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Feb 6, 2011 01:52 PM

Mandarin Buffet - Beware of the 'Dumpling Festival' Trap!!!

Having no say in the matter ( dictated by kids and majority rule ), once again this CNY, I have to endure another round of pain and suffering at this God forsaken place.!!

This year, they are promoting their 'Dumpling Festival'! Which, IMO is a total joke!!

As most of you know, the best way to get 'stuffed' is to eat and devour 'carbohydrates', be it pastas, pizzas, rice , potatoes and in this case ' thick skin' dumplings!! So, for a 'buffet' to promote dumplings!! NIce money making strategy!!! And the sad thing is, I noticed a lot of people falling into this trap!!

Sure, they have quite a varied selection of these morsels and dipping sauces. Pot stickers, steamed and boiled dumplings in soup with various type of meat, pseudo-seafood and vegetable fillings....etc However, no matter how fancy they present them, dumplings are still dumplings. And their versions are even worse than the 'Asia Legend' thick skin ones!! To a foodie, nothing is worse than bland tasting, thick skinned dumplings with stingy fillings!!

Pricewise??!! One can get them at major Chinese supermarket or Northern Chinese/Shanghainese dumpling outlets at various Chinese malls for....wait for it!! less than $10 per 50+ dumplings!!
10 of these and your stomach will be half full. So, you can do the maths!!

At $23.99 per person, unless one shys away from this ' stomach filling trap', this must be the 'worst value for money deal in town'!!

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  1. you got exactly what you expected. sorry that you didn't enjoy it, but you already knew that going in. they've been bashed enough on this board that by now everyone knows better.

    mandarin succeeds for the reasons you have mentioned, among others: doesn't scare conservative eaters; not offensive to a wide range of tastes, particularly in groups; giving kids (and adults) the fun of picking from plenty of choices; and so on.

    if this was the majority choice, i congratulate mandarin for designing and delivering a product that appealed to your majority. [dodges thrown dumplings]

    when i am forced to go to mandarin by circumstances, here is my solution: roast beef! it's one of the few good items there. and as a plus, you can go up to the slicer person and ask for cuts that are exactly the done-ness that you like. that's not possible when you order off a menu and might have to send it back and wait if it's done wrong. not a perfect solution but making the best of the situation!

    1. Charles, you write about good restaurants and then tell us your family dragged you to Mandarin? How can that happen? You should have told them you would not attend. Mandarin is the sort of place I would not go to even if the food was free, it's just that bad.

      2 Replies
      1. re: foodyDudey

        Sometimes, family and friends have to come first! Especially, when the party is huge! Its also CNY, so its better to compromise than bitch!. Anyways, in a few weeks time, I'll have a whole month to savour Michelin star food in the Orient! Phew!!! Guess life is fair afterall?!!

        1. re: Charles Yu

          Charles, I sympathize with you. I get marched to the Mandarin two or three times a year by a group of old friends who insist, insist, insist on the Mandarin, in the northeast end of town, and it's pointless to debate them. And like ta0126 above, the only way to survive the visit is to stick with the roast beef. Pretty good, if you like good, old-fashioned roast beef (I don't see it on too many other menus nowadays). Soups are decent as well, and the salad bar is OK. Beware of anything else, including just about all the Chinese dishes. The desserts are particularly abysmal. But then, you know that, no? Instinct has told me never to try the dumplings. Still, the buffet spread aside, the Mandarin we go to is an exceedingly well-run operation.

      2. Geez Charles, even family gatherings seem to take place at restaurants! You must eat out more than you eat in... must be nice... maybe... maybe not... ;-)

        1. Mandarin isn't so bad.. It's not Tucker's Marketplace.

          Tucker's Marketplace Restaurants
          15 Carlson Crt, Toronto, ON M9W6A2, CA

          4 Replies
          1. re: duckdown

            I guess it's OK if you don't know any better....

            It's not a place I'd ever eat at, I'd just tell the others that sorry, I won't be eating with them.

            1. re: duckdown

              Agreed, Tucker's Marketplace is HORRIBLE.

              1. re: Pincus

                I use rare Mandarin visits as ultimate tests of willpower. I eat only the scant few healthy items offered and don't even look at the gloopy, sauced up deep fried garbage, mass produced dumplings, aging desserts or steam-table warmed non-Chinese offerings, such as pizza or pasta. I strengthen my resolve by eyeing the contents of the plates of morbidly obese buffet grazers. It's enough to turn me right off of the offerings of the Mandarin and other so-called Chinese buffet restaurants. I'd rather save my calorie splurges on better food.

                1. re: 1sweetpea

                  I haven't eaten at one in at least 15 years, but that sums it up well. I couldn't believe how people would rush up to the buffet as some more garbage was brought out of the kitchen. Some people just get aroused by AYCE places!