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im being taken to manderin (the chain) this weekend. what should one expect? people tell me it's great for chinese buffet.

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  1. "Great" if you like soggy steam-table stir-fries. Stick to the carved-to-order roast beef station and the salad bar.

    1. Yes it is buffet, but because of such quick turnover, the food hasn't been sitting overly-long.

      A bit of general advice.Don't go to any restaurant with a theme and order the opposite (such as a Chinese and order the roast beef, salad bar, and fries).

      1. As chinese buffets go, it's pretty solid, mostly westernized chinese food buffet-style. That means it shouldn't beat your favorite chinese place for quality or authenticity (assuming you like authenticity), but ... it has a phenomenal selection and turns over frequently, so it's relatively fresh. Not as fresh as made-for-you, but more fresh than your average buffet.

        So, well above average for chinese buffet, but nothing special from a pure 'quality of food' perspective.

        1. im glad someone posted about this place, i see this restaurant everywhere and have wanted to try it, but I have been a little turned off by the pink decor and appearance of the outside of the buildings. Can anyone say which one is the best? or worst?

          1 Reply
          1. re: jen2202

            When I worked at Yonge & Davisville, my department would go up to the Mandarin @ Yonge/Eglinton for special occasions. We really enjoyed it there plus the service is really nice and friendly.

            But the Brampton one...I've only been once and refuse to go there ever again. Sure it's got some nifty theme areas (such as the live birds behind a glass wall and the waterfall, etc.), but when the server tried to charge us for the child's (7 and up) lunch instead of the 4 year old child's lunch (which is how old my daughter was at the time) and then had to gall to argue with me (Telling ME that my daughter was 7!!!), well...that was an experience that totally soured me to that location. I mean, that was a $9.00 difference, if I recall correctly!

          2. in my personal opinion, the best mandarin is the one across from the Woodbine Centre (although i heard the one in Brampton is good, i havent been). the absolute worst in my opinion is the one at finch and dufferin. i do enjoy mandarin about once a year. its got tons of variety and so you always find something. my boyfriend actually prefers to go to the mandarin as opposed to some other restaurants because hes convinced that the mandarin is the freshest because it has the highest turnover of food.

            1 Reply
            1. re: icey

              Have to agree with you on this location. It is the one my wife and I frequent maybe 2-3 times a year. The Queensway location is equidistant away but we never go there anymore..............they try too hard (to please) and end up being a nuisance, yanking things off your table prematurely. The manager had all the staff ruffled and nervous over his stupid demands. Wife spoke to him about it. Then he showed up at the Rexdale Blvd. location and had everbody upset there too. Got another blast of course and things seem to be ok again. Have never been to the Dufferin location, but friends have high regards for it.

            2. Only time to go to Mandarin is when they are serving something special (ie King crab Legs, lobster or such).

              Then avoid the second-rate Chinese food and indulge in the seafood.

              Otherwise, in a word, it blows

              4 Replies
              1. re: superizzy

                I tryed Mandarin for the 1st time saturday night. It is by far the best buffet ive been to. Of course the Chinese isnt authentic, i didnt suspect it would be. All of the food i ate was fresh, the atmosphere was extremley clean, the staff was great, i would barley put a used napkin on the table, and a staff member would be there to pick it up and replace it. It was the same thing with the water glass, it never got below 3/4 full, and it was full again. Dirty plates were taken in an instant...basically the staff was readily available and more than willing to help. Like i said, the food was fresh, there was a big assortment including numerous kinds of shrimp, baked salmon, sushi, etc. A buffet is what it is, but as far as the rest of them go, this one is the best....definatley worth every penny, and i will be back

                1. re: jen2202

                  Mandarin is what I would expect to be served if I were ever sent to a chinese prison. My good friends family who i go to Christmas with go there every year. It is awful counting down the days to my next prison meal.

                  1. re: Jonaton

                    HAHAHAHA! Well said.

                    Mandarin is generally where many "gwailos" (white people) go when they want to try "authentic" Chinese food. It's just one notch above Manchu Wok.

                    1. re: team_eater

                      I'm not sure about that. I used have Manchu wok now and then and it certainly seemed better than my last trip to Mandarin.

              2. Our family used to make an annual Christmas trek to the Mandarin at Birchmount and Eglinton. But we tired of the blandness of the food and switched from quasi-Chinese to authentic Japanese and still keep up our new tradition at Yumei Sushi in the Beaches. A much more rewarding experience.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Bob Catt

                  Yuck!! Yikes!! Not sure if the Mandarin should even be discussed on this board. It's second rate, warmed over, Canadianized chinese food at its worst. May be suitable for taking a birthday party of kids (though I'd favour the Old Spaghetii Factory for that purpose), but for any adult with developed taste buds these restaurants should be avoided at all costs

                  1. re: Finnegan

                    I was reluctantly taken to Mandarin a while back for the "dumpling festival", and was very surprised to find passable har gow (shrimp dumplings) and shiu mai (I think it was beef) and even "peanut pastries", a kind of sweet that my grandma used to make annually for the Chinese New Year. They actually tasted better than the ones I bought in Chinatown! (They're like a deep fried dumpling with a sugar and crushed peanuts filling.)

                    Even without this redeeming episode, I would not say Mandarin offers Canadian Chinese food "at its worst". That title should go to Imperial Buffet.

                    1. re: Finnegan

                      Like i said, its not authentic, and the food was fresh. I commented more on the service than anything else. My point was that a buffet of this class is expected to be second rate, warmed over, non-authentic food; this one is just the best in its class (to my knowledge)....unless you can suggest another. Service is a hard thing for a restaurant to master, and i think they have done a good job. Overall it was not an unpleasent experience, and when i need to go to a buffet for whatever reason, this is the one i will go to, with good reasons

                  2. Here are my personal thoughts: some locations are better than others, the roast beef can be tough, some dishes are greasy, but that's too be expected for stir fries, etc.

                    We go about once a month or so, but usually for lunch. I've been to the Mississauga location several times for dinner and they have excellent service.

                    Are you used to Chinese food (of the Canadian variety). I think it's nice you're being taken out, so I hope you enjoy and let us know what you make of it. What location are you going to?

                    (Dinner and weekends have more variety)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: red dragon

                      It's mostly Cdn Chinese food. I usually stick to the grilled steak and sausage at the grilling station. The rest is chicken balls, eggrolls, s&s pork, etc.

                      However, it is a good place for office team lunches.

                    2. My parents live out in the east end of Scarborough and don't like to drive far for food, so believe me, it's better than most options. Especially seeing as my mother refuses to return to Zen after getting "too much fish" on her sushi rice...sigh... The location at Eglinton and Birchmount is not exactly atmospheric, but it's got fast turnover, good service, it's clean...and you can satisfy people who like meat, meat and more meat, as well as vegetarians. As long as they aren't too strict...

                      1. Too many people are being way way too nice about Mandarin. Over the years I have eaten at Mandarin 2-3 times. The first occasion is now some 10 years ago at the Yonge/Davisville location. I avoided going back as long as possible but was dragged to the Brimley/Eglinton location by family just about a year ago.

                        The only thing any good was the flat rice noodles (chow ho fat?) and they weren't even as good at the take out van outside Robarts library! My grandmother seemed to enjoy their prime rib though. I'd give that a try before I ate another bite of the 'chinese' food.

                        Oh, and I have been to much better Chinese buffets. Unfortunately the two I sort of liked have both closed up. There used to be one in Scarborough Town Centre mall that was decent (nice mussels -- Mr. Lee's?) and one in the Don Mills plaza (Abacus -- not as good, but, nice shrimp and wings).