I arrived at Chef Lin Buffet as its lunch spread was switching over to dinner, which occurs daily at 4 p.m.
The sweet-spicy smelling restaurant bustled with the transformation. Owner Tony Lin stood alongside the hostess stand and spoke into a two-way radio. Staff members carried out fresh, steaming platters of dishes offered exclusively during dinnertime - oysters on a half shell, award-winning coconut chicken, crab legs and crawfish, for example.
"The frog legs are probably one of the most popular dinner foods," said Tony, which might have surprised me if I hadn't tried them for myself. In fact, I am rather partial to Chef Lin's deliciously crispy fried frog legs.
No sooner had staff placed the hot stack of frog legs onto the bar than patrons began piling the crispy yet tender hunks onto their platters. I watched as a younger child ladled a generous amount of creamy coconut chicken onto his plate. One man carried a plate heaped with spring rolls and fresh veggies. Upon noticing the buttery crab legs added to the buffet, he moved his full plate to the crook of his elbow, grabbed a new one and began to load it with crab legs.
Yes, the folks at Chef Lin are eager at dinnertime. However, that is not to discourage you from lunch, which also offers an abundance of fresh hot foods. For example there is a number of steamy soups; ginger scallion shrimp crusted with spices and tossed with diced vegetables; fried catfish; honey chicken; baked salmon; and thick barbecue ribs. There is even breaded chicken feet and beef tripe in authentic dim sum style, the Chinese equivalent of small-sized dishes.
For vegetarians there are rice noodles, a full salad bar, fruit and, my favorite, vegetable tempura made with battered and fried slices of squash and zucchini.
With such a selection it is no wonder Chef Lin has been voted "Best of the Best" 15 times. The food is fresh, plentiful and patrons are pleased. Don't forget, dinner starts at 4 p.m. and you'd better hurry ... before that guy takes all the crab legs.