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Jan 30, 2002 03:50 PM

baltimore chinese/imperial buffet

  • t

ok, ok, i know it's bleak, but surely there's got to be *somewhere* to eat chinese in this town...even if it's just for one particular dish, a la that mention of cod at szecuan best awhile back...

c'mon, b'more chowhounds, help me out: if you HAD to eat chinese in baltimore, possibly at gunpoint, where would you go?

my money's on the imperial buffet in parkville, of all places. yes, it's a buffet, and chinese buffets are frequently terrifying. but i had heard from 5 disparate sources -- people who didn't know each other and had a wide range of food experience, from broad to nil -- that the imperial was the real deal. so finally i went, and was impressed.

it's a very large selection, and the food is fresh and constantly replenished. there are entrees -- general tso's chicken is the best version i've tried around here -- plus myriad dim sum items (great taro dumplings, occasionally there's bao) right on the buffet -- lots of i-can't-believe-it's-in-parkville items like shark fin and frogs legs. of course there's fairly scary sushi and a sidebar of american food, but there's also chinese cabbage in oyster sauce, . and for lunch it's only $7! at dinner they take away some of the vegetable dishes (a mistake, in my opinion) and put out more meat and seafood.

anyone else been?

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  1. My Dad was in town the other day, and I took him to Golden Gate in Towson (on Allegheny). Get the Chinese Steamed Fish there--perfectly done, and, as my Dad says, the only real way to eat fish. Their Hong Kong style roast duck or roast pork won ton noodle soup is also something I get in lots of three and four, just so I can keep eating it for days on end.

    One word--if you're in a hurry, call and place your order before you get there, even if you're eating in. It's a small, family-run shop, so service can be very VERY slow if it gets busy.

    8 Replies
    1. re: asun

      thanks asun -- i've had both really good and really disappointing experiences with golden gate. when it's good, it's very good -- i love the seafood fried with spicy salt, and the chinese greens. but other items, particularly the hot pots, have been true let-downs. sometimes i wonder if it's because i'm guajin and the folks at golden gate assume i want standard "american" chinese like everybody else? i guess the trick is to become enough of a regular to break that barrier! anyway, i'll definitely go back and check out the won ton noodle soup and the whole fish, thanks for the specific recommendations!

      1. re: trix

        Yah, I had friends tell me how great the Golden Gate was, and when I went there it was AWFUL! I had a jones on for chow fun, and when it came out it was horrible, overcooked, and coated in this thick brown gravy. And all the vegetables were limp. It was the worst kind of Americanized Chinese I've had in a while. I still have friends rave about it, but I can't bring myself to try it again.
        For decent Americanized Chinese take-out, there's a place in my neighborhood called the Pinebrook. It's on 36th St. in Hampden and while it's not legit Chinese, they'll cook the vegetables properly crispy if you ask them, and its cheap. You can get 10 boiled (don't do the fried) dumplings for less than $2. It's nothing to look at, but decent for nights when you dont feel like cooking.
        But for the real deal... well, I'm still looking. Anyone been to Chinatown Cafe for anything other than dim sum?

        1. re: peckish

          hi peckish -- i've had the same experience at golden gate, getting a really bastardized version of what should have been an authentic dish. then, other times, it's great. of course most of the times i've been there it's towson state students ordering egg rolls and chow mein, so maybe they just forget that there are those of us who acutally want the real deal.

          i urge you to try the imperial buffet -- i swear it's good -- or at least there are items there amid the lo mein and sweet and sour whatever that are very authentic, very good. this is the first semi-decent chinese food i've had in the area since the golden palace closed. of course, it may be that it's been so long since i've had actual good chinese that my palate is completely numb...

          1. re: trix

            Thanks, I will definitely try it out!

            1. re: peckish

              let me know if you do -- i've never been there with a fellow foodie and am curious to see what a fellow chowhound will think!

              i'd recommend lunch rather than dinner -- at lunch there seem to be more veggie and dim sum-style dishes which are cleared away at dinner to make room for more elaborate meat dishes. and the vegetables are good -- there's the usual garlic napa and szechuan string beans, but i once had an outstanding bitter greens with black beans there. mmmm. maybe i'll go there for lunch today...

              1. re: peckish

                Thanks, Trixie, et al.
                I had just finished writing a story (I'm a journalist) and was hankering to get out in the warm weather. I checked the chowhound board and saw all the talk about Imperial Buffet. I'm not familiar with Parkville, but you all got my Chinese taste buds salivating, so I drove over and...well, suffice it to say, I ate way too much for what I had intended to be a light lunch.
                What a spread! It wasn't necessarily the best Chinese food I've had, but the buns were yummy, and the selection was so vast that my plate quickly filled up--twice. And, Trixie, you're right--the vegetable dishes were excellent.
                Now if I can only recover by dinner time...

                - louis

            2. re: peckish

              Sorry about your bad experience, but I really encourage you to try the won ton noodle soup the next time you have a "noodle jones." It's cheap (about 5 bucks for four won ton and four pieces of roast duck/pork), so it's low risk. Just BE SURE that you order the dish "Hong Kong style." They evidently also have "American" won tons, which are just basically wrappers and pork. Ugghh--if you get the "american" won tons, I'm sure you'll never go back.

          2. re: asun

            This is my fave too, although I spilled the beans to a friend at B-mag, which then wrote them up. they got blindsided by a crush of business they didn't have the staff to handle (just mom, pop, and daughter when not in school), and a whole bunch of people got mad and left. oops. :(

            NEway, the specials are great; I like the spicy salt shrimp the best. I have been there for 2 Chinese New Year banquets at which the chef specially prepared some signature fish and lobster dishes that were to die for. sadly I have kind of lost touch with the host of that event and missed an invite for this year.