By Brittany Llorente
VERO BEACH -- The second you walk through the doors of Chef Lin's Asian Buffet, you are enthusiastically greeted with warm smiles and a bountiful buffet area that will make you glance back as you're being led to your table.
The sumptuous 200-dish buffet has enough variety to please anyone. The restaurant is an easy favorite for anyone seeking an inexpensive lunch or dinner and also looking to be filled to the brim.
The buffet holds classic Asian cuisine, but the hand-picked ingredients by Chef Xiang Gan Lin give the dishes an extraordinary flavor.
General Tso's chicken, bourbon chicken, lo' mein, sweet and sour chicken and house fried rice are just some of the transformed dishes.
There are also dishes only found at Chef Lin's, such as some of my favorites: the coconut shrimp, crab legs, calamari, black pepper chicken, Peking duck and Cantonese shrimp. These are all must haves on the menu.
I absolutely love sushi but the chances of convincing my date to eat it is slim, which is one of the reasons I love this buffet.
The sushi chef is there with rolls already hand crafted and if there is one you don't see that you want, he will whip it up right there for you. So, while I was able to munch away at the crunchy, shrimp tempura and spicy crab roll, my date was able to eat a generous steak that was cooked to order.
The stir-fry station is another unique aspect of this buffet. I added sprouts, beef, noodles, garlic, onions and mushrooms to a plate and Chef Lin added the extra touches to make the pile of ingredients into my own stir-fry.
I could go on, about the Rangoons, the tasty crunchy shells and the perfectly steamed crab legs or the spareribs that melt in your mouth, the Tinsun Chinese pastries, or the raw bar, but the craziest thing about this is it is all you can eat.
And the price is unbeatable.
"(Chef Lin) didn't want to raise the prices," said Lisa Lueg, manager of Chef Lin's. "He knew in this economy people would still want to go out and eat."
Lunch is $6.95 a person, children are $3.95 and it's 10 percent off for ages 60 and older. Dinner is $11.95 per person, children are $5.95 and ages 60 and older receive $1 off their meals.
"We have people who come in every day for lunch," Ms. Lueg said. "We really try to build a relationship with our customers. Every single person who works here has worked with us since we first opened. We are truly a family restaurant."
The service is as good as you can get, with my tea magically refilling itself and our plates cleared as we were up perusing more of the bounty.
And did I mention dessert?
Prepare yourself going in to save room for dessert. You won't be disappointed.
The coffeecake is one of my favorites, paired with the butter pecan ice cream and éclairs.
Before I left, I had a single glass of plum wine, one of the best I've had as it was smooth and tasty.
Without the dent in my wallet that an experience like this should have cost me, I was stuffed but completely happy with everything from the moment I walked through the door.
"I really think we needed a restaurant like this in Vero," Ms. Lueg said.
Chef Lin's is located at 1850 US 1, Vero Beach, 32960. For more information and hours, call (772) 778-6989.