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May 4, 2011 02:20 PM

Do people seriously like Mandarin?

I don't know about you guys but I think that all of the food there is pretty bad. Like honestly, I've read that some people think that this place has the best prime rib in town and I'm going to say I doubt that. I understand that there's a market niche for "eat as much as you can for the price", but couldn't you just take your money and buy like 3 sandwiches at Porchetta and Co and stuff yourself with something that tastes good rather than spend $30 bucks on instant mashed potatoes and westernized Chinese food?

I guess I'm just wondering, do people actually like the food or is it just about value.

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  1. "two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions." Woody Allen

    The fact the portions aren't small explains why people like Mandarin. Next?

    1. Personally, I don't like going to any kind of buffet. However, if forced to go to a Chinese buffet, I would choose the Mandarin over others. Regarding the roast beef, it was not too bad at all a few years back on their supper spread. I've only been more recently at lunchtime when they switch to less desirable cuts of roast, so don't know about the current quality at suppertime. Value?....I don't find much there, in fact I'm pretty sure Mandarin is at the higher end of the scale. Regarding your main question, (do people seriously like Mandarin?), I think people vote with their pocketbooks. So the answer to that is self-evident. Are people idiots for liking Mandarin? which may be your real question, well some people (like you) will say yes....and many of them read Chowhound.

      4 Replies
      1. re: T Long

        I agree with T Long, that the roast beef isn't bad. While the Chinese food served is Westernized, it's freshly cooked, frequently replenished, and usually ok/fair, and sometimes pretty good, for what it is. There's certainly plenty of Westernized Chinese food that's worse than Mandarin in the GTA, and Mandarin's food has been better than the one meal I had at Woo Buffet.

        It's mostly about value, and Mandarin offers a good dining value if you're 6' 4" and weigh 275 lbs. It's not a good value if you count your calories and/or eat less than 2000 calories a day. Whenever I have dined at Mandarin, it's been chosen by friends who have big appetites, or are married to people who have big appetites.

        It's also a good place to bring people who have trouble deciding what they want to order/eat.

        Anyone who the knows the art of buffet knows that you fill up on the shrimp, the roast beef & the crab legs, not the mashed potatoes. ;-)

        1. re: prima

          I'm glad you pointed this out. I find there's no advantage for me to go to a buffet -- I have a small appetite and I physically can'y eat enough to make it worth the price. Plus, I'm a vegetarian, so my options tend to be very limited (and inexpensive, like salad bars, which I can get cheaper elesewhere).

        2. re: T Long

          You must be kidding. As I've posted here before, China Buffet King is far superior to Mandarin, if you're at all interested in Asian food. CBK sushi actually has fish (OK, mostly salmon, but it's still fish). CBK offers items like Peking Duck and pot-stickers, instead of western roasts and pizza. If you go on a night when CBK is busy, the steam tables are refilled frequently so that the food is fresh and relatively tasty.

          Mandarin is good for people who want to think they're trying Chinese food, when they're really more interested in Western stuff.

          China Buffet King
          9737 Yonge St, Richmond Hill, ON L4C8S7, CA

          1. re: FrankD

            thanks for statin the obvious Frankie, I think people know that Mandarin is a Chinese-Canadian style buffet, and people are OK with that. CBK is decent for sure, but Mandarin has a bigger selection, high turnaround of products and to me, it feels cleaner, and except for a few Chinese dishes that you mentioned, its got a lot. They do use Salmon in their sushi as well. Im no Sushi snob but what they have at Mandarin vs CBK there isnt much of a difference...

            Also, I cant recall seeing Pizza at Mandarin, but atleast with their Western style items, they have options for the people that want to go out with the family for dinner but are too afraid to try anything too Chinesey(is that a word?), and I gotta say I like their grilled items/roast...

        3. Mandarin is not my go to place for usual dining out however it does serve a purpose. There are times when a group wants buffet for various reasons: large diverse groups or my family, happen to be in the area and have a bizarre craving for buffet - one price and you can taste 100 different things - whatever. It is what it is. Is it a fresh, multi choice buffet that will please a number of people - yes. If you are looking for anything else - don't go.

          2 Replies
          1. re: juliewong

            As juliewong suggests, Mandarin is a good place for a diverse group looking for decent value, who aren't too-too demanding. Like a group of my friends, who drag me to the Mandarin on Woodbine Ave. two or three times a year. They love the place. And I've learned, if you're not too critical, you can eat quite satisfyingly at dinner time. Some items are good, others a washout. The above-mentioned roast beef is respectable, and you get it rare or medium-rare if you ask for it. Fresh-tasting horseradish to go with it. Also tasty: the salad bar, some of the Chinese dishes, and the soups (better hot-and-sour and egg-drop than many sit-down restos). I've learned to stay away from the sushi bar and the bland desserts - and most everything else, now that I think of it. Food trays regularly replenished, so most everything's fresh if not exactly top-quality. Good service - used plates are quickly removed from your table. Altogether, a well-run joint that knows what its customers want. Discount for seniors. Dismal wine list, though most customers don't seem to care - they prefer Coke. Some wines well-priced, others not so much.

            1. re: juno

              However, just stay away from their 'Dumpling Festival'!! IMO, it is a ploy where they try to use 'fancy terms' to lure the uninitiated to their CHEAP, tasteless and ultra-filling carbohydrate products!! A plate of those and one will be more than half full and have no room for their more expensive items! Thats how they make money!! A plate of their pot-sticker dumplings, say a dozen, would cost less than $1 wholesale!!! Yet they will fill up your stomach to a degree like a piece of $10 prime-rib!!

          2. It's a good choice for large groups, esp those with young kids. It's a safe choice with good selection if you have groups with varying dietary restrictions. I agree it's the greatest, but the good is adequate. I do like the prime rib, particularly the bones! As I have very young children, places where it's easy for them to get what they want and be a little bit loud are much appreciated! :)

            1. At the risk of damaging any chow credibility I might have, I will admit to occasionally eating at Mandarin. Voluntarily. Without complaint.

              Growing up, I ate that style of westernized Chinese food frequently, and while I am now aware of its total lack of authenticity, that doesn't mean some of it isn't tasty. And when you're dealing with deep fried and plunged into corn starch based sauces "Chinese" food, Mandarin is one of the better examples of the genre -- the turnover is high enough to keep the food fresh, and the quality is, on the whole, okay.

              So, yeah, if what I want is Sichuan or Hunan or Cantonese or Congee or Dim Sum, of course I don't go to Mandarin. That would be silly.

              But if I want sweet and sour pork, then Mandarin's version, peking pork, is really quite tasty.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Jacquilynne

                Growing up Mandarin was a regular spot for the family to dine, and I never had any complaints. There are lots of options and most things are decent. I dont mind their sushi at all, their grilled items are good, their prime rib is good, and all the other options are decent. Maybe I dont have a snobbish sense of taste, I dont feel the need to go "authentic" or spend a few hundred on a single meal from a high rated restaurant, so for what it is, I dont mind it at all.

                I dont want to say its gone downhill, but its not what it used to be. They used to have Crab Legs every day, and at one point they even had Lobster, but that was probably 15 years ago. Its not just about going to the communal trough and filling up, they have a good variety of items so I can have what I want, as much or as little. The place seems pretty clean, the food is fresh, the price is reasonable, what more could you want?

                And really, to say Mandarin sucks, you must compare it to similar restaurants, and of the American-Style Chinese Buffets in and around Toronto, Mandarin has always been one of the better ones...

                1. re: Jacquilynne

                  I'm not going to lie either. I've eaten there with some buddies a few times and I didn't complain. I love food but I'm not a snob. When I hit Mandarin, I know what I'm getting myself into. It's junk food. It is what it is and I don't think they are trying to mask it or pull one over on us. Would I take a date or my S/O there? Hell no. Would I go again with my buddies to hang out and eat some junk? Probably. While I'm outting myself on here, I'll admit that after a night of drinks I crave McDonald's breakfast. Sue me, lol.

                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                    Well put Jac and I concur. I will add that you need to go when it's busy. If you get a high turnover rate the food is actually decent.

                    And most people on here tend to lose perspective. Most of us grew up on westernized Chinese food and until adults thought it was authentic. Now we find out it's not and we don't like it all of a sudden??