Lin's International Buffet - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Lin’s International Buffet
10100 Coors Blvd NW
Albuquerque, NM (505) 898-6868
Practicing our nomadic ways, we found ourselves in New Mexico, near were my son, Larry, and his lovely wife, Vickie, live. On one of our nightly visits, we went to dinner at Lin’s International Buffet. This was my second visit to this particular Lin’s, for the most part a Chinese food, all you can eat buffet, but with some significant differences from most of the others in the class. The differences were significant enough that after my first visit, a bit after the 2008 opening of the Albuquerque restaurant, I did a little background digging to satisfy my curiosity and here is what I learned.
Jennifer Lin, a native of China who immigrated to the United States in 1985 at age 17, settled in New York City. She began working in Chinese restaurants and was able to buy her own restaurant in 1988. The restaurant was a success and she later sold it and used the proceeds to travel, including travel and starting a business in Europe. In 1998 she learned about a restaurant for sale in Texas. She bought that restaurant and opened a second shortly after. It wasn’t until 2004 that she opened the first restaurant carrying the Lin name. There are now many Lin’s in Texas and California.
With the opening of the named restaurants, she had a showcase for her vision of the Chinese restaurant. Her vision included, high quality food excellently prepared, elegant surroundings, reasonable prices and courteous service. During my first visit, I was impressed and found that all of her keystones were present. I certainly have to add that the building adds to the atmosphere and elegant surroundings. A large pagoda-style building, a building erected to be a pagoda-style building from the outset, leaves little doubt that it is a Chinese restaurant with serious intent. Copies of the terra cotta statues that guard the tomb of the first emperor of China guard the restaurant entrance. A large crystal chandelier hangs from the lofty ceiling. The large, carpeted dining room and the adjacent private dining rooms can seat 400 guests. Yet the noise level is low prompting casual conversation. Along the back there are the ingredients for Mongolian barbecue and a chef waiting to cook your selections on the griddle. The grill serves rib eye steaks to order. A selection of freshly made sushi tempts the pallet.
The main food service areas are self-serve and all you can eat. There are four long counters to serve the food. The majority of the offered items are Asian, such as Chinese, Thai, or Japanese-style. However, considering the Texas beginnings and the location of this store in New Mexico,
there are several foods of a Southwestern foods theme. Also, some simpler foods, like chicken nuggets and French fries, appeal to the children. Enough food selections are offered that even taking the barest amount on a plate would require several trips to the serving line to sample them all.
Lin’s offers a lunch buffet, Monday - Friday from 11 AM to 4 PM. Adults are $7.29 and children $4.29. The dinner buffet, Monday – Friday 4 PM to closing, all day Saturday and Sunday, 4 PM to closing. Adults $9.99 and children are $5.89. There is a senior citizens discount of 10%. Lin’s also offers a take-out menu. You can order specific dishes from the menu.
When you enter the lobby, there s a cashier’s station where you prepay for the meals and beverages. You are then escorted to your table. A server brings you the drinks, provides any additional items you may require and later removes dirtied dishes. Clean plates are at the end of the food s
ervice counters awaiting your next trip through the serving line.
I usually list each guest’s plate and tell about their food. That doesn’t work well here because of the extreme number of selections. In general, however, I can tell you that daughter-in-law Vickie says the sushi is great, tasty and fresh, well made. Son Larry says the grilled steaks are delicious, perhaps a bit tough, but good all around. The standard Chinese dishes were well represented. I enjoyed all of them with reservations for only one, the sweet and sour chicken. I suppose it would be called New York style, breaded and fried chicken nuggets with some sweet and sour sauce on the side. I have come to expect the New York-style sweet a sour from the store-front Chinese food take-out stores. I would expect more, considering the more upscale presentation of the other foods, from Lin’s. I am spoiled in that I learned to like sweet and sour chicken (or pork or…) Los Angeles Chinatown style, the breaded morsels of meat tossed in the sauce with stir fried onion, Bell peppers and pineapple chunks. New York style falls short of expectations.
Egg rolls were crispy fried with good flavor. The fried rice was prepared more as a side dish rather than a hearty main dish, but was well spiced, nice flavor. Other traditional favorites,
sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken for example, were represented. All were good and could stand as the main dish in a numbered dinner. The kitchen staff keeps the serving dishes neat, filled and appetizing.
Lots of good food, served in upscale surroundings, attended by servers seemingly interested in your well being, family at your table, it all makes for an interesting and enjoyable meal. An experience we hope will be repeated in the near future.
If you are interested in more information about Lin’s, go to www.linsrestaurant.com .
I certainly will consider another visit to Lin’s on our next trip through Albuquerque or elsewhere in our travels. However, when I was looking up information about Lin’s, I came across information about an unrelated Chinese restaurant, also in Albuquerque, called Lin’s Oriental Restaurant. It had good reviews. One day I will be obliged to try a meal there just to keep everything even.
Labels: Albuquerque, buffet, Chinese, International, Lin's, pagoda