Best Asian Buffet expanded from Ithaca into our area this week. Opening was preceded, but not permanently marred, by vandalism that was apparently bigotry-related.
I say "apparently" because the smashed windows were punctuated by anti-Asian graffiti. Local reaction was "Huh?"
And overwhelming support and patronage these past few days of its debut. Businesses sent welcoming bouquets, as is traditional for new companies in these parts.
Best Asian offer a complete typical "Chinese" menu for takeout and a la carte, which I sampled first. The wait staff was equivocal about MSG content, saying there would be a "little bit" without seeming to know which items. The decadently sumptuous, enormously varied buffet will have to wait until I can be sure I will not be affected. This was hard, because I spent a great deal more ordering a la carte. The Weekend Buffet costs only $5.99, and was clearly all-you-can-eat. And they have tons of sushi. I can hardly wait to attack the vegetarian lovelies with all their crunchy colors.
So far no reaction, even though I am quite sensitive. My guess is that there are items that require MSG in the buffet. Two hours later I still am very happily gorged on chow mein and fried rice (with egg roll). Mosly I am filled with admiration for the obviously Asian (Hong Kong, like the photo over the buffet?) waitstaff, who remained pleasant and helpful during my visit.
They were racially attacked and their livelihoods threatened, yet they bounced back, stoically meeting the challenge. The owners simply replaced windows, repaired the damage, and opened as planned.
The place is spacious and well lit, with a pleasing decor, mixing Asian caligraphic art with photography, and simple American-style murals (obviously from its former Ponderosa Steakhouse incarnation), inside and out. My personal favorite was the painted glass around the top of the booths. There were multi-colored woodcocks, gracefully warring oxen, pandas, hummingbirds and other exotica.
And the community responded! Filled the parking lot to overflowing, clogged the Miracle Mile, patiently waiting, and fed on serving after serving of Asian and American food. I visited early Saturday, before noon, and found the parking lot already almost full.
The customers were from all walks of life: young families of every stripe, bikers, tourists, seniors, teens, black, white, and even a few Asian-looking diners (well, why not?). I saw many of our United States represented in the parking lot that was again promising to overflow when I left around1:30 PM.
And that must surely be the best revenge.