Royal Seafood Buffet opened this week in Reno on South Virginia Street near Gentry Way. It succeeds on some tough dishes, fails miserably on simple ones and all in all offers good value.
I had low expectations going into Royal Seafood Buffet. It opened in a building that's housed a succession of so-so restaurants. For 20 years or thereabouts it was a Marie Callendar's Restaurant. It also housed a Micasa Too and more recently it was a mediocre Chinese restaurant.
I went for dinner. There were several buffet stations. Plus dinner gets you a ticket good for one half lobster. Dinner also has oysters on the half shell and some dishes they don't serve at lunch.
I started with the vegetables, a cup of hot and sour soup and the dim sum. The hot and sour soup is the type that has flakes of red peppers floating in the broth. In the past I haven't like this kind, but this was pretty good. It was thinner than most, but all in all good. I would get it again. Then I had a duck roll and it was pretty good too. I can't describe all the ingredients but the duck was reasonably fresh and tasty. I also got clams off the ice. They weren't the freshest, and they were also a little tough, but the taste wasn't too fishy. I liked them too.
Then the bad news began. Off the cold table I a variety of vegetables and most were just plain bad. The mushrooms didn't taste like mushrooms. The "fresh" peas in a pod I decided were inedible and ended up throwing them away. The asparagus had some kind of a red spice on it but was terrible. The kim chee was also horrible and it went unfinished. The seaweed was okay.
All in all it was a bad stretch of food and not much to recommend.
But then I tried the dim sum and Royal Seafood got back into my good graces. They had four, including a tripe, but I only tried the sui mai and one whose name I forget. It was ground sausage wrapped in dough. Both were pretty good. I'm not saying Monterey Park or San Francisco good, but it's among the better dim sum I've had in Reno. They made it fresh and the chef seems to know how to make dim sum.
I used my ticket to get my half lobster. It comes bisected and coated with a heavy, gooey lobster sauce that had the consistency of melted Velveeta. It wasn't bad, but it was nothing special. I wouldn't pay extra to get it. In fact, I think lunch would be a better deal if this is one of the reasons dinner costs more.
The rest of the entrees were a mixed lot. While it's described as a seafood buffet, I'd say at least half the entrees were not seafood. There's the standard Chinese dishes like general's chicken. I tried to take small samples of a bunch of fishes. Nothing really stood out. They also have other styles of food, like Brazalian beef and pizza. I got some shrimp lo mein just after they brought that out and it was excellent. The noodles were really tasty and the shrimp was good, too. They had pork ribs, which were done with a heavy coating of a sweet-and-sour sauce, and beef ribs which were done with a mild barbecue sauce. They were not gourmet food. RevAndy would never serve that kind of food. But they were still decent for buffet food.
There was lots I didn't try. The oysters were huge but the two left when I looked at them were pretty nast looking. THey also have a mongolian/Korean style buffet wherfe you load the raw ingredients on a plate and give it to them to stir fry. They also had some sushi.
There's lots offered at the Royal Seafood Buffet. I think if you choose carefully and pick food that's just been cooked, in general you have a chance to get a pretty good meal. My dinner, with tax but before tip, was $18.76. That was reasonable.
Royal Seafood Buffet
3255 S. Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89502