The Chinese Buffet opened its doors in Huddersfield town centre the week before Christmas in a blaze of publicity.
It was a race against time to finish the £750,000 revamp of the upstairs of the former Peters department store in King Street to create an upmarket 250-seat restaurant.
This was the 11th such eatery for the company, which started in Bolton. One of the directors is former Huddersfield University business information technology student Peter Wu, who lived in Almondbury for 10 years.
But manage it they did and a couple of days later a group of us trooped in for the Examiner Christmas party. To say it was busy on December 17th is a mild understatement; it was heaving.
Hundreds of hungry diners of all ages had descended on the new restaurant and couldn’t believe their eyes when they spotted the vast array of food on offer – all included in the set price. A plague of locusts could not have done the buffet better justice.
On Thursday of last week three of us returned for an altogether more civilised evening out and to see what we really thought of The Chinese Buffet.
We booked a table – perhaps we needn’t have done but the reservation gave us a window table and view of King Street below.
We were greeted by a charming waitress called May who proudly gave us a tour of the culinary cornucopia on offer. There was sushi and desserts near the entrance – and Janet couldn’t believe her luck when she spotted the chocolate fountain.
To our left was the open kitchen where chefs were cooking fresh noodles with anything you wanted on a griddle and making fresh pancakes. There was also crispy duck with pancakes and tempura prawns and vegetables – all with an array of sauces – and beyond there was a salad bar.
To our right was an overwhelming array of starters and main courses. I could fill the rest of my 650 words with a list of dishes on offer; here are a few. Soups, various dumplings, sesame toast, spring rolls, chicken satay, BBQ ribs and vegetable samosas were just some of starters.
Mains included a wide range of chicken, beef, prawn and vegetable dishes with rice or noodles; a huge choice for carnivores and vegetarians alike. For the less adventurous there were chips, onion rings and chicken nuggets. Feeling a little dazed, we sat down in the sumptuous surroundings and ordered drinks while we contemplated our assault on the buffet.
It’s clear that money has been lavished on the interior and the owners have managed to create a contemporary and warm atmosphere with modern cherry blossom wallpaper and subtle lighting with Chinese lantern shades suspended from the grey ceiling and above the tables.
Everything was spotlessly clean. The serving staff and chefs were unfailingly helpful and polite. They took pride in the restaurant and their work and we left a generous tip. On the next table were two Chinese students eating with chopsticks.
We had a couple of plates of starters each. The tempura prawns were large, light and delicious; the vegetarian hot and sour soup was full of flavour with a kick at the end, the spring rolls had a fresh filling inside a crispy exterior, the satay sauce was creamy and very peanutty and the prawn crackers were so good they were addictive.
We followed this up with crispy duck pancakes and plum sauce and although the duck looked a little dry, it wasn’t. After three courses we were already full, but that was no reason for stopping. We went on to have freshly cooked noodles with fresh vegetables and chicken and rice.
We rounded off the meal with two visits to the dessert section. Fresh pancakes, lemon desserts, ice cream, marshmallows and a gratuitous bowlfull of melted chocolate for Janet.
I am no fan of buffets, but this was different. It reminded me of some of the five-star Far Eastern hotels I’ve (occasionally) stayed at on my travels, where the buffet is laid out, constantly replenished and there are plenty of chefs preparing bespoke, fresh dishes for diners.
VERDICT: I asked my dining companions Janet and Mandy to rate the restaurant and they were unanimous: “10 out of 10.”
21 King Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2PZ
Tel: 01484 510511
Opening hours: Monday to
Thursday 12noon to 10pm, Friday and Saturday noon to 10.30pm, Sunday noon to 9.30pm
Disabled access: Yes
The bill: £13.99 a head plus drinks
Would you go back? 100% yes