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Jul 2, 2014 08:28 AM

Generic Chinese Buffet?

My parents recently moved to Vancouver from Prince George and one of the things they miss is the kind of generic westernized Chinese food buffet / smorgasboard that Prince George has several of. Does this exist in Vancouver or is it too generic? They live near 41st and Cambie but they regularly go to Richmond and Burnaby and whatnot, so geographically flexible.

It's more the buffet style they're interested in the the All-you-can-eat aspect of it -- the places that are all-you-can-eat but you order off a menu and they bring the dishes out don't appeal to them in the same way. For those who are familiar with it, they love the Mandarin here in Ontario. It doesn't need to be as elaborate as Mandarin (none of the Prince George ones are!), but a salad bar, a hot table or two and some dessert options would be typical of what they want.

They do go to some good Chinese restaurants, too, but they've been eating the westernized stuff for a lot of years and they like it, and they like the casualness of a buffet.

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  1. Maybe the buffet @ River Rock but the generic Cantonese style buffet died long ago.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sam Salmon

      Know exactly what you mean, Jacquilynne, having dined at the one in Quesnel many times. I could be wrong but I think there may be one left on Kingsway, something like the Grand Dragon or similar (not Grand Buffet). I'll try to remember to look for it the next time I'm out that way.

    2. If they're willing to go to Coquitlam, a local blogger recently reviewed the "Asia Kitchen" buffet:

      1 Reply
      1. re: Hachidori

        It's probably farther than they'd routinely go for dinner, but it's on the way to my cousin's house and might be somewhere they'd visit as part of a Sunday drive. Thanks for the suggestion!

      2. There is a take-away place on Victoria, near 41st -- Kent's Kitchen. Basic steam-table stuff, but familiar. The shop has a constant line up; patrons take a number for service. But steady sales = good rotation of product. Zero atmosphere, but I am ok with the food for an occasional "fix."

        7 Replies
        1. re: KarenDW

          Hmm, I wonder if that one is related to the Kent's Kitchen in Chinatown; same sort of setup, though it has (some) seating IIRC. It's been there forever.

          1. re: grayelf

            I believe the two locations are related. Yup a bit of institution. As a kid growing up in late 80s into the 90s, my parents would grab a full serving of dish after work, usually a deep fried item, to help complemented the dishes for dinner at home.

            1. re: moyenchow

              Yes both Kent's Kitchen are of the same company, The Chinatown one has been there since the early '80s if not earlier, as memory serves. My Mom used to work a block away and 2-3 times a month she'd bring home take-outs. I was just there last week for my "fix", and it's hard not for me not to go there when I'm shopping in Chinatown (before it's no longer Chinatown). The place hasn't changed one iota since the '80s, and the true experience of Kent's can only be done if you eat in. At $5.50 for two items with plain rice it's a total win over costs of living increases. I'm even seeing hipsters (gasp !) there now.

              But this is not what the OP is looking for. Movin' on .......

          2. re: KarenDW

            Would this be similar to Ho Ho Yummy on Davie?

            1. re: islandgirl

              Yes, similar concept; although my observation is that volume at KK is exponentially higher than HoHo Yummy. There are a few counter-level seats at all 3 of those locations mentioned.

            2. re: KarenDW

              That definitely looks like the right kind of food, but I think the serve-yourself aspect of the buffet is part of what they want.

              (This thread is really making me want to eat generic westernized Chinese food.)

              1. re: Jacquilynne

                A discussion that was more oriented to takeout options for Chinese food was split to its own thread here: Check it out!

            3. I think this may be a bit far from your parents home but it matches exactly what you are looking for.

              Oriental Buffet
              15140 101 Avenue
              Surrey, BC V3R 7V4

              11 Replies
              1. re: moyenchow

                Surrey's not necessarily in their regular rotation, but that is definitely exactly the sort of thing they're looking for!

                1. re: moyenchow

                  Oriental Buffet is not getting much love on Urbanspoon - only 35% like it. It's been about 10 years since I've been there, and the quality of the food back then was disgusting, so I doubt much has changed.

                  1. re: Scoffier

                    Well in general buffets are not known for great food & service but it's what the poster's parents want.

                    Sometimes the stomach wants what the stomach wants, even foodies.

                    I know better but I really like McDonald's Filet of Fish.

                    I actually think this could be it's own thread: As a Foodie I know better but I really like ......

                    1. re: moyenchow

                      I enjoy eating a meal at a good, westernized Chinese buffet myself. Years ago, there were a lot of these buffets around, some were pretty good and others were pretty bad. Places like the Oriental Buffet and the long gone Foody Goody in Richmond would, IMO, fall into the latter category.
                      Nowadays, with so many less buffets to choose from, the trick is to find a good one. For some reason, these buffets seem to be much more common in the smaller towns outside of the GVRD.

                      1. re: Scoffier

                        Wasn't there a Grand Buffet on Kingsway in Burnaby just east of Royal Oak ? It was there for years, I even ate there (ugh) a few times because we were invited by others. Not my cup 'ol tea, 'tho.

                        1. re: LotusRapper

                          It's still on Google street view (2012 image), near the A&W, but I can't find it listed anywhere. I guess It must be history. There was also a Chinese buffet in Columbia Square (New Westminster), but it too is long gone.

                          1. re: LotusRapper

                            The space formerly occupied by Grand Buffet is now called Lee Garden Dim Sum:


                          2. re: Scoffier

                            I think the trouble of finding Westernized Chinese food in general (not just buffets), in Vancouver speaks to the improved awareness and knowledge of non-Chinese people regarding traditional Chinese food. They know Westernize Chinese food is not the "real deal".

                            Westernize Chinese food would still exist if there was a demand for it but clearly the demand is not there and very few want to eat it.

                            However I agree when well prepared Westernize Chinese food can still be tasty.

                            1. re: moyenchow

                              Ironically, one dish that *can* be used to gauge the quality of a Chinese (generally Cantonese) restaurant kitchen is their sweet & sour pork.

                              1. re: LotusRapper

                                True, however in a buffet, s&s pork is often one the first casualties as it turns soggy from stewing in the sauce for too long.

                                1. re: Scoffier

                                  Yes. And any dish that contains crisp veggies (celery, gailan, carrots) or cashews :-/

                    2. Kind of a long drive, but if they happen to be in Tsawwassen, - Best Garden has a westernized style Chinese buffet on from Friday thru Sunday. Haven't been there myself but a friend of mine that lives out there says it's pretty good.