Second Helpings: Asian Buffets

Asian buffets in this week's "Second Helpings"

The weekly Chronicle feature "Second Helpings" offers readers the opportunity to sample tasty, bite-sized restaurant listings compiled from new and previous reviews, guides, and poll results. This week's entries were updated by Chronicle writer Greg Beets. When you need quick, reliable information about Austin eateries, check here.

Buffet Palace

1012 W. Anderson, 458-2999

2601 S. I-35, Ste. B-200, Round Rock, 388-9600

Monday-Thursday, 11am-9:30pm; Friday, 11am-10pm;

Saturday, 11:30am-10pm; Sunday, 11:30am-9:30pm

This perennial "Best Buffet" winner in the Chronicle's "Best of Austin" poll offers a tantalizing mix of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cuisine in gluttonous proportions. You'll pay a bit more than you would for your average Chinese buffet, but once you sample the juicy Beef Bulgoki, spicy Kim Chi, and fresh pan-fried dumplings (in addition to the usual Kung Pao and beef with broccoli fare), you'll be glad you did. Buffet Palace also serves a wide variety of passable if not necessarily superlative sushi.

China Star

6134 E. Hwy. 290, 706-4545

Sunday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-10:30pm

While not as adventurous as nearby Buffet Palace, China Star delivers an above-average buffet repast featuring all your traditional Chinese favorites. Egg rolls, pepper steak, lo mein noodles, and Buddha's Delight are just a few of the dishes awaiting the discerning buffeteer in ample, frequently replenished portions. All-you-can-eat crab legs are added to the buffet at dinner.

Shanghai River

2700 W. Anderson, 458-9598

Monday-Friday, 11am-2:30pm, 5-9:30pm;

Saturday-Sunday, 11:30am-9:30pm

This unassuming spot across the parking lot from the Alamo Drafthouse North harbors one of Austin's premier Chinese buffets. Over 60 items are submitted for your palate's approval, including zesty garlic shrimp and a hearty wonton soup that shouldn't be missed. Shanghai River also has a bountiful vegan and vegetarian buffet featuring General Tso's tofu ball, sweet and sour mushrooms, broccoli with wheat gluten, and soy ice cream.

Mongolian BBQ
Mongolian BBQ

Mongolian BBQ

9200 N. Lamar, #100, 837-4898

Monday-Friday, 11am-3pm, 5-9:30pm;

Saturday, 11am-9:30pm; Sunday, 11am-9pm

117 San Jacinto, 476-3938

Sunday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-11pm

The best thing about Mongolian BBQ is getting to enjoy a big, all-you-can-eat stir-fry meal without having to chop anything. Just grab a plate, pile on a wide assortment of meats and vegetables, add sauce (we recommend spicy hot Szechuan with extra garlic), and hand it to the stir-fry chef. Minutes later, your steaming hot plate will arrive at your table along with a stuffed dumpling, a ball of steamed rice, and sesame pocket bread. It costs extra to go through the line more than once, but we doubt you'll need to.

Thai Spice Buffet & Restaurant

2501 W. Parmer, 821-1522

Monday-Friday, 11am-2pm, 5-9pm; Saturday, 5-9pm

Many table-service restaurants with lunch buffets treat their sneeze-guarded fare as some sort of ugly stepchild, but you won't find that attitude at Thai Spice. Most of the food on their $7.95 lunch buffet is comparable to what you get when ordering off the menu, which is especially good at a superlative Thai restaurant like this. Sweet, spicy Moussaman Curry, plentiful Pad Thai, and addictive Chicken Cakes compete for your appetite along with a separate buffet for vegetarians.

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