Monrovia Has The Best Zen
Being one of the Chowhounds who places a value on quantity as well as quality I figured a good place to spend this buffet Friday was the relatively new Zen Buffet branch in Monrovia that opened last spring. Having been to both the Rosemead and Woodland Hills branches of Zen Buffet and finding them both extremely underwhelming, I was assured by my informant that the Monrovia branch was better, and I have to concur. Majority of the diners at this location are Chinese, and there are some good authentic Chinese items here. Actually the selection here isn't any better than places like World Buffet in West Covina or Gold Coast Buffet in Alhambra. But what pushes the Monrovia Zen Buffet a little ahead of these two is a couple of dishes that I would classify as being sit down restaurant quality. First is the herb chicken, perhaps not coincidentally served in a much smaller round dish than the typical large metal pans used at buffets. Soft and tender chunks of dark chicken meat are well flavored and seasoned. Also the steamed tofu with shrimp paste is also like the dishes you get in regular restaurants. Monrovia Zen Buffet does not approach Osaka Seafood in Hacienda Heights or Yummy Yummy Seafood in El Monte (which I fear is living on borrowed time), but if you had been disappointed with the food at the Rosemead Zen branch, don't let that stop you from going to Monrovia. Street address is 945 W. Huntington Dr., not too far past Capital Seafood's Arcadia location, and seems to validate the Arcadia/Monrovia corridor as an expanding center for Chinese food.
It is coincidental as I was just, this morning, having a conversation with one of my Chinese co-workers and she was saying that the Zen in Monrovia is very good and a great deal (check their website (link below) for coupons). We usually go as a department to the Rosemead one for our holiday lunch as they have a private room - I do not believe that the Monrovia location has one.
- edit - sorry, forgot to attach the lins. http://thezenbuffet.com/coupons
Actually I agree and what makes the lunch a steal is that they have a Mongolian BBQ setup which though not as good as Mongol's on Colorado is cheaper by a few dollars for AYCE in addition to have a cleaner environment, less wait, and more food options other than the Mongol BBQ.
Also is Osaka actually worth going? Even though I generally disregard Yelp the reviews over there seem pretty dismal for the HH branch.
The website for Zen Buffet has a "price" section where the prices are listed by time and day of the week....... and next to each is the notation "$ x year" (ie- $1.45 x year on Friday, Saturday ,and Sunday). http://thezenbuffet.com/prices-2
I can't say that I've ever seen that before or that I can readily guess what it means. Is there an up-charged based on age????
Got to add my two cents worth. Zen Buffet in Monrovia and Osaka Seafood in Hacienda Heights are my two favorite Asian buffet places in the SGV with Yummy Yummy Seafood in El Monte being the worst! Went to Yummy Yummy on a recent Saturday when they first opened and more than half of the steam table items weren't available and even after I left 45 minutes later they were still missing many items! The food quality at Zen and Osaka was much better IMHO!