We have lived in Central Florida for eight years, half of those just outside Tampa, and there are quite a few places we haven't tried yet. An avowed carnivore, I am definitely in the doghouse for not getting to Bern's. Soon, though.
Meanwhile, other than Sam Seltzer's by RayJay Stadium and Wright's in South Tampa, we haven't been to any of the restaurants dotting Dale Mabry Highway. Several people had mentioned that Crazy Buffet is a superior location serving Asian food, so when we were passing by on the way over to International Plaza today, Ed asked 'Why not?'. I couldn't argue, and a filling meal was in the cards.
If you want variety, Crazy Buffet has it. I counted over 30 varieties of sushi rolls, with types I'd never seen before, like salmon skin. These were being prepared as we chose them, and the ones we sampled definitely were fresh. I'll be honest, if I'm going to a place that has sushi on a buffet, my objective is to visit those places on Friday or Saturday, when they're turning over those rolled treats fairly quickly.
From looking at these pictures, you'd think they were all boards of the same rolls, but they weren't. There was white tuna, salmon, crab, salmon, tilapia, shrimp and then various veggie rolls.
Despite a large portion of the buffet devoted to sushi, there were plenty of other usual suspects when you're looking to dine on Asian dishes. A hibachi chef was at the ready with several vegetables, beef or chicken and six sauces to whip up something to order. (I had a spicy beef plate that did a fantastic job of clearing my sinuses up-I think it was loaded down with szechuan pepper seeds!). There was pho, hot and sour, and wonton soups, dumplings, asian spare ribs, general tsao's, pepper steak, crispy beef, lo mein, fried rice, and about 40 different choices to satisfy various palates.
These were on a par with other buffets, but even at the end of their lunch hours, everything was fresh. Several of the beef dishes (pineapple beef, beef and green beans, for instance) were heavy on the vegetables and light on the beef, but I'm not sure if that's because a previous patron picked out all the meat, or the way they usually prepare it. Their barbequed spare ribs had a flavor I've never encountered in those before-they tasted like the sauce had almond extract in it. Not bad, just an interesting flavor to add to the mix-sweet with the savory.
The salad bar was full of savory salads, such as seaweed and a spicy shrimp salad that was like an Asian ceviche-very nice. I'm the odd person who actually likes to get a salad at a buffet and I was quite happy that they don't wimp out on theirs, as so many places do.
If you have room for desserts, there are plenty of options, including a chocolate waterfall. The chocolate didn't taste very chocolately, but hey, we probably got our money's worth on the sushi, so they get a pass. Ed says the orange buttercream cake was pretty light, despite it looking like a very dense frosting, which was a pleasant surprise for him.
So, is Crazy Buffet the end all, be all of Asian dining? No. That said, if you're looking for a decent $10 lunch, good sushi and a full belly, they definitely fit the bill.
We'll go back.