Buffet King, Upper Red Mall, Metro Centre

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BUSINESS is booming at Buffet King where queues for tables are commonplace.

But with the MetroCentre’s yellow court and neighbouring red mall offering oodles of choice for hungry shoppers - French, Indian, Japanese, Thai and Italian - I wondered why this corner of the court was proving most popular.

The price was right at £9.90 for an eat-all-you-can buffet. Monday to Friday before 4pm, the price dips to £6.90.

Such buffets usually send a shiver down my spine: lining up plate in hand for my turn at vats of grub remind me too much of school canteen days.

Buffet King, however, wasn’t too bad at all.

The interiors were authentically Oriental and distinctly non-canteen-like.

Unfortunately, due to the amount of diners, we were seated in the “outdoor” section which forms part of the food court’s through-fare. As such, we ate our meal watched by the Metro Centre’s young clientele of Friday night cinema-goers.

Food wise, considering this is a pile-your-plate high kind of place, the dishes on offer were of a high standard.

We started with a lip-smacking chicken and sweetcorn soup which was chunky and flavoursome.

Then, plates in hand, we waited our turn at the main meal section. There is plenty to choose from here from healthy salad options to more calorie-laden sweet and sour chicken, special fried rice, noodles, curried beef, lemon chicken and plenty more.

My dining partner looked more than pleased with himself as he made his way back to our table with a stacked plate of sweet and sour chicken.

I opted for a more delicate choice of pancakes, duck and plum sauce. It was tasty and meant I didn’t feel too full as I sat through the forthcoming film. The duck was a little too rich though and I only managed two pancakes.

On the other end of the scale, it was interesting to watch other diners return from the buffet with teetering mash-ups of all the dishes on offer. Maybe they hadn’t realised you could go back more than once.

Or, unlike me and my light meal, maybe they have learnt the art of getting your money’s worth.