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On my mind: One way to eat Chinese

When it comes to food, I have to admit my family is not very open-minded.

I don't go out to eat much. Even when my family is on the road traveling, we always look for Chinese restaurants, no matter where we are.

I cook Chinese food at home almost every day. I am not a picky eater. It's easy for me to make simple meals from scratch, mostly stir-fried vegetables.

Eating home-cooked meals not only saves money, it is also healthier. Another reason I don't go out to eat is there was simply no Chinese restaurant in Woodbury that I liked.

If I do go out to eat, I prefer Chinese buffet over a regular restaurant because there are more choices. I can see what's available and pick what I want. I can taste a wide variety of food instead of one or two dishes I order from the menu.

I had wished that there would be a Chinese buffet restaurant in Woodbury, so I don't have to drive far if I want to go out.

Well, the good news is there is a Chinese buffet in Woodbury now. Atlantic Buffet opened in June 2007.

On a recent Friday evening I went to the buffet restaurant to check it out. I think the food is as good as you can expect from an average Chinese buffet. The place is clean and nicely decorated, better than the average Chinese restaurant. For me this is the only Chinese restaurant in Woodbury I know which I think is worth visiting again.

There are over 100 buffet items to choose from, including Chinese dishes, Mongolian BBQ, sushi and standard American cuisine. There is no way I can taste all of them. I only tried a few things I like. And that's already way too much for me.

Owner David Zheng was from Fujiang Province of China. He came to the U.S. in 1992 to join his father, who has a restaurant business in New Jersey. In the last five years Zheng has had his own restaurant. In March this year he relocated from New Jersey to Woodbury to open the Atlantic Buffet.

"My business partner helped me pick this location. The business has been doing very well since its opening in June. People here are very nice." Zheng said.

He likes Woodbury and is considering moving his own family here.

The restaurant's business hours are Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

The busiest times at the restaurant are Friday to Sunday evening, around 7 to 7:30 p.m., when people often have to wait for a table.

If you don't want to wait and pay a higher price, the best time to go is for lunch Monday through Saturday and for dinner on weekdays, Monday to Thursday.

Another reason to avoid the busiest time is the restaurant is quite small. There is not much space between the food aisles and between the tables. You can easily bump other customers around you.

The restaurant has a seating capacity of 220 people. A party room for 40 people is available. Call (651) 730-8668 for reservations.

Atlantic Buffet also offers a separate menu in addition to the buffet. Dishes are available for both takeout and in-restaurant dining.

I know the big problem with buffet is I tend to eat a lot more than I normally do which is not healthy.

I am sure the Chinese buffet has also contributed to the "Supersize me" problem in the U.S., like McDonald's and Burger King.

This "all-you-can-eat" concept is an American invention and phenomenon. Personally, I am not aware of it in other countries.

Because we can eat as much as we want, we stuff ourselves to the limit. Our poor diet and bad eating habits are largely to blame for all kinds of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, etc.

Another problem I don't like to see is people waste more food. Some people not only eat more, but they also take more than they can eat. Often, more food is wasted.

I like Chinese buffet, however. I know I need to stay away from it if I want to keep my own waistline and health under control. The fact that I have been to the Atlantic Buffet only once so far shows I have pretty good self-control.

Atlantic Buffet is located at 8340 City Centre Drive. You can visit its Web site at for more information and discount coupons.