The Ruby Buffet in Towson stands out among a growing number of Asian buffet restaurants that have sprung up around Baltimore in regard to both its style and quality of its food. Taking over the space formerly occupied by the former Jade Garden buffet, Ruby Buffet could have easily set up shop without doing any renovations. Instead, Ruby Buffet’s owners totally redesigned the interior from scratch creating a striking, modern space with a decidedly upscale feel.
The dining space offers a combination of dark wood booths and tables that don’t feel packed in; the large space is visually divided with 15 foot long crystal beads strands densely packed hanging from the ceiling. Vertical column and ceiling panels lit from within by LED lighting create striking accents that changes color in a range of rainbow pastel hues. The buffet serving area stands out with polished stainless steel fixtures standing against burnt orange walls and lit by halogen track lighting. The overall effect left us feeling we were in a trendy urban restaurant than a bargain priced suburban buffet.
The “all you can eat” dinner buffet is $12.99 (and $7.99 for lunch) and is a bargain for what you get. (FYI – soft drinks are $1.59 extra). The buffet includes a wide range of mostly Asian appetizers and entrees including a Hibachi Grill where you can pick out your choice of ingredients and have them cooked in front of you while you wait.
What differentiated Ruby Buffet for us from its competitors was the “notch up” quality of the items that we sampled. Our friends asserted that the Hot & Sour Soup was the best that they had tried; Marty was impressed by the Seafood Soup while both John and Marty both observed that the Sushi offerings displayed artful touches and combinations that they haven’t seen at other local buffets. Among the many entrée offerings, Marty was particularly impressed by the “Salt & Pepper Shrimp” (and almost as impressed by the handsome young Asian man taking care of our table). John really enjoyed the fried dumplings and sautéed string beans; he was surprised that an offering of sliced steak proved to be as good as what he had sampled at area steak houses. Our friends Fred and Bernie rave about the General Tso Chicken, “Chinese spinach” (which may actually be watercress…), the mini crab cakes (though they lack even a trace of Old Bay seasoning!) and the roast duck (an item rarely found on other area buffets).
Desserts are largely limited to fresh fruit, cookies and soft ice cream (though here the ice cream didn’t taste like ice milk and sesame-encrusted candy bits topping made this dessert memorable)
Between the upscale feel of the restaurant, friendly and attentive help and “notch above” food which seemed more in keeping with a nice sit down restaurant than a comparatively budget buffet, Ruby Buffet earn a “Thumbs Up!” recommendation.
FACTS: Ruby Buffet (Towson); 1012 Taylor Ave; 410-825-8899; http://rubybuffetofbaltimore.com; Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner; 11 am – 10 pm; buffet style w/no menu; No liquor license; veggie options; adjacent large parking lot. (DiningOUT Visit: 1/15/2014)