Szechuan City Buffet
110 Burnside Road East
J: I’m always raving about May Gold Village at every opportunity, their food ranks from average to above average and the service is great. But when it comes to my own personal experiences with buffets, there are others more experienced than I. Hope Key is another one I like for their friendly atmosphere (and their loft I can escape to when I want some privacy) but neither of them can compare to Szechuan City on a Saturday night.
Ed and I hit this place at night one hour before their closing all because of a co-worker’s obsession with chicken balls. This man I am sure is on a never-ending quest for buffets with decent helpings of the chicken kind. He’s snubbed May Gold for lacking what other buffets provide but he loves Szechuan City because they serve really good chicken balls. I swear my co-worker’s knowledge on the subject must rival Forest Gump‘s Bubba Blue’s knowledge of shrimp.
E: I have to ask James, does your friend like those balls salty? When I try oriental buffets I’m always all over the seafood to find what’s the best from the three staples offered: mussels, prawns and squid. Very rarely will I find more beyond those and they better be damned fresh for me to enjoy them. Here at Szechuan, they’re more than decent. Even near the end of the day, they brought out a fresh platter of mussels for James and I to enjoy. Unlike the balls of chicken meat, what I ate for molluscs was squishy, tender and mild — just how I like them.
J: Hope Key has chicken balls but for me comparing the two wasn’t a contest, I tried all of their wares but what pleased me in the end was the prawns and the chicken. Their prawns used were BC spot prawn-sized and they were delicious. But could their chicken please Ed?
E: Many little birds were sacrificed for our consumption and they were quite good. The batter had a gentle crisp to them that I liked but when James can’t remember if they were mostly wings or nuggets, I swear I could beat him over the head with a drumstick.
J: I do remember the service was excellent. It was like being in some Italian grandmother’s kitchen. They kept urging us to eat and eat. By the end of the night I had my original plate, a desert plate, and a second plate piled high with food and only 30 minutes left to devour it all. I was hoping my stomach would hold so that I wouldn’t have to enact a scene from Stand By Me‘s pie eating contest. Ed was just within stomach chucking distance.
E: James ate more than I did in the last half hour or so before this restaurant closed. I took my time with what I traditionally like to go for, noodles, seafood and cake. Their desserts weren’t perfect and they were standard American fare than Chinese. Although this place isn’t 100% authentic, I don’t think there is such a place in North America that hasn’t westernised the menu to some degree. There were tiny bits of spiciness to be experienced here, but for the full on experience I’d recommend ordering from the menu than doing the buffet.
J: Buffets are always a hit or miss. It’s hard to keep a buffet as even as one might expect. There are off days. For Szechuan City it was definitely a good day. But to echo back to a Forrest Gump reference I would say life is like a buffet, you never know what you’re going to get.
3½ Blokes out of 5