Archive for December, 2010

While I love Chinese food, I hate trying to find just the right combination on the menu at different Oriental restaurants. Frankly, the whole concept of someone else deciding what three different items I wanted kind of irritated me. I am more of a free-thinking, pro-choice kind of guy when it comes to loading up my plate when a multitude of options lay before me.

And that is why I love the lunch special out at Ching Hau Gardens located at the big red barn in Greenacres. I could not believe my eyes the first time I spotted it on their menu. For $6.95 they let you create your own combination from a list of nearly thirty items. What a bold new concept. I wish it would start the next Chinese revolt and free all us American customers from the tyranny of the Oriental restaurant menu. They deserve to be the next Chinese naturals to win the Nobel prize as far as I am concerned. Maybe they could use the prize money to open restaurants all over America and give the entire country a vote in the combination meal that winds up before us.

Until that occurs, I will be more than happy to go out to Greenacres where a man can decide for himself what he wants to eat at a Chinese restaurant. Beyond the freedom of choice, the lunch special is a great value. Where else do you get a good beverage (hot tea) and soup and dessert (fortune cookie) thrown in for the price of the meal? Truth is you don’t and so it a closed case.  Point proven.

Additionally, the 3-item meal is way more than most can eat and so Elaine and I move up one to the 4-item at $8.25 and spilt it. So two people get tea, soup, more than enough great food of their choosing and a tasty fortune cookie all for $4.125 a piece. Considering that this is a sit down meal delivered by a pleasant server, I don’t believe there is a value combo meal at any fast food joint that comes even close to it.

Ching Hua Garden Restaurant on Urbanspoon

If there was ever a new place that I was vehemently rooting for, the Hong Kong Buffet would be it. Since the Valley lost its last Oriental buffet at the old Sizzler’s location at the corner of Sprague and Farr several years ago, I have been lamenting that there is no local feeding trough featuring all that nummy stuff from the Far East.

But if there were ever a new place with long odds of success, the Hong Kong Buffet would be that as well. I have not been keeping close tabs, but it seems to me that there is a pretty high turn over rate throughout the mall and that the restaurant location across from Tilt, the game arcade, at the entrance by the theaters has been a particularly brutal battleground. When the mall opened way back when, that spot was occupied by a pasta joint if memory serves, but it was not there long and so my feeble memory did not get a firm hold. I could easily be mistaken. But I am sure there have been two or three attempts at that spot and I am even more sure none of them made it.

I think location is important with a restaurant but it is not paramount and I do not buy into the worn adage that says certain locations that have seen a succession of failures can never host a successful venture. People will flock to winner no matter where it is at. And that is what I am praying for here. Please support this place so that I can stuff my face there for the rest of my life and not have to be sad that I live in a community that has no Oriental buffets.

I am obviously not a connoisseur of fine food and I am not a trained restaurant critic, but I know good eating and good value and I have no problem begging and beseeching anyone who will listen to give this place a try. It really is a good buffet and I can guarantee that everyone can find at least a few things on the buffet line they will love. I found way too many things. It is one of those deals where I wish that I could magically have a barrel-sized belly just for an hour while I feasted like a drunk Viking on all the steaming hot dishes lying just below the old sneeze glass along the vast buffet line.

This place is a no-brainer, you-can’t-miss recommendation. I can say this unequivocally because I took my entire family there the Saturday after Thanksgiving. While the kids and I have different tastes, we are not uppity eaters. We all had no problem finding way too much to be ecstatic about. Elaine, on the other hand, is an uppity eater. She will not do Old Country Buffet or Timber Creek which baffles and befuddles the rest of us. But she will give an Oriental buffet at least one try and she certainly gave the Hong Kong Buffet an honest effort. And as we waddled out with our bellies bulging like little Buddhas, I rubbed mine and prayed  the gods would smile on this new establishment and bless the Valley with a great place to pork out.

Hong Kong Bufett on Urbanspoon

When the Luxury Box opened this summer, they picked up a bit of a bad rap for high prices in the bar but it really wasn’t warranted. Their price for well drinks was $4 , which was 50 cents higher than the rest of the Valley bars, but that was because every other bar was serving the cheap stuff like Monarch while the Luxury Box filled their wells with premium labels like Smirnoff and Bacardi .

All the downtown bars and corporate places in the Valley like Applebee’s or The Max have premium brands in their wells and they usually charge more like $4.50, so the Luxury Box was actually a good deal when you compared apples to apples. For a dollar more you could “Lux it up” and get a double which was the best deal going even when you compared apples to oranges. In other words, if I ordered a double vodka and soda from the typical Valley bar I would pay $7 for the cheap stuff while I would pay $5 at the Luxury Box and be getting the good stuff. But all that was lost on us frugal simpletons in the Valley.

Now they have made it easy to figure out that they have one of  the best happy hour deals going in the Valley. During their Happy Hour, (which is a misnomer considering it lasts two hours), you get a premium well for $3 which is pretty much the going rate for the bottom shelf booze that you get at the other bars. Some places are as low as $2.50 and some are $3.50 during Happy Hour. Additionally, you can still “Lux it up” for a buck, which blows everyone else out of the water.

Beer drinkers and hungry folk are covered as well. Domestic drafts are $2 and micros are $3. And they run a special where you can get a personal-sized pizza and a beer for $7.50. Personally, I love to see the Box rolling up their sleeves and rolling back their prices like that little smiley face at Wal-Mart. Now that I have the math figured out, I have no problem giving them my business. I am just “happy our” money goes further at their “happy hour”.
The Luxury Box on Urbanspoon