Best Houston Chinese buffet
- Tex Nosh
What's the best all you can eat, Chinese buffet in Houston?
The one on SW freeway near beltway 8, I think it used to be called Panda Bear, is popular among Chinese, but not all that great. I heard decent things about Lucky Inn (?Village), which has a few locations. Any others.
What I have found to be more important than type or quality of food is volume, because that keeps the food on the buffet fresh. Is there any worse enemy than nasty solidified Pepper steak that has been sitting still for 2 hours? The idea is that a buffet with a high volume of customers will always have fresh food because the sheer number of patrons will keep draining the buffet.
My co-workers and I enjoy going to Yank Sing on Mangum for LUNCH. Thats just south of HWY290 near Northwest Mall. That area seems to pack the folks in for lunch, so the buffet is always busy at lunchtime. They serve the most important buffet staple, Hunan beef. Which is basically Pepper steak but seasoned with spicy chili peppers. And they have the fake, soy-based ice cream, with pudding and rice krispy treats for desert. Those two items mean the most to me in terms of buffet selection.
Do not go there for DINNER. As a rule of thumb, I do not go to buffets for dinner because they seem to have a much smaller patronage later in the evening. Which means the food doesnt comes out fresh as often. And after a certain time most buffets stop putting out fresh food for the rest of evening til closing.
I have to give an Honorable mention to Thai Spice at FM1960 and Eldridge. They have an interesting selection, and are usually busy enough for lunch that the food stays fresh.
Earlier today a buddy and I were looking for a Chinese buffet lunch, so this was great. Unforch there's a Yank Sing on Hillcroft close to my office, and this was NOT a wholesome or healthy place... more like a scene out of Supersize Me! Showed up at 11:30 and everything was already soggy and limp. Even the beef enchilladas. On the upside, they do serve oysters!
Depressing, horrible, and dirty... avoid Yang Sing on Hillcroft.
You got it -- it is called Panda Bear and it is still there, you cannot possibly miss the gaudy temple-like structure in the middle of a SW Houston restaurant strip. I used to go there years ago when I worked in Stafford. I don't know what the food is like now but I'm sure the prices have gone up.
I find it really difficult to rate Chinese buffets since it is a smorgasbord of food, half of which is not remotely Chinese! I understand that most people go there for the boiled crawfish and crab legs. For the price, it is a steal.
I agree with the other posters in that the importance in choosing a Chinese buffet is how often the food comes out. I mean, you get what you pay for, but that doesn't mean you can't have a decent meal.
That being said, the Lucky Village on Westheimer near Beltway 8 is good on weekend nights because it is PACKED so there's a nice rotation of food going on. For lunch (11 - 2), the Lucky Village on Dairy Ashford near I-10 is usually a good bet.
I've passed by China Bear a few times, but never went. Too far out from where I live.
KIM SON (BELLAIRE)
After getting totally janked at Yang Sing (Hillcroft), I guess we were due for some good luck. And boy did we it at the Kim Son on Bellaire, just outside the Beltway. Best buffet I've been at for a long time. Chinese, Vietnamese, and even some Korean. No enchiladas!
There must have been a couple dozen different meats, including the most tender, flavorful beef stir fry I've had in a long time. Also a barbecue bar including great roast pork and duck. The noodle bar was good, the sushi rolls were good, the vegetables were all crisp and fresh and not too over-sauced. I didn't sample a single thing I wouldn't have been happy ordering as an entree.
Went there on a weekday and there was a decent lunch crowd. Not a lot of English spoken at the tables. At $8.99 it was the probably the best deal I've had in a long time.
Didn't mean to hit Chinese buffets in one week, but the place I was heading for lunch had closed down, and what do I find in the same mall but Lucky Village (Westheimer @ Fountainview). With memories of Kim Son still fresh, I ventured in.
It was gross. At just past noon with the place half full, the vegetables were limp, the sauces were wet and flavorless, bbq pork rib (though tender and juicy) tasted like a boot. They had mac and a cheese-like viscous substance right next to the beef stir fry, which pretty much says everything about this smorgasboard.
Oh and here's something: If you brave the sushi bar, go for the sashimi. It's the same cuts of fish as the sushi but somehow they manage to screw up the rice balls! Tight and hard white balls might sound fun, but they're not.
If my buddy hadn't seen a guy lay a fresh tray of fried chicken (?) down, we wouldn't have had a single hot dish. Of course the fried chicken tasted like fried egg roll.
I read on b4-u-eat that the Lucky Village on Westheimer by the beltway was better, but if you've going out that far you're getter off heading down to Bellaire and eating... just about anywhere else.
Oriental Buffet on El Camino Real at Ramada, Clear Lake City. It resembles so many others in look, size, selections and action, but is a real cut above. On week-ends they put out various seafoods along with the regular choices. Excellent variety of great sauces, the best Thai soup I've ever had, pho and other special things that have made this my favorite one.