“ Address: 475 Tyburn Road / Erdington Birmingham / Telephone: 0121 382 8382 „
I went to Buffet Island Chinese Restaurant last week because it was my mates birthday and I couldn't make her party so treated her to a buffet lunch instead. I love Chinese food and think the buffet's are the best way to enjoy a taste of everything without having to order a load of food that you're not going to finish.
The layout is good and there are loads of tables to choose from, most of the time you can choose where you're going to sit but my mate tells me that when it's busy you have to sit where you're told.
There's a massive range of food including starters, main dishes and puddings and they are all layed out in order of what they are. The rice and noodles are all together, next to them is the curries and dishes in sauce and then there are all the starters.
There's a lot of things that are on a normal Chinese menu but I didn't think Buffet Island had such a good choice as other Chinese buffet restaurants I've been to.
A problem I had was that a lot of the food wasn't as hot as it could have been. The rice in particular looked dry and felt quite cold to the touch so I didn't bother with that because my mum got food poisoning from rice one time and now I'm proper nervous about it.
The taste of all the food was nice and it was stocked up quickly when it ran out, it annoyed me that the noodles weren't replaced because I love noodles and when I asked why I was told that they'd run out!!! A Chinese restaurant who runs out of noodles is just mad!!!
The puddings are proper naff and all the choices are frozen cakes and fruit. There was a couple of jellys on there when we first went in but by the time we'd finished our main meals they'd gone and hadn't been replaced.
The staff aren't that good and there was even one member of staff that pretended he couldn't speak English when I complained about the cold rice. I knew he was pretending because he was chatty enough with the group of girls at the next table! I felt like chucking the rice in his face!!!
The restaurant is proper clean and tidy inside and I reckon it could become a brill place if the niggles were ironed out.
AVOID......VERY POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AND VERY POOR VEGETARIAN CHOICE
Here is an extract of the letter i wrote to the owner of buffet island, but they did not even bother to reply. VERY POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE
I write this letter in response to the poor customer service we received earlier today at your restaurant, Buffet Island, Erdington. Around 12:30, my wife, our children and I arrived for lunch. When we arrived for Lunch, I noticed that there has been a redesign of the buffet service layout.
( hot food being laid where previously desserts had been). Whilst waiting to be seated, I glanced over the buffet and noticed there was no tofu and black bean sauce ( my wife's favourite) which is one of the main reasons why we have, for years chosen Buffet Island over other Chinese buffet restaurants.
I was quietly speaking to my wife that for some reason there was no black bean tofu dish and as our entire family are vegetarian our options were limited, so I was suggesting taking the kids to pizza hut instead. One of your staff approached and was going to give us a table, so I replied that we were just deciding on going to pizza hut instead as no there was no black bean tofu . However, in an effort on his part to keep our custom he suggested that we stay and he would ask the chef to prepare an extra dish which he said was no problem . My immediate thoughts were very positive and that he showed initiative and was trying to provide good customer service. As he was seating us he asked for our drinks order.So I ordered drinks, seated the kids including one in a high chair. We have been to buffet island that many times, my wife and I have a system, she settles the kids (6yrs,4,2 and a baby), whilst I get the kids food quickly so as to keep them quiet. As I mentioned we are all vegetarian, so the kids meals only consist of fried noodles, chips and ice cream.(so even though it is quite expensive to pay full kids price for such very basic foods, their taste palletes are not sophisticated yet for much else on offer).
However, when I went to get their small portions of noodles, I could not find any. The manager was in the buffet area so I asked if there was any fried noodles ( as there has always been fried noodles every single time without exception in the past). She rather rudely pointed to the bean curd, saying "that's all' and stormed off. To recap, WE DID NOT ASK FOR SPECIAL FOOD TO BE PREPARED FOR US, THE STAFF OFFERED IT TO US TO STOP US GOING ELSEWHERE.
As she walked past me again, I asked if it was possible to have just plain fried noodles without meat and she bluntly said that they don't make special meals. Obviously this meant there was virtually nothing for our kids to eat, so we packed up to leave. By this time our drinks order arrived. I went to the bar to say that we were leaving and that my drinks had arrived. I said that without the noodles our kids couldn't eat anything, to which she replied that the menu changes every day. Well I have been attending Buffet Island for 3 years and Fried Noodles has always been there! She gave me a very dirty look mumbled something and charged me for the drinks (which we had not touched). By this time my wife had gathered the kids and met me at the bar. After another dirty look from your manager, ( as if we were just inconvenient timewasters) we left.
There are several points that come to mind with this situation.
1. We would have happily went elsewhere at the beginning, if your waiter had not offered us the possibility of the chef accommodating our vegetarian diets due to the change of menu.
2. Altering the menu to take away a simple sidedish food such as fried noodles seems a very strange decision.
3. To satisfy a loyal customer, is it too complex a task to simply not add the meat to a portion of fried noodles !!!
4. If I was the manager in a situation like this, I would have never charged for the drinks, after all it was buffet island who stopped us from leaving to go elsewhere.
5. We went to Wing Wah restaurant afterwards, who's chef has obviously managed to cook that ever so complex meal of fried noodles, so my kids were happy and it was actually significantly cheaper as well.
6. To put into financial perspective, we go to buffet island on both my wife and I's birthdays, wedding anniversary, fathers day, mother's day, my oldest child's birthday and many impromptu luncheons such as today. ( Basically because our parents live far away and we have no babysitters so the kids have to come) On top of this we have had two company Christmas dinner evenings there ( average 12 people at each event) and in February my wife was negotiating booking a room for 50 guests for a Baptismal luncheon on the 1st of March. ( In the end we chose a hotel to hold the Christening reception because it was far easier for guests who had traveled from far away to hold the function where they were staying). However, it shows that we are good customers who have loyally encouraged neighbours and friends towards your restaurant. I did a quick spreadsheet estimating how much I may have spent there in a typical 12 month period.
Mothers Day £35
Fathers Day £35
Valentines Day £35
My birthday £35
Wife Birthday £35
Wedding Anniversary £35
Christmas Office Party £180 (12x£15pp)
General Impromptu visits £140 (4x£35)
Even if I reduce this by two evenings it is still around £500 per annum and we have been visiting Buffet island for over 3 years, so that is £1,500
My wife is the Managing Director of an advertising agency and was very insulted and embarrassed by the dirty looks and very poor body language given by your manager. As I write this letter to you, she is on her own laptop, typing a letter to the Sutton Coldfield Observer, the food critic of the Evening mail, the president of the Vegetarian Society and numerous online Birmingham food review websites. Obviously, her friends at the school, church and neighbours will be interested to know about it to.
.Having run our own companies for several years, I have learned that it costs 3 times as much to attract new customers as it does to retain current ones. Perhaps this is something you should mention at the next staff meeting.
After the shabby and embarrassing treatment we received by your manager today, we shall not be returning to your restaurant again.
However, before posting our letters and leaving the online reviews, we will graciously allow you seven days to respond, so that the letter will also contain your response or lack thereof.
A few weeks ago a good friend of ours asked us to join him and his family to celebrate his birthday at Buffet Island in Birmingham. He sent us a link to a web site where we could find out a bit about the place as he guessed, quite rightly, that we would not have heard of it!
The restaurant is situated just off Spaghetti Junction, or to give it its proper name The Gravelly Hill Interchange! I won't try and direct you to it as it is a bit fiddly and my sense of direction is none too good (it's a good job I don't drive then!). Steev, our friend, directed Dave with the aid of a map printed from Google and we found it easily.
The address is:
475 Tyburn Rd
0121 382 8382
They don't have a web site but there are plenty of web sites with reviews of restaurants which have many reviews of this place. We had a good look at some of them before we went and only found 2 negative reviews amongst dozens listed so we were confident we would have a good time.
I will say that I was going to be difficult to convince as I am not a fan of serve yourself places for two reasons. Firstly I like to be served when I go out for a meal and secondly I am always wary of food being left about for ages - I needn't have worried!
Our part consisted of Steev, his wife Jan, his daughter and my Goddaughter Rosie (14), Dave my husband and me. Steev had booked a table for 7pm but he had warned us that we may still have to wait as it does get very busy.
Just as an aside, the last time that they went, they had to wait for over half an hour even thought they had booked. The manageress told them to have a complimentary round of drinks at the bar and she found them later in the evening to make sure that they had done so!
Anyway back to our night out - we arrived at about 6.45pm and parking is not easy. Buffet Island holds about 400 diners and is always full so the car park is also always full. We parked on the spare ground at the front beyond the boundary wall of the restaurant, where others had parked and this was fine.
The building is set on a corner plot and looks like a nice old building from the outside. Whether it looks any different in daylight I can't say! LOL!
As we entered we walked straight into a large reception area with a long, smart bar and a few seats, which opened into the start of the food area. There was a small high table over towards the bar with the bookings list so Steev went over and announced our arrival.
As we had booked they gave Steev a pager to clip on his waistcoat so that we could be called when our table was ready. This was different from when they had been before so they had obviously thought about their system and improved it.
We purchased a round of drinks from the bar and sat down to chat. The drinks were priced as you would expect in a restaurant - not cheap but not extortionate either.
We were called to our table at about 7.15pm which we thought was fine given the number of people in the place. It was packed, but having said that there was plenty of room to move about without feeling cramped. I sometimes have problems with crowds but I was fine here.
The three large restaurant rooms are set behind the reception, one behind the other with a wide walkway straight down the centre of the whole place. The rooms are laid out with tables for two, three, four etc., some are long straight tables, some are round so there are plenty of variations.
We were seated in the end room and the table had a knife and fork and a sealed wet wipe thing, which is a must with Chinese food! We were welcomed and told to help ourselves.
We walked back towards the reception to the food and there was plenty of it! All the hot food was displayed in metal heated containers with overhead lighting.
There was an area for starters; one for main courses, one for sushi, one for cooking while you wait and one for sweets and the range was amazing.
I can't remember all the different foods that were there but it looked as though they had taken the menu from a good Chinese restaurant, made all the foods on it and then added some!
I spotted the crispy duck with pancakes and all the trimmings so I was well happy!
Seriously I would say that there were about a dozen different starters and maybe 20 different main courses together with the sushi bar and also an area where there were chefs waiting to cook for you. There were certain foods which needed to be eaten as soon as they were cooked so they were cooked there for you whilst you waited.
I don't know about you but when I go for a Chinese or an Indian meal I never have a sweet partly because I am usually full up and partly because they don't really have much of a choice where the sweets are concerned. Not so here! There were various gateaux, cheesecakes, profiteroles, fresh fruit or all sorts, ice cream, jelly and marshmallows. Marshmallows? Now why would they have marshmallows? That would be because they also have a huge chocolate fountain!
So basically what I am saying is that they have every Chinese meal you can think of and then some.
The food is of excellent quality and there is plenty of it. The problem of food lying around is not a problem as there are so many people there that it is used up quickly and replaced as soon as the level in the container looks a bit low. In fact the is a person employed specifically to walk around the food area all night making notes of what needs to be replaced and passing these back to the kitchen where the chefs must work SO hard!
The area around the food is spacious enough for lots of people to move freely and to get to the food without having to queue. I know that there were 400 people there but of course not everyone would be fetching food at the same time. I didn't feel crushed or crowded at any time, and as I have said earlier I can have quite a problem with crowds so that shows how good it all is. The other thing I noticed about the food area was underfoot. It was tiled but with non slip tiles so I never felt that I might slip and fall. I never noticed any food on the floor either so I am guessing that all spillages are cleaned immediately.
I must confess I had a couple for plates of starters and didn't bother with a main course, but Dave, Steev and Jan all had at least one plate from the main courses and everything looked lovely and all got eaten so it must have been good. Rosie went off to the sushi bar and came back with an excellent selection although it doesn't appeal to me I'm afraid!
We all enjoyed a variety of sweets though! Rosie went to the chocolate fountain a few times, Jan and I shared a plate of profiteroles and the lads had a bit of everything I think! Dave was thrilled to find large cubes of jelly on offer - he loves jelly - and Rosie challenged him to eat it with chop sticks which he did!
Every time you finish with a plate of food your plate is removed by one of the army of staff and you fetch a clean plate and cutlery each time you go to the food area. In fact they insist on this - Steev tried to reuse his plate but they politely said no, he was to have a fresh plate. All evening we kept seeing waitresses one at each end of a huge plastic box of dirty plates and dishes heading to the kitchen!
This was something I really noticed about this place - even though there were so many people there, we felt well looked after and there was always someone around to fetch drinks or to help us with any questions we might have.
Although there were always people waiting we never felt hurried at all and really enjoyed the whole experience.
The whole place was also spotlessly clean - a big plus for a restaurant!
The prices are good too
Monday -Thursday Lunch £6.90 for adults and £5.00 for children under ten.
Monday -Thursday Dinner £12.90 and £8.90
Friday and Saturday Lunch £6.90 and £5.00
Friday and Saturday Dinner £13.90 and £8.90
Sunday Lunch £9.50 and £6.50
Sunday Dinner £12.90 and £8.90
Steev insisted on treating us and said that the whole evening including two rounds of drinks (and Jan and I were on large glasses of wine!) came to less than £20 per head. When you think that we could eat as much as we wanted to for as long as we wanted to and the food was of excellent quality and variation - what more can you ask?
The only down side is the fact that we now live in Llandudno! If we lived closer we would definitely be regulars!
I would recommend the place without hesitation!