By Caitlyn Letterii and Patrick Hood
Join Caitlyn Letterii, resident vegetarian and self-proclaimed picky eater, and Patrick Hood, a man who will try anything at least twice, as they explore and critique the cheap eats available around the Bronx and Rose Hill campus.
Merryland Buffet: The American Dream Incarnate
This little hole in the wall is an oft-overlooked dining spot, most well-known for its speaker that blares out a spooky child voice telling you to come check it out like some sort of after-school cautionary tale. However, what it is not well-known for is its surprisingly okay food.
CL: Upon entering the establishment, I knew immediately that this was the place for me because in addition to an all-you-can-eat international-style buffet, you can also purchase socks, toys and small statues of Buddha!
PH: I was mostly perplexed with the strange little monitors around the room that displayed prices of merchandise and assured me that the aforementioned Buddha statues would help me win the lottery. I remain unconvinced.
CL: We had to wait approximately five minutes to be seated, which was a small price to pay for the comfort we found at our home for the next hour: Table B4. To this day, I still look back fondly on my time spent there living in decadent gluttony.
PH: Merryland has one central buffet lined with spitguards, which brought much comfort to me over the dark days to come. My pass through the line yielded a great bounty of food from a confusing amount of cultures. The eclectic offerings included rather mundane chicken nuggets, something that I think was breaded chicken, a suspicious but alluring crab salad, a much too chewy beef(?) dumpling and “teriyaki” chicken that can only be described as radioactive.
CL: My first round was delightful. I don’t know what buffet you were at, Patrick, but my Merryland experience was a dream. I put the green beans on my plate along with some passable yellow rice, slightly charred lo mein and some of the best fried plantains I have eaten in my entire life. Admittedly, I have not eaten many fried plantains in my years, but nevertheless, I enjoyed them to the fullest.
PH: The food was not bad and some of it, like the wontons and fried chicken was actually tasty. If the appearance of food matters to you, then you might want to go somewhere else. I cannot stress how unnervingly red the chicken teriyaki was. Imagine my horror when I cut into it to discover that the unnatural redness carried all the way through the meat. Picture a lump of chicken that has been bombarded with some sort of gamma radiation to the point of turning a ruby-red color that almost glows like cartoon uranium.
CL: One interesting aspect of the meal was the beverage pairing. The buffet comes with a cup that can be filled with any number of six drink options. We both went with a non-brand Fruit Punch that was as disgusting as it was intriguing. I couldn’t stop drinking it, even though it did not taste that good. For dessert, I went with a tasty sugary pastry concoction that was playful, but did not reveal too much.
PH: Instead of a playful pastry, I unwisely chose cherry jello cubes and pineapple for my dessert, because apparently I had not eaten enough artificially red food that day. They tasted exactly like jello and canned pineapple, so I guess it meets its expectations.
CL: So Patrick, are you Sweet or Sour on Merryland? I am a hard sweet because it is family friendly, the fried plantains were delicious and due to the empowering nature of a buffet environment, the consumer has the agency to serve his or herself. That is the America I believe in, and I think I found it at Merryland Buffet. That’s why I’m giving it a Sweet Rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.
PH: I too found echoes of America in my dining experience. In the numerous ethnic cuisines offered, from Italian to American to Chinese, I found a melting pot representative of America’s immigrant background. While I sat and ate entirely too much food in an environment that can only be described as the lovechild of a bodega and the mess hall on a mid-twentieth century battleship, I realized I had found a perfect reflection of modern America. Something that provides the basics, sometimes surprises you with unexpected quality, but overall leaves a lot of room for improvement. Upon serious reflection, I have to give Merryland a Sour Rating of 2 out of 5 stars for food quality, but 5 out of 5 stars for teaching me more about myself than I ever intended to know.
You should try the fried plantains, the fried chicken and the fruit punch (if only so you can understand how bizarrely addictive it is).
You should pass on the salad, the dumplings, and the chicken “teriyaki” unless you want to kill whatever fear is still left inside of you.
Address: 2496 Elm
Place, Bronx, NY
(Three blocks from the
Fordham Road D Train Stop)
Hours: Weekdays: 10:30 a.m.
– 10:30 p.m.
Weekends 10:30 a.m.
– 11:00 p.m.