9/15/02 - LA Buffet, 19530 Nordhoff St., Northridge, CA 91324, phone 818-678-6688. These Chinese buffets are all starting to look alike, but, of these three, I might suggest this one first. Mon-Sat lunch about $6.35, drinks extra. Maybe not as many extras, but maybe more main dishes, with some flavor. More someday. I did find tough beef and squid in one dish each, and I tried the Mongolian grill which always yields too little flavor for me. 9/14/02. Site at www.labuffet.net/ which includes minor coupons. Tip on the Mongolian grill: if you're going to try the grill, when you enter mix the meat and the sauces and let it marinade for at least 15 minutes, or till you're hungry.
9/12/02 Working 9/10/02 - Hong Kong 88, 5658 Sepulveda Bl., #101, Van Nuys, CA 91411, phone 818-997-7118. Some street parking? and a lot on the side. Call for lunch and dinner hours. The lunch specials could run from 11a to 5p, the menu suggests, but call first. Complete dinners under $10 and others mostly under $16.
Why? Who can resist a Chinese restaurant right next to a middle-eastern market? I stopped just to check them out, saw a glowing restaurant review reprinted on the restaurant's to-go menu, so I tried a lunch special. They offer over 40 lunch specials from $5.25 to $6.95. I ordered the $5.25 mixed vegetables with chicken as stated on the to-go menu. On the eat-in menu they specified white-meat chicken. I asked if the vegetables were fresh and was told yes.
The food. This comes with white rice served in a rice bowl and soup. I do eat my rice from a rice bowl, but I don't care for the rice packed into the bowl. I got the hot and sour soup which was better than average just because it wasn't overloaded with corn starch and eggs. However, I prefer black pepper for heat rather than the now common and cheaper red pepper. Some vegetables were fresh: a few snow peas, broccoli, baby cabbage, and mushrooms; but only a few of them. And, for me the fresh vegetables were over cooked. The sliced mushrooms, baby corn, and water chestnuts were from a can. The sauce was dark and salty and nothing else. The surprise was the sliced (white meat) chicken, a usually tender item, but much of this was tough and unchewable, and most was left on the plate. I didn't have time to check out the market, which may have been a better idea. Nice room and ok rest room as I recall.
P.S - The restaurant review mentioned above was by Larry Lipson in the 3/24/00 LA Life Weekend (part of the Daily News?), page 51?, of which I know nothing. He mostly reviewed the more expensive dishes which may have been better.
New Town Super Buffet, 1100 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank, CA 91504, phone 818-238-9398 *(see below). Between Ralphs and Big Kmart, west of Media City Center. Hours 11a - 10p, except Fri and Sat till 11p, open seven days. Monday - Sat lunch is $6.99; other times it's 9.99, but they don't define lunch time, so call first. I did lunch on a weekday, 9/4/02. They also have locations in San Gabriel, Rowland Heights, and Corona; all untried. *12/30/02 - Their ad in the Asian Journal, 12/28/02, page 25 says the phone number is 818-238-9398.
General - This is $1 more than Asia Buffet, and it's probably worth it. All my comparisons are to the Asia Buffet; they even share the same pink and green overhead lights** and the same backlit picture frames; but a worker said they're not related. New Town has many more Asian-style dishes, fewer American items, and doesn't seem to attract kids for weekday lunch. As with Asia Buffet, New Town's ad says they have "100 items [that] change daily," and they could be correct. I won't try to list them all, but I saw several dishes each of: seafood, pork, chicken, beef, vegetables, appetizers, soups - plus salads, sushi, desserts, fruits, and more. **12/30/02 - a worker maybe at the Asian Buffet said the green and pink lights were left from a group of Mexican restaurants.
Bad stuff. One disappointment was the two beef dishes with tough beef. Another disapointment was the generally flat taste. Nothing was very good but nothing, except the beef and the non-sweet ice-cream-machine stuff, was that bad. Several dishes contained crab, but I'm guessing it was imitation, and I didn't try it. Two of the three soups were too thick, with too much egg, and the one broth was rather salty -- but this seems common now in these semi-Chinese restaurants.
Tried. I did attempt to try about everything, but I skipped these items cause I don't care: sushi, sashimi, most seafood except fish, the put-raw-stuff-on-a-plate-and-they'll-wok-it-for-you, the fried/steamed appetizers in wrappers, and perhaps others.
Overall. New Town has several more and different items compared to the Asia Buffet. Some different vegetables, fruits, and more seafood for lunch. More Asian items, less American items, and less kids for weekday lunch. Just slightly nicer room and restroom than the Asia Buffet. But, the food is short on flavor. They do advertise in a local Filipino newspaper, and I noticed many more Filipinos, just a few Chinese. I don't go to these buffets for dinner cause they charge higher prices, mostly for more shellfish, many of which I don't eat. All drinks, even hot tea, except water, are extra. Minimun service, and, even after I said this was my first visit, no one tried to describe how the buffet worked. Completed 9/7/02, visit on 9/4/02.
Asia Buffet, 8220 Van Nuys Bl., Panorama City, CA 91402, phone 818-988-8979. South east corner of Van Nuys and Roscoe; parking and enterance in rear.
The food isn't real good, but there's a lot of it: "Over 97 items daily" they say. All-you-can-eat buffet with prices from $5.98 to 9.98, depending on time and day. Call for details. Mostly Oriental dishes -- OK sliced chicken dish, sometimes-good BBQ pork ribs, good whole-ish fish, ok pizza except bad crust, several desserts and fruit, free hot tea, and many, many more items. Mix meat from one dish with vegetables from another, whatever. I only go for lunch since I don't care for the more expensive dinner items. Also to-go. Soft drinks are $1.00 with free refills, cause they want you to fill up on drinks. 6/02.
9/7/02 update - I have eaten here several times. They have many of the items I mentioned for the New Town above, but I just didn't mention them here. For flavors, for me this beats the New Town above, but seafood people and those who want a few extras should try the New Town. Or, do both.