Eastern Feast: Lin’s Buffet


by Valerie Valentine

Cantonese, Hunan and Szechuan cuisine fills the steaming trays at Lin’s Buffet at 3903 N. Richards Street. The buffet fills a gap in the Riverwest area market, which lacked a venue where you can get a reasonably-priced smorgasboard of Chinese food. The clean, utilitarian space is comfortable and large enough to host sizeable parties.

Lin’s Buffet offers what Americans have come to expect in Chinese food, with staples like vegetable lo mein, chicken and broccoli, egg rolls and General Tso’s chicken. Lin’s also has new savory bites that you may not have tried, such as peanut chicken, garlic mussels, and an outstanding sweet and salty pork and onion dish. Seafood is one of the house specialties.

Hungry diners can load plates again and again with a vast variety – 80 items are in rotation on the buffet. Others who have a specific craving can order off the menu for a fresh feast for carry out. Proprietor Bill Xiao spoke with Riverwest Currents about his new venture.

When did Lin’s Buffet open?

We opened in September 2005.

Where did the idea for the restaurant come from?

I used to do buffet restaurants. I worked at buffets in California. Now I opened my own store. My wife and her brothers help me with it.

Who is Lin?

Lin is my wife’s name.

What are the specialties?

We have peanut chicken, sometimes we have garlic bread, General Tso’s chicken, Chinese fried chicken (breaded or with the sauce on the side). We have a seafood dinner special with shrimp scampi. On the weekend we’ve got crab legs.

What makes the buffet unique?

We do a large takeout menu, and we do buffet takeout by the pound. We do menu catering. We have fruits, salad bar; people like dessert; cake, all fresh. We have a changing menu all the time. We do what the customers like. We usually have over 60 items.

Are there special deals?

Lunch is $5.99 plus $.50 for all you can drink. Dinner is $7.99.

Who is the chef?

The Lin family.

How do you prepare the specialties?

We don’t want to say. We can’t give away our secrets.

Who is the clientele?

People who work around here – there’s a lot of industry. We get lots of older people. The variety brings in a lot of different people.

Anything else you would like the community to know?

We’ve got a nice place here with a new look and new decorations. Stop by! Lin’s Buffet is located in the new Riverworks Commons mini-mall, just south of Capitol Drive. Senior citizens (60+) and students with IDs receive 10% off. There’s plenty of free parking.

Lin’s Buffet
Lunch: Mon-Sat 10 am to 3 pm
Dinner: Mon-Thurs 3:30 to 10 pm
Sunday all day dinner buffet

Riverwest Currents online edition – March, 2006