The Hugh Review of Food St. Lou

All You Can Eat - St. Louis Restaurants

Last update: Mar 31, 2013

Also visit my Mid St. Louis County Restaurant Review Blog

Some people believe in fine dining. Some of the rest of us believe in mass dining! Quantity over quality is often my motto, as long as the quality is not too bad. Here is Hugh's list of places in St. Louis where you can eat ALL YOU CAN EAT. (Note my known neighborhoods: around Washington University, Central West End, Brentwood, Richmond Heights, Rock Hill, Olivette, Clayton, Ladue, Frontenac, University City, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights, Westport -- other folks around Metro St. Louis can e-mail me their own regional picks and I will post just about anything!) Note that we typically do not venture too far West of 141, South of 44, North of 70 or East of the city limits, but I will go anywhere for a good restaurant!
SECTIONS:
Chinese Buffets Chinese Non-Buffet Indian Japanese
Thai Non-Asian Buffets Pizza Contributors


Chinese Buffets

By ethnic background I am Taiwanese (not Chinese, but most folks in St. Louis don't know the difference), so I have always had a fondness for Asian food, Chinese in particular. Here in St. Louis the Chinese food quality ranges from terrible to marginal to not bad. So I believe in going for quantity over quality! And for some unknown reason Chinese buffets simply abound here! Here is Hugh's list:

  • Buffet City Clayton & Clarkson - CLOSED!

  • Canton Cafe - 6600 Delmar in the U. City Loop. CLOSED! I used to love this place, not so much because of the food, just for the short walk from Wash U Hilltop campus. Oh well, there's still plenty of good places to eat on the loop. It's old space was split in two and now it is a Smoothie King and Cheese-ology.

  • China Buffet - 12190 St. Charles Rock in Bridgeton. We have driven by it now many times and I keep suggesting it to the family but am always voted down. Here is a review from an unknown e-mailer: "For what it's worth, I went to China Buffet on the Rock Rd. back in 1996. The food and selection were good. However, our company had a field trip to wineries in St. Charles county the next day and I had diarrhea from the food at China Buffet. It was a 'memorable' trip to say the least. I could be wrong but I think it was shut down sometime before or after that event. At any rate, I'll never go back there." Another reviewer, an anonymous Mrs. "CB", remembers going and finding a nasty bug in her food, and the restaurant staff remarked it was okay since the bug probably just came in with the salad (that makes it okay?)

  • China Buffet - Lemay just North of Lindbergh in the K-mart Plaza. Another anonymous review: "They have California rolls, pot stickers, teriyaki chicken skewers, sesame chicken, General Tso's chicken, vegetable lo mein, chicken wings, lobster rolls, etc. on the buffet and at dinner P&E shrimp. Two for lunch w/drinks: $13.25. Very good buffet. Similar to China Buffet in Alton, IL off of the Homer Adams Parkway, but smaller"

  • China Garden - CLOSED! - Schuetz Plaza across from Subway and the former Dimension Computer. I kept suggesting the place to the family and was continually voted down. I have heard two differing opinions. My very anonymous next door neighbor loves it, but Jim from Dimension Computer was not overly impressed. But then again he worked 100 feet away from the joint. Neal (who works not too much farther away) agrees. His words: "China Garden......that place has the lousiest buffet! I'd rather just go to Subway across from it." Then it had a fire and it is still closed. Nothing has been there for a few years now.

  • China Inn - Manchester in Rock Hill. Someone who e-mailed me really likes them. I never went there since the fake Chinese facade turned me off.

  • China Star - Manchester (almost directly across the street from OCB, used to be Marie Callender's). - CLOSED!

  • Dynasty Hibachi Sushi Seafood Buffet - CLOSED! - Richmond Heights Schnucks Plaza, Clayton Road and Big Bend. Read my latest description on my blog posting for my opinions on the closest buffet to the Wash U Danforth Campus!

  • Eastern Buffet (was Olive Cafe) - Olive & N. Ballas by the Creve Coeur Pasta House. CLOSED - Now a Thai restaurant.

  • Eat First - Page east of Warson. Sounds like it closed down. Another one bites the dust! What a strange name...

  • Emperor's Palace - Chesterfield Airport Road. (Disclaimer: The owner was kind enough to send me gift certificates, which already put me in a good mood upon arrival!) My first impression was one word: HUGE. There is seating for an army and the variety is more impressive than any buffet in the metro area. They have separate areas for Japanese, Mongolian BBQ, Vietnamese, and Chinese cuisine and additional dessert, salad bar and "American" areas (primarily for picky kids). The most consistent area was the Chinese cuisine (as expected), and the most disappointing (for me) was the Japanese section where the sushi was scarce and the other selections limiting. One nice surprise was a dim sum area which first appeared small but actually had many different offerings since each steamed "stack" was a different item. And then there were the desserts, usually a sad part of Chinese buffets. Emperor's Palace had some decent cheesecake (probably made elsewhere, which is good!), a chocolate fountain with fresh strawberries and other chocolate and baked treats rarely seen in Chinese buffets in St. Louis. Overall, the food quality ranged from poor to mediocre, but the variety was unmatched. Plus the unique decor (giant torches, running indoor stream, themed indoor "buildings") and huge scale makes it a unique dining experience in the area. Someone emailed me saying he did service work there and noted "the over abundance of German roach and rodent activity present".

  • Emperor's Wok - Hampton Village. A favorite for an anonymous Mrs. CB who eats out incessantly. I've never been there, myself, but she likes it better than the bug infested China Buffet on the Rock Road or Lee's on Natural Bridge. She claims they have "delicious fried bananas that you can eat with the soft serve ice cream for a delicious dessert. Also they have a Mongolian barbecue (I think that is what you call it) where you can pick your meat, vegetables, and sauce and they fry it for you." Someone emailed me saying he did service work here as well and it also had pest/rodent problems.

  • First Wok - 8534 Watson in Crestwood and 15316 Manchester. I have only been to the one on Manchester and that was back when I worked at Monsanto (15+ years ago -- I'm getting old!). There was one co-op student there who knew I was a buffet hound and this was his favorite. I thought it was okay, not as much variety or as flavorful as Happy China, but not as crowded and busy either. From Neal: "I live about 2 minutes from the joint on Watson. My buddy got food poisoning from there about 5 years ago....ugh!". Another E-Mailer: "Have been there more than a half dozen times over the past couple of years. The food is excellent on the buffet, and they also have select-your-own available behind the buffet tables where they will freshly stir-fry your selection. I have what most people would call a "sensitive stomach" and I don't recall the last time eating at First Wok gave me any problems. My friend from Wildwood, MO always wants to go to First Wok when he visits. My last visit was July 2011 -- quite recent -- and I've been there at least 3 times this year because of the lunch special $6.95 buffet. First Wok has been there since before I arrived in St. Louis in 1993 ... their longevity is a testament to the quality of the food ... and if anything, they have gotten better over the years."

  • Ginger Buffet - 53 Ludwig Place, next to Circuit City in Fairview Hts, IL. From another anonymous e-mailer: "You should try Ginger Buffet in Fairview Hts. I know its not St. Louis, but it is only 15 mins from the Arch. Their buffet is quite good for the price. $6 for lunch and $8 for dinner and weekends. The Hibachi grill (ala Mongolian) is not very good. The sushi is fake, but my non-Chinese wife enjoys it."

  • Great Chefs - Comments from Tony: "Great Chefs at Manchester and 141 in the Home Depot center. Mostly Chinese clientele so we know it's good." Lars says this one closed down.

  • Great Wall - Saint Peters. Never been there, but suggested as "great" by "Bobby, Abby and Hayley".

  • Han's Buffet Collinsville, IL. From e-mailer: "Typical American Chinese Buffet"

  • Happy China - 12921 Olive in Creve Coeur. We used to go here frequently for lunch back when I worked at Monsanto. They always have a good variety of food, not just the plain standard "American Chinese" fare. Plus they are nice and big and there is plenty of parking. They definitely do a good business there. At lunchtime you often have to stand in a real line at the buffet. Neal's comments: "The people at Happy China are not nice. The lady that always seats you acts like a dictator. 'You! Go there!' But I also think they have the best range in food." They do have a cleanliness and insect problem, though. Soda refills are extra, but the roaches are free!! I will have to admit in the past few years the food quality has seemed to have gone down substantially.

  • Hunan Manor (another e-mail submission -- not mine!) at 6th and Pine (one block east of the Wainwright building and on the south side of Pine). "The place is always packed and draws a great crowd--from athletic twenty somethings, to hardboiled lawyers, to classic southsiders. Check it out. At one point my office was going once a week and the owner began cooking special dishes to order for no additional charge. Be sure to go when its busy as the food is at its best during a packed lunch rush."

  • Hunan Manor - Downtown, 6th and Pine. One anonymous e-mailer (a self-proclaimed St. Louis transplant) simply calls it "The best".

  • Hunan Restaurant - Dorsett past Gold's Gym. Closed and replaced by Ryce Oriental Buffet (see below).

  • Jade Garden (was Woan Yuan Garden) - Closed... Again!!

  • Joy Luck Buffet - Closed for Remodelling Until ????? Hanley & Manchester in Brentwood. This place is over 10 years old now and seems to do a very brisk business whenever we go there. They actually seem to have a regular Chinese customer base too. I know because the waitresses try to talk Mandarin to me and I just nod and smile. We live very close by and used to go there relatively often. They actually have a big salad bar too (I'm not sure why) as well as "Joy Luck Ice Cream" a leftover from when it was a Bonanza (or was it a Ponderosa?). When they first opened back in the 90's the food quality was pretty good, but we just went back there back in 2006 and it was pretty bad. It was a Saturday lunch and we were guessing they just reheated a bunch of food from Friday evening since everything seemed mushy and overcooked. I have heard from a "real" Chinese person (co-workers and my children like to remind me I am not very Chinese) on campus that the Chinese menu food at Joy Luck is quite good and authentic Sichuan, and that is what you should eat there, not the generic stuff from the buffet. Latest News (Feb 2011): from an e-mailer: "They have reopened completely and redone much of the restaurant. The buffet has been redone, and now even includes a Sushi bar with Chef behind. Looked OK, but I was more interested in non-fish that night." Here is my first blog posting for them from December 2012

  • King Doh - 10045 Manchester in Warson Woods. They have a lunch buffet on Tue and Thurs only. My mother-in-law's friends said it is very good but I have never been there. They have been around a long time. Anonymous review: "I can give King Doh an enthusiastic thumbs up. Very friendly service, and excellent food. It is the most fun to bring a big group and sit at the round tables with the lazy susan in the middle. Everyone can order 1 thing and share. That is always the best way to do it at King Doh. Some recommendations include the pot stickers and the sizzling rice soup. I have yet to have a meal there that wasn't fantastic!"

  • Lee's Buffet - Natural Bridge north of the Rock Road (near 270). CLOSED!

  • Magic Wok - Maryland & Euclid in CWE. This place used to be a relatively good sit down Chinese place which has now seemed to have lowered itself to be a lunch buffet place. The locale makes it a nice spot for us Wash U types even if the food isn't the greatest. Plus it's always fun to eat in a Chinese restaurant that looks like a Mexican restaurant. Like Joy Luck, they also have a soft serve machine. I'm not sure when soft serve ice cream became a Chinese dessert, but I, of course, eat it anyway.

  • Mei Hua South side of Olive close to Dobbs and the License Bureau in Olivette. Roomy restaurant with a nice carved horse wall hanging and very eatable food. Nothing super exciting and the variety is not as large as many bigger buffets, but definitely worth two plates full.

  • Mongolian Barbecue - Four Seasons Shopping Center, Chesterfield. This is a recommendation from my next door neighbor who insists on remaining completely anonymous. All you can eat crab legs and scallops at night and a very large buffet too. She likes it better than Happy China. We went there on a Saturday and it was uncharacteristically spotless (for a Chinese buffet), with a wide variety of stuff including the "barbecue" selection which the chef cooks up on the spot for you. They have a lot of good sauces to go with the Mongolian barbecue too. Definitely different. From Neal: "Mongolian BBQ is great, except for two things: The dining room sometimes smells like a urinal tablet. Plus your clothes stink to high heaven from all smoke at the BBQ".

  • Royal Buffet and Grill 15425 Manchester Rd, Ballwin. From e-mail: "Its food is fresh & restaurant is clean. It has traditional american chinese buffet food, a small Mongolian Barbecue section, a sushi bar (fresher than Emperor Palace & more varities.) Price is less then $10."

  • Ryce Oriental Buffet - CLOSED July 2013 Dorsett west of 270 in Maryland Heights - From Steve M., a reputable buffet eater we know from church who visited shortly after they opened: "Ryce Oriental Buffet has very attractive decor. Food selection includes Mongolian BBQ, sushi, authentic oriental, seafood, and an extensive buffet of common Chinese (American Chinese) dishes. The seating is somewhat crowded. The wait staff is very pleasant and service oriented. For some of the dishes they seemed to be still maturing in their ability to prepare them - the sausage ball was a little raw on the inside. One of the shrimp balls had little shrimp the other had lots. Overall I recommend Ryce for family oriented dining at a somewhat reasonable price - Dinner for two with tip was $26 - somewhat expensive for Chinese buffet - but not unreasonable." JY responded April 2007: "Ryce Chinese Buffet ... has shown significant improvements in their offerings in the past 6 months. The fact you will find a lot of Chinese going there is a credit to the place. Saturday and Sunday Dim Sum plus Chinese cold dishes (and I mean quite a few varieties) is a real enjoyment. My family had been regular customers. You should try it too. As a bonus, 8 (or is it 10) different flavors of ice cream (scoop it yourself type). Then there is the tapioca with taro, and jello with taro, soy milk, red bean soup. I won't tell you the price on weekends, I'll leave that as a surprise to you. But go on Saturday or Sunday if you crave for more authentic Chinese food (Cantonese, Taiwanese). One down side, drinks cost extra. Order water." We actually went and were generally pleased. It is a bit pricey for lunch on the weekends ($10.95 per adult) but there was a good variety of food and the flavors of everything was quite good. We were impressed with both their sushi and dim sum variety and quality. One negative was that the meats seem to be cheap, fatty cuts. My wife would prefer a lower price, higher quality meats and less variety since she can only eat so much!

  • Silk Road - 510 N Euclid in CWE - CLOSED!

  • Sunny China Buffet - Lindbergh & 44 - CLOSED!

  • Tokyo Seafood Buffet - Olive on University City - This is in the old Target and I have not visited it, but our former neighbors did and reviewed it for us. It does not sound very good despite having "conveyor belt sushi".

  • Village China Wok - off Zumbehl in St. Charles - Another unverified tip from an e-mailer: "They have fake sushi I adore! I would love a good wasabi recipe and want to know where I can get pickled ginger - Then I can make my own fake sushi! But I wish a store had it - don't want to have to drive down to Olivette!"

  • Yong China - 9814 Manchester in Rock Hill. I went here one time for lunch with my mother-in-law (yes, I know I am a wonderful son-in-law!) The buffet was not varied much and the flavor was toned down. My guess is Joy Luck down the street probably takes a lot of their business.

    Chinese But Not Buffets

  • Asiana - on Olive a little East of Lulu's. From Adrian: "This is more of a traditional Asian restaurant than the typical run of the mill Asian-American fare. Food is ala carte. Can get decent authentic Chinese food here. The tofu dish we had was pretty good."

  • Cajun Gourmet - Saint Louis Galleria Mall, Richmond Heights. Do not let the name fool you, this place is not a "cajun" restaurant -- it is just another Panda Express, located also in the Food Court there. However, since it is slightly different, I thought it was worth visiting. Read my blog posting for more information.

  • Chinese Noodle Cafe - Delmar Loop across from the Pageant. I went there a few years ago when a co-worker offered to pay! Pretty good stuff for a reasonable price. Tastes even better when someone else pays the bill!

  • Hon's Wok - Woodson Rd, north of Page. Not a buffet, not really that good, but we ordered from them at my old company near there since they were close, cheap and delivered fast. The McDonald's of Chinese food, but hey, sometimes that's all you need... Adrian e-mailed me there is also now one on Forest Park & Taylor across from the hospitals. From Adrian: "We affectionately call it the 'Cat Clinic' because it is literally located next to a cat clinic! (LOL) Cheap food an quite decent. Can get a decent lunch special for about $4."

  • Hot Wok - Hwys 141 & 40, West County. Considered "best Chinese food in St. Louis" but one anonymous e-mailer. I will have to try it out. Described as "the Ruth's Chris of Chinese, whereas the others are (comparatively) the McDonald's. All fat is trimmed from meats, only white meat chicken is used. Portions are large and the price is surprisingly quite affordable. I highly recommend the Paper Wrapped Chicken appetizer, and the Sesame Chicken or Mandarin Beef for your entree. The staff are accommodating and kind".

  • House of Wong - Two locations: Clayton & Creve Coeur (on Olive just west of 270 in the shopping plaza next to TGI Fridays). We have been to the Creve Coeur location and we liked it quite well. Reasonable prices, clean tables and food with a good flavor without too much MSG or grease (not none, just not too much). Very prompt service, and nice decor with very reasonable prices. Unfortunately they have stopped selling lunch combinations on the weekends. Bummer!

  • Hunan Garden - Page just west of Lindbergh. Not a buffet, but we like going there for Dim Sum on the weekends. Chinese music videos and everything! Lots of seating and parking. But at Dim Sum time you often have to wait a while since it has become more and more popular. They send through a lot of carts with a good variety of dim sum offerings.

  • Hunan Inn - near Kehrs Mill and Clayton behind Zhivago's. From Adrian: "No buffet but food is good as well. Owner's are friendly. It was pretty dead when we went there. Not sure why since the food is good but it's hard to find because it's inside a strip mall. New owner and better food in my opinion".

  • Hunan King - 3038 Winghaven, 1 block north of 40/64 in O'Fallon MO. From Adrian: "Went there for lunch and was quite surprised by the good quality of food. Good sized restaurant. No buffet but the lunch specials were decently priced around $5 and the quality was excellent. Even had a few flat screen TV's there!"

  • Hunan Star on Manchester in Des Peres. Reminiscent of the old Hunan Star in Richmond Heights on Brentwood, but in a nicer building. This one has great dine in service and also great take-out/delivery too (Lars agrees too).

  • Hunan Wok in Brentwood - One of our favorite old takeout spots in the Brentwood area. We preferred the old Hunan Star on Brentwood across from the Galeria but that closed. We used to be able to "walk to the Wok", which has been there forever. It gives that section of Brentwood that great grease burning smell...

  • Lee's - Olive & Woodson in Olivette. CLOSED! This was a nice little Chinese family restaurant but now it is closed. How sad!

  • Lu Lu's - 8224 Olive, U City. We have gone there two times for lunch now. The first time the food was really good and tasted very authentic. The place is fairly crowded though and the service is "authentic Chinatown" -- which means pretty bad! On the second occasion we came a bit later on a Friday and the service was even worse and the food was overly spiced. Perhaps they had a different chef, but we were not as impressed with visit number two.

  • Mai Lee's - Moved to Brentwood by Metrolink station. Vietnamese/Chinese cuisine with great spring rolls and pho. A former U-City tradition and a favorite with the Wash U crowd has moved behind the Brentwood Best Buy. We just visited (May 2010) and it was delicious!

  • Mandarin House - Page & 170. Well known as extremely mediocre food, but with a nice atmosphere, including nice private rooms and not as noisy as most other Chinese places. A good place for a large group. They also are supposed to have Dim Sum on weekends but I have never tried it there. From JY: "The original chef at Jade Garden is now working for Mandarin House. My family tried it. Offerings is very much the same what Jade Garden used to. If you enjoyed Jade Garden in the past, then Mandarin House is now your choice. "

  • Panda Fenton off of Bowles. From an E-Mailer: "Very Good, very consistent and very reasonable".

  • Panda Express Galleria, West County Center, St. Louis Mills, SLU Busch Student Center, South County Mall, Chesterfield Mall. Generic Chinese fast-food mall slop. Is it gourmet quality? Not even close. But it is hard to beat the value and it sure beats most of the other mall alternatives. If you want a big pile of greasy, over spiced, fried Americanized "Chinese" food for under $10, this is the place to be. I know I like to eat it!

  • Pei Wei One in Creve Coeur (Olive between Lindbergh & 270), one in Ladue by the Schnucks (170 & Ladue Rd). Corporate, mid-class, cookie cutter, strip mall Chinese food. Like a Chinese Applebee's. Reasonable, consistent quality and not too bad, but not gourmet or without much character of its own. But would I eat there? You bet I would! Definitely a step up from a place like Panda Express with much more interesting choices. They also use better qualities of meats than many mom and pop places.

  • Royal Chinese Barbecue - Now that I am off the subject of buffets and onto generally good Chinese restaurants, here's another one on Olive in the Chinatown strip of Olivette/U.City (i.e. Din Ho). Definitely not a fancy place (like Lee's) but good food.

  • Shiitake - Forsyth in Clayton. Upscale "Pan-Asian" cuisine for those out to impress someone. Wash U students should take their parents there and let them pay. It will make the tuition not look so expensive. Rumored to now be CLOSED!

  • Stir Crazy - Olive & Old Olive in Creve Coeur. We received a couple gift certificates for this place so we tried it out. It was actually quite nice, with a nice variety and the option for them to "custom stir fry" whatever concoction of meat, veggies and sauce you would like. It was actually more reasonably priced than we expected and we were able to go twice on our gift certificates!

  • Wei Hong Chinese Bakery and Barbecue - on South Grand - An unverified e-mailer told me this was the best Chinese restaurant in town and I have gone there and found it to be very good. Another e-mailer agreed: "I looked and sampled and sighed with disappointment over the Chinese restaurants for 6 years after moving here. Wei Hong is definitely far and away the best Chinese in the Lou. " Another e-mailer: "Very good Chinese barbecue, which only a few places in St. Louis offer. They are also a full Chinese bakery." Yet more accolades: "This is a Good Place to Be. Food is good; prices are equally good. Variety is excellent, in that the menu is varied and includes both authentic Chinese food and American Chinese (which I call "Kansas Style"; Chinese cuisine comes in Hunan, Szechuan, Cantonese, Mandarin, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Kansas styles, in my lexicon). If you like duck, this is the place to go. Roast duck is excellent, and it's served very fresh."

  • Wei Hong Seafood Restaurant 7740 Olive, just west of North & South, U City. A second restaurant by the folks who opened the Wei Hong on Grand. From an e-mailer: "...the building formerly occupied by the Fine Arts Theater. They have made excellent use of the theater seating space, with tables on several terraced levels, and still make use of the big screen. Food at that location is of the same high quality as at the Grand location, but there is more of an emphasis on seafood."

  • Wong's Wok - 565 Melville on Delmar Loop. Little Chinese spot on the Loop. Added as a suggestion by someone, I've seen it there but never eaten there.

  • Wong's - on Manchester and Big Bend (plaza next to White Castle). (Another e-mail submission) This is a little hole in the wall place - but they have the BEST Chinese take-out food ever. They have been there for a long time. I used to work in Richmond Heights, and I would say I miss that place most of all (along with Giovanna's that used to be on Bellevue, but has since closed down).

  • Yen Ching - across from the Galleria in Richmond Heights and next to the Chesterfield Mall. Many folks just love Yen Ching, but my family never really grew fond of them. They have both been around a long time. It must depend on which High School you went to!


    Indian

    For comments on quality, you should really talk to my old friend, Pankaj Agarwal, he's Indian, I'm not! Of course, he left Wash U and St. Louis years ago (as well as
    Mike Zuker, who was banished to RPI!!), but I still leave his name here since he was my original Indian food influence. I think it all taste great.

  • Bombay Grill - Highway K at 20 Crossroads Plaza, O'Fallon. E-mailed comments: "I went to Bombay Grill and the food there is actually really good. They have a wide selection at the buffet table of your basic Indian food; the difference is how clean the restaurant is from the dishes to the carpet. It's really nice in there. The restaurant owner AJ was our server - extremely friendly and fast service. If you haven't been here I suggest you go."

  • Flavor of India - Olive just east of 270. From an E-Mailer: "Another one on Olive that opened 6 months ago is also on Olive, near I-270 ... good & better than most of the others, again, in my opinion. Definitely a cleaner place." I actually have received two positive e-mails on this place!

  • Haveli Indian Buffet - Page at Dielman. From an e-mailer: "Great food, decent price, tho I forget the exact number. Usually a little more spicy than most other Indian Buffets I have gone to, but very very flavorful. They have a larger selection of foods to pick from than most other Indian places as well. My wife and I frequent Indian Buffets and this is our new favorite. I think it has only been there about a year."

  • House of India - 8501 Delmar, just east of I-170 in U.City. Pankaj used to like their weekend stuff. I recently went there when my daughter took me there for my birthday and it was great! Of course, a meal always tastes better when your child picks you up from work, takes you there and pays for it. I bet the other parents reading this are jealous!

  • India Garden - CLOSED - Olive at Schulte. This used to be China Castle but had changed hands to be an Indian place, and now that has closed and turned into the Thai Niva Cafe place! It's like the United Nations of food every 6 months now. The Thai place has been there a while now, so it must not be too bad.

  • India's Rasoi (was Star of India) - 4569 Laclede in CWE. Our standard lunch buffet spot, a quick walk from the Wash U Med Campus. Food is usually the same stuff but very tasty. They also have a location in Clayton.

  • India Palace - 4530 N Lindbergh in Bridgeton. Pankaj's favorite and definitely the nicest "atmosphere". Nice view too. You can watch the airplanes.

  • Indian Food and Pakistani Cuisine Olive in "Little Shanghai" (next to Nobu). From e-mailer: "It has different Indian/Pakistani dishes you won't see anywhere else in St. Louis."

  • Mr. Currys Buffet Express 612 Olive, downtown. From an e-mailer: "Owner Bash is very pleasant and offers Buffet only Downtown across from Macy's Dept Store. (formerly Curry In a Hurry's locale.) Its Cheap at $7.99. Paper Plates & Cups and only open for Lunch from 11am - 1:15pm Mon - Fri. Not open for Dinner. Just serving the D-Town Lunch Crowd."

  • Mayuri Indian Restaurant (occupying same space as Riuchi's) at 12513 Olive St in Creve Couer west of I-270 in the same Shopping Plaza as Candiccis' Lunch express. From an e-mailer: "Mayuri's offers several items not seen at other Indian Buffets but is a bit more expensive."

  • Priyaa's Dorsett & McKelvey. A more suburban Indian restaurant which seems to have pretty much the same food as India's Rasoi or India Palace in a convenient location (for me at least!) and plenty of parking, unlike just about any other Indian restaurant (why is that?). I went recently while my wife, son and a bunch of other folks from church went to the nearby Subway. I went with two other real men to Priyaa's and had a much better lunch there than Subway! Comment from e-mailer: "Quite a bit different than other Indian restaurants in the area--they have thali dinners and full-size dhosas."
  • Raj's Rasoi Authentic Indian McKelvey, Maryland Heights. I have never been there but my daughter (who claims not to like Indian food) went there with a friend and said it was good. It seems to be a new vegetarian Indian restaurant that does have a daily buffet.
  • Saffron Manchester & Barrett Station by Burlington Coat Factory. From an e-mailer: "Another Indian Buffet for lunch. Fairly good, but a very limited selection."

  • Taste of India (was Tandoori Hut) - Fyler & Hampton in the 63109 zipcode. From an E-Mail: "I've eaten at probably every Indian restaurant in STL; the vast majority of them seem the same, with a heavy Pakastani influence ... not like the Indian food I've had elsewhere around the U.S. & nothing great, at all, in my opinion. Taste of India is the best so far, in my opinion. They are the only ones to offer some chicken-breast dishes, too." More comments from a different e-mailer: "Tandoori Hut changed owners and BECAME Taste of India. Their lunch buffet is good, it is heavily meat based. They usually have Chicken curry, Chicken Tikka Masala, spiced meatballs (like kofta), tandoori chicken, goat curry, mattar paneer, aloo gobi, etc. All the favorites plus a few novel things." Alas, it sounds like it closed down earlier this year!


    Japanese

    I also like Japanese food but in that area St. Louis is even more lacking. There are no Japanese buffets although Lee's and even Happy China sometimes have sushi in their buffet lines. Emperor's Palace has a Japanese section as well, but it was pretty bad. On trips to Houston and Portland we ate at some very nice Japanese buffets, but I don't know if St. Louis has the market to support those. In any case, here are the Japanese restaurants I know of in St. Louis:

  • Blue Ocean Sushi - Delmar Loop. On a recent Loop visit I saw a sign for "All You Can Eat Sushi" and I almost fainted! Could it be true? I now must convince my family to try it out. It is a little pricey, but we have to visit it as a public service, don't we? I did get an email from "RP" who claimed the variety was "STUNNING" and that everything was excellent. The only complaint was the noise from the neighboring bar.

  • Drunken Fish WestPort Plaza. Sushi place at WestPort, but I've never been there. I'm guessing it is an expensive "date place".

  • Fuji Sushi Clarkson between Kehrs Mill & Baxter. E-mail comment: "Its food is consistently very good and well priced".

  • Ichiban Creve Coeur, Olive just west of 270 (same plaza as House of Wong). We still have not made it there since it never seems to be open for lunch. Oishi Sushi is close by on the other side of 270 and a good place to go, so why bother?

  • I Love Mr. Sushi Olive west of 170. They come close to beating "Eat First" in the stupid name category, but they serve good sushi at very reasonable prices. Very limited menu and seating, but good for a quick sushi fix.

  • Kobe's Olive, 1 mi. west of 270. One of the Japanese "steak" houses which are as much entertainment as dining. The Olive Kobe's is more crowded than the Westport one (old Robata's) but you don't have to walk as far from your car. I don't know if any of the chefs at either place are actually Japanese, but they still usually put on a good show if you are willing to pay their inflated prices. Someone says it may be closed, but I have not verified that yet.

  • Kobe's WestPort (was Robata's). Now it is a Kobe's too. Here you get the Westport atmosphere and get to ride the big "Gold Building" elevator. I think the same cooks work both places. Someday when I retire I plan on becoming a chef there too. I look much more Japanese than many of those guys...

  • Miso Lounge North Meramec in Clayton. Sushi plus "Pan-Asian" cuisine. I think "Pan-Asian" must mean, "Really Expensive Asian". Ouch! It makes the other places look inexpensive.

  • Momoyama 1637 Clarkson, Chesterfield. From E-Mailer: "I tend to go for lunch. They have your standard bento boxes and sushi combos for lunch. Tasty and not too expensive at around $10 or so. The dinner menu seems fairly extensive. "

  • Nobu's Olive and 170. A refurbed fast food restaurant, they still have good sushi and they are more reasonable and less crowded than Tachibana's. But I haven't been there in 15+ years so who knows what they are like these days. They were one of the early sushi places in town but now they have much more competition, especially there on Olive.

  • Oishi Sushi Creve Coeur, Ballas just south of Olive, and they now have a sushi & steakhouse restaurant in Chesterfield. I love the name and we recently tried it out. The food is good and very reasonably priced. It has never been very crowded when we visited, but the service was good and the food was served quickly. Good, clean sushi spot in a very convenient location. Lunch specials are especially good deals.

  • San Sai Japanese Grill Maplewood Commons. Japanese fast food comes to St. Louis! The sushi here is merely okay, but for a cheap Japanese food craving it is not too bad. The serving sizes are generous and the service is fast. It is in a strip mall near a Wal-Mart and a GameStop, so don't expect anything gourmet! We still like it quite a bit. I find it interesting that all their locations are either in California or Missouri.

  • Sansui Euclid in CWE. This place has been in and out of business. I believe it might be back again, but don't quote me on that one. It wasn't too bad before, but I haven't been there since they've been under new management.

  • Sansui West (was Ted and Teiko's) Manchester in Warson Woods. We went there once when it was still Ted and Teiko's and the line at Tachibana's was too long. Not as crowded as Tachibana's since it is not on the Asian food corridor of Olive Blvd, but actually not too bad. I had a sushi assortment as usual which was pretty good and my kids enjoyed their tempura just fine.

  • Sapporo Manchester in Ellisville. From e-mailer: "The prices were decent but the sushi rice was undercooked and not seasoned."

  • Sarku Sushi Bar Food Court in St. Louis Galleria - not bad sushi for a reasonable price. Hey, it's in a mall food court so you cannot complain too much! They actually make the rolls for you fresh while you watch.

  • Seki Delmar Loop. Sushi place in the Loop, and I've never been there either. So close and yet so far away. If only I had some cash and I weren't so darn cheap!

  • Sekisui Pacific Rim - Clayton, Forsyth & Forest Park Pkwy, (old Famous Barr building). Here is a tip from an e-mail. They now have a $15.95 daily lunch "All you can eat" rolls special. I've never eaten there, but since it is so convenient for lunch from the Metrolink I may have to try it.

  • Sushi Ai Dorsett near McKelvey. AYCE sushi lunch and dinner.
  • Tachibana's Olive and Fee Fee (in the same plaza as Happy China). Probably the classiest and most expensive Japanese restaurant in town. It isn't too large and is often crowded. You can also often find local celebrities there (I spotted Ozzie Smith there a few years ago.) The food isn't any better than the other places, but at least since you pay more you can impress your date! Plus they have the tatami booths with paper screens which are a fun place to sit and eat.

  • Teriyaki Bowl Dorsett just west of 270 by Pasta House. CLOSED! I kept suggesting it but now I see it has closed. Boo hoo...

  • Tokyo Sushi Sunset Hills on Lindbergh. I only know this place exists because I saw on the news they had a fire there Feb 2009. I have no idea if they will reopen or not.

  • I recently found this link to sushi restaurants in St. Louis. Very informative!

    Thai

    Hey, I meant to start a Thai section but I just don't eat at Thai restaurants very much, not because I don't like the food, but because my wife and kids don't (much like they don't like Indian food). Other folks can eat there and tell me what is good! Maybe I can convince the family if there is a really good place to take them...

  • Manee Thai - Manchester and Baxter. From Adrian: "Good atmosphere and great food. Prices are a little more than traditional Asian restaurant but food is good. It's very clean and wht wait staff is very nice and professional."

  • Pearl Cafe, 8416 N Lindbergh Blvd. Florissant, MO 63031, and Simply Thai Restaurant, 2470 N US Highway 67, Florissant, MO 63033-2036, From Norman: "They are owned by the same family, and run by Pearl. They serve good Thai food and won some awards for it. I think they may be the only Thai places in the Florissant area."

  • Thai Country - U. City in the Loop. From E-Mailer: "They are a little on the pricey side, but their corn cake appetizers are fabulous. Parking is "loop parking"; need I say more? I have never had anything bad at Thai Country but sometimes their hours are sketchy."

  • The Thai House - Columbia, IL. From E-Mailer: "Best Thai restaurant in the area - The Thai House in Columbia IL. FANTASTIC and I am a major foodie and so some professional catering."

  • Thai Kitchen - Dorsett and McKelvey. From E-Mailer: "My absolute favorite Thai place is a little hole in the wall at Dorsett and McKelvey called Thai Kitchen. Everything on their menu is good. My son loves the Pad Thai there and I love the Thai Kitchen Salad. I know..I am talking about a Thai restaurant and raving about the salad, but it is very good. The peanut sauce is the best. I used to live in Hawaii and so I was used to the great Keo's Thai Cuisine over there. It may not have Keo's ambiance, but it is tasty and good."

  • Thai Sawadee - 171 Hilltown Village, Chesterfield. From E-Mailer: "It's in the Schnucks center on the Olive side of 40 in Chesterfield. I've been eating here for close to a year. I haven't loved everything I've tried, but I've loved most of everything I've tried. Their flavors seem so bright and vivid and alive. I don't know how else to describe it. The King & I seems to be the St. Louis favorite for Thai, but I much prefer this place."


    Non-Asian

    It was called "American" but frankly the Chinese, Indian and Japanese restaurants above are just as American as these ones, but you know what I mean...

  • Astoria European Buffet - Olive & Fee Fee in Creve Coeur.. "Very heavy; not very good. Inexpensive $8.95 lunch, $12.95 dinner. Place should have some music playing in the background; it's rather depressing because it is so quiet". - Idvin

  • Bristol's Sunday brunch - Olive east of 270. Nice place to impress folks if you are willing to "shell" out the bucks. Good fresh, selection of seafood, but it is "all you can eat'!

  • Cafe Brasil - McKnight & Manchester, Rock Hill. Lunch buffet and Brazilian steak house at night. CLOSED!

  • Candicci's Lunch Express - Olive & Ross at Heritage Plaza Center. Unfortunately only available during the week this gives you all you can eat pasta as prepared by Candicci's for a reasonable price.

  • Everest Cafe - Grove area (Manchester east of Kingshighway). Anonymous E-Mailer: "A lunch buffet with Nepalese/Indian food. Not a very big place but they focus on healthy food and you can eat there without feeling guilty. Very friendly to vegetarians also. If you go alone they might seat you at the bar since they try to reserve the tables for parties."

  • Golden Corral - St. Charles just south of 70 on Jungs Sta. Another e-mail suggestion. The sender stated "Their selection and quality of food is unbelievable. You'll never be happy with Old Country Buffet again once you've been to Golden Corral." It sounds like there is a second one in South County on Lindbergh just north of the I-55 intersection. From an e-mailer: "I would guess it's the same quality as the other one. The lot is always packed though. They also have breakfast on the weekends."

  • Harrah's Casino Buffet - I went there because my mother-in-law suggested it, and you know I'm a wonderful son-in-law. Definitely a higher class place than OCB, though the food wasn't necessarily any better. On Wed and Fri nights they have all you can eat crab legs, plus you can often find their "buy one get one free" coupons in the free calendars you get in the mail.

  • HomeTown (was Old Country) Buffet - Various locations. The "heavyweight" of chain AYCE buffets. Lots of food, plenty of grease, lots of hungry people. You know why you go there and if you go with the proper expectations, they rarely let you down. Fried chicken, overcooked veggies, lots of sweet mediocre desserts, unlimited everything. The saying "quantity over quality" could be there motto. The heart attacks are free!! Just the fact that they were able to purchase the buffet.com domain name tells you something! Pass the Pepto Bismol please.

  • Lotta Watta Creek - From an anonymous e-mailer: "While this restaurant is not officially in St. Louis ( it is in Fairview Heights, IL-right across the river) a great place to eat a lot of food is Lotta Watta Creek. Their portions are huge and the prices are reasonable. My kids love it as well. The cuisine is very much like a Houlihans or Applebees. Try it sometime if you every go into Illinois." I like the name.

  • Pasta Luigi's Main Street in St. Charles (Water Works Bldg). Alas I have been informed that they have closed! And I never even got to eat there.

  • Ponderosa - assorted locations. Someone e-mailed me to mention them. Well, if I mention Ryans' and OCB, you have to include Ponderosa too. I remember they were one of the first big "all-you-can-eat" places back when I was a kid. It was so exciting back then! We returned recently during their Ka-Bob-A-Rama which allowed us to sample their food bar. It simply does not compare to many of the newer, bigger buffets these days. But "Ka-Bob-A-Rama" is still fun to say. Their marketing is much better than their food quality!

  • Ravanelli's Restaurant, Collinsville, IL. From e-mailer: "Has American lunch buffet. Not a big buffet bar, but with fried chicken, pastas, meat loaf, salads, desserts.... etc. Food are fresh & tasty. A local's favorite."

  • Ryans' Family Steakhouse - Wow, they closed! Their parent company was bought by Hometown Buffet's and since they are just down the street on the Rock Road they closed down Ryan's.

  • Sweet Tomatoes - Olive/Old Olive by the AMC Theatres, Macaroni Grill, California Pizza Kitchen and Stir Crazy. There is a second one on Watson near Crestwood Lanes. A salad, soup and bakery buffet. Yes, a buffet for women, but they have some good peanut butter muffins and other baked goods. Overall it wasn't too bad, but not overly exciting. Hey, if I'm going to a buffet I want MEAT! Plus there are too many better places to eat at that plaza!


    Pizza

  • Cici's Pizza - various locations. I heard of this place and had to try it out. Sure enough you get all you can eat pizza for $3.99. They have a large variety of pizzas to choose. The problem is that none of them are very good. They mostly range from bad to mediocre, so you are stuck with the quantity over quality factor again. If you want lots of cheap, bland pizza this is the place to be, if you want lots of tasty pizza look elsewhere.

  • Incredible Pizza Company - South Lindbergh, just west of Baptist Church Road. Since Cici's is so awful we thought we would try this new pizza buffet in South County that my mother-in-law saw featured on TV. It was easy to find and huge, so when we found out it cost substantially more than Cici's we thought the food must be better, right? WRONG! This place is elementary school birthday party central and the food there is catered for the gourmet taste buds of an 8 year old. There are indeed a billion different pizzas but they were all on the same boring crust with tasteless sauce and toppings. They were bland and flavorless at best and some of them were just plain nasty (mustard on a pizza?). The very average salad bar and the soft serve machine (which dispensed a nice firm product) may have been the best food there. The true appeal is the large game room area, the themed dining areas and the ability to send your kids off to get their own food or recreate with the games. If family entertainment for a bunch of kids is your goal, this might be your place, if you are looking for good food, keep looking.

  • La Pizza - Delmar just east of Old Bonhomme - Not a buffet, but I had to mention them. They look like a dinky dive of a place from the street, and their lot is rarely as full as Pasta House just a hundred feet west of them. But their pizza is simply outstanding. Great New York style crust and the fellows working there are the nicest guys around too. Don't bring a large party to eat in since there are only 4 or 5 tables. Fantastic stuff!

  • Pi Delmar east of Skinker across from the Pageant. This place's popularity has gone through the roof since Pres. Obama recommended it and requested their pizza at the White House. The deep dish is truly authentic Chicago style for those who like that and the decor is very trendy. We went their and enjoyed their pizza which was very similar to a Gino's East type pizza in Chicago.

  • Pizza Hut Lunch Buffet McKelvey South of Rock Road. Pizza Hut does offer a lunch buffet at some locations and we have been to the one on McKelvey a few times. The main problem is lack of pizza. Pizza Hut makes some tasty pizza, but during the buffet lunch period demand always outnumbers supply by a large factor. Be ready for them to "release" a pizza since it is like feeding time in a pool of piranhas. A fresh pizza is devoured in mere seconds. It would make for a fascinating psychological study.

  • Pizza Street - two in St. Charles. All you can eat pizza for $3.99. I've never been there but Deb Z. and Rick F. (two separate e-mailers) say it's not bad. I received another e-mail about one at 8073 Watson Road: "Their price is $2.99 for kids, $3.99 for adult. The people behind the buffet bar constantly making fresh pizzas & they have more varities than CiCi's." I received an e-mail in Jan 2011 that agrees "It is better than CiCi's and well worth the price. Tasty crust & Sauce. (the pasta dishes on the bar are a bit of an after thought)." Someone just e-mailed me the one on Watson is closed.

  • Racanelli's - Delmar Loop, CWE, Webster on Big Bend and a couple others further out. Tasty New York style pizza, almost as good as La Pizza. If you have a larger group and want to sit somewhere and eat good pizza, this is the place to go (since La Pizza is too small!).

  • Shakespeare's Pizza - Columbia MO, two locations. I mention Shakespeare's even though it is not in St. Louis, simply because it is the only reason to visit Columbia, MO that has nothing to do with Mizzou. We particularly like the wheat crust pizza. Once my daughter had to attend something at Mizzou and we went to Cici's instead of Shakespeares because of the large school group. Yuck!!
  • Please tell me more! If you have any suggestions to where else I can gorge myself, please let me know. Any restaurant owners can send me a gift certificate and I will gladly come by and eat!

    More to come very soon!

    In the meantime you should also visit Neal Kendall's St. Louis Restaurants page and read this lovely restaurant guide written by someone else here at WashU.



    Contributors:
  • My very anonymous former next door neighbor, Ms. JB
  • The not as anonymous drummer and restaurant expert, Steve M, who also knows Ms. JB
  • The very anonymous Mrs. CB
  • The very anonymous Mrs. SB
  • Pankaj Agarwal, former WashU post-doctoral fellow and buffet lover
  • Jim Humphrey at Dimension Computer
  • Neal Kendall, JABECG (just another buffet eating computer geek)
  • Anonymous E-Mailers, church members and current/former co-workers: Abby, Adrian, Angel, Bobby, Chris W, Dave, Deb, Ed, Ellen, Hayley, Idvin, Jay, Jennifer, Jim, Jeffrey, Jessie, Joe, JY, Kalyandra, Karl, "Krazy Mike", Lars, Lauralyn, Leslie, Lou, Mary, Mel, Michael, Michele, Nikki, Norman, Paul, RP, Rick, Rob, Sarah, Sheri, Stephen, Tony, T.T., Victor & Zubin

    View Chinese Buffet and Non-buffet Restaurants - St Louis County in a larger map
    Hugh Chou