City Buffet in Roy is a nod to the “Go big or go home” theory of dining. Opened in January, the massive all-you-can-eat restaurant offers Chinese, American and seafood specialties, a salad bar, sushi bar and a Mongolian grill, all under one roof.
With around 200 food items, it would be impossible to try everything. Food coma, anyone? A word to the wise: Come in your spand-o-flex sweatpants; this is no place for skinny jeans.
“We are the biggest buffet in the Salt Lake City area,” said manager Allen XiangQuing Ye. “And every week we can change the menu to add new stuff.”
Located in a building that formerly housed a Rite-Aid store, the restaurant has several large dining rooms for a combined seating of 450, according to Ye.
“After the coronavirus, we could put in more tables,” he said. “But we worry about keeping everybody healthy for now.”
Besides its massive size, what sets City Buffet apart is its variety of seafood, from fried flounder to baked salmon, shrimp, clams, octopus, crab, mussels ... and probably more, since some items aren’t labeled, or labeled with mysterious names such as Seafood Delight. So it can be a bit of a guessing game. But that’s the beauty of a buffet; you can take a little and come back for more if you like it.
The owner is GuangSheng Ye, who lives in Idaho. Allen Ye, who knew GuangSheng Ye but is not related, came from New York City to help open and manage the restaurant.
Allen Ye said the location was actually chosen four years ago after talking to people in the area. The owners found that people were driving to Salt Lake City to eat at the large Chinese buffets there. It seemed that a mega-buffet in Roy would be a good fit.
In picking a name, they decided to go with City Buffet, “Because it would be easy for everybody to remember,” Allen Ye said.
The décor has a dual personality. Delicate Chinese wall murals contrast with Vegas-vibe neon signs to guide you to the sushi or Mongolian grill. They also are a reference point to keep you from getting lost amid the sheer hugeness of the place. Red and gold — considered lucky colors by the Chinese — are prominent touches.
In the front lobby, a staffer hands out masks and sanitizer for COVID-19 safety precautions. Diners must wear masks while dishing up their food. But with a large number of people all loading up their plates, social distancing can be a challenge.
There are four “hot food” stations, each holding 16 tubs of different items, such as General Tso’s chicken, broccoli chicken, sweet and sour chicken, Thai chicken, baked and fried fish, BBQ ribs, fried rice, bright green beans, clams, wontons, egg rolls, French fries, fried zucchini, pizza, noodles and more ... and more.
Salt and pepper shrimp is one of the house specialties, served tail-on with a crispy fried coating and sliced scallions.
Then it’s on to the salad bar, which also includes fresh fruits such as cantaloupe, honeydew, oranges, pineapple chunks and grapes. Besides the usual lettuce and salad toppings, you’ll find mussels on the half shell, and octopus salad with shrimp and crab.
You’ll also find a variety of sushi on display.
Feeling full yet? If not, head for the Mongolian grill, where diners choose sliced meats, fresh veggies, noodles and sauces from a smorgasbord of ingredients. They hand their bowl to a cook who stir-fries it to sizzling perfection on a giant round, flat-top grill.
“It’s very popular,” Allen Ye said. “They can pick whatever they want and we cook it fresh. When you come here at night, there’s always a line of people here.”
Ye worked in New York and New Jersey restaurants for many years before coming to Utah. Compared to Utah, he said, the restaurants in New York were less spacious with fewer menu items.
“Here in Utah, people really like Chinese food with all its different flavors,” Ye said. “And even though we don’t have the ocean here, people love seafood. The sushi is very popular.”
How does a restaurant keep such huge amounts of food fresh?
“We don’t order too much at a time,” Ye said. “We just think one week ahead. We can’t order too much and leave it sitting in the cooler. It’s not good for the food.”
This econo-meal is $9.95 for lunch, Monday-Friday ($5.55 for children). Dinner on Monday-Friday and all day Saturday, Sunday or holidays is $13.95 for adults and $8.55 for children. Ye said that at dinner (after 3:30 p.m.), more shrimp and steak items are set out on the buffet, hence the higher price.
Soft drinks are $2.25. Alcoholic beverages aren’t served.
Takeout is an option, charged by the pound. People can choose from the buffet to fill up their take-out box. The to-go meals run from $4.75 to $10.95 per pound, depending on whether it includes seafood, hibachi items or sushi.
“It’s less expensive than ordering takeout from a Chinese restaurant, with more choice,” Ye said.