I have been a frequent customer of Cheng's ever since they transitioned from The Hunan many years ago to the present all-you-can-eat buffet format that has been in place since 1996. Back in '96, they were in competition with another now long gone local Chinese buffet called The Great Wall (now Tokyo's and under the same parent ownership as Cheng's) of which they vied for the restaurant patrons' dollar and patronage. Now, their only direct local competition would be 'upstart' Joy Buffet which is bigger and has more offerings that Cheng's including a Hibachi bar... But this review is about Cheng's so I will stick with the subject at hand.
As far as Chinese buffet establishments go, Cheng's tends to be smaller and somewhat more limited in its offerings. There is no Hibachi bar there and if you're looking for "amenities" such as crab legs, it's something of a hit or miss affair there. However, the foods available tend to be very flavorful for what they are and richly seasoned. One personal favorite of mine are the lo mein noodles available there which to be honest in my global experiences with Chinese restaurants, are still the best anywhere. Very uniquely seasoned. In the last few years, Cheng's has slightly expanded their offerings and those offerings are usually pretty tasty. By no means is Cheng's an exceptional Chinese buffet and the prices though still reasonable, have risen a bit over the past few years. They do have a coupon discount usually available in the local paper but most recently the eligibility to use said coupon has tightened and is more limited than in the past. Check the fine print beforehand. Dessert offerings are adequate but not exceptional. I have noticed that on 'slow nights' (usually in the "off season") some of my experiences there have indicated that the food tends to sit and is not as 'choice' as it could be otherwise. By all means, Cheng's isn't the only establishment guilty of this but I have observed it a number of times during the winter.
And on a final note of observation, any semblance of atmosphere there tends to be obliterated as for some reason or another, loud rap and crass pop music seems to be the preferred "background" of choice to be piped in to dinner guests. I am barely in my 40s and hardly a curmudgeon but I remember back in Cheng's heyday when authentic Chinese was played in the background which made a dining experience there more pleasant. It's a no class act to have loud distracting drivel like that in any restaurant - patrons deserve better.
In the end summation, Cheng's is something of a cozy little place a bit off the beaten path being located in The Village Shops. It isn't the best nor by far the biggest buffet and some more 'seasoned' Chinese buffet patrons may be disappointed in that aspect. However, they are worth a try and for what they offer you may be pleasantly surprised by how tasty some of their offerings can be - my own personal favorites are the lo mein noodles and seafood vegetable mix and some of the shrimp selections. Just hope and pray that the rap music isn't too loud.
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