Tyler Cowen said "Il Mee Buffet, 7031-4A Duke St., Annandale ... also 14015 Lee Jackson Highway, Chantilly -- Everything is great and surprisingly fresh. Decent sushi too. Dont worry if you hate buffets, as I do, drop your reluctance and go. Everything here is fresh and outstanding. Get the cold soups. The kimchees. Make sure you dip your grilled meats in the sauces."
A report: Went to the Chantilly location Saturday eve - no special occasion, just trying to kill an hour between shows Saturday (I'm a children's magician and there's nothing I hate worse than spending an hour waiting in the car playing games on my cel phone). So, researched the areas I'd be both here and on Tyler Cowen's list and chose IL MEE.
Whoever said it was a good idea putting a Korean buffet RIGHT NEXT DOOR to a Chinese buffet?
Waitresses extremely attentive to this fat guy with a cane and a bad limp - couldn't quite get past the language barrier, but couldn't complain about the service. Price for dinner just raised to $17.95 (Cowen reported $15.95)
The usual Korean middle-of-your-table grill, which I wasn't in the mood for, but the ingreds looked good. The grill was very popular throughout the room.
OMIGOD the kimchees! Not just one, but at least half a dozen! Of course there's no shortage of cabbage and radish kimchees to be found around here, but I never saw Japanese sweet yellow pickled radish (like for sushi) made into a kimchee before - delicious!
Egg rolls filled with cabbage and (?) were, if as bland as any, especially perfectly fried. Couple of Chinese dishes (skip the wings and drumettes) and tiny annoying mussels (nobody else seemed interested in them either).
The sushi - this might restore your interest in buffet sushi! The usual maki rolls and nigiri done as well as any buffet (better than some) and I won't promise too many exotic ingredients, though there was a nigiri of (it had to be squid ... white and chewy, but the tenderest squid I've ever had) topped with green fish eggs ... very nice! Plus an assortment of rolls with sauces (the Japanese favor hot oils and spicy mayonnaise) and this chef made those and a bit more. The star of the sushi buffet: HUGE conical hand rolls with the best of the ingredients (cucumber, pickled carrot, pickled radish) plus large amounts of crispy grilled fish skin! I found these a bit too crunchy for me, but then I wasn't in the best of moods that eve. I really believe sushi fans (as opposed to sushi snobs) will be impressed.
Worth a try. Will I be back? Frankly, it's a little pricey for me, but then I don't make quite as much as some here seem to - I do believe you'll enjoy!
When I'm up for a long post again, I'll try summing up Dragon Sea buffet in Springfield - judging by all the Asian diners, my positive opinion isn't too far afield.