Vindication is Sweet, Crow is Hard to Swallow – China Buffet

Susan says…

My favorite Chinese buffet, aptly named THE China Buffet, has now been reopened for one week.  And I have eaten there twice.  Phil said resistance was a futile concept so he braced himself, knowing that’s where I would want to go today.

We arrived a little later than usual, around 12:30.  Boy was I hungry.  We received prompt and friendly service, obtaining a table and placing drink orders.  We eat here once a week on average and the staff always recognize us.  That’s a nice feeling.  Many times at Chinese and Mexican places there exists a language barrier when communicating with the staff so it’s usually best to avoid special orders.  Daniel, momentarily allowing his obsession with his newfound beverage of choice to cloud his mind, orders a non-standard drink: half lemonade and half sweet tea, the formula for an Arnold Palmer.  Our server smiled and nodded and we thought there is no way he is getting what he thinks he ordered.

I navigated around the tables to begin loading my plate with all my favorites as I do on each and every visit: a crab rangoon, a nibble of peanut butter chicken, a few nibbles of curry chicken, a spoonful of Mongolian chicken, and I round the corner to the other side ready to dip into the garlicky green beans.  There were no green beans.  In near panic, I accidentally said aloud “no green beans?”  A man that I presume to be an owner was standing nearby assessing the status of the inventory.  He overheard my exclamation and asked me if I wanted green beans.  Of course I said, “yes”.  He explained that the order for the beans did not come in on time so he didn’t have enough to continually stock the buffet today, but he would make some for people who wanted them.  “I will cook them now” he told me.  OMG – this is the best Chinese buffet ever in the history of Chinese buffets!

After the harassment I received from Daniel following my perfect rating of this fine establishment, I felt it was my duty to inform him of his grave error in judgment.  In his review of the China Buffet Daniel said, “Service is…well it is a buffet. They fill drinks and take the plates. What else do you need? I am not going to devalue this blog’s rating system by being as generous as Susan. I rate the China Buffet with Three Forks.” I explained to him that there would soon be green beans appearing on the buffet to fulfill my “special request”.  He had to agree that was pretty darn good service.

But it got even better.

By the time I finished my story we were back at our table.  And lo and behold what was sitting there but a properly poured Arnold Palmer!   We were all impressed by that.  My food, carefully placed in small piles on my plate to avoid unnecessary comingling, was delicious as ever.  I always save the Mongolian chicken and crab rangoon for last because they are my favorites.  As I chowed down, I was keeping an eye on the buffet for the green beans…

best garlicky green beans in the whole wide world

but then things got even better.

The green beans were not placed on the buffet.  I know what you’re thinking: “how could that be even better than appearing on the buffet?”  Allow me explain.  They were delivered to me – a whole plateful – by that wonderfully nice man.  Now Daniel had to agree it was super-duper service.

But it got better still.

By this time Daniel and I had to go back for round two.  That involves, for me, another crab rangoon, another spoonful of Mongolian chicken, some chicken with broccoli, and a little bit of hot & spicy diced chicken.  My combinations may sound strange but I am trying to maximize protein and minimize carbs.  The crab rangoons are so awesome that I don’t count those carbs.  When we arrived back at the table (I hope you’re sitting down for this) there was a refill for Daniel waiting for his return – another Arnold Palmer!  He didn’t even ask for it to remind her what he was drinking!

We got such great service, Phil asked if perhaps the management was on to us and knew we were quickly becoming local celebrities with all our Forking.  We felt like celebrities, that’s for sure.  They even made an exception to their policy of no take-out containers on the buffet and let me take the rest of my garlicky green beans home with me.

Daniel better write in a retraction comment to this post, upping the number of forks he originally gave this Jewel of Asian Cuisine.  Swallow hard, Daniel, and you’ll be able to choke that crow down.  Misty would suggest adding some mayonnasie so you don’t have to choke it down dry.


Dan says…

OK. OK. It is good.  No, wait it is a great buffet. Though Susan’s recall is a little embellished it is still accurate.  She did get great service at a buffet.  The China Buffet managment has always made an effort to recognize and take care of their regulars, which is a problem in many Charleston establishments.

As we talked about the rating system that Susan and I developed with Misty’s input it is clear that you don’t have to be a white table cloth with valet parking joint to get Five Forks.  I quote from the Five Fork description:

“Finely prepared gourmet food is not a prerequisite to obtaining this, the highest honor Fork You can bestow upon an establishment.  Just do your thang and do it well!”

Our Four Fork description states:

This restaurant will provide you with a great meal.

Some really good eateries are separated from the perfect 5-fork placesetting by small details.

Defending our Fork system and the purpose of this blog is fodder for a different post, but our goal is to point our readers to great meal in an entertaining way.  That being said, you can get a great FOUR Forkmeal at The China Buffet at the Kanawha Mall.

PS: I promised to try to delete anymore Mexican and Chinese restaurant reviews from Susan with hopes that she will broaden her horizon.  Don’t hold your breath Susan’s food jags rival that of a two year old.

Ron Says:

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder”

That’s the only excuse Susan and Dan have for giving this place Five Forks.. Except Susan, she’s always given it that rating.  I think it’s because one of the wait staff likes her hair.  But even after not being able to eat here for a few weeks they are still under some spell.

The Crispy Chicken – was still soggy…. BTW –  the first ever “crispy” Crispy Chicken I ever had was in Madison, in Boone County…. Don’t ask me how.. but you should try it.

I’m at a loss as to how this place receives more than three forks.   Susan and Dan are both brainwashed.   For example they think C.J. Maggies is Five Forks, and the food their is infinitely more better than than this place – yet the same rating.  They must be comparing it to Main Tins that’s the only excuse I can fathom.

It’s an average buffet at best..  The menu never varies.  NEVER.  Although I should say they have added some Peanut Brittle concoction on the desert bar that was at first bite very good, second – well it quickly wore it’s welcome out.

The eggrolls are on the small side…Ok and the mustard is hot – great,  The Soup is always hot – good, but some of the main dishes are always the same – it’s like dating a chick who never cuts her hair for like 10 years.   No seafood other than some peel and eat shrimp. There is no Mongolian Grill at this place… to me fresh hot cooked food basically prepared with the ingredients of my choice is worth a fork in and of itself.  Therefore I could never go past four forks for here.  

There is very little seafood on the buffet – go to Southridge and there is always plenty seafood items, and for roughly the same price.

I dare this place to add three new items to their general buffet, and rotate them out every other week.. .  Simple enough but they can’t do it.  For the most part I’ve eaten here a couple times a month for ten years, and it’s the same thing.  Chinese Democracy will happen (whether it’s the new GNR album or if it’s actual Democracy) before they add any new item to this menu.

The food is good, I’ll grant you that – but isn’t any food that you’re paying for supposed to be?  The service is quick – but it’s a buffet and besides – isn’t it supposed to be?  The meal is competitively priced – but isn’t that capitalism?   I just fail to see what this generic buffet has that makes it more than one fork higher than average. 

This place is a poster child for mediocrity and familiarity – heck it even burnt down, and not one single picture change on the wall. LOL.   But if you are wanting to go to a place that pretty much offers the same thing in and out, this is Chinese buffet is for you.

They meet all the lunch requirements of a previous post.

3 Forks at the best, Don’t let Susan and Dan kid you as they are suffering from delusions caused by  not having a quick place for a Chinese fix.

OH yeah, forgot to mention – the apple pie is still great.

China Buffet
158 Kanawha Mall
Charleston, WV 25387

17 responses to “Vindication is Sweet, Crow is Hard to Swallow – China Buffet

  1. Daniel,

    Thanks for adding a fork. But I was concerned at the start of your comments that you had been inspired by “The Great Debaters”. I can imagine your WeeMee standing at the podium on a milk crate so you can reach the microphone, exclaiming, “Resolved: Susan is not objective when it comes to rating Asian food”…..

  2. Thank god for Ron and his objectivity when it comes to Chinese food. He is spot on. My additional fork is for service only. Why are we still talking about this place anyway. It is only a buffet.

    I can’t wait to Susan’s objectivity at country food place like Diehl’s.

  3. I love the China Buffet! You’re right — those green beans are awesome.

    Diehl’s is amazing, too — haven’t been there in years, though.

  4. Y’all have it all wrong…It’s Green Bean. For some reason, Chinese places never add an “s” on things, so they seem singular – like perhaps it’s just ONE green bean. It cracks me up!

  5. I’ve been to the China Buffet twice now since it reopened. Unfortunately none of the main dish offerings stand up to the Crispy Chicken from Main Tin. I’ve tried a little bit of everything and the thing I like the most is the curry chicken but I cant eat a lot of curry as it has dire effects on my digestion. In the review Ron said he had crispy chicken there at the China Buffet, but I havent seen it there in the two times ive been….maybe it is rotated out.

    BTW Ron, if you order off the menu at Main Tin you can get CRISPY chicken and its the best around. It’s on the buffet too, but it has usually sat there and gotten soggy (it doesnt take long with the sauce), but its still good.

  6. Best Chinese buffet I’ve had in a long time.

  7. They don’t have crispy chicken on they buffet. They just have sweet and sour chicken.

  8. Mike, I’m sorry but you are confused.

    There is no “crispy” chicken in the Kanawha Valley. Crispy – think of a Cracker or Colonel Sanders… there has never been any “crispy chicken” at Main Tins, Kwongs, Gourmet, or Buffet, – freakin’ anywhere.

    Purely going by the definition of “Crispy”, well I can’t tell the difference between Crispy Chicken and Mongolian Chicken or some other Chicken without a nutritional analysis.

    But in Madison, WV, there’s a Chinese joint that has Chicken that is “Crispy” that goes by the moniker of Crispy Chicken.

  9. My idea of crispy chicken is what Main Kwon, Tin, and Dragon Garden serve which is breaded chicken pieces deep fried then tossed in a sweet/spicy sauce. This chicken is only crispy when its served fresh, and its delicious (when its fresh). I guess you were talking about chicken by itself with a crisp breading and no sauce ?

  10. OK..Crispy Chicken is a dish at Main Kwongs that is not “Crispy”, because it is covered with Crispy Chicken sauce. It is a sweet and spicy tangerine sauce that glazes the deep fried battered chicken. It is very good.

  11. Yeah, when I said breaded I meant battered. We are on the same page Dan. But it is still slightly crisp if you can get it fresh out of the kitchen. If you get it off the buffet or take it home before digging in it will be sogged.

  12. I’ve ordered the Kong chicken….it’s not “crispy”.

    very good, but no “crispy”….

    If serving it fresh is required to be chicken… then they may should change the name to… “soggy chicken” least as far as buffets are concerned…

    but we can always agree to disagree.

    Dan, please, keep your breaded and battered comments to yourself. For Cryin’ out loud we are talking about a Chinese Buffet…They have yet to discover democracy…. much less breaded and battered.

  13. I think I might have to order up some crispy chicken from MK’s tomorrow, but I thinking want to hit Capitol street foe lunch.

  14. Reading over the comments in the light of day, I think Daniel and Ron were either a) drunk or b) typing on their iPhones last night around 11:00.

    The number of misspelled and misused words is astounding.

    Dan never mentioned breaded vs. battered anyway, that was poor Mike M, who was just trying to stick up for Main Tin.

    I think I am going to have to supervise Ron more like I do my 7-year old.

  15. I’m with Ron here. I totally agree that what most Chinese restaurants call “Crispy Chicken” rarely is crispy. It really can’t be because of the sauce. It may be crispy before the sauce is added, but it’s not the true dish without the sauce. Don’t get me wrong, the dish has always been very tasty everywhere I’ve had it, but it’s not “cripsy” by definition.

  16. Uh…I meant “crispy” not “cripsy.” Sorry, Susan. LOL

  17. I don’t know why I’m spending all this time reading about food I can no longer have, but I have to know what’s up with the resurgence in the Arnold Palmer? I was out to lunch this past week and one of my dining mates ordered it as well. It’s been around forever, but this is the most I’ve heard it mentioned!

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