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CIMA "East Meets West Buffet" Major Disappointment

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I'd heard so much about this buffet in the Pacific Palms Hotel in the City of Industry that I was very excited to try it.

It actually turned out to be one of the most disappointing seafood buffets ever. I would have been okay if it were $15-20 less and not billed as a "seafood buffet," but at $50 and with their press release promises, I was extremely disappointed.

1 kind of raw oyster, 1 out of 4 could be considered very fresh
shrimp cocktail shrimp smaller than what you see at Vons
good pork, decent lobster
2 kinds of sashimi, 1 kind of nigiri, 3 maki rolls
gummy risotto
lukewarm soup
lukewarm prime rib, a little tough
very tough lamb chops and steaks

Ironically, the new year's rice cakes (nien gao) and daikon cakes (luo buo gao) were extremely good. Better than most dim sum places.

3 small cakes for dessert, each 9" round. They weren't replenished all night and by the time I ate dessert there was a mess and 2 slices of each left.

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  1. Thanks for taking one for the team. I think I am going to cash in my 401K and give the Four Season's Sunday brunch a try soon. Will write it up if I actually do decide to dine in lieu of retirement.

    1. The Universal Hilton buffet is 10 times better and cheaper at under $40 than Cima. I've always been disappointed with Cima, but Universal is awesome.

      1. I was just told recently that CIMA is a popular destination stop for those Chinese Vegas tours from LA or San Diego.

        1. I went there once for a wedding buffet. It was all show, no substance. The food was quite forgettable. At that price, one would get a better deal ordering from a fixed-price menu at a Cantonese seafood restaurant.

          1 Reply
          1. re: raytamsgv

            That's sort of how I feel about the buffet at the Universal Hilton.

          2. Thanks for the report/warning. I am always suspicious of buffet and hotel food, so it seems to be the worst combo possible. I am surprised that given the price they don't do a better job.

            Always wondered - when I went to visit relatives in NYC they had a very tasty Asian buffet place with raw oysters, sushi, king crab legs, deep fried squab and peking duck and it's only $30. Anything like that around in LA?

            1 Reply
            1. re: notmartha

              It used to be Cima. Then they raised the price and dropped the quality.

            2. Interesting! I was just there this past weekend and enjoyed myself (although, someone else paid, so that may have something to do with it). Our ressies were at 6:30 and we didn't leave till about 9:30. By the time I had dessert, they had replenished the dessert buffet and there was plenty to choose from. What day did you go? Perhaps there weren't enough people there for them to bring out new cakes?

              I go to the Universal Hilton's buffet a few times a year, and here was my take on comparing the two:

              What I liked better than Universal Hilton:
              - Smoothie Bar. I had 4 smoothies with dinner, and another for dessert. Not the best, but no worse (and not as sickengly sweet) as Jamba Juice
              - Lobster. I like the ginger/green onion preparation better than the cheese goop that Universal gives you
              - Shark Fins Soup. Okay, not much shark's fin, but chockful of real crabmeat.
              - Fruit. Lots of variety, including papaya and some weird asian fruits.

              What I like better at Universal Hilton:
              - Cold Seafood Bar. I agree with Pei, seafood at CIMA wasn't very good - no taste at all.
              - Sushi Bar. While Hilton doesn't have as large of a selection as CIMA, I thought that the CIMA sushi was tasteless and watery (as if the fish was previously frozen, and not completely thawed)
              - Salad Bar. More variety. Sometimes eating so much meat/seafood at a buffet, you just want to even that out with some greens!
              - Selection of Hot Foods. Lots more selection.

              1 Reply
              1. re: maybelle

                I went on a Friday night around 6:30, and it was oddly empty the entire time we were there. We're very chatty so we didn't leave until 10 and the entire place was never more than a third full.