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May 22, 2009 10:30 AM

Mandarin Buffet Lobster Twist

Any one tried it yet??? I am really tempted to give it another try after almost 10 years since I last visited them for all you can eat lobster.

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  1. Frozen Lobster? All I can eat?!?!

    No thanks.

    1. i give mandarin the thumbs down. always. no matter what. the food is terrible but i am also turned off by the types of people that show up to these all-you-can-eat specials, typical of mandarin (ie: snow crab). people were practically taking off their clothes and rolling in the crab. it was very unappetizing and made for a good reminder that in the future, i'd rather just pay for my crab/lobster one at a time. good luck!

      7 Replies
        1. re: Paulustrious

          I have participated in two of the Mandarin taste testing sessions which result in a free lunch buffet after the session. The owners and managers appear at the taste testing session and are so earnest and serious about how they run the business. The place seems to be over run with management staff beaming about the operation. But then after the session you have free run of the buffet. The only good thing about it is that there are mass quantities of everything! Unfortunately the quality is really AYCE standards. They must be making great profits as they have 23 locations around Ontario and are planning on opening MORE. I guess filler and batters and crumb coatings and sugary sauces are waaaaay cheaper to buy than real food. Everything is coated or dipped or glopped except for things like the roast beef, which the servers parcel out like its coming form their own personal stash. Several times I have been to the buffet and sat next to tables of bodybuilders really tanking up on the carbs, but I just can't see why regular people are frequent customers.

          They must be extremely scientific on their profit margins. Prizes at the taste testing session consisted of buy one/get one certificates. Really cheap! I am re-considering attending the next taste testing session (which takes over 2 hours) and all you get is a $11.95 free lunch

          1. re: Danybear

            Just curious as to how you get your name of the taste testing list?

            1. re: allanc

              I am tempted to say its lijke jury duty(g). They had placemats in al the branches askling people to sign up. You might try calling head office, as the numbers at the testing sessioin have dwindled. They are pretty strick on who they allow in once your signed up, you need valid photo id

                1. re: Danybear

                  I'd be curious to hear about the particulars of what the two hours entail. I have been in touch with head office but haven't followed up. As a CH I am interested in how a place like the Mandarin would actually conduct tasting and with what kind of jury they use.

                  1. re: neighborguy

                    We filled in the place mats when at the restaurant last year. \they were assembling a panel of taste testers. At the first session there were probably 300 testers. The second session fewer. The management and staff, and most of the testers take this oh so seriously! Each tester is given a raft of pages to record impressions of each sample. Samples come in matched pairs, sample A and sample B. On the first day, the first sample was an alcoholic drink, about 2 tablespoons of A and two table spoons fo B. To me they were indistinguishable:crushed ice and bar mix coconut flavour, supposedly a Pina Colada. Everyone spent at least 20 minutes writing down their thoughts and impressions of the samples. I can write down "crap" twice really quickly. We then went on to samples of Parisian potatoe balls, and then a bun like whitebread dumpling, one plain the other glazed. This goes on for 2 hours, then question and answers and ng by the owners about their chain of 23 locations and how many tons of steamed rice, etc. served every year. Then the testers are allowed to hit the buffet .. The food items tested are already buffet staples, on the second session we tested some food items, hot towels and calendar posters!. I would think they could glean the same amount of info by how much of individual items are consumed by regular customers.
                    Its all very earnest and semi drama signifying who knows what.

        2. The Grand was too expensive at $25 a person apparently last week, so I was forced against my better judgment to go to Mandarin for dinner.. What a savings.. I think it was $23.99 a person. Thanks family!!

          We arrive. I went to the Queensway location between Kipling and Eglinton.

          People held the door open for us who were leaving, very nice.

          Inside we were greeted by an eastern european girl, who went through her whole spiel. She pointed out the specials, where the washrooms were, asked if we'd been before, etc etc. I personally hate that kind of attention. Just walk me to my table! I mean if it was genuine, unscripted conversation, noooo problem. Talk to me baby. But I know she's just doing it because she has to, which just kills it.

          Our bubbly gay asian waiter rushes to our table, and starts his rendition of what she just did. A bunch of blabber. I tried to stop him and explain we were still waiting on a few people so just, y'know, save it.. He paused. Then he continued.

          30 seconds later our family arrived, and he rushed over again to say well, the exact same thing. I have trouble even looking at them when they speak, because I'm an honest kind of guy.. I don't want to pretend like I'm enjoying his list of words.

          He tells us about some fancy expensive drink they have, and so, do we want to try one? Clever sales pitch, making you say no to something.. I'm sure lots of the people who are really "going out to dinner" feel bad saying no and order whatever-he-just-said before getting a chance to even see what they have. Another thing I hate.

          Uhhh no.

          Finally, left alone..

          We ate, I'm not a huge food critic or there to have a bad meal, some stuff was pretty tasty, and they did have the lobster, though I just had some claws with my salad and forgot they were there. Frozen, served cold, meh.

          Every minute or so someone walks around and fills up all the water glasses, very excessive. I liked them though - they didn't speak!

          The whole experience felt like a meat grinder, and it was $140 for 4 people with tip, which was just 4 dinners and 2 cokes, oh, and the $2 they charged my baby for sitting at the table with us. They called it a sharing fee. Who am I to argue.

          As dinner experiences go, the food wasn't even bad for my easy to please tastes, but the rest of it totally ruined everything. Way to go management.

          5 Replies
          1. re: SocksManly

            You guys are so funny.

            SocksManly, the canned messaging creeped me out long ago -- forcing a person whose first language is not English to deliver those performances -- the whole idea is just painful.

            Danybear, thanks for the description of the tasting. I think I'll pass. There are so many other ways to amuse myself on a Satruday.

            For those of you looking for more punishment:


            1. re: neighborguy

              OMG!!!! Free buffet on Canada Day! I will be there lining up at 6 a.m..... NOT

              1. re: Teep

                Heard on the news tonight they will open at noon for the free Canada Day buffet...this is my idea of hell...spending hours in line with people desperate to get free horrible food....YUCK...

              2. re: neighborguy

                I just feel like the delivery of all that information is very out of place. It's like I'm at African Lion Safari and my tourguide is telling me about the lions or something.

                Y'know what, this has inspired me to make a whole post.. I'm going to have to stretch to make it Toronto related though, lest it be immediately relegated by an admin.. They're quick around here. ;)

                1. re: SocksManly

                  SocksManly's thread about waiters' spiels can be found on the Not About Food board at this link: