Over the course of our nearly 10 years in business, it’s become abundantly clear there are just some things that Milwaukee Record is expected, nay, DESTINED to cover. Is a celebrity autographing bottles of liquor at a department store in the suburbs? We’ll try to be there! Does an exterior sign promote something mysterious? Sure, we’ll “investigate” it. Is Corey Feldman performing anywhere in Wisconsin? We’re in the front row helping him find his tooth, baby!

For better or worse, another Milwaukee Record “thing” is being among the first media outlets (and oftentimes the only one) to try specific restaurants readers are curious about, but may not be ready to commit their time, their hard-earned money, or the short-term fate of their digestive system to without a trusted source to report on it first. Yeah, we ARE an actual media outlet—as we need to remind our relatives every holiday season—with millions of readers and a sturdy stable of loyal advertisers…but we also know this sort of thing is what some of our audience expects from us. And if we have time, we’ll do it.

So with all that being said, yes, we went to the new seafood buffet place in the former Bay View-adjacent Applebee’s, just as you probably guessed we we were going to do. Asked to join a curious friend who had trouble finding someone else to accompany him to this unproven new establishment that opened last month, we dropped anchor at Hong Kong Seafood Buffet (270 W. Holt Ave., 414-288-4134) Wednesday night and went to work. If you’re considering a trip there soon, here’s what you can expect from the joint.

As we waited to be seated in the lobby, we immediately noticed this remnant from the previous tenant where people ate good in the neighborhood.

We also took note of the prices posted in the buffet’s entryway, which came in handy since Hong Kong Seafood Buffet doesn’t currently have a website or any social media presence that we could find. To us at least, the $23.99 dinner buffet price seemed about right for a place we knew offered AYCE crab legs, a bunch of shrimp preparations, and a variety of other seafood items. Note: water is offered for no additional charge, but all other beverages (soda, wine, beer, and so forth) are not included in the price. Now you know this and you’re not allowed to whine to the staff like a widdo-bitty baby with a full diapey, okay?

Speaking of shit that shouldn’t have to be told to people, don’t waste your food. Not only does it stretch the budget of the business (surely leading to fewer options or diminished food quality in the future), but leaving a bunch of animals uneaten on your plate is another level of cruelty. Oh, and [hops off moral high horse] you’ll also be charged extra for wasted food, so if nothing else motivates you, there’s always that.

There are over 20 booths and limited bar seating. The rest of the dining room is devoted to the buffet. Foolishly, we neglected to count how many different items were available during our early evening visit, but 60 or more doesn’t seem like an outlandish estimation, especially when taking offerings like soup, salad, and desserts into account.

As the name might suggest, seafood accounted for the majority of options during our visit. There were crawdads, routinely-restocked crab legs, a bunch of different shrimp preparations, breaded scallops, frog legs, baked clams, and something called Seafood Delight.

There was also this cheesy imitation crab thing that was reminiscent of warm crab salad…but was actually much better than it looks.

And yeah, they had Crab Rangoon, breaded shrimp, and other non-seafood buffet favorites like wings, french fries, fried chicken on skewers, General Tso’s chicken, lo mein, sweet and sour chicken, egg rolls, gyoza, and more. There were even little sugar-encrusted doughnuts. Elsewhere in the dessert department, a row of buffet space was devoted to sweet treats like pudding, Jell-O, something generously called cheesecake, frosted sheet cake, and fresh fruit. As we were walking out, we also spotted a cooler case where diners could serve themselves scoops of ice cream. Don’t make the same mistake that we did and assume there’s no ice cream. It’s there!

Now for the parts you’ve all been waiting for. Let’s just go lightning round-style:

Did you get sick?
Nope! Feeling 100 percent fine.

Was it great?
No, but who goes into a buffet expecting greatness? You go into a buffet having accepted you’ll be getting as much passably okay-to-decent food as you care to pile into your body. And when something pricey like seafood is involved in like two dozen of said buffet’s offerings, you had better lower those expectations even more, pal! You get what you pay for, especially if you go back for a few plates of food.

But was it good?
“Good” probably isn’t the best description, but there were some items that pulled their weight. Though small, the crab legs were borderline worth the work. The skewered chicken things were revisited a few times, the little hot sugar donuts were a definite highlight, that aforementioned hot imitation crab salad thing weirdly worked (though our dining partner seemed to disagree), and any type of fried shrimp or chicken option filled in the gaps and/or helped erase the memory of lesser dishes we encountered along the way.

Would we recommend it?
If you adjust your expectations to “independent seafood buffet,” sure. We saw entire families, an elderly couple, two college-age bros, and a pair that seemed to be on their first date during our trip and everyone seemed to enjoy their experience well enough. We’d strongly advise against doing this for a first date if you’d like there to be a second date, but if you want a lot of food that ranges from decent to not-that-bad, make your way to Hong Kong Seafood Buffet. We’d take it over Applebee’s any day and, though it might not be for a while, we wouldn’t rule out another visit when the craving for crab legs strikes or the volume of reader requests reaches a tipping point once more.

TL;DR – it’s a buffet, except with more seafood on hand than usual. We wish we could muster a more meaningful takeaway than that, but we cannot. So go or don’t go. The choice is up to you! All we know is people low-key expected us to try it before they committed to going and we did just that. We hope we’ve helped you make up your mind on visiting this place.

Thank you for reading and relying upon Milwaukee Record for very specific things like this over the past 10 years. We’re happy to be of service.

About The Author

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Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.