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Boston Area Chinese Buffet

I am looking for a good Chinese/Asian Buffet in and around Boston. What is your pick?

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  1. While I am not as vehemently anti-Chinese buffet as many--a Chinese buffet place helped keep me from starving to death during my college years--I have to admit that I haven't been to any particularly decent ones in the Boston area. I'd kind of like to know where there's an okay one myself, for when I get nostalgic for my poverty-stricken youth.

    I blame a lack of focus: places like Tin Tin Buffet on North Beacon in Brighton expand the offerings with things like sushi and a wide variety of uniformly awful-looking things like chicken fingers and mashed potatoes. Time and effort expended on stuff like that means that the things you might actually go to a Chinese buffet for--steam table standbys like those enormous cabbagey egg rolls, beef with broccoli, various forms of glazed meat chunks--suffer even more than they normally do in buffet form.

    Tin Tin Buffet Restaurant
    200 N Beacon St, Brighton, MA 02135

    1. Bamboo in Dedham has a very nice lunch buffet (also available on Sunday nite) that is often replenished and varied. Lotus something or other on Rt. 30 in Framingham isn't bad, nor is Shanghai something or other on Rt. 60 in Belmont.

      1 Reply
      1. re: carneyvore

        Bamboo also has good weekday lunch and Sunday dinner buffets in Burlington. The Sunday dinner has a larger selection and is a bit more expensive.

      2. Mandarin Reading, Rt 129 Reading - lunch and Sunday PM. Very good for buffet

        Mandarin Reading Restaurant
        296 Salem St, Reading, MA 01867

        1 Reply
        1. re: ipsofatso

          Yes, we end up here frequently because my 4 year old adores "Chinese bouffet", and they offer scoop your own ice cream (2 different kinds, usually one "safe" flavor like vanilla or chocolate and one more interesting flavor like green tea, coconut or red bean) and whipped cream at the buffet, which is a home run with her. She also likes the lo mein, dumplings, shao mai, fried rice, and shrimp chow mein, and likes to sample a few new things each time we go.

          I usually stick to the sushi (mostly maki but it you time it right you can get nigiri), fried dumplings and shao mai. Occasionally they'll have sauteed greens in oyster sauce. They have about 8-10 different main dishes and the same number of fried appetizer sort of things (crab rangoon, scallion pancake, tempura vegetables, fried chicken wings, battered chicken, barbecued pork, some kind of skewered meat and acouple others I am forgetting). They also have salad, fresh fruit and desser, and they serve soup at your table. It costs $11 or 12 on weekdays, I think $14 on weekends, (Saturday as well as Sunday) and as I recall, the weekend buffet may have more choices.

        2. Yutaka Buffet is fairly new and it is on Rte. 60 in Revere. I have been there several times and I have always enjoyed it. Great sushi and Chinese food. It is a Japanese/Chinese buffet.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Johnresa

            Thanks- we'll try this for one of our "bouffet" excursions. What kinds of sushi do they offer? I'm pretty flexible but my 4 year old only likes nigiri or sashimi.

            1. re: Chris VR

              They have nigiri and maki at lunchtime and at dinner they expand the options and include sashimi. They have about 8-10 plates with sushi and they have sushi on these two large boats in the evenings.

              1. re: Johnresa

                they also have a sister restaurant in chelsea called mandarin buffet

                1. re: galangatron

                  Mandarin Buffet in Chelsea is related to China Buffet in Saugus. Yutaka has different owners :-)

                2. re: Johnresa

                  We gave this a try last week. The maki was fine- the nigiri was nowhere to be seen the first part of our meal- it finally showed up around 12:30 but we were done at that point. The peking ravioli weren't very good- extremely thick and almost cold inside, but the shrimp shao mai was really good, so that made up for it. The salty & spicy dry fried shrimp was also very good. There was a similar preparation of what was purported to be scallops but I suspect they weren't actual scallops... they were all exactly the same shape-- flat and large. It tasted fine, but I liked the shrimp much better (although the shell-on preparation may not appeal to all.) They also have peel and eat shrimp, which was a nice addition, and probably worth the price right there. Overall I thought it was a good variety of foods. I didn't try the chicken balls but Greg did and liked them a lot.

                  I didn't try most of the standard stuff, just the General Gau's, which was not particularly good. It was pretty low traffic on a Friday at noon, and low turnover is rough on buffet freshness. I'd go back, though!

                  1. re: Chris VR

                    chris, what restnt are you describing?!

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      Yutaka Buffet, mentioned upthread from here. Haven't been back since then, would be interested to know how it's doing these days.

            2. When I worked in Cambridge I had some co-workers that loved the lunch buffet at Chang Sho on Mass. Ave between Porter and Harvard Squares. I was able to find some things I liked there, but none were memorable.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Area Man

                I've had the weekend brunch buffet at Changsho and enjoyed it more than your average Chinese buffet. They have some hot entrees, some dim sum, some sushi, and some desserts. All reasonably tasty.

                1712 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

              2. The sunday brunch buffet at Lotus Flower in Framingham is excellent. Nice selection of dimsum items, traditional dishes and more typical buffet dishes. All very nice quality and freshness.

                Lotus Flower
                341 Cochituate Rd, Framingham, MA 01701

                1. Try the Fuloon in Malden. As many posts on this site have noted, Fuloon may have the best Chinese food in the Boston area, and their weekend lunch buffet is really good. Enjoy!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Delhiwala

                    Perhaps it is busier on the weekend and the turnover improves things but i've found their weekday lunch buffet to be pretty gross.

                    1. re: joth68

                      Agree, their weekday lunch buffet is awful.

                      1. re: joth68

                        Yes indeed, I made the mistake of introducing a friend to Fuloon via a weekday lunch buffet. Big mistake.

                    2. Minado is a very decent Japanese buffet in Natick. A wide selection of sushi, sashimi, fresh seafood (including crab legs), cold salads, hot meats & fish & veggies, etc.

                      1. Hudson/Marlboro Super Buffets, great selection of seafood, crab legs, shrimp, etc. Also has sushi, ice cream, tastless raw oysters and clams.

                        Super Buffet
                        700 Worcester Rd, Framingham, MA 01702

                        1. With such AMAZING Chinese food in Boston, I cannot conceive of wanting the sub-standard faire that most of those buffets offer. For <$15 you can stuff yourself silly with top notch Chinese in Boston.

                          25 Replies
                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            To each their own. I enjoy a good buffet. I like the variety. Im also a huge seafood fan and I am usually dining with someone who eats no seafood. So either i have to order one seafood dish for myself which would be too big and no variety or go without.

                            I think even you you would find the lotus flower sunday dimsum brunch buffet very good.

                            1. re: hargau

                              Heck, if you find it chow worthy ya got my attention.

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                Give it a shot. One of my fav things is they have hargau but with a twist. They pan fry one side after steaming them. Really a nice touch.

                            2. re: StriperGuy

                              and how much will one who lives 25 minutes outside of downtown spend on gas, tolls and parking not to mention the time it takes to drive to and from Boston? No one in this thread is trying to argue that these establishments serve better food than their Boston counterparts but the reality of life with children is that you can't always hop in the car and head in town for every meal.

                              1. re: Gordough

                                There is good, non-buffet Chinese outside of Chinatown.

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  Good Chinese can be had outside of Boston - there is no argument, SG; this IS a buffet thread, however.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    where can I "stuff myself silly" with "top notch" Chinese for <$15 in the Metro West area?

                                    1. re: Gordough

                                      sichuan gourmet in framingham, for one

                                      1. re: Prav

                                        I live down the street from there and go approximately 30-40 times per year. I have a decent appetite but by no means unusually large, and I have never walked out of there for >15 a person. An entree + appetizer + tax and tip is always $20+ and more if you don't order the cheapest items. I want to hear about the places I can stuff myself silly for >$15 per StriperGuy's post.

                                          1. re: Gordough

                                            Hey Gordough, do you have your less than < greater than > signs correct??

                                            1. re: Gordough

                                              You could go at lunch time and get two orders off the lunch menu. Tax and tip will take you over $15 though.

                                          2. re: Gordough

                                            SG said you can stuff yourself silly with top-notch Chinese "in Boston."

                                            MetroWest != Boston

                                            I understand your reluctance to drive into the city every time the urge for quality inexpensive Chinese food hits, but there are tradeoffs involved in every decision. Because I choose to live in Allston, I have no walkable access to decent diner breakfasts and Mexican food, for example. But the easy access to superb Chinese food in a variety of styles helps make up for that.

                                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                              Heck, at Kantin in Allston you can stuff yourself silly for $8. At Wai Wai it's more like $6, etc. etc etc

                                              1095 Commonwealth Ave Ste 203, Boston, MA 02215

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                if I am driving into Allston from MetroWest I might as well go all the way in town. I still have to pay the tolls and find parking in Allston. I guess the short answer is there is no place in MetroWest where I can stuff my face with above-average Chinese for $15 or under.

                                                1. re: Gordough

                                                  That's probably true, but unfortunately, nobody said there was.

                                                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                    in fairness the evolution of the discussion went something like this:

                                                    1. StriperGuy questioned why people would eat at the buffets mentioned in this thread when they can get much better food and stuff yourself silly for $15 or under in Boston.

                                                    2. I remarked that for those of us not fortunate enough to live close to the city, it is not possible to trek into town for every meal when you take into consideration gas, tolls, time and parking etc. i.e. the less than $15 meal turns into a more costly, more time consuming endeavor.

                                                    3. someone stated that good Chinese can be had outside of Boston.

                                                    4. I asked if there was anywhere outside of Boston that falls within StriperGuy's description of "stuff yourself silly" good Chinese for $15 and under.

                                                    5. Sichuan Gourmet was offered as such a place.

                                                    and Waltham is a good start. thanks. I will try Mulan and see what I can do for $15.

                                                    1. re: Gordough

                                                      I don't know where you live, you have you ever considered the commuter rail?

                                                      No gas, tolls and parking, and if you live on a line that goes into south station, you are almost literally right next to chinatown.

                                                  2. re: Gordough

                                                    Does Waltham count? I bet $15 buys a decent amount of food at the new Mulan, depending on what you order.

                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                      I will echo other Hounds' endorsement of Bamboo. I have enjoyed the Westford branch -- very fresh sushi, delicious seafood and a fair mix of standards like General Gau's chicken, kung pao beef, Peking ravioli and so forth. They also have thoughtful desserts. The service is lovely also. If you want something special, ask.

                                                      1. re: Swankalicious

                                                        Poor General Gau! He used to order millions, now millions order him!

                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                          The forgotten value of the buffet is the variety. If I choose to dine alone or with a small number of guests, there is a definite limit to the number of dishes I can try at one meal. When you dine at a buffet, you can try little bits of several dishes that interest *you* without the challenge of worrying that your fellow dinner guest have to be interested in trying the same several dishes. Dining in Chinatown is wonderful with a group of 6 when you can try little bits of lots of fun stuff, but if you're with 2 to 4 people, especially if some of the party are picky / unadventurous, you end up ordering much "safer" dishes and getting to branch out less.

                                          Sadly, many look at buffets purely as a chance to stuff their face with as much food as possible for a fixed rate, thus the bad rep of sub standard food and greedy fellow diners. When done right, a buffet can be a fun food exploration, when done wrong it's The Country Buffet (nuff said). I wish more restaurants in Boston, Asian in particular, would invest in quality buffets. The prices will be higher than the standard $7.99 stuff-your-maw lunch variety, but I think there are plenty of foodies in Boston that would ante up for the experience.

                                          1. re: InmanSQ Girl

                                            I luv variety, but won't sacrifice quality, which is sadly what most Asian buffets amount to.

                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                              It's not just the quality for me, it's the fact that most "Chinese" buffets are actually serving Americanese food, and I have no interest in any of that. I prefer the approach taken by some Sichuan restaurants (though none that I know of in Boston) usually for lunch: three dishes for $20.

                                              1. re: KWagle

                                                re: 3 dishes for (Around)$20
                                                lunch: Taiwan Cafe, Dumpling Cafe, Gourmet Dumpling House

                                                Anytime: Cafe de Lulu

                                                Gourmet Dumpling House
                                                52 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

                                        2. I've had decent buffet experiences at that little Korean place on Mass Ave. between Berklee and the Christian Science Center. Can't remember the name........

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: Science Chick

                                            It's called Arirang. not a particular fave amongst most chowhounders.

                                            1. re: Science Chick

                                              Arirang House. I've found it a bit grim the couple of times that I ate there (quite some years ago), and once we had barely been seated when the place was suddenly packed with about two busloads of Korean tourists, which left everyone fighting for scraps from the instantly-depleted steam tables.

                                              1. re: Allstonian

                                                This place has been here forever. The last time i recall going there was 25 years ago and considering it good value.

                                                1. re: gourmaniac

                                                  The last (very last) time I was there it looked like some of the buffet food had also been there forever.

                                              2. re: Science Chick

                                                Sorry, that place is GRIM. I used to go once in a while, but it just got more and more depressing. I have also had quite sketchy quality there which finally made me stop going.

                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                  Oh, sorry! I used to go once in a while for take out buffet on my way to my hairdresser (oohh, 5-6 years ago). I found it servicable back then, but in all honesty haven't been in about 5 years. I recall things being nice and fresh back then, albeit not particularly innovative.

                                                  1. re: Science Chick

                                                    One thing I like there is the spicy soup that's part of the buffet, with tofu and zuchinni. They don't always have it. (You can get just the soup to go, and some rice to go, and skip the buffet, which is generally what I do.)

                                                    1. re: femmevox

                                                      That spicy zucchini soup is pretty good. Their kimchi selection ain't bad either.

                                              3. We had lunch at the Westford Bamboo's buffet today, always a guilty pleasure but this time not quite so pleasurable as usual. The scallops were overcooked and not done at a high enough heat, so that the exterior had no crunch and the interior not enough moisture. The sushi selection was totally lackluster, and to my great disappointment they didn't bring out any sort of tuna until we had pretty much finished (it was quite good, however). The string beans were mushy and totally lacking any carmelization on the outside, and the fresh spring rolls contained lettuce but very little else. Come on, folks, you know how to do better than this!!

                                                1. We've recently been to Feng Shui in Natick for their weekend buffet lunch $12.95 and we quite enjoyed it. There's a decent selection of sushi(4 platters worth): maki and nigri, dim sum (a hit or miss-last time we were there we were told a new dim sum chef just came on board). We like it since there is a little bit of everything for everyone. I was told that their week day buffet is mostly americanized dishes but the weekend buffet is definitely more geared towards the asian palate and the nearly packed dining room reflects it.

                                                  The times we were there, they had gen. gau's chicken, clams in black bean sauce, fish fillet w/ginger scallion, beef w/assorted mushrooms and greens, skewered garlicky whole shrimp, chicken wings, boneless spareribs, sesame balls, dim sum: chicken feet, shui mai, spare ribs, assorted dumplings and many others that I've forgotten.

                                                  I like to eat lighter and will lean toward seafood than heavy meats by usually my DCs are meat lovers and buffet gives us a happy medium.

                                                  I think Feng Shui is better than Minado which is overpriced ($21.95 weekends) and subpar for the money they charge and I believe some of their seafood is not was they are suppose to be. I had one of the "scallops" and it was made w/fish kinda like the Krab sticks/meat they use in crab rangoons.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Chocomom

                                                    We used to go to Feng Shui but stopped. Last 3 times we swore we would never go back, yet still did for convenience and hoping it would have got better... Food was always very salty and loaded with too much msg. Especially the items they dont want you to eat a lot of such as the crab legs and large prawns, they are practically unedible there is so much in them. Used to go because they have lobster on the weekend buffet but not only did you have to fight to get it (bin clears out within a minute of them putting it out and they dont fill it again for a long time) but once you got it, it too was loaded with too much msg and salt.

                                                    My favorite buffet in MA is still the Sunday dimsum buffet at Lotus Flower in Framingham.

                                                    1. re: hargau

                                                      Thanks for the heads up. Will have to give Lotus Flower a try next time we want buffet.

                                                      Never had an issue w/msg @ Feng Shui & they now only do lobster at dinner time but it's an extra add on

                                                      1. re: hargau

                                                        i tried to find a website for changsho in camb and the site for lotus flower kept coming up, so i guess same owner......

                                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                          I did the same - yes, same owner. Go to that website, hover over 'menu' & you'll be able to click on 'Chang Sho.'

                                                          I'm wondering about their buffet. I always get suckered in when it comes to buffets (just Asian food, though) for the same reason as the OP - as a single dinner (as I often am, esp. since no one I know loves Asian food as much as I do!), that gives me a chance to try lots of things I ordinarily wouldn't be able to try.

                                                          If you decide to go, be sure to let us know how it is!

                                                          Edit: Just saw your posting below - correction - if you go again, let us know!

                                                    2. based on this and an older thread, we may try Mandarin soon:


                                                      It was 2 yrs ago, but the buffets at Yangtze River in Lexington and Changsho in No. Cambridge were both good when I tried them, esp. Changsho (really attractive space too, +parking!) But i'm not sure if it was a wkend buffet rather than a weekday. i remember they had soft sweet tofu for dessert.

                                                      1. Tried Bamboo buffet today in Westford and everything was good, except the food mostly wasn't hot. They did try to keep it replenished, which heightens the chance of getting hot food, but a lot of it still wasn't. The service was good, the sushi very fresh, the food better than average, and the atmosphere nice. Would go again, if they could only make sure the food stayed hot...

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: observor

                                                          Replying to my own post, I went again to Bamboo and ordered off the menu. The chicken and broccoli wasn't hot at all, there was no pork in the egg rolls, the fried rice was very greasy, and, absolutely the worse, there was a huge mound of rice noodles clumped together into a sticky mound buried under the chicken and basil dish making an already-small dish seem larger than it was. I have never seen such deception before.

                                                          1. re: observor

                                                            I am not a fan of buffets in general and particularly Chinese or Asian buffet. I much prefer to order off the menu and receive my food hot and fresh.

                                                            1. re: observor

                                                              Want to amend this post...went recently and the food, mostly still cold, was way, way to oily. It was terrible.

                                                            2. I've had very decent food at the buffet at Chang Sho on Mass Ave in Cambridge. Not quite as decent, but still quite good is Sichuan's Garden in Waltham.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                Worth mentioning that there is absolutely nothing Sichuan about Sichuan Garden in waltham..

                                                                1. re: hargau

                                                                  This is very very true. I think the General Gao's is the spiciest thing on the buffet.

                                                                  They also have a tropical drink called the Pearl Harbor on the menu.

                                                              2. Have any Hounds tried Jade Garden's buffet in Arlington Heights?

                                                                I went with my son once and it seemed ok to us

                                                                No sushi just standard dishes but refilled frequently and a good variety of choices, no msg that I could detect

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: bluerib

                                                                  FYI might not be around much longer according to the jan opening and closing thread grant.cook it will turn in to Szechuan Dumpling Cafe, not sure if it change in concept or new owners.