by Sean Maloney
Episode 24: Capital Asian Buffet
Address: 5433 Nolensville Pike
If I may, for a moment, divulge my methodology: Some weeks when I'm writing this column I'm feeling adventurous and drive up and down The Road looking for the weirdest hole-in-the-wall I can find, like Sidetrack or Sinbad's. Some weeks I want something reliably awesome and end up at one of The Road's long-established, well-respected spots like Siam Cafe or Istanbul. Some times I'm following reader suggestions — like when I got breakfast at Bar-B-Cutie — and sometimes I'm following my crazy friends into parts unknown, like TNT's in the Ghost-Lowe's parking lot. And then some weeks I just happen to be standing in the Walgreen's parking lot when I realize I need to eat someplace new. And that's how I ended up at Capital Asian Buffet.
And it was all right! Not great, not bad, but pretty all right for, well, a Chinese buffet. Chinese buffets aren't really my thing — actually, buffets in general are not my thing — but I do have a guilty fondness of Americanized Chinese, and I've got a job to do. Sometimes you just gotta take one for the team and try everything at the buffet, for journalism. And then about 45 minutes later, after you stomach has turned into a weird sushi-Jell-o soup and your eyeballs feel like they are oozing General Tso's secret recipe, you remember exactly why Chinese buffets aren't your thing and why you should have listened to your mother and studied something more practical than journalism.
But I did find a piece of teriyaki chicken shaped like a cock 'n' balls! To an eternal 12-year-old like me, that makes the whole trip worth it. I mean, if you guys could have heard all of the variations on the old "Cream of Some Young Guy" joke that ran through my head ... it was some pretty epic hilarity and certainly the best part of my meal. The chicken was OK — a bit dry and stringy, actually — but it was shaped like male genitalia, and as we all know, a spoonful of dick jokes makes the piles of deep-fried sugar-starch go down. Other than that, the slightly-above-average options include the braised cabbage (my favorite thing on the line), some fresh and serviceable sushi (which seemed to be made entirely from imitation crab) and the pork dumplings.
While most of the food looked fresh and at-least-sorta-appetizing-for-a-buffet, I would suggest steering clear of the bacon-wrapped hot dog chunks. While the idea of bacon-wrapped hot dog chunks does appeal to my very essence as an American, after they've been on the steam table a while they look like the toes of over-tanned Florida retirees wrapped in tumors and run through with a tooth pick. If I was going to make a horror movie, the bacon-wrapped hot dog chunk would be the bad guy. And while I may not have consumed the bacon-wrapped hot dog chunks, I did bring one back to my table for the express purpose of writing a bunch of mean notes about its appearance. Mission accomplished! But seriously folks, there was pure horror with a piece of wood through it.
Overall, Capital Asian Buffet is what it is — a giant fucking buffet. The space is cavernous, the decor typical but classier than most. The staff were all friendly, the food — the bacon-wrapped hot dog chunks excluded — was fresh, the options plentiful. It was a thoroughly average and predictable buffet experience, which I suppose is the best case scenario when you're making dining decisions based on a restaurant's proximity to the Walgreen's parking lot.