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Oct 14, 2008 11:00 AM

Good Chinese Buffets - 90035 area

Hey Guys, So I'm from the Midwest and I love buffets. Particularly Chinese food. What I'm looking for is a *good* buffet. not just generic sauce and noodles dumped in a bin with XYZ meat and a label slapped on it. Doesn't have to be gourmet, just something that a person has actually made. To add to this challenge I ride a bike and take public transport, so suggestions around the 90035 and surrounding area are appreciated.

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    1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

      Oh sorry, I'm on Pico around Roberton, South Beverly Hills

      1. re: carly_mizzou

        Oooh. You're not even within biking distance of much good Chinese, let alone a buffet. Hunan Taste, at the Olympic/Fairfax/San Vicente I/S, is about the closest tolerable Chinese to you, at this point. No buffet, though. There MAY be a hole-in-the-wall "steam-table" mini-mall place near you that's got good stuff, (though again, it won't be a buffet) I've stumbled across 'em before, in 30+ years in LA, but they come and go, as do their chefs. Some of these places, if you order from their menu, rather than from the steam-table orange-chicken/kung pao/fry rice/chow mein choices, do some stuff pretty well.

        1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

          Bummer, but I'll keep looking. I've determined that a buffet is worth up to 16 miles of round trip biking to me. I've been to Hunan Taste (I work at San Vicente/Olympic) I thought it was OK, a little bland for me. On a side note, a strip mall discovery worth talking about is Ming's Kitchen at Doheny/Olympic. Very fresh and tasty!

          Chef Ming's Kitchen
          8950 W Olympic Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

    2. Chinese buffets are not nearly as prevalent in the L.A. area as in the Midwest and South, and of those here, some of them are pretty gruesome. Best bet within the city of Los Angeles is Downtown Buffet on the second level of the Baldwin Hills Plaza at Martin Luther King Bl. and Crenshaw. That should be within your geographic range. Also about a mile west of there, New Panda Buffet on Rodeo just west of La Brea is reasonably good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chandavkl

        Wow thanks! I did about an hour of crazy intensive research and those are the only two that I came up with as "salvageable" thank you for confirming!

      2. Carly, I understand your quest, and I also lost a little hope and faith when Mizzou lost to OSU last Saturday when they could be playing Texas for #1 this week. But after you find and sample the Chinese buffets, please let yourself be guided to some of the far superior meals available in SoCal. Hu's is not far from you, the best westside Chinese if you order correctly. Take Pico to Overland south, take a left (east) just past the 10 freeway at National, and it will be on the right. Or go down to Venice west, make a right (north) on Motor, and a left up past Palms on National and you'll hit it across the intersection. Get their dumplings, the kung pao chicken or shrimp, the twice-cooked pork, the eggplant and/or string beans. Then graduate to downtown Chinatown and hit up Yang Chow. Slippery shrimp is the dish there, along with their spicy wonton soup. Then you'll be ready to head further east into the San Gabriel Valley -- Alhambra, Rosemead, Monterey Park.

        5 Replies
        1. re: nosh

          I'd say, over-all, go east rather than west.

          Downtown, I'd say go to Chinese Friends before Yang Chow, but I may be the minority view on this.

          There also used to be a fairish number of Korean-owned-and-cliented Chinese places along the Olympic corridor from where you are to about Alvarado; not sure which of them are still there, but some were pretty good. K-Town hounds? What's still there?

          Another thought that might be of interest to you as a way to dip your toe in the blooming buzzing confusion which is Chinese food in the SGV (now possibly the largest concentration of first-generation Chinese emigres outside of East Asia, I suspect) "Flying Pigeon" Bike Shop holds a series of "Sunday Biking Brunches" which from time to time include "Bikes and Dim Sum"; I believe they may have one coming up this next weekend.

          Dim Sum isn't a "buffet" per se, and isn't AYCE, but the price point is similar, except at the fanciest places, and in many of 'em, (the "cart", as opposed to the "menu" places) it's, after all, sort of a "reverse buffet"; food selections come past you as you sit, and you pick from them as they go by...

          1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

            Thanks, I appreciate the tips. I think I "cured" my buffet jonez last night. I made the long and difficult bike ride down to "New Panda" OMG YUK! The selection wasn't that great (didn't even have sweet and sour chicken or kung pao!) and the food was cold and just yuky >_< do not want!

            1. re: carly_mizzou

              I mentioned New Panda because of the proximity to Downtown Buffet, plus the fact that it sadly is better than most of the other buffets in the city. Downtown Buffet is pretty good, so long as you go during peak times when the food is fresh. One other buffet alternative I didn't think about previously is Buffet City on Wilshire, a couple of blocks west of Barrington. I think they usually have sweet and sour chicken, though there is some rotation in their selection.

              1. re: carly_mizzou

                Hey Carly...... I graduated from Mizzou in Dec 96 and moved out here in Jan 97. So I remember being in your situation not terribly long ago.

                Here's the thing.... it took me a while to crack LA's food scene, but thanks in no small part to the gang at Chowhound and Jonathan Gold's book and LA Weekly column "Counter Intelligence", I've broken out of the midwestern ideas of what great food is..... and let me tell you, I'm not looking back for a second.

                There are some nostalgic losses (I can't eat provel or toasted ravioli anymore.... I know, that's blasphemy) but I consider the tradeoff well worth it. When I go out for Chinese food now, I don't say to my wife "Let's go out for Chinese"..... I say, "Let's go out for Shanghainese" or Taiwanese sausages. Or Shandong style beef roll. Or, more appropraite to the cooler weather, Szechuan hotpot.

                Now that I've learned that these wonderful, regional types of Chinese cooking exist (and are accessible and OUTRAGEOUSLY inexpensive), I can't go back to steamtable buffet type places. (Of course spending 2 months eating my way through China with my wife in 2006 helped in this regard too!)

                This was a massive, quantum shift from how I used to think about food when I lived in Missouri, and it didn't happen quickly. But it did happen...... and now when friends from Missouri visit me here, I blow them away with types of Chinese food that they never could have imagined.

                if you experiment and take chowhound's guiding hand, you too can unlock the untold variety of deliciousness of LA.

                And feel free to ask me for guidance if you need a hand :)

                Mr Taster

              2. re: silverlakebodhisattva

                Totally agree with this post and nosh's about changing your mindset. I'm an L.A. expat stuck in buffet hell (which also includes the numerous Chinese/American restaurants for the culturally timid). What I wouldn't give to just have one decent Chinese option in my area. I didn't know what I had until it was gone. Alas, I hold off until I return to visit family/friends or hit up a port city along the coast. You're really missing out on a lot if you don't take advantage of what you have there of trying out the numerous quality options in the SGV. If getting there via public transportation is too daunting, then Chinatown is nearly a straight shot to the east.

            2. "Good Buffet" is an oxymoron unless you're at the Bellagio in Vegas. Expand your palate, there's a lot of good Chinese restaurants in LA. One being The Dragon on Vermont off of Olympic. See what people are eating and what looks good and then ask what that dish is. Don't be shy, people take it as a compliment if you're envious of what they are eating. Suggestions would be the Fried shrimp with a hot garlic chili sauce, a salad that has hot and cold components and dressed with a hot mustard dressing called Yang Jang Pi (delicious), sweet & sour pork, and others. Whatever you do please don't order chicken & broccoli w/ fried rice.

              1. You'll find that there aren't really too many good chinese buffets because authentic chinese restaurants do well enough here that there's no need to offer those buffets. in LA, it seems like the only ethnic food for which buffets are common is indian, and even then it's usually just for lunch.

                that being said, i've seen a couple of buffets somewhere on main st., las tunas or commonwealth in alhambra or san gabriel. they can't be terrible since the alhambra population is about 60% chinese. don't know names off the top of my head, but you can probably find them with a google search.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bert

                  Since we're leaving the confines of Los Angeles city, the buffet at West Coast Seafood at 1655 S. Azusa Ave. in Hacienda Heights (with a second branch in Westminster) is purely authentic and high in quality and selection, though the addition of the teppan grill in back has cut down on the variety a little. However, after that the Chinese buffets in the SGV, while better than the places noted above in Los Angeles city, are just OK. The place on Commonwealth is Golden Coast Seafood, 2223 W. Commonwealth. However I think you'd be better off at World Buffet, 1003 S. Glendora Ave., West Covina. The only other Chinese buffets in the SGV I can think of that are still open are Zen Buffet, 5449 Rosemead Bl. in Temple City and International Buffet, 2323 Via Campo in Montebello, and I wouldn't particularly recommend either one. As to the previous reference to The Dragon, note that they serve Korean influenced Chinese food, which is not for everyone (certainly not for me).