Monday, March 8, 2010

Buffet King Chinese Cuisine, Mongolian Grill & Sushi, Denton, TX


By Ellen "EJ" Sackett

If eating out at a Chinese buffet is your thing, you're not alone. Buffet King, Denton's newest such restaurant has only been open a few months, yet it's drawing the crowds. Easily accessible near the southeast intersection of I-35 and Loop 288 near the Golden Triangle Mall, expect a wait on a Friday and Saturday night, but not for long. The line moves quickly. The dining room seats hundreds at a time and the serve-yourself style lends itself to an almost fast-food experience.  

While not exactly cheap dining, customers certainly get their money's worth. The fixed-price buffet has an extraordinary amount of options from which to choose--over 200, in fact. You'll find what you expect at a Chinese buffet, like Sweet and Sour Chicken, Pepper Steak and Lo Mein. But this restaurant also offers a sushi bar with several kinds of Nigiri and Japanese-style rolls as well as a Mongolian grill station, where customers choose from variety of meats and veggies that are cooked on a large circular grill while you wait. 

Oftentimes quantity affects quality in buffet-style dining, but here the food doesn't have a chance to dry out or get cold. The meat dishes are flavorful but not too spicy, and the vegetables aren't overcooked. The food tastes fresh, the way it often looks at a buffet, but rarely is. Seafood lovers can chow down on unlimited amounts of crab legs, shrimp and mussels. Don't forget to try the tasty pork potstickers, found near the hot and sour and egg drop soups, and make a point to try the green beans that have just the right amount of crisp to them.

Children have options too. There's pizza and chicken drumsticks, and rows of desserts to tempt the sweetest sweettooths. Fortunately, for those who are trying to watch their weight, there's a little hope, as fresh fruit, such as cantaloupe and grapes, are available in addition to the puddings, cakes, soft-serve ice cream and other sugary delights. 

While most customers clammer for the buffet, diners can also order off the menu. Lunch specials and combinations plates offer good values and can be made to suits one's taste, be it mild, medium or hot. Take out is also available. The restaurant is cheery and clean with bright chandeliers, neon signs and flat-screen TVs, the service is friendly, and the food, while not exceptional, caters to the hungry. For large parties, quick business lunches, and family nights out, Buffet King rules.


Buffet King
2251 S. Loop 288, Denton, TX

Lunch ~ Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Dinner ~ Monday through Thursday, 3:31 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 3:31 p.m. through 10 p.m.
Sunday ~ All day dinner buffet from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Vercelli's Pasta and Pizza, Krum, Texas

By Ellen "EJ" Sackett
Earlier this week we bid a sad adieu to the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver, British Columbia. Some of us will miss duking it out with our northern neighbor, but I, for one, found myself rooting for the Canadians as well. Not only did they snag most the gold medals won at any Winter Olympic Games, they were true sportsmen and women, and good-humored, gracious hosts. Canada has lots of reasons to be proud.
For the Denton Record-Chronicle/Scott Sackett
For the Denton Record-Chronicle/Scott Sackett
Authentic poutine is on the menu at Vercelli’s Pasta and Pizza in downtown Krum, Texas. 
In their honor, I say we chow down on a Canadian favorite: poutine — French fries topped with white cheese curds, covered in a beef-based brown gravy. Its origins aren’t precisely known; however, most agree the poutine craze began in Quebec in the 1960s. Now it’s served up in greasy spoons and fast-food chains throughout the country. Even women’s figuring skating bronze medalist Joannie Rochette is known to indulge. Canada’s quintessential comfort food is also referred to as one of Canada’s guiltiest pleasures — and is another source of national pride.
Fortunately, we don’t have to travel to the Great White North to find it — in fact, we don’t even have to cross the county line. Authentic poutine is on the menu at Vercelli’s Pasta and Pizza in downtown Krum.
Why is a French-Canadian dish available at an Italian restaurant in a small North Texas town? Jane Flores, who owns the restaurant with her mother is originally from Quebec, and they brought the recipe with them.
Their basic poutine is made from hand-cut French fries. The poutine gravy is imported from Quebec and the white cheddar cheese curds are shipped overnight from Wisconsin. The rubbery cheese has to be squeaky. (Squeaky? That’s the sound the curds make when you bite into them. It means they are extremely fresh.)
Vercelli’s also offers an Italian poutine, which substitutes a rich, tomatoey meat sauce for the gravy. You can also try frites sauce or frites italienne, versions of the two recipes without the cheese. (But then it’s not really poutine.)
By the way, while you’re at Vercelli’s, don’t forget to congratulate the Italians. They might not have won big at the Olympics, but they sure take the prize for lasagna.
Vercelli’s Pasta and Pizza, 208 W. McCart St., Krum, TX 940-482-6051.

A version was originally published in Denton Record-Chronicle, March 4, 2010