her – it is, after all, a buffet!
Having missed it the first time round I spotted whole sea bass, which was an impressive addition. Cooked with ginger and spring onion it was very tasty but I could only manage a mouthful after the previous dishes.
There was a whole array of sweets on display but I can't see many people having room for them. From an ice cream machine and cakes to meringues and a selection of fruit, it's sure to please dessert lovers.
Feeling quite lethargic by this point, we paid the bill and waddled out of the restaurant.
THE FOOD: Two buffet meals £25.90, diet coke 1.70, sparkling water 2.10.
FINAL VERDICT: I would say the cheaper lunch price of £6.95 on a week day and £7.95 on a weekend is pretty good value for what you get at the Laughing Buddha. However, I do think the jump to £12.95 for an evening is too steep when considering the overall standard of the food. Somewhere to go for quantity over quality.
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