I've been venturing into neighboring Brewer, Maine on my days off. Bangor and Brewer are sometimes referred to as the "Twin Cities" locally. I would argue that they are neither twins, nor cities, but that's a discussion for another post.
When I was in Brewer yesterday, I stumbled across the Super Twin Buffet. Much to my surprise, the "twin" in it's name is not a reference to the two towns, but to the fact that they offer both Asian and American cuisine at the buffet. I had read online reviews of the fabled Super Twin Buffet on Yelp and Yahoo restaurants. All the reviews tended to focus on the low price.
Located in a strip mall with a bus stop directly in front of it's front door, the Super Twin Buffet does not have an ideal location for a place where you would want to go, ah, consume food. Walking in, it resembled a bingo hall more than a restaurant. The room was cavernous, with long rows of tables and chairs. The outer walls were lined with booths. I was quickly led to a table, and silverware wrapped in a napkin was placed in front of me and nothing else. My waitress asked me what I wanted to drink. She quickly returned with my diet Mountain Dew, and hurried off again without giving me any directions. There were no menus or signs on the wall. I guess everyone knows the drill. I made my way to the buffet area.
There were six huge islands filled with food. There was rice, ten different kinds of chicken, fried everything, salad, sushi, veggies, pizza, roast beast, and even mac and cheese. One whole island was devoted to desserts, and there was a help yourself ice cream chest in one corner. The decor of the food area was "shabby community center," with cheap linoleum tiled floors, and weathered fake wood paneling on the walls.
I got back to my table with my first plate and assessed the damages. The crab rangoons were surprisingly good, but it was all downhill after that. The white rice was passable, but the fried rice was spoiled. The beef and broccoli was tasty, but the mystery meatballs were....mysterious. The egg rolls were remotely edible. Almost everything was straight from frozen directly to the fryer or oven, and I could just picture the huge walk-in freezer filled with generic white boxes filled with mass produced factory food.
On my second trip I tried some mystery fried nuggets (chewy), some onion rings (chewy), asian noodles (chewy), sesame chicken (chewy), and I couldn't resist getting some mac and cheese (chewy and sour). My third trip involved salad, sushi, and some more rangoons and broccoli and beef. The sushi was horrifying. Fortunately, there were no raw fish components to any of it, and at least the rolls looked freshly thawed. The fake crab rolls and shredded shrimp (??!?) filled rolls were easy to avoid, and I found a veggie roll that was bearable. I think it had lettuce and rice in it.
By then it was almost noon, and the place was filling up at an alarming rate. People just kept pouring through the door. All of the long community tables were starting to fill up, and the buffet area looked like a Koi pond after they throw the pellets in it. On the big TV on the wall they were showing crazy Chinese gymnastic teams performing. It was unsettlingly quiet in the dining room as people choked down their food and stared at each other. If a prison and a retirement home had a kid, this is what it would look like. And the humanity! I felt like a skinny guy there, and if you've ever met me you know, skinny I'm not.
My fourth and final trip to the feeding grounds (yes- I am a glutton and a glutton for punishment) was entirely devoted to dessert. I had butterscotch pudding (they still make that?!), chocolate cake (sugar air), carrot cake (no taste whatsoever), espresso cake (kinda......good!), a cream puff (delightfully stale), and a sugar cookie (I can neither confirm nor deny it's goodness).
I started hitting the Buffet Wall about halfway through the desserts, and had to hurry to finish before The Pain set in. The waitress had dropped off my check with a fortune cookie and a curt "thank you" somewhere between my second and third plate after she had refilled my soda, and I got the distinct impression that dawdling was frowned upon. Even though it was crowded, there were still plenty of seats, but I decided to leave anyway. I needed to get some circulation going as quickly as possible.
I looked down at the check. One all-you-can-eat buffet, one bottomless soda......$6.70 total! Are you kidding me? You can't get a sandwich and a can of soda for $6.70! It seemed almost criminal to get that much food for that little. It defied some sort of physics/economics law! No wonder the place was packed. I paid my check and stumbled out the door. For the next four hours I groaned and winced as I thought to myself "Oh god, I'm so sick. Oh god, I'm going to be sick. Oh god, I'm so sick." My fortune cookie said "You are magnetic in your bearing." I not only felt magnetic, I felt like I had my own gravitational pull after that meal!
Of course, later that night I began to get predictably, inexorably hungry again. I started to think about the Super Twin Buffet. Maybe I'll go back tomorrow..... I mean $6.70?!? Come on!
The food is atrocious, but the portions are awesome.