Where is the best Chinese Buffet in San Diego?

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Submitted by jimmyle on May 16, 2008 - 9:07am

I tried Crazy Buffet in MM and was not very happy with it. Is there one that you recommend?

Submitted by HLS on May 16, 2008 - 9:18am.

San Diego Reader keeps a pretty good list of places and ads.

I have seen one advertised as the largest in SD on Mira Mesa Blvd It's called either East or West, (I forget)

There's another one in PB on Garnet called Great Moon or something...

There is an interesting THAI buffet on Clairemont Mesa (just west of 805) that I have eaten at, it's around $10

And there are two interesting Greek Buffets,
Greek Town in El Cajon and Zorba's in Chula Vista.

In North County, San Marcos, Vista & Oceanside have them too.

Murrieta has a pretty good Chinese seafood buffet with the best Sushi selection that I have ever seen other than at a Japanese buffet.

The problem with buffets is unless you go when they are busy and food stays fresh, once certian dishes have sat for more than 3-5 minutes, the quality diminishes.

I've eaten at Zorba's for lunch and thought it was great. They were very busy and the food was fresh.

Submitted by flu on May 16, 2008 - 9:36am.

With all do respect, "buffet" and "good chinese food" don't go hand in hand.

First, san diego chinese food is already just "ok" at best.

Second, buffet chinese food is usually not really good chinese food.

Add the two together, and you get marginal ok * crap = more crap

East Buffet is slightly betteer than Crazy Buffet, but not by much. It was "ok" when it first opened. But I when I went a few months after, the food quality wasn't as good.

8998 Miramar Rd
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 566-1888 Both places really don't serve chinese food, but more a mixture of simple oriental food with some western things. That said, if you don't mind the travel Onami Sushi and Seafood Buffet in Escondido I think is better than both of those places on Miramar. 240 E Via Rancho Pkwy # A1
Escondido, CA 92025
(760) 738-7522 Personally, I don't eat at buffets, often because I don't enjoy stuffing myself until I feel like a blimp, and I'm not subscribing myself to the notion of supersizing concept. I'm not a picky eater, but I prefer quality over quantity.

 

 

Arguably, i would say one of the best chinese restaurants in SD is Pearl in Rancho Bernardo. It isn't cheap for chinese food (especially for dinner), but compared to western restaurants still much cheaper.

11666 avena place,San Diego,CA 92128

8584873388

http://pearlchinesecuisine.com/index.html 

Even my parents think it's acceptable, which means it's decent. Emerald in Convoy is also good (same owner).

3709 Convoy St # 101
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 565-6888

 http://www.emeraldrestaurant.com/

 

selfportrait

----- Sour grapes for everyone!

Submitted by HLS on May 16, 2008 - 9:47am.

Here is a link to the READER with 98 different coupons for SD eating joints,, from buffets to higher end and in between.

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/coupons/?6...

Just print and use...

FLU,, Chinese NON-buffet ...
Have you heard of or been to:
China Max 4698 Convoy St. @ Engineer Rd, (Kearny Mesa)
was told that it's very good...

Submitted by AN on May 16, 2008 - 9:43am.

I agree with FLU, buffet and good Chinese food doesn't go together.

Onami is pretty much the same as Todai, and they both are pretty decent.

Personally, my favorite is Lee's Garden and Ly's Garden in El Cajon. For about the same cost as a buffet, you can have much better quality food. Their house special lobster/crab is amazing.

Submitted by flu on May 16, 2008 - 9:55am.

China Max is ok for me. I'd eat there (because again I'm not picky), but it's not great.  It's probably the same as Chin's at the end of miramar in terms of appeal to me.

There's a bunch of hole in the wall places at convey which I like, I'll try to dig up the names. But usually when I go, 1 in 4 times, I end up getting sick :)

 

selfportrait

----- Sour grapes for everyone!

Submitted by nostradamus on May 16, 2008 - 10:06am.

I agree with everything FLU said. Pearl and Emerald are my faves for Chinese in SD, still just OK compared to what you can get up in LA.

Although buffet and "good Chinese food" truly is an oxymoron, after a day of volleyball I sometimes go to Great Moon Buffet as another poster mentioned. It's cheap and quick and clean and decent.

If you like more seafood-oriented try Sunrise Buffet (Chinese) in Clairemont. It's very close to Emerald.

Go to Emerald or Pearl for dim sum!

Boycott Jasmine! They hire illegals and buy poached critters.

Submitted by AN on May 16, 2008 - 10:13am.

Wow, I didn't know that about Jasmine. Too bad they have the best dim sum in SD to me.

Submitted by recordsclerk on May 16, 2008 - 10:23am.

I would have to agree with Asianautica. Both of the Lee's/Ly's Gardens are very good. They are both on 54th street, one near University Ave and the other near El Cajon Blvd. This is were my family goes for birthdays and holidays. Lee's Garden is a little run down, but the food is great. Make sure you try the Salted Lobster/Crab like Asianautica said.
Great Moom buffet in PB is good
East buffet is good
Onami and Todai are good
Sunrise buffet on Convoy is no good
VIP buffet on Clairmont Mesa is no good

Submitted by cdesilva44 on May 16, 2008 - 10:25am.

Pearl and Emerald are very good, but they are also quite pricey. For excellent dim sum at about half the price, try Imperial Mandarin on Convoy. It's right next to Wings N Things.

Submitted by Bugs on May 16, 2008 - 10:25am.

I spent a few years in Asia (I speak Mandarin) back when I was younger, so I've figured out a few things:

I much prefer simpler everyday fare to the specialty dishes.

Except for some of the Dim Sum, I mostly don't care for Cantonese. Take it or leave it. I won't voluntarily walk into a Vietnamese restaurant at all, it's just not my thing.

I really like good Korean food, espcially the BBQ. (it's not Chinese, I know) However, there are only a couple decent places in SD County for that. Garden Grove and Cerritos have lots.

Submitted by nostradamus on May 16, 2008 - 10:34am.

I agree Bugs, the every day stuff is the best (and sometimes hard to find).

Surprisingly, Chin's in Miramar on Sundays has some kind of brunch thing which is excellent IMO. Right near the military base and gas station, close to the 15. My guess is it's Mandarin but I'm not sure. It's darn tasty.

Submitted by marion on May 16, 2008 - 12:17pm.

When I'm in San Diego, I'll check out some of these places. Are any of you on here Japanese or enjoy Japanese food? There is this Japanese buffet that is so good, It may be in Escondido, I went there twice around 7 years ago but forgot the location.

Anyone, this thread caught my attention because last night I had chinese food on the spur of the moment from a 99 cent place. It was HORRIBLE.

Lesson I learned (actually I already knew it but was hungry): It it smells strange, do NOT order it.

Submitted by ocrenter on May 16, 2008 - 12:43pm.

unfortunately this is one weakness for SD in comparison to OC.

if you have to go to a Chinese Buffet, try New Panda in RB.

for good dumplings, Dumpling Inn off Convoy in Clairmont Mesa. very tiny location and hard to squeez in larg parties.

for Taiwanese deli, the only one here is 168 restaurant inside the 99 Ranch market, again, subpar in comparison to the stuff in OC.

for dim sum, agree with FLU's Pearl recommendation. Jasmine is decent as well.

there use to be a Chinese Muslim place on Convoy as well, closed down due to lack of business.

for Chinese Buddhist vegetarian dishes, try Hsu's located on Claremont Mesa Blvd just west of I-15.

somewhat off topic, best Japanese ramen place and cheap as well, Chopsticks in the Mitzuwa market plaza.

btw, when are we going to get a new (not so 3rd world) 99 Ranch Market in SD???

Submitted by sdduuuude on May 16, 2008 - 1:33pm.

"Good Chinese Buffet" - definitely an oxymoron.

Try Sam Woo in the back of Ranch 99 market.
They sell huge portions of B-grade food at the counter for $3.50. I mean huge - enough for 2. If I were homeless, I'd eat there every day and write a book "San Diego on $3.50 a day." The book would be 1-page long and say "Eat at Sam Woo."

The sit-down food is quite good but pricier than the take-out.

Submitted by flu on May 16, 2008 - 3:54pm.

"Good Chinese Buffet" - definitely an oxymoron.

Try Sam Woo in the back of Ranch 99 market.
They sell huge portions of B-grade food at the counter for $3.50. I mean huge - enough for 2. If I were homeless, I'd eat there every day and write a book "San Diego on $3.50 a day." The book would be 1-page long and say "Eat at Sam Woo."

The sit-down food is quite good but pricier than the take-out.

 

I definitely would *not* eat at Sam Woo in Ranch 99.

I use to eat there...until one time I was sitting at the table and noticed two cockroaches floating in the soup I was about to eat. I took one out, put it in the serving plate, leaving the other one in the soup. The waiter took the soup back, brought out "another one"...Except the serving plate with the "new soup bowl" still had the first cockroach that I took out. I guess when he simply removed the second cockroach from inside the bowl, he missed the one on the serving plate :(

I'm amazed at how that restaurant get's an "A" health rating.

 

 

 

selfportrait

----- Sour grapes for everyone!

Submitted by flu on May 16, 2008 - 3:59pm.

btw, when are we going to get a new (not so 3rd world) 99 Ranch Market in SD???

Ranch 99 is better than most Vietnamese supermarkets here in SD in terms of cleanliness. We like Zion Marketplace better (Korean supermarket).

 

 

 

selfportrait

----- Sour grapes for everyone!

Submitted by sfexporter on May 16, 2008 - 4:04pm.

FLU,

Where else can you get Taiwanese breakfast in SD besides Chin's?

SD Chinese food are so-so at best. If you in LA areas, try Monterey Park/Alhambra.

Submitted by stockstradr on May 16, 2008 - 4:16pm.

My wife is mainland China born, and we lived in RB for several years, moving away last year. We know the San Diego Chinese restaurants really well. (Now we are in Bay Area, where obviously the Asian (and other) restaurants are better by an order-of-magnitude)

I rarely agree with the fat_union_guy on any post, but in this thread I'm agreeing, mostly.

We agree that Pearl (Emerald Chinese Seafood Restaurant) is quite good for dim sum at lunch when carts are pushed, and we like it also for evening dinner. It is actually somewhat authentic, and well liked by the many local Chinese patrons

However, it is an exception to the trusty rule that the best authentic Asian restaurants in San Diego are all within one mile of Jasmine on Convoy. Jasmine certainly is an important restaurant, as many in San Diego's active Asian community consider it THE place to have dim sum on weekend late morning/early afternoon with family/friends. Also, Jasmine has one of the better Lion Dancing shows every Chinese New Year. We think their dim sum is good, relative to San Diego's other options. Yet, I often find myself thinking Pearl has BETTER dim sum (but is often not as fun as Jasmine's raucous weekend Dim Sum fests)

An example of a Convoy area authentic Chinese restaurant usually highly regarded among Chinese (and usually unknown among non-Chinese) is: Spicy City Chinese Restaurant. Expect to wait for a table if you arrive during dinner rush. You might read what yelpers have to say: http://www.yelp.com/
Some locals say their quality has suffered a bit since they lost their great chef some years ago.
Spicy City
4690 Convoy St Ste 107
(between Engineer Rd & Opportunity Rd)
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 278-1818

Another example of good Chinese restaurants in that area is:
Shanghai City Restaurant
3860 Convoy St Ste 105
(between Aero Dr & Kearny Mesa Rd)
San Diego, CA 92111

Keep in mind that Shanghai City is not comparable to a restaurant like Pearl in RB. You go to Shanghai City restaurant for gritty low-brow authentic Chinese, and because is decorated very much like some restaurants you'll see in mainland China; something about Shanghai City restaurant makes me feel I'm back in China. FYI: the Chinese buffet which is a few paces away (behind you as you enter Shanghai City) is HORRIBLE.

We completely agree with other posters that New Panda in RB is one of the best Chinese buffets, but we last sampled it at least a year ago; hopefully their quality has held up.
http://newpandabuffet.com/

However, if cost is ignored then for buffet we would always head instead for: Onami Sushi and Seafood Buffet. (which I acknowledge is not Chinese buffet)

For good (Americanized) Thai, we really like Spices Thai Cafe in RB, especially for their Tom Kah Talae in Hot Pot, which is seafood in spicy coconut soup & mushrooms. However, the quality of that soup totally depends on if the good chef is cooking; when you get the good chef then that soup is GREAT.
http://www.spicesthaisandiego.com/

For earning points with your woman, a great Thai-fusion place in an upscale ROMANTIC setting is Rama. It is worth the trip just to try their Crazy Duck Salad. If on a date, then ask for a table by the waterfall.
http://celadonrestaurantgroup.com/

When your next up in LA, you must try Din Tai Fung because eating their Xiao Long Bao is nearly a religious experience! I was recently in Beijing, where they have another branch, and eating those dumplings was heavenly. How good are these dumplings? There is NOT a restaurant anywhere in the Bay Area having soup dumplings which even approach the standard of Din Tai Fung, and trust me, we have trecked to MANY Bay Area restaurants seeking that end of the rainbow.
http://www.dintaifungusa.com/

Submitted by flu on May 16, 2008 - 4:18pm.

FLU,

Where else can you get Taiwanese breakfast in SD besides Chin's?

SD Chinese food are so-so at best. If you in LA areas, try Monterey Park/Alhambra.

 

Don't really know.  

168 Restaurant use to serve some, but probably Chin's is better.

Chin's quality varies each time I go. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes it's not. 

 

selfportrait

----- Sour grapes for everyone!

Submitted by flu on May 16, 2008 - 4:24pm.

Spicy City
4690 Convoy St Ste 107
(between Engineer Rd & Opportunity Rd)
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 278-1818

 

That was the place i was thinking about earlier in the above thread. It's pretty good.

 

Still think Pearl is the best dimsum here in SD, but it pales in comparison to Fook Yuen in Burlingame (NorCal)

 

 

selfportrait

----- Sour grapes for everyone!

Submitted by jpinpb on May 16, 2008 - 4:27pm.

I love Spices Thai. I used to go to the one in Carmel Valley often when I used to live there years ago.

Submitted by flu on May 16, 2008 - 4:28pm.

I really like good Korean food, espcially the BBQ. (it's not Chinese, I know) However, there are only a couple decent places in SD County for that. Garden Grove and Cerritos have lots.

 

Tofu House is pretty good to me.

http://www.tofuhaus.com/

But any decent korean BBQ is good for me.

 

Note to folks: not trying to generalize, BUT, chinese restaurants aren't exactly known for their cleanliness and customer service. Korean and Japanese restaurants though typically are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

selfportrait

----- Sour grapes for everyone!

Submitted by sfexporter on May 16, 2008 - 4:29pm.

stockstradr,

I used to live in Bay Area and by far the food up north is way better than SD. If you have a chance, try Japanese noodle at a place called Santa Ramen. Small place that can sit about 20 people and always packed. http://www.yelp.com/biz/santa-ramen-san-...

For dim sum, try Koi Palace in Daly City, next to Outback. The place is packed with waiting time at least 1 hour and most expensive. Quality is great so you get top notch food. By far the best dim sum in CA.

http://www.koipalace.com/

If you like Vietnamese chicken noodle, try Turtle Tower in Tenderloin near by South of Market in SF. Bad area but great chicken noodle. http://www.yelp.com/biz/turtle-tower-res...

Korea food, try Brothers Restaurant in "Inner Richmond" of SF. Great food but you smell like BBQ after dinner.
http://www.yelp.com/biz/brothers-restaur...

Man, can't wait to head back to SF to pig out!

Submitted by flu on May 16, 2008 - 4:31pm.

Disclaimer:

I should mention that I rarely go out and eat on my own dime these days. a lot of these places I went in the past, or currently go when there is some business function/friends visiting/relative visiting etc.

I don't regularly dine out, and I haven't sat down in a real real asian restaurant here for the past 2 months. Kinda difficult when you have young toddler.

So the quality of said places might have changed for better or worse. 

 

selfportrait

----- Sour grapes for everyone!

Submitted by sfexporter on May 16, 2008 - 4:33pm.

Fook Yuen is ok but can't compare to Koi Palace. Try it the next time in that area. About 10 minutes drive from Burlingame. Be prepared to wait but I would call ahead to get a number. They don't take reservation but they do give you a number for calling ahead.

Submitted by flu on May 16, 2008 - 4:38pm.

Fook Yuen is ok but can't compare to Koi Palace. Try it the next time in that area. About 10 minutes drive from Burlingame. Be prepared to wait but I would call ahead to get a number. They don't take reservation but they do give you a number for calling ahead.

If this is the place off of I280, I think your talking about the place I'm thinking, it's pretty good ( I can't tell the difference beyond a certain point).

My simple criteria for a good dimsum place is simply places that can do a those daikon radish cakes right: hot, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Not many places do it right.

 

 

selfportrait

----- Sour grapes for everyone!

Submitted by stockstradr on May 16, 2008 - 5:08pm.

Thanks all for the good advice also on Bay Area restaurants. We can tell you know your restaurants in the Bay Area.

For example, yes, Koi Palace is totally at the top of our list of restaurants to try next. We had heard about that one from others also; it has one of the best reputations in the Bay Area. I have read what the yelpers have to say, all compliments.

Happy eating...

Submitted by marion on May 16, 2008 - 5:39pm.

Note to folks: not trying to generalize, BUT, chinese restaurants aren't exactly known for their cleanliness and customer service. Korean and Japanese restaurants though typically are.

I heard the above from my Japanese ex-mil as well as a Japanese coworker I used to have.

Flu and others, what's some good Japanese restaurants in SD then for when I'm out that way? I prefer Japanese over Chinese cuisine. I don't like Korean food except for the Pad Thai. That I really enjoy.

I like these threads because recommendations for good food are so important.

Submitted by ocrenter on May 16, 2008 - 9:39pm.

there's Taiwanese breakfast at Chin's? it is just the Miramar Chin's? very cool info...

Ranch 99 is better than most Vietnamese supermarkets here in SD in terms of cleanliness. We like Zion Marketplace better (Korean supermarket).

unfortunately that's not saying much... I guess as you guys go to Zion we end up in Marukai (japanese at Balboa).

a new and clean 99 Ranch would capture back a lot of lost business.

Submitted by AN on May 16, 2008 - 9:43pm.

I don't like Korean food except for the Pad Thai.
FYI, Pad Thai is Thai food.

I find that the nice fancy Asian restaurants are usually more Americanize, which is not very good.

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