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My wife's parents are here from Mexico, and they want to go to Mandarin... again.... How can I convince them otherwise?

Now I don't want to be a food snob, but GOTDAMN I feel like they're missing so much.

If you were in my shoes.. Where would you be trying to go instead? 4 adults and 5 year old.

Or do I just let them have their day? I mean they like it there, they know what to expect..

But I know what to expect too, and it's a lot of not a lot.

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  1. Ha, yeah, my parents like the mandarin also, it is funny because my dad is pretty picky when it comes to his food. I think the benefit to him is that he can see what he is taking and there are no surprises from the kitchen when they add a sauce or whatever that he wasn't expecting...

    I feel for you but don't have any specific suggestions :)

    1. My partner's parents love Mandarin as well. I can't understand it, but all they eat there is the roast beef.

      1. Baby steps!
        Try and convince them to try Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill on Don Mills Rd, between Eglinton & Lawrence.
        Similar AYCE but you choose the raw ingredients and then have them cook it for you. You can choose prepared sauces or make-your-own.
        At least that would gently wean them from a prepared buffet - and if that works they might trust you for another step up.

        1. Let them have their day.

          If you have an additional opportunity to take them out for eats, introduce another AYCE.

          1. Maybe they are trying to accommodate you?

            Buffet's are good in that there is variety and everyone is bound to find something to their taste.

            1. As Hunter Thompson said, " Buy the ticket, take the ride."

              Think about the silliness in trying to convince them how good the "authentic" unknown stuff they don't like really is when they'd be content with same old/same old at Mandarin. They like it. What matters more? Making a point or making 'em happy?

              1. I think the Mandarin puts an addictive chemical in their food that makes folks of a certain age crave it! Kind of like the ringtone that only people under a certain age can hear!

                My Mom and her friends LOVE the Mandarin. I think you hit the nail on the head in your OP...they know what to expect and I think they take comfort in that.

                  1. I think Mandarin is a very different experience for people who have not eaten there or rarely eat there. I prefer not to eat there, although seems some people love it for what it is. There is a reason they are usually busy. Let the bashing begin!
                    I remember the first few years it opened, I couldn't get enough of the place.........Now, I try my best not to have to go there.
                    I say let them have their day. You could always pick up some samosas, doubles, pastizzi's, or empanadas to introduce them to other foods slowly.

                    1. Be a good sport and take them. They've been there before and obviously like it enough to go back. It makes them happy. Not sure what the problem is.

                      1. How about the best pretend Japanese AYCE?
                        Is there suggest a thing here, the best?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                          Japanese AYCE is a totally different experience. You cannot see what you're getting, and you can't have one piece of this and 10 pieces of that without telling someone.

                          Wonder if they would be open to a more authentic Chinese buffet like Starwalk (though I have not been in ages.) But if they only like Chicken Balls and Chow Mein (the crunchy kind) then it won't work for them.

                        2. Maybe it's because I've become a certain age that I'm hating a lot less on the Mandarin than I used to. Yeah, it's a lot of fun to take a dig at those who only know red-coated chicken balls and egg rolls. And I can barely tolerate the blatant gluttony, offensively inoffensive decor and saccharine service.

                          But for what they do, the food itself is good. It's clean, fresh, presentable and there is something for everyone esp if it's a family/group that's going. When I think about the Mandarin, they consistently seem to care and put effort into what they're selling, which is a lot more than most competitors.

                          1. Never thought anything special about Mandarin, even for a buffet. It's really just ordinary. Frankly I don't know what people see in it. I'd gladly eat there though as I'm not a food snob.

                            Let them have their day. Then go to another place when you eat out again.

                            1. My first thought is to ask them why they like it, and then try to replicate that experience elsewhere.

                              My grandkids like it for the desserts and the fries, the wings, etc. We take them when they are in town (every two years). So that is my appearance. I pick at the pork and usually just load up with ice cream. It's pathetic, I know, but the kids like it.

                              As the years go by, they eat more widely. Eventually I can switch them over to Chinese and go somewhere else.

                              So: find out what they like to eat and go somewhere else. Roast beef? It's been replaced with flank steak. Fresh grilled chicken breast? It's been replaced with pre-seasoned and heavily salted chicken "pieces". Pizza? They've toned it down with minimal toppings and thin bread, Sushi? You have to ask for the fish rolls, and then they only give you one at a time.

                              There are changes all the time. But the price is good, and your parents might be seniors and love the discount. I know the grandkids love theirs, but they will grow out of it.

                              Old Mill Buffet is next -- twice as pricey, but marginally better food.

                              1. Ha! Mandarin is a state of mind. I would NEVER go to Mandarin unless someone dragged me, but I chuckled when I read this as I could hear my mother gushing about how wonderful it is. Hope this doesn't sound too righteous (and I would NOT have said this ten years ago), but I'd live and let live and try to be happy they're happy. p.s. I've done exactly what you want to do (introduce them to more sophisticated fare)... I can almost guarantee they wouldn't enjoy it as much... Again, Mandarin is a state of mind.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Moimoi

                                  And you're probably right. Anywhere he takes them, regardless of how much better it is than Mandarin, wouldn't be as good in their minds.

                                  1. I'm assuming you want to stay in the general area.

                                    If they want to stay at buffet, try Dragon Pearl at York Mills and Don Mills instead. Much better food, broader variety of Asian cuisines, real Sushi (always) and Sashimi (dinner only). Overly Asian decor - massive red blown-glass chandeleirs, dolls, jewelry, and petrified wood, but huge family tables and special places to section off your party - in raised boats, round "bird cages", or just booths with high backed chairs that form a privacy wall of their own. Super friendly staff.

                                    In the same plaza there is a new Sushi resto - Matsu - that has an expensive but really nice AYCE menu, although price is comparable to DP. Really nice presentations, nice new combinations, Modern decor. Horrible deserts.

                                    There is sushi and Tepanyaki place (both AYCE) - Maki Sushi - in Thorncliffe plaza @ Laird and Wicksteed. Not nearly the size or decor of the others, but cheaper and they have a couple of really nice house specialities, including some sushi fusion wrapped in spring roll rice paper instead of Nori.

                                    If you just want a nice meal, Sorento is a FABULOUS pasta and wood-fired pizza place - a real surprise, now with a patio. Try the house pasta for a treat.

                                    Also in the plaza @ 900 Don Mills: Congee Star [pretty comfortable family style with Chinatown standards]; Mongollian Grill [AYCE - choose fresh ingredients and have it cooked on a giant grill], and; the really NOT recommended Tepanyaki Memories of Japan [chinzy, cheap, small portions and unappetizing bits of sushi and other seafood - if you must stick to the chicken and beef or shrimp dinners]

                                    FInally, across the street to the North of this plaza is tiny Gonoe that specializes in amazing sushi boats of all sizes and combos. Some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. Pricier, but worth it.

                                    Good luck.

                                    1. Is it really that bad? The odd time it's OK for me, although we go to the super mandarin at 410 & Steeles and it's definitely a step above the other locations for sure