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Dining Out: Elmhurst buffet restaurant has cloth-covered tables to seat 1,000

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PACIFIC WORLD INTERNATIONAL BUFFET

79-17 Albion Ave., Elmhurst

429-7070; Reservations: 429-6161

Seating for 1,000 - That's impressive.

A block from Queens Boulevard on Albion Avenue there's a row of neon palm trees in all colors of the rainbow. That's Pacific World International Buffet. (Do you remember? - it was formerly known as Sea World Restaurant.)

Enter. To the left is a 50-foot-long, 15-foot-high waterfall.

The glitz stops there. With 1,000 seats around cloth covered tables to keep you busy counting, you don't need it. I think it's best to go on a weekend when there are lots of diners. That's part of the amazement. A baby grand sits on high adjacent to the buffet with piano playing every night at 8:30. Weekends there's more musical variety.

As you enter the buffet area, a table with trays of clams on the half-shell greets you, There are oysters on the half-shell as well (and I can't remember when I last had one). Help yourself to horseradish and lemon or zippy cocktail sauce. Shrimp, with whiskers and all, are there for the peeling, and you'll find mussels on the half shell dabbed with a creamy sauce as well.

You can have ringlets of calamari without coating, as nature intended, and with a hot sauce.

A dramatic sushi array follows. There are trays of about five different kinds, including the ever-popular California roll with heart of avocado. The sushi makers are busily preparing oblongs of sticky rice topped with salmon and tuna. Tofu stuffed with rice is very nice. A huge bowl of shaved ginger awaits. There are dabs of green wasabi and cuplets of soy.

The meat buffet comes next, along the side wall with ultra thin, oriental-cut steaks and dinosauresque prime ribs. Chicken cutlets, turkey, ham and stir-fried, whole vegetables - scallions and mushrooms and things. More, please.

Now, an array of hot dishes follows. A tray of spinach-packed lasagna ("Not to die for," my dining companion said), pilaf and several other rice blends, cubed potatoes, stuffed shells, fried calamari, noodles - much to choose from.

This buffet is a sort of ring-around-the-rosie, with the center reserved for salad makings from mini ears of corn to made salads - potato and macaroni,. You name it and they have it. There are loads of fruit, too (melon and such), which can double as dessert.

Dessert choices include cheese cake, carrot cake, coconut cake. I can vouch for a delicious coconut cake with pineapple chunks. My dining companion enjoyed the carrot cake.

The buffet is $19.90. (Lobster and crab are additional). Children under 12 are $12.95 And little ones, under 5, are free.

On the way out, in the cake case, a ladyfinger-encircled number caught my eye. Could it be cappuccino or chocolate? Looks good. We were impressed with the raw bar. And I was impressed with the variety of sushi. We both wanted the hot food hotter and if the dinner plates were warmed, that would have helped tremendously.

Interestingly, there were more tables of all men than of all women dining the Tuesday night we were there. I guess it's the "all you can eat" aspect that gets them. When you think "Pacific" you think of tropical drinks, or at least I do. But for me, a glass of wine marries better with this buffet.

Seating for 1,000 has to be seen to be believed.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Seating for 1,000. All-you-can-eat buffet with raw bar and sushi table. Music nightly at 8:30.

CHEF'S CHOICE

All-you-can-eat buffet:

Raw clams

Raw oysters

Shrimp in shell

Calamari: steamed and fried

Salmon

Spareribs

Chicken

Sushi

Assorted cakes

Food: Buffet with raw bar & sushi

Setting: 1,000 seats

Service: Good

Hours: Dinner buffet 7 days

Reservations: Yes

Parking: Valet

Dress: Informal

Private parties: Yes

Music: Nightly at 8:30. Piano week

nights, jazz, singer weekends

Take out: No

Off premises catering: Yes

Children: Under 5 eat free. Under 12,

$12.95

Credit cards: All major

Smoking: At bar

Noise level: Moderate

Handicapped access: Yes

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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