Confusing Confucius (or at least he would've been)
*For a complete description of our Chinese buffet analysis, please see the beginning of our previous buffet ratings.
It had been a long time since we had been to a buffet, like months, and we apologize. We really needed to eat some Chinese Buffet. It was early Sunday morning and Slob was returning from the edge of Northern Ozaukee County. Snob was coming from the humble Whitefish Bay. Not many Chinese Buffets are open at 11 AM on a Sunday between those two locations, so we tried this relatively new restaurant. Imagine getting really excited for a good Chinese buffet, grabbing your plate, and seeing frogs legs as one of the options. Now, we know many of you refined folk and your French cuisine enjoy a good amphibian; however, we firmly believe that frog legs don't even deserve a spot on a 100 item buffet. Along with the pond chicken (a.k.a.: frog legs), we found items such as cheese mussels and clams, salt and pepper squid, an entire salmon, and a "crab clam" as being out of place for a Chinese buffet. Our follower @arielwelch deserves credit for helping us identify one of the items as kimchi, an item she points out most likely has Korean roots, not Chinese. But hell, we're pretty sure cheese mussels are not Chinese in origin either. To be fair, their website does explain that their buffet consists of Chinese, Japanese (sushi), and American (probably explains the cheese mussels) foods.
They had a million places for food selections and they felt the need to fill each one. Plus, they had a whole hibachi thing going, very similar to a Mongolian Barbecue, but it was hardly used and seemed really unnecessary. In addition, there were some very awkward deserts that we can't imagine anyone choosing to eat. They obviously make an effort to serve a good Chinese buffet as evidenced by their cleanliness and decent service, but they just fall a little short. They have another location called China 1 on Brown Deer road. We have not been there and are wondering if that has more typical Chinese buffet fare. Except for the middle-school type fun we had playing with frog legs and chicken wings (you ever try arm wrestling the two?), the whole experience was just uninspiring and difficult to write about.
This is what we agree on:
1. Service was decent
2. Too many options, in a bad way
3. The place was clean
This is where we differ slightly:
The noodles, rice, soup and Chinese donuts were not good. This was the rare occasion when I didn't want to load up on these favorites. Not awful, but not tasty in the least. The quality was beneath frozen Chinese food. If I had time, I would have stopped at the lone Milwaukee Wong's Wok afterward for some adequate Chinese food. I suppose it was nice inside and not dirty. There, that's your silver lining.
I can't imagine a scenario where I would go back to this place. It wasn't disgusting. It had a pleasant feeling, nice waitress and hostess but the food wasn't good. Considering it's a restaurant, that's unfortunate (if it were a furniture store, the taste of the food wouldn't matter. In this case, however, it's a factor). We did not try the hibachi grill because we felt it strayed too much from the buffet experience. Perhaps that will bring in customers. Like the great WWII U.S. General (maybe it the was Korean War) once said, "I shall not return."
1. Quality - 2/5
2. Quantity - 10/25 (Good food aplenty though)
3. Cleanliness - 4/5 (very good, but it's still a buffet)
4. Price - 1/5 ($9.00 for bad food)
5. Replenishing - 3/5
6. Service - 4/5
Favorite Item: I didn't mind the water, but Snob said it smelled bad.
Item to avoid: frog legs
I see Slob wasn't too crazy about this place. To be honest, I wasn't either. Our minor dislike for the place had nothing to do with cleanliness or service, both were buffet-appropriate. The problem was with the food. The buffet items and set-up of the buffet islands gave me a sense of confusion... are they trying to appeal to a refined palette, are they trying to serve cheap food fast, or are they picking the buffet items with a dart board? It was just a little weird to see frog legs and kimchi along with overly-cooked meat on a stick and chicken wings. There were also these white jello cubes and bananas covered in some fluorescent red sauce (I'd tell you what they were but nothing on the salad bar was labeled). The overall quality of food was lacking, not in the 'gross and spoiled' sense, but in the 'this tastes factory made and reheated in-house' sense. At one point, Slob came over to me laughing because he was watching me wander around like a lost little buffet-rating puppy looking for something else to put on my plate. I did like their mushroom chicken and broccoli chicken. Both had those big chunks of white meat chicken I crave. Except for the salad bar, almost everything else was seafood with a strong seafood smell or deep-fried with tons of breading. I suppose one could go there strictly for the hibachi and perhaps that is what is keeping it afloat.
Favorite Item: broccoli chicken
Item to avoid: frog legs
1. Quality - 7/25
2. Quantity - 3/5
3. Cleanliness - 4/5
4. Price - 1/5
5. Replenishing - 4/5
6. Service - 4/5
Grade - .46
Overall Ratings List
1. Emperor's Kitchen (Brookfield) - .83
2. William Ho's (Shorewood) - .66
3. Royal Garden (Whitefish Bay/Glendale) - .54
4. China Gourmet (Downtown)-.49
5. Hibachi Buffet (Mequon) - .47
If you would like us to visit and review a Chinese buffet that we haven't yet, simply post a comment in this blog with the name of the restaurant and it's general location. Please include who you think would enjoy the buffet more, Slob or Snob.
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*Disclaimer: The comments are intended to reflect the food from a restaurant's buffet, which may differ significantly from ordering from the menu.