I need a fix. No I’m not talking about drugs. I’m talking about Chinese food. About once every two weeks (sometimes sooner), Carole and I need a fix.
While living in Springfield, we had a number of choices, some of them really bad. We usually judge the restaurant by its hot and sour soup. If the soup is really good, the rest of the food will probably please us.
A number of years ago, we found a Chinese buffet in Kingstowne. It was called, appropriately, King’s Buffet. Yes, the hot and sour soup was really good. The lunch was inexpensive and they usually had a big crowd. The place had no atmosphere and the guy at the next table may be wearing an undershirt. But if you need a fix, you are willing to make certain compensations. We went to King’s Buffet for years.
Then a few years back, Carole was spending a few days at the Fort Belvoir Hospital and I needed a fix. So I slipped over to the King’s Buffet. The was a sign on the door that said, “Closed until further notice.” I was shocked. Uncertainty is so unsettling.
Well, we found out later that the King’s Buffet was owned and run by a Chinese family (surprise) and the members of the family got into a furious fight. The police were called and all the help shot out the back door. I think the politically correct term is “undocumented immigrants.” “Further notice” never came and the location is now some kind of a wireless phone store. I felt like I lost a friend.
So Carole and I went on a quest to find the best Chinese buffet in the area. Don Quixote did better than we did. If we went on Wednesday, the place was closed on Wednesday. Unfortunately, we found a place in the Rolling Valley area that was open. When Carole went back to the buffet line, she saw a roach fall into the General Tso’s chicken. The fellow standing next to her notified the help and the tray was taken to the back. I don’t want to speculate on what happened in the back, but more General Tso’s chicken soon appeared in the buffet line. Bon Appetit!
Then there’s the Blue Pearl Buffet in Springfield. The fellow in the undershirt is still sitting at the next table, but the food isn’t very good. You guessed it, the hot and sour soup is bad. We have been to the Blue Pearl a few times when we were desperate. The Blue Pearl is the kind of place that will make you kick the habit.
We found a great Chinese buffet called the East Garden. The only problem is it’s in Charlottesville (that’s 120 miles south). Of course, there are some excellent Chinese restaurants in the area. There’s the House of Dynasty and, our favorite, the Asian Grill in Springfield. Darren Ho, the owner of the Asian Grill, has told us why we should never go to a Chinese buffet. What he told us were things we already knew (food may have been prepared days earlier). But at a buffet, you can get a little of this and a little of that.
My favorite treat at a Chinese buffet is steamed rice smothered in General Tso’s sauce. I avoid the three-day-old chicken, the red-hot peppers and especially, foreign objects.
Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com