New Asian buffet on U.S. 33 in Goshen touts fresher food, larger space

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By: Jeff Parrott
jparrott@flavor574.com

Jeff Parrott/Flavor 574

It won’t be the only Asian buffet in the Elkhart area, but it claims to be the largest. It’s definitely the newest.

O.E.C. Super Buffet opened its doors Wednesday in the Elkhart Centre strip plaza, 4024 Elkhart Road, along U.S. 33 in Goshen. The space had been vacant since Old Country Buffet closed there in January 2012.

Owners Gui Lin and Hui Wu had been renovating the building since August, investing nearly $500,000 in new furniture and equipment, flooring and wall decor, and updating the mechanicals to bring them up to code.

Lin and Wu, a married couple who immigrated to the United States from China’s Fujian province in the early 1990s and to Elkhart in 1994, have a long history of operating Chinese buffets locally.

In 1994 they opened what might have been Elkhart County’s first such restaurant, Food Lin, in Elkhart’s North Pointe Plaza. That has long since closed but they have run North Garden Buffet, 2900 Cassopolis St. in Elkhart, since 2003.

They’ve also had restaurants in Huntington, Warsaw and south Goshen, but ultimately decided they didn’t want to drive that far.

Wu will spend most of her time at North Garden while Lin will focus on the new O.E.C. Super Buffet. Their son Jim Lin, 27, will manage the front of the house at O.E.C. Super Buffet.

This time, Jim said his parents “are going for a more fresh approach.”

“A lot of our ingredients that we order, we ask for our suppliers to be as fresh as possible, anything from the raw products like chicken and shrimp to vegetables and fruits,” he said. “Even though frozen products might be a little bit cheaper sometimes to buy in bulk, we’re just going to put out a little bit more to buy the more fresher products.”

He said they will focus on using ingredients before they go bad, so they can receive more frequent shipments.

O.E.C. Super Buffet
4024 Elkhart Road, Goshen

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Cost: Lunch is $7.25 all you can eat, plus $1.75 for drink. Dinner is $10.75 all you can eat, plus $1.75 for drink. Kids under age 2, $1.99; age 3-6, $3.50; ages 7-10, $5.

“Fresher ingredients gives off a better taste and texture, especially with fruits and vegetables,” Jim said. “We’re trying to do more suppliers in Indiana, that way they’re not coming from further distances.”

Super O.E.C. Buffet (the O.E.C. stands for Oriental Eastern Company) features about 200 different dishes, including the sushi bar, served from six hot buffet tables, six cold buffet tables, a Hibachi grill manned by an experienced Hibachi chef, and a sushi bar staffed by a trained sushi chef.

There’s a smaller amount of American food, such as pizza, macaroni and cheese, stuffed mushrooms, baked potatoes, dinner rolls, baked stuffed shrimp and cheese mussels.

More of the selections are traditional Chinese fare, such as crab rangoons (also known as cheese wontons), chicken with broccoli, Chinese donuts, egg rolls, black pepper chicken, General Tso’s chicken and honey chicken.

There also are salads, fruits and a dessert bar.

The restaurant seats about 300, which is much larger than North Garden, Jim said.

Jim, translating for his father, said Gui is confident in the new venture.

“We’ve been living here for over 20 years and for most of his life he’s been opening restaurants in this area, so he feels like it’s kind of like his hometown now,” Jim said. “He says our goal right now is to have reasonable price for lots of varieties of top ingredients, food, and we’re going to make the environment as fancy as we can, so people can feel better when they walk into here and provide the best service we can with waiting staff.”

Jim said his father likes the new location, just across the parking lot from a Walmart, and he’s confident O.E.C. Super Buffet can thrive there.

“As of right now we’re kind of the biggest buffet in the area,” Jim said, again translating for Gui. “Most of the other buffets are smaller and from what I’ve heard, a lot of the Chinese people are trying to go toward just the dine-in factor instead of to the buffet.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed drink prices as $1.25 instead of $1.75. The story has been corrected, and we apologize for the error.
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