I have an occasional guilty pleasure, and that is Chinese buffet. I tend to dine during lunch hours, 1) I'm not into seafood and the steam tables tend be loaded up on such items for dinner, and 2) lunch buffet is cheaper than dinner primarily because of the pricier seafood.
I was a late bloomer in regards to Chinese buffets, only frequenting them since 2000 when China One International Buffet on Ingersoll was on my way home from work. I liked loading up on fresh items at their Mongolian grill with added heaping spoonfuls of minced garlic and chili paste. I also enjoyed their Hunan tofu which utilized a firm, springy variety of tofu that offered a very satisfying chew. In recent years the tofu went the way of the dodo, along with a few other items of interest. Egg foo young – the Chinese omelet that everyone has heard of but never knew what it was – is a recent addition along with steamed pork dumplings.
A relatively newer buffet in town that I've enjoyed despite its cramped environs is New China Buffet and Grill in Southridge Mall. It's where I first came across candied meatball skewers and wonton in chicken broth. Though lacking a decent vegetarian entree – which I've since learned to be par for the course – I could usually cobble up a decent meal. The fried spring rolls in comparison to China One were on the small side though.
With the train wreck known as Southridge Mall undergoing a major overhaul, New China's location became a parking lot. Good news is that New China moved into a not-so-big-box standalone building nearby. I'm looking forward to a visit to their new digs soon.
For decades I've passed by Ming Dynasty on S.W. Ninth just south of McKinley. One occasion when I was making a beeline to New China, my curiosity in this long-standing fixture finally resulted in a visit. I've since been quite pleased with the selection and quality of items served here, despite the lack of vegetarian entree and small fried spring rolls.
Standard fare like potstickers and candied meatballs are par, but the cream cheese and spinach puffs are sweet and crispy. I could load up on them easily.