Once you’ve tried a buffet, especially the one in Bellagio in Las Vegas, then it’s easy to fall in love with the concept. You pay a reasonable price for good food in unlimited amounts, and if you have an appetite going, it’s a terrific deal.
But if you live in the East Bay, you don’t have to get to Las Vegas to find a great buffet. You don’t even have to get to San Francisco. The East Bay is already home to several buffets you can patronize on a regular basis:
Ohgane Korean BBQ, South Shore Ctr., Alameda
The place opens daily at 11am and closes at 10pm, so you have plenty of time. The buffet requires you to bring along another person, as there’s a 2-person minimum per table. Everyone has to be in the all-you-can-eat experience, or else everyone just orders from the regular menu.
You’re encouraged to order only what you can eat, but you can order half portions. You can’t take home leftover food, and leftover meat will cost you $40 per table. And then you have a maximum of 90 minutes per table.
Yet it will only cost you about $30 (plus tax) per person for lunch, and $35 for the all-day meals. The menu options are amazingly varied, with at least 28 different meat options included. Then you also have many other choices for seafood, stews, veggies, and small plates. This is one Korean BBQ experience you have to try.
Gogi Time, 2600 Telegraph Ave., Oakland
The place (Gogi Time), opens at noon each day, and normally closes at 10pm. But on Friday and Saturday, they’re open until 11pm. You have to come here at least an hour before closing time for the all-you-can-eat buffet.
The buffet costs about $38 for adults, though kids from 4 to 10 years old can get in for $21. Everyone should eat what they order, as there are extra charges for leftovers.
But here, the choices are terrifically varied. Start with 16 appetizers with options for pancakes (including kimchi pancake), potstickers, corn cheese, noodles, steamed egg, fried fishcake, fried tofu, various French fries (try the furikake fries), and onion rings.
Then you also have 16 meat options, including spicy pork, pork belly versions, bulgogi, LA short ribs, brisket, beef belly, short steak, sirloin steak, and chicken dishes.
For seafood, you have squid, mussels, shrimp (including garlic shrimp and garlic sesame shrimp), and even baby octopus.
Add the various sides and sauces, and veggies, and it’s a wonderful meal (and a wonderful life, for that matter).
Shabuya, 2025 Diamond Blvd F150, Concord and at 84 Ranch Dr., Milpitas
If you’re in need for some all-you-can-eat shabu shabu at an affordable price, this is where you go. And if you don’t know what shabu shabu is, then you may as well try it. This is a Japanese hotpot dish with thin slices of meat, seafood, and fresh veggies in boiling flavored broth and a variety of dipping sauces.
You can make shabu shabu at home if you like, but you should try it here first to understand just how delicious it can be.
Once you try it, you’ll want to get as much of it as you can, so all-you-can-eat makes a lot of sense. And that’s really true with the price of just $20 per person for lunch, with kids under the height of 40 inches eating for free!