Back at Merryland Buffet


Caitlyn grins ear to ear with a bite-size starch at Merryland Buffet., Caitlyn grins ear to ear with a bite-size starch at Merryland Buffet.

By Patrick Hood and Caitlyn Letterii

Patrick gazes into the distance, reflecting on memories writing Sweet ‘n’ Sour. (Courtesy of Pat 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.

For the last Sweet ‘n’ Sour review of all time, we decided to return to the very first spot we ever reviewed: Merryland Buffet located off of Fordham Road. Now that we are older, wiser and have 15 professional reviews under our belt, how will this “oft-overlooked hole in the wall” stack up? Has the buffet improved in the past year? Will The Ram ever realize that we secretly and intentionally misspelled the word ‘Rating’ to be ‘Ratigan’ (as an obscure reference to the villain from the Great Mouse Detective) in our review of 3-Way Restaurant earlier this year? We are about to find out!

CL: I remember really lovin’ Merryland’s all-you-can-eat buffet the first time so I, for one, was stoked to head back to where it all began. I was also very hungry and do not like being limited to ordering singular entrees. My plate, my rules! Walking into Merryland was like coming home for the first time during freshman year of college. Everything felt familiar, except for my mom turning my room into a home gym and all my Beanie Babies being gone. Here at Merryland, the caveat is that they increased their take-out prices up to $4.

PH: Upon entering that blessed restaurant, my eyes filled with tears almost immediately. The sight of that bizarre buffet brought me back to a simpler time before Trump was elected.

CL: Let’s try to keep this review politically neutral, Pat. We’ve done such a good job disguising our liberal agenda all this time. Why stop now when we’re so close to the finish line?

PH: Sorry, I’d hate for anyone to realize that we’re part of the liberal media. Speaking of how we’re a nation of immigrants and shouldn’t close our borders to refugees, boy, does Merryland Buffet have cuisine from so many cultures! It’s like friggin’ Epcot in there!

CL: Very smooth. Kudos. It’s true, though! While Merryland is primarily Chinese food, there are also plenty of other options. I’m a health nut, so I filled my plate with mac ‘n’ cheese, baked ziti, lo mein, fried rice and green beans. So many starches from so many cultures!

PH: I stacked my plate up high with all sorts of business. Noodles, chicken teriyaki (still red and still troubling), crab salad, wontons, plantains, fried chicken, garlic bread. You name it and I scarfed it down. The meats are still questionable but tasty, and the sheer variety ensures there is something for everyone, even the pickiest eaters. Except maybe those eaters so picky that they won’t even try a buffet.

CL: As a Picky Eater™, I can attest that there is something here for everyone. All the noodles I tried were delicious, but the mac ‘n’ cheese was next-level good. I just couldn’t get enough of it! The fried rice was probably the weak spot of my feast. It was a bit overcooked and not very flavorful. Another low point of the meal was the salad. It was not so much a salad as it was just those really big pieces of lettuce that you put under shrimp sometimes, mixed with onion and lemon. Despite a couple not-so-great entrees, I must mention that the string beans were unreal. A legume like none I’ve ever tried. I don’t know what string theory is, but let me tell ya my string bean theory is that these were out of this world, and you’d be remiss not to try them!

PH: I can confirm that they were indeed the paragon of string beans. My plate was as uneven as yours, Caitlyn, but I, too, experienced brief moments of culinary bliss. The garlic bread was chewy and disappointing, and the orange and teriyaki chickens were both missteps as well. However, I am glad to say that Merryland’s fried chicken is still up to snuff after all this time. Come to think of it, I also had chicken rings, so I probably ate what was collectively one whole chicken prepared six different ways, which is troubling to dwell on. Almost like the fowl-version of the Ship of Theseus.

CL: Hot reference there, Pat.

PH: Nothing but the best from Sweet ‘n’ Sour. The same cannot be said of the seafood at Merryland. The crab salad was alright, but far too heavy on the sauce, and the mussels were executed rather poorly. This probably doesn’t need to be said, but I would recommend passing on the shellfish from this all-you-can-eat buffet.

CL: Yeah, I think most normal people would’ve rejected that seafood on sight alone but you are not an ordinary person.

PH: You’re right! I’m extraordinary!

CL: Thank god this is our final review. Okay well we better give the people what they’ve been waiting for: our very LAST Sweet ‘n’ Sour ratings!

PH: I imagine this is what it’s like to see one’s child move away from home. I think I’m facing empty nest syndrome here. Upon returning to Merryland I encountered the ghosts of the past. All the events of the last year, all of the people we’ve lost, time is truly always passing and one day each of us must face the fact that the sands are inexorably slipping in the hour glass. Time keeps on slipping, slipping into the future. This is why it was so comforting to find that absolutely nothing had changed about Merryland Buffet. The spitguards, the rickety tables, the random merchandise sold behind the register. In such an uncertain world as we live in, it is truly a gift to find that at least this bastion of gastronomical eclecticism still remains. For all of this, and because I’ll never get enough of any place that lets you serve yourself from an unlimited amount of crab salad, I give Merryland Buffet a well-deserved Sweet Rating of five out of five stars. Also, the food is actually pretty decent on the whole.

CL: Last time I gave Merryland a 3.5 out of five Sweet rating. I think it is essentially the same as before save for a few dramatic improvements. The salad and rice options were nothing to write home about but I would pen novels in honor of the string beans. I just…wait, is it too late to give myself a catchphrase?

PH: Probably.

CL: Oh. Well, then I won’t say anything. But know I was about to hit you all with a really great catchphrase. Anyway, I award Merryland a slightly improved Sweet rating of 3.8 out of five stars. While far from perfect, the restaurant gave me a new lease on life. I now can graduate peacefully. Goodbye forever, everyone! I won’t keep in touch!

PH: So for one last time…Live from New York it’s Saturday Night!

CL: That was stupid.

PH: Th-th-th-tha-tha-that’s all folks!

CL: I’ll allow it.

Overall Recommendations:
You should try the green beans, the various forms of chicken and the mac ‘n’ cheese.
You should pass on the salad and seafood at this (or any) all-you-can-eat buffet.
Merryland Buffet
2496 Elm Place, Bronx, NY
(Three blocks from the Fordham Road D Train Stop)
Weekdays: 10:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m.
Weekends: 10:30 a.m.–11:00 p.m.
Price: Cheap