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Proliferation of Asian buffets...

Is food oft served in buffet style restaurants in Asian Countries?
I am wondering why I am seeing such a proliferation of buffets with Asian style food.

In the area in which Ilive there are two Japanese/sushi buffets (food's not bad) TONS of "Chinese" buffets... I use that term in quotes, because most of the food is no more Chinese than I am (do Chinese people really eat shrimp smothered in Mayonaise sauce?)

We've been to a few of these places.. one in our area is frequented by many different cultures of Asians and their food is reflective of that, and they do a really good job of putting out fresh, tasty offerings

Most of the places have stuff like the aforementioned offending shrimp... or "apple pie" which is some gloppy apple goo in a poor excuse for flaky pastry sitting under a hot lamp for goodness knows how long!

Is it just our area (Southeast PA) that has so many of them or are they cropping up alot where you are?

Do you find the food to be sub-par for the most part?

What do you think that says about what the owners of these places think about how & what Americans eat?

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  1. America is projected to be 75% overweight / obese by 2020, and I don't see how we can hit that target without cheap asian buffets. They are merely providing what the market demands.
    I was a guest at one in FL, and the experience was somewhere between SNL and Twilight Zone. Whenever a new steamer tray of snow crab legs - the premium item - came out of the kitchen, the morbidly obese around the room would simultaneously arise and throw their waddle into overdrive to be first in queue, with all the grace of a pregnant toad.
    Oh, and a car in the parking lot had a bumper sticker that read "fat people are harder to kidnap".

    4 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      That scene is repeated thousands of times all over the country, every day, my friend!

      1. re: Veggo

        "America is projected to be 75% overweight / obese by 2020,"
        Really? I believe you, but WOW!

        1. re: enbell

          And it's a big business. Wide body chairs, toilets, bath towels, even vacation destinations for large people. For decades, airlines used an average of 165 pounds per passenger including baggage when doing the weight and balance calculations for their flights. That figure is now closer to 195, and is still too low.

        2. re: Veggo

          The snow crab dance is also on the hit parade at buffets in the casinos in my small Colorado town.

          Thankfully I have finally convinced visiting relatives that it is much better to have dinner at my house before going out to gamble so I have not had to endure any buffets lately.

        3. I think that the owners of these places are cashing in on Americans' penchant for fast food and a lot of it. I live not very far from you (south central PA) and we have quite a few of these places. The food is uniformly bad and bad for you, mostly fried and breaded, with heavy, gloppy, sugary sauces. What does it say about the quality of the food if people can fill their plates to overflowing several times for $7.99 and the restaurant can still make money? The newest trend seems to be pan-Asian buffets that put out Chinese, Japanese, Thai and even Indian dishes. I have to admit that I've eaten at these restaurants several times--generally when someone else wants to go--and I've always regretted it, and so has my stomach!

          1. I went to one of these buffets, once. Never again! They are, in a word, depressing. And they're spreading like the squank all across the fruited plain.

            O, for the old Chinese mom n' pop places which are now scarcer than hen's teeth!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Perilagu Khan

              There is a General Store in a little town in Seargentsville NJ... (the town looks like something off a Norman Rockwell painting)
              the General Store is now owned by a Chinese family and they serve pork buns and home made dumplings!
              Totally unexpected to see Chinese food in a General Store... but I'm not knocking it!

              THAT'S good food! (it's all home made)

            2. We drive from San Diego to Detroit and back once a year. There is some 'chain' of Asian buffets about every 100 miles. Semi trucks do not stop to eat at any of them. Buses do.

              We won't. Too many other interesting places to find.

              There are some in the San Diego area which are pretty good. (Fresh and homemade)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Cathy

                I live in San Diego and I'll agree with this although they're quite a bit more than $7.99 to eat at.

              2. IMO, Asian food is the one that's mostly likely to suffer from steam table-ing. For me the point of Asian cuisines is freshness.

                4 Replies
                1. re: c oliver

                  That's my feeling, too. If you include Indian food, then possibly their braised dishes don't suffer as much but anything stir fried needs to be eaten quickly. But, it's what sells. My husband's uncle opened a Chinese place w/ more authentic (don't want to get into a debate about that but it had duck tongue, suckling pig, among other foods). He almost went out of business so he switched to a cheap buffet and business is thriving. His wife makes boxed baked goods and people rave about it.

                  1. re: chowser

                    I have no problem with inauthentic Chinese food in principal. Bring on the pork fried rice, the kung po chicken, the wonton soup and the yu shang beef. My objection is to these sorts of dishes done poorly and indifferently. And that's what you get--at best--when you set foot in one of these Asian food troughs. (And the less said about the clientele and the ambience the better.)

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      I love good American Chinese food. But, it's not what you find at buffets. I can't think of anyone who runs a cheap Chinese buffet who does it out of love for cooking and preparing great food. It's about profit. Not that I'm slamming it, businesses have to make a profit. But, in these cases, good food isn't important.

                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                        im pretty sure they have fried rice and won ton soup in china

                  2. Been to a few good ones in the Los Angeles and Bay Area.
                    Those that cater to the Chinese community have to be on their game, but they also have their short comings on some items. Sad to say the worst is the dessert offerings, but most like the fresh fruit offerings.

                    1. I live in the same area as you, so of course I've seen the proliferation. Don't understand it. It seems like the Asian bufftes have been around a long time though. I remember 10+ years ago going with coworkers for lunch. I got some pepper steak and took 1 bite. Wandered around, had some soft serve ice cream (didn't even realize that was Asian) and waited for everyone else to finish their meals. That was my first and last experience.

                      But, as I said, the coworkers like it. And since there seems to be a boom in them I have to believe my coworkers are not alone.

                      I like Veggo's theory--if we are going to hit 75% obesity rates, places like these need to exist.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: gaffk

                        RIP to Jim's Buffet for me... when they first opened, they had stuff like chicken feet and whole little fish and hand made dumplings...we went a while ago and the food was pretty typical of the rest of the Chinese buffet fare around here...
                        (I still can't get over shrimp in mayonnaise on a hot buffet line)

                        1. re: cgarner

                          I think that shrimp dish, which includes walnuts, actually IS a Chinese or Chinese-American dish.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            it's "supposed" to be honey walnut shrimp. Looking back makes me gag.

                      2. I have yet to go to a Chinese buffet that I have liked. Actually, not crazy for Chinese American food so far - certainly not any I have had in South Fl, very sweet sauces, cloying gloopy, fried food.

                        1. We have a bunch of Asian buffets in the Greater Toronto Area. Most are forgettable, and some, like the Mandarin chain, manage to ruin Western and Asia cuisine equally. However, there is a place in my town that manages to do a credible job. Even my Chinese relatives like eating there.

                          1. Per capita, I think the Phoenix area might take the cake as the king of Chinese American buffets. There might be more Chinese American buffets in Phoenix than there are McDonalds. You walk into on those joints, and you run out craving, and I mean absolutely LUSTING, for some good Panda Express.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Wow. Maybe it's because the Phx area is one of the fastest growing populations in the US- they have it all over Tucson as regards most food, but they have a higher proportion of poseurs and hacks, too, I expect. And let's not forget the white trash component, I know for a fact that they're there en masse.

                            2. Haven't these places been around for decades? In addition to the terrible buffets we have several (semi) Vegetarian (Chinese, Indian, Mediterranean) buffets in Dallas that are quite good and affordable. They are generally (mostly) vegetarian for cultural or religious reasons but do a good job with the quality and taste of their food. Whereas the generic Chinese American buffet is loaded with salty, sweet chicken dishes these ethnic cuisines will load you up on the veggies.

                              Now, it's buffet food and if you eat 3 plates of it you're NOT going to be losing weight. I've seen extremely obese people in these places so I do know that people who can't control their calorie intake are going to be fat no matter what type of cuisine they eat.

                              1. I live in Taiwan, and the most common sort of buffet here is what is often labelled in hotels as "Western Style Restaurant" and will contain a mix of Western, Chinese and Japanese food. But the Chinese food is very different from what you get in the American Chinese buffet.

                                I've also seen Buddhist vegetarian buffets and the Pizza Hut buffet. Breakfast buffets are common at moderate to expensive restaurants. All you can eat places tend to be things like Korean BBQ or hot pot places.

                                I have had several variations of shrimp with mayo, however, as a side dish at the local sushi conveyer belt place, and deep fried with lychees and a sweetish mayo sauce at a Malaysian place.

                                I find American Chinese buffets to be generally not very good. There are some that are quite tasty, if not very healthy, but a lot go for quantity not quality.

                                There is a buffet (pay per weight) at the cafeteria on campus. The main thing I notice there, compared to the American buffets, is that there are a *lot* more vegetables; about half the selection is vegetable based dishes, and less that 20% is in the deep fried category. But there are absolutely no uncooked vegetables (they aren't part of Taiwanese cuisine). There's typically about 8 different types of steamed or sauteed green leafy things (water spinach, cabbage, etc), stir fried celery and tofu skin, stir fried green peppers, green beans, fiddleheads, tomato and egg scramble, eggplant with basil, bitter melon, loofah, cucumber and so on.

                                1. Asian buffets are popular for the same reason Old Country Buffet, Olive Garden and the like are popular: perceived value for your money. Where I'm from all you can eat buffets were extremely popular with the working class Indo-Pak community, so it's not as if the all you can eat concept is solely a middle American phenomenon. Steam tables are not uncommon in Asian countries -- the buffet is the same concept on a larger level.

                                  As for the shellfish baked with mayonnaise and cheese, that actually is an Asian delicacy. The shrimp version is a popular Cantonese-style dish.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: JungMann

                                    The shrimp with walnuts and mayonnaise is a late 80's - early '90's HK banquet dish innovation, no? I first had it in SF in '92 or so.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      I only tried 核桃虾 recently so I can't say how long it's been around. Similar shellfish and mayonnaise combinations were in and around East Asia as early as the late 50s.

                                  2. Well actually there are buffets in HK, Shanghai, and Beijing. Although they are usually more high end. It's common for hotels to have buffet breakfasts.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: PeterL

                                      Buffets (from breakfast to lunch, tea, dinner and late night snacking) are also very common in Singapore, mostly hotels, and many were of rather high quality (although this is based on my experiences a long while ago).

                                      1. re: limster

                                        Yep.... I've been to 3 different buffets in Taipei. Over there, for about the same price as one would pay in say a run of the mill Chinese buffet on the weekend in Northern California, you get way more variety, better quality, refinement, and just a much better dining experience.

                                        Some of the buffets are run by hotel conglomerates/corporates (in Taipei) so they have the financial backing, as well as resource/connections to order quality ingredients at bulk discount (importing fish from Japan as needed), as well as hire chef talent (no shortage). The Japanese themed buffets are heavily seafood themed, and don't do a mish mash of random crap like the ones we are used to (even though one has a cheesy name....Wasabi....in Taipei 101). There was one that I went to that had free beer and wine too (included in the admission price).

                                        1. re: K K

                                          There were very good ones in Taipei when we were there years ago - and they didn't shy away from the "weird" stuff - I remember bull's pizzle soup on a Hunan buffet at the Hilton by the train station. They put out small quantities at a time and refreshed the dishes constantly . (The breakfast buffets in the hotels now can be wonderful too, fresh tofu dounao and those amazing fruits...fresh guava juice...I need to go back).

                                          1. re: buttertart

                                            Yeah now that you mentioned it, one of the bigger Japanese themed buffets I went to offered the local favorite of rooster testicles in sesame oil and I think goji berries, which was the most exotic thing on the menu. Certainly not the boring mayo cheese baked lobsters or mayo fried prawns, or cheese mayo baked mussels.

                                            I just remembered going to a breakfast buffet (small one) in a hotel up in the mountains in Taichung county about 3 years ago, just past the Tarako gorge peak. Would you believe it....a western style breakfast with local congee and preserved veg/peanuts, but otherwise you got your scrambled eggs, toast, orange juice. I marveled at the bacon as it was made from local black pig. The peach flavored water was good. Oatmeal too. But otherwise nothing mindblowing.

                                            1. re: K K

                                              The thick Japanese-style toast?

                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                Don't think they were unfortunately, looked like supermarket bought presliced white and white bread.

                                          2. re: K K

                                            I just remembered that on a recent trip, the buffet breakfast at the Ibis Ambassador in Seoul has some of the lightest pastries I've had in a long while (and would get them as they were restocked). On the whole the overall buffet was actually not bad, even if every single item wasn't the best of its kind.

                                            1. re: K K

                                              I like Wasabi. I also like Jogoya, which is located nearby in the Neo 19 complex - the variety is much larger than at Wasabi. For 800 NT (about 24 dollars) and a time limit of an hour and a half it's expensive by Taipei standards, but very good value.

                                              You have a buffet section with various braised and stewed dishes, a sushi section with pre-made nigiri sushi, made on request sashimi and hand-rolls, and various cold salads, plus oysters on the half shell, individual soups, chinese style dumplings, a carving station, a classic salad section, a deep fried stuff section, fresh fruit, pastries and puddings and premium ice cream.

                                              Then you have a variety of made to order stations, including various hotpots (cook at your table), freshly cooked fish, shrimp and vegetable tempura, grilled sauteed food, etc. Non alcoholic beverages, Taiwan Beer and various cocktails are included.

                                              And they definitely don't shy away from unusual (by western standards) ingredients. I've had frog, stewed chicken testicles, snails, tripe, deep fried durian, blood and rice cakes, and other such stuff at these places.

                                        2. We have many Chinese/Asian buffets in South Jersey and they have improved greatly over the years. Most offer sushi prepared continuously and stir fry made to order. They also seem to keep the amount of food in the steam trays low so that it goes quickly and they replenish quickly. There is also someone standing by to keep things stirred and check quality. It's surprising really. I am not a big eater at all, not obese, don't eat snow crab or any shellfish or fish (allergic) and am not the normal buffet eater but I like the buffets because it allows me to taste a little bit of everything. My family is picky and I can't eat much so if I order an entire meal of something I could be eating it for days. How boring. Buffets also help when you have picky kids who take one bite and "hate" it leaving you to pay for an uneaten meal. My daughter has learned to eat many more foods at buffets.

                                          Granted there are terrible places out there and they certainly aren't authentic Chinese food (who caress really it's American Chinese and I prefer that anyway). I hate to see the gluttony and the terrible waste and am very careful to take very small amounts and not more than I will eat. If I am too lazy to go back for more, I shouldn't be consuming the calories. One buffet in our area actually posts signs, watch you like a hawk at the buffet, and will comment on your plate asking if you plan on eating all of that. I have no idea how they remain in business.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: DCLSweetspot

                                            Buffets in the Philippines don't have much of a waste problem. They have signs all over the buffet saying you will be asked to pay extra for any food left on your plate. It makes you very careful to take very small portions of anything new first, just to be sure. If you find something you like, you can just go back for more, but I never saw anyone loading up their plates the way I do in North America.

                                            And some Toronto spots have the staff notify you as you're sitting down that there's a time limit on how long you can stay. Sometimes I think that's counter-productive, as if you eat slowly, you tend to fill up on less, but knowing you have to get out subconsciously makes you eat faster, and you can cram more down than you might otherwise.

                                            Tell the truth, I hardly frequent them anymore; I can only eat one or two plates, so I'd rather go someplace where the food is top quality. I spend about the same and still end up leaving stuffed.

                                            1. re: DCLSweetspot

                                              I am smack dab in the middle of PA Dutch country, a culture not know for adventerous eating. Thesee buffets are popping up all over the place and are wildly popular.

                                              I avoid buffets as a rule but do occasionally get a takeout container of buffet items from the one close to my office. It is managed like DCL describes, constant monitoring and fussing, and quality is quite good.

                                              The owners adore children and it is definately a family-friendly place, which I am sure adds to the appeal.

                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                @cleobeach... I have coworkers who make a pilgirmage out to Shady Maple at least once a month...

                                                1. re: cgarner

                                                  HA! What a mecca! If they ever get north, tell them to stop at The Country Cupboard.

                                            2. Say what you will.
                                              How can you beat $5.99 for a lunch buffet?
                                              Not incredible but this place in Torrance, CA does a darn good job for the price.
                                              Sure there are some lame things like pizza and french fries.

                                              Bamboo Garden Buffet
                                              20535 Hawthorne Blvd
                                              Torrance, CA 90503

                                              3 Replies
                                                  1. re: monku

                                                    No, but the price sounds great. My current favorite place is $2 more and I can't say it's fabulous, even though I crave it once oa month or so.

                                              1. Where I live in NYC I don't see *so* many of these chinese-style buffets (there are a lot of buffet-style lunch places in midtown, but where I work and in BK where I live I only know of one such place) however I do know of a LOT of steam-table indian places. While these are not "all you can eat" or even buffet style, they mind as well be... no matter how much food my boyfriend and I order from our go-to spot in his hood, it's always "$9" even.
                                                While the food isn't gourmet, it is actually prepared by the same old pakistani family every day (at least they're the only ones we've ever seen working at all hours!) It at least makes me feel a *little* less disgusting when I know the food is at least prepared with some sort of heart and soul, even if it is super fattening

                                                1. Within the past 8-10 years big generic Asian (often called Wok) buffets have been opening all over the South East of Spain
                                                  These massive restaurants are erupting like acne on the outskirts of all the towns and cities, hot on the heels of the huge boom in 'Kebap' places which are saturating the urban centres.
                                                  I agree with JungMann that it's related to a perception of value for money, but I believe that the success of both of these kinds of food establishments is also to do with a clientele who are nervous of trying new foods and like to know what they are getting before ordering (the locals are probably more timid and conservative in their tastes than their German and British visiting and expat clientele)

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: MoGa

                                                    Some years ago we visited the Costa del Sol and it took some effort every day to find "Spanish food." It seemed that the visitors and expats wanted to have their "native" food. We persevered and succeeded. I didn't go to Spain to have fish and chips :)

                                                  2. Within a 10 minute drive I have the ability to dine in 7 Asian themed buffets ranging from your Chinese Mongolian grill joint to a high end Japanese sushi/sashimi establishment, with a long anticipated Korean buffet to open soon.
                                                    While I have eaten in only 2 of these establishments, I can see it's popularity and draw in this region {Central New Jersey} is based on a perceived value for money,non threatening or unusual menu,and family friendly atmosphere.
                                                    While not necessarily a bad concept, I fear for our already burgeoning waistlines,addiction to overly sweet and mostly inappropriate sauces and the inadvertent training of our youth that dinner out is a all you can eat affair replete with 4 flavors of ice cream.

                                                    1. Some of the Chinese buffet restaurants here in Florida are good. It depends on the turnover of the dishes and whether the owners care about what they are doing. For it to be good, you have to have: (1) good cooks; (2) high food turnover; (3) substantial customer volume; and (4) something less than rock bottom prices.

                                                      Chinese food would seem to be an absolute loser for a buffet, depending, as it does, on freshness and crispness of vegetables. Nevertheless, if the food turnover is fast enough, it is possible to get delicious Chinese food at a buffet. I can think of four in the Clearwater/Tampa area that fit this bill.

                                                      The foregoing having been said, most Chinese buffets run from mediocre to really bad. Even worse, when a Chinese restaurant morphs into a buffet, you lose the custom-prepared food that used to be its calling card. Even a mediocre Chinese cook, using fresh ingredients, will prepare something decent, but if the food sits around on a steam table for 40 minutes, bye-bye quality!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: gfr1111

                                                        The 'Wok' buffets I've seen rely on having a chef at a hot plate who sears your meat 'a la plancha' and then tosses it in with the vegetables and chosen sauce in a wok.
                                                        Other kinds allow you to bring a plate of ingredients to your table and cook them there.

                                                        1. re: gfr1111

                                                          It brings to mind Grace Young's telling of her father's wanting to sit near the kitchen in his favorite Chinese restaurant so the food would get to their table just a little sooner...

                                                          We get the quality we (collectively) demand.

                                                        2. All of the Chinese buffets around here are bad. The food is awful, badly prepared and makes you feel sick afterwards. My grandparents love them, I go because it's free food when I'm with them but would prefer a red check table cloth place or a diner. They are driving out the old school Chinese resturants in the area. I hate them. And they are filled with fat people.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: YAYME

                                                            "And they are filled with fat people."

                                                            Really? That's a reason to hate a place?

                                                            1. re: Lizard

                                                              Again, when you sell at a ridiculously low price; there is no magic......sell it cheap you must buy it cheap. So don't you feel good about eating something that was the lowest price/quality available. I would never eat at the trough, just for this reason. There is a "Gray marke"t for everytrhing, including food ingredients!!!!

                                                              1. re: Lizard

                                                                Maybe not, Maybe I'm being to harsh.

                                                            2. OK, as a fat midwesterner, I have to say that Chinese buffets are one of my favorite forms of eating. I have a hard enough time walking past a steam table place in a food court - the kind where you get two mains and a side in a styrofoam clamshell - and a Chinese buffet is basically the same thing to the max! When I walk into a good one, my heart starts to beat a little faster. All the food laid out in front of you like piles of glistening treasure, it's like sensory overload. Now is the food that good? Usually not. Does everything kind of taste the same? Probably. But the intangible sense of fun, the buffet factor if you will, makes up for it.

                                                              There aren't really Chinese food buffets in China, the way that there are 'American' food buffets in the US. In Beijing there are various buffet chains which serve Western food like pizza, chicken wings, and salad, and these are all pretty uniformly disgusting. You also have really high end buffets at hotels for Western tourists. The closest thing I've seen to an actual Chinese buffet was in a shack at a bus station in southern Yunnan province. It was a steam table place with rice, soup, and 6-7 vegetarian entrees, and for $1 you could eat all you wanted. Pretty decent actually, as the vegetables were crisp and perfectly cooked, and they had other savory stuff like tofu, eggplant, and seaweed dishes to fill you up.

                                                              11 Replies
                                                              1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                There have been Chinese and Indian buffets across the UK for at least the last decade, in the case of Indians longer. Many are cheap and formulaic but there is the occasional example that produces well above standard fare.

                                                                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                  This topic is near to my heart, so i have to add something I forgot earlier. In Guiyang I ate at a roadside place which *might* be considered a type of buffet. They had a big table full of raw meats and vegetables, and you could order as much as you wanted - in any combination - and they would stir-fry it for you. The wok cook was so good I think it was impossible for the customer to put together a bad combination, but my favorite was an enoki mushroom dish with scallions and marinated pork.

                                                                  1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                    That's pretty popular at a lot of the buffet-type places I've been to/heard about. Often called Mongolian barbecue/stir-fry. Pretty much an alternative for those who go to buffets and want something cooked-to-order. I know lots of people have some qualms about eating buffet food that has been sitting out, even for a little bit of time. Or just the "germ aspect" of buffets in general turns them off.

                                                                    1. re: yfunk3

                                                                      The Mongolian BBQ is the one type of "buffet" that I'll patronize with relish. In fact, a new one just opened up in my town the other day.

                                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                        Mongolian "Q" in Lubbock? Congrats, I hope it succeeds. That is a giant stride for a west Texas town that throws abound 5-syllable words with all the ease of man hole covers...:)

                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                          Thew, I still think there is something missing, with a US "Cook/Chef who has many abilities and recipes in his/her portfolio, vs. a simple preparer of foods that he/she grew up with, ate to survive, probably nurtured through drought, floods, political upheaval,etc. that he/she prepares day after day season after season and is proud of his/her only skill, handed down through the generations. Just earning enough to sustain his/her own family as the sons and daughters of his/her family learn the same skills as the elders.
                                                                          NOW........having said that a few generations from now through Globalization and industrialization of the population, even these skills will be lost, SYSCO Far East will reign supreme!!!!!

                                                                          1. re: ospreycove

                                                                            And fewer people will die of starvation.

                                                                    2. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                      Realmen.....Wow, comparing the indigenous foods of a culture and the interpretation of same in an affluent "instant this instant that" of an over consuming society. such as the US is not a focused comparison.
                                                                      . Weather it is the road side fires serving whatever the proprietor scrounged/ grew for that day has to be truly better than in the US with its canned/frozen/processed/pastuerizedeliveries by SYSCO which sources world wide.
                                                                      One cannot start to compare the freshness and taste of a single product/dish cook who has been cranking out the same flavorful food for years, to a "Chinese Buffet". Imagine the hawker stalls of Singapore/Malaysia or the family operation in Quan-Tri Vietnam being feebly duplicated in the USA?..........I cringe at what the cliente would demand.

                                                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                                                        how about comparing it to a dedicated US chef/cook who isn't just churning out sysco products?

                                                                        1. re: ospreycove

                                                                          Hey, the question in the original post was basically, do they have Chinese food buffets in China? And my answer was, not really, but here's the closest things I could find. I do agree with you that the bus station vegetarian place and the roadside wok place were way better tasting than the vast majority of buffets, mostly due to the quality of vegetables and wok technique. The quality of the meat however, was significantly worse than you'd find in the States. I would love it if SYSCO started supplying meat to all these little roadside places.

                                                                          1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                            realmen......I agree with your points except SYSCO, who needs world sourced, factory farm produced animals, Let's develop and improve local production. It is superior on all levels; sustainability, employment, freshness, etc. If we want everything worldwide to be "Meat like you find in the States; next would be cheaper frozen vegetables replacing locally grown, then frozen fully sous vide entrees,, making the ancient skills of the cooks unneeded, I am just a proponent of self-reliance, in all things, including preserving traditional food, including the way they are grown, prepared, marketed, and consumed.

                                                                    3. Our local newspaper recently announced the imminent opening of the largest buffet restaurant to hit our area: 11 buffet stations with a total of 280 (!) dishes. Several Asian cuisines, plus American and Mexican choices. All-you-can-eat lunch for $6.39 and dinner for $8.99. There seems to be no end to how bloated this concept can become.

                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                      1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                                        You know, I could see the appeal of a truly polyglot (or polyglutton) buffet that featured fare from around the world (Mexico, India, Italy, China, Germany, Russia, Iran, Vietnam, etc.) if the food was prepared to a very high standard. I might even patronize such a buffet. But you know dam' well that's not what's happening in these $8.99 places.

                                                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                          I would agree,The best buffet I ever went to is in the Shangri-La hotel in Manila called Circles. It featured choices from Thailand,Japan,Vietnam,Korea,China,India,Malaysia and the food was incredible but then again it cost 1700 pesos which is about $40.00,still a bargain by our standards but quite expensive to them.

                                                                          1. re: Duppie

                                                                            40 clams, eh? Did that include wine?

                                                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                              Nope,liquor was extra but I have to say everything I ate from the sushi,chili crabs,curries were authentically prepared and seasoned and worth the price.

                                                                            2. re: Duppie

                                                                              I'd gladly pay triple or quadruple for a buffet restaurant with good food. Unfortunately, the name of the game in this business is quantity, not quality.

                                                                              1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                                                As would I. The better buffets in NJ are Japanese themed like Minado and Ichi Umi and you will spend close to $40.00 a person for dinner.
                                                                                Obviously the $8.99 places can only clear a profit on preparing inexpensive ingredients and then recycling what is left into other dishes,covering them with sweet ,starchy sauces to appeal to American tastes..

                                                                                1. re: Duppie

                                                                                  There are a few Chinese Buffets in Northern NJ that are more expensive for dinner where it will set you back $15 for plate and unlimited soft drinks.....and the quality is actually pretty good. No recycled foods (hot) and varied choices of real sea foods, including fresh shucked raw clams & oysters, snow crab legs, Manilla clams and fillet fish. Seasonally, one even offers/ed Steamers(piss clams).

                                                                                  Not all are terrible.

                                                                                2. re: cheesemaestro

                                                                                  Well, I would, too, if money were no object. Unfortunately, it often is.

                                                                          2. Here in Northern Virginia we have plenty of chinese/pan-asian buffets and they are generally as bad as you'd expect BUT one of them (Sichuan Village in Chantilly) also offers a lengthy menu chock-full of excellent sichuan dishes.

                                                                            So, this place is perfect for me to bring my young children and my unadventurous in-laws. Unlike at Golden Corral, Bob Evans, etc., I still get to have a very good meal.

                                                                            And in fairness, the buffet does include some more interesting dishes, so my kids can try new things without us having to order a whole appetizer or entree.