Jade Villa = Continental Buffet
Jade Villa has become an asian buffet place. Continental Buffet had their grand opening on the 21st, so my curious family decided to check it out on Saturday for lunch. Due to an unchowish family member's obsession w/ such asian buffets, I think we have tried our share of these places in the bay area.
First off, the space was huge when it was a dim sum place. After the main dining area was replaced by the buffet bar, it looks much smaller. Ok, enough about the space & on to the food.
All I can say is, if you are in the mood for Great Wall or Genghis Khan or another one of the many buffet restaurants in the bay area with sushi stations and "mongolian" grill stations and you are in downtown Oakland and choose not to travel farther than 5 miles, then you are in luck.
The dim sum selection had maybe 6 or 8 dim sum items, such as har gow, siu mai, scallop gao, shrimp rice rolls, pei dan & pork juk (not sau yuk; looked more like ground pork) among other items. Metal steam baskets were stacked probably 4 levels high... unfortunately the heat did not make it all the way to the top level. I ended up grabbing stuff from the top baskets, leaving me with lukewarm food. The family member with extensive experience in buffets lifted the top baskets to get the food closest to the heat source which helped a bit. Sadly, the heat could not magically thin the har gow skins (yuck)... thickest har gow skinsI have ever tried.
I saw many items with shrimp... at least 12 items I think. Walnut prawns, shrimp stir fried w/ veggies, seafood stirfry which included shrimp, "italian" shrimp (which looked like shrimp stirfried w/ an "italian" sauce), shrimp in the chilled seafood section, bay shrimp in a number of other items. They even had stuffed shrimp, which were next to the stuffed button mushrooms (same stuffing for both items). 3 types of mussels: cheesy mussels (the baked mayo cream kind) as well as plain ones, and a 3rd mussel in the chilled seafood section.
There were 6 soups I think... wonton, "gizzard" chicken (which turned out to be black chicken w/ ginseng), hot & sour, oxtail, and some others which I fail to recall. The oxtail had not been simmered long enough -- meat was still tough and chewy. There were also a few dessert soups, like green bean.
The grill section did not have any wok hei; not even an iota... worst "mongolian" grill I've ever come across. Item choices were not very good -- not much selection. I didn't even bother to visit, but another member of our party did... she came back with unrecognizable bits of meat stirfried w/ low quality noodles, chewy squid, bland shrimp... u get the picture.
Sushi section: there were 2 "chefs" behind the counter... but I wouldn't call them sushi chefs. Watching them work made me want to run screaming to the nearest real sushi joint... or at least jump in behind the counter to show them a thing or 2. The pads of rice, as is common in buffet restos like this one, were refrigerator-cold and hard. Technique was non-existent. The only thing that verified this as "sushi" was the fact the sake (salmon) was of surprisingly decent sushi quality. Towards the end of our visit, our server mentioned to us their sushi is very fresh because they take daily morning deliveries of the sushi fish. The only downside I plan to point out to management: the sushi station is situated right next to the main doors of the establishment -- open doors and raw fish attracts more than humans; it also attracts flies during the summer months.
Bottom line: if I want dim sum, I will seek a better quality place. If I want sushi, I will seek a better place. If I just want to stuff my mouth and fill my stomach, but I don't care about quality and I can't decide what to eat, then I will go to Continental. For the price we paid, one time to try is ok, but I can't see myself going again at the same price.
Hrs: Mon-Sun 11a-10p (7 days)
Prices: Lunch Mon-Fri (11a-4p) $7.99; Dinner Mon-Thurs (4p-10p) $11.99
Lunch Sat & Sun (11a-4p) $9.99; Dinner Fri-Sun (4p-10p) $13.99
Discounts: Children 3-8 are 1/2 off; seniors 65 & over are 10% off
This place is well above average for the price. Dined there twice with friends and seafood & selection well above average. I not sure what the posters who pan this place expect! Sure, if you go to Vegas and go to Mandalay Bay Buffet for 3 times the price you get your money's worth, but for this price & ambience it a bargain well worth it
I have to agree with grande94, you have to sort of go into a buffet that's only $13/pp for dinner with fairly low expectations. that being said, there was a lot that I stayed away from yet still quite a few things I did go back for seconds for. Including some huge steamed snails with a hoisin, chive sauce. steamed shrimps, sea food/tofu soup, sauteed chinese broccoli and bbq ribs. My biggest complaint, there was still grit on some of shells of the mussels that got on everything else...and the dessert bar...just bad. My whole family just stuck with all the freshly sliced fruit, watermelon/oranges etc.
Something I forgot to mention in my original post: although the quality was mediocre, I was surprised at some of the items. In the chilled foods / salad bar section, there were sliced pork ear, curry squid (not bad), baby scallops, and beef stomach (actually, not sure if its tripe... it was not the book tripe, but the other kind) among other things. I ended up creating my own version of "sampan juk" by tossing in the pork ear, tripe, scallops, etc. into the juk they served.
One warning: don't bother with the dessert section... absolutely horrid.
As to the folks in my party who are experienced asian buffet diners, they felt the price was actually pretty good in relation to some unexpected offerings. Selective diners can get away with getting their money's worth if they chose correctly (like leaving a plate full of little pads of sushi rice after enjoying the "sashimi", picking mainly seafood items, etc.) In fact, they are thinking of choosing this spot for our next family gathering; before it starts going downhill.
If you intend to try the place, go within the next few months; with the way things are going for chinese restos in the bay area (especially SF & Oakland Chinatowns proper) I'm not sure how long the decent offerings will take to degenerate into slop.
re: S U
Well I didn't listen to any of the advice you guys gave and decided to try out the place on my own.... I was surprised at how disappointed I was with the food. Yes there was a wide selection of food ranging from dim sum to sashimi, but none of it was any good. The Dim Sum is not the same Dim Sum it was when the place was known as Jade Villa. It seems as if the flavors of the food are just not there. There is no "POP" that makes you say wow I'm going to come back here for this next time!
"S U" has a pretty good and informative post on this place.
I definitively would not recommend going back.
Also if you plan on going pay in cash unless you like seeing your whole debit or credit card number on the reciept! = O