The buffet is a quintessentially American concept: row upon row of different kinds of food on display, all begging to be tried and tasted, drowning out common sense and the groans of an overfilled belly. A common—yet highly disparaged—iteration is the Chinese super buffet, complete with pizza, French fries and chicken strips; though, how any of it, even the sweet and sour chicken, qualifies as Chinese is questionable.
I will preempt your skepticism by letting you know that International Buffet in Westminster is not a “super buffet.” Aside from a tray of French fries (presumably for the kids), the dishes served on their long buffet tables are actually quite authentic and span the Asian continent.
Inside, the restaurant looks a bit like a caricature of an American Chinese restaurant. But the first hints of its hidden authenticity come from its location—attached to the Pacific Ocean Marketplace, a specialty Asian grocery store—and from its wait staff and clientele.
After being seated and giving our drink orders, we made our way to a room with three long buffet tables, a sushi bar, a Mongolian barbecue station and a table strictly for fried foods. We have never tried the Mongolian barbecue—despite visiting on several occasions—because there never seems to be anyone available to cook; in all fairness, there’s also always been more than enough for us to eat without the barbecue.
One of the main buffets is cold foods, salads and desserts. Steer away from the boring iceberg salad and hone in instead on the seaweed salad, kimchi, peel-and-eat shrimp and other cold seafood. Seafood here is a specialty and always seems fresh and good quality.
From here, my dining companion ventured over to the sushi bar. We were a tad skeptical at first—sushi from a buffet didn’t seem like the best idea ever—but were surprised by the variety of rolls, sushi and sashimi. While not the best we’d ever eaten, it was passable.
There are little gems hidden along the steam tables of the main buffet; tucked in between the dishes one would expect are little bastions of authenticity and interest. The seafood soup, for starters, is unusual and a definite standout with all the fruits de mer swimming in a rich, savory broth. On the table beyond the soups, four shiny steamer baskets hold various dim sum-style tidbits. To be honest, the shu mai (steamed purses of shrimp, chicken or pork filling) usually have to be refilled after I visit, and the steamed peach buns are like perfect pillows stuffed with sweet bean paste.
Some of the main-course dishes, of which there are many, will look familiar, but many are unique and definitely more interesting. On a recent visit, the baked fish and salt and pepper squid were unexpected but became quick favorites; the fish was simply roasted and not the least bit fishy, while the squid was coated in breading heavy on the black pepper and fried to crispy golden perfection. And the sesame chicken was also a success, with its surprisingly complex sauce and still-crispy fried chicken.
I am firmly of the opinion that one must apply different standards to different restaurants. I like to ask what the restaurant was trying to achieve and then decide whether or not it was achieved. International Buffet is not trying to be a fancy fine dining establishment, or a modern Asian bistro. But it succeeds at being what it is: an inexpensive option for tasting a buffet-sized variety of pan-Asian dishes.
6600 W. 120th Avenue #G, Broomfield
Bottom line: Inexpensive with variety and good value. The food is best at busy times with turnover.