Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oriental Buffet

 774 S. Truman Blvd.
Festus/Crystal City Mo.

We've been her before, have even reviewed it a couple of times. But we were craving Chinese and that's a powerful thing. not to be trifled with. We considered Lam's but we wanted variety. At Lam's you order a meal and you get that offering. I didn't just want pepper steak or General Chicken, I wanted it all.

The Place:
In Festus/Crystal City's large strip mall south of town(s). The twin sities are more like conjoined twin cities, I can never tell one from the other at the edges. I am satisfied now that it is actually in Crystal City though. A simple test confirmed this for me. If a crime occurs, which cops show up?
Yeah there was a crime. Shortly after we arrived two cruisers and four officers from the Crystal City Police showed up. They gathered around the entrance and talked to an animated young man for quite a while, then to other employees. Since I don't know much about Asian culture other than what I see in movies and on television,*  I assumed that something incredibly dire was amiss since Chinese communities tend to self-police and seldom talk to local authorities for fear of retribution from the community elders and their Kung-Fu trained, black robed Ninja assassins.
I do not know all the details of the crime other than what I overheard and what I filled in with my own imagination. It was apparent that the perps a male and a female tried to get away without paying their bill, there seems to have been a physical altercation in the parking lot as they made their getaway, a young lady worker was a bit bruised. I do not know if throwing stars or curve-bladed swords were deployed, nor did I hear of any physics-defying somersaults. If this melee was anything like the one in the acclaimed documentary 'Kung-Fu-Hustle' I'm sorry I missed it.
An ambulance showed up and they talked to the young lady, she seemed to not need their care other than for the official report. She probably eschews western medicine anyhow favoring herbal brews and acupuncture if the movies indeed accurately depict Chinese American life.
Still even with the kerfuffle, people came and went undeterred. Like I said a craving for Chinese food is hard to ignore.
We were seated by a thin young Asian lady with a thick accent. I do not know if she was one of the defenders in the battle.
A place like this you don't even sit down when shown your table, you just recite your drink order and waddle to the buffet line.
I notice that the place was nearly spotless, bright, clean, modestly decorated as it has been since it opened. They're apparently doing very well.

The Food:
My first round
I bypassed  completely the pretty, offerings at the sushi line. I'm sure that people who like that sort of thing would have something nice to say about it, it all looked fresh and expertly and artistically crafted. As is my nature, I pulled up small helpings of several things. What yo find on my plate is rice, noodles, General Chicken, Black pepper chicken, pepper steak, honey chicken, a pot sticker, and a crab rangoon. That sound like a  lot, but notice the picture, there's only a little bit of each.
Adam's plate.
Adam chose the white rice since fried rice has onions in it, he also got some sweet/sour chicken and broccoli.
Angel goes on and on about the sauteed green beans and mushroom offerings, she also added a baked seafood sampling and chicken on a stick, topping it off with a heavy egg roll.
Meanwhile, the cops were scribbling notes and talking to a couple of customers, perhaps witnesses. No hoses or nightsticks were deployed during the interviews, thus nothing was likely learned.
the food was quite enjoyable. I hadn't really gone beyond familiar fare. I bypassed the frog legs, the fish and a few other things that probably weren't too bad if you like those sorts of things more than the chicken selections.
The oriental music was soft and lilting, a flute-type instrument was prominent. It didn't exactly fit the soundtrack of police vs. Chinatown interaction, but it was pleasant enough though slightly distorted.
My second and final round
When I polled the family about the food it was obvious that there were no surprises. the food was all as good as expected. My pepper steak stuck out in my mind for its tenderness, and Angel applauded the improvement in the rangoons, now  crispier than she recalled than on previous visits.
"Good, as usual." was the unanimous verdict.
My second plate contained more shrimp, a little more of my favorites the noodles, the pepper chicken and a rangoon, and of course the traditional Chinese delicacy of bananas in red sauces, this time alongside traditional banana pudding.
All very good, well priced and quite filling. The service was efficient and  polite, the buffet lines were promptly refreshed as were our drinks.  Even with the 'ChinaTown'-esque drama going down in the front, the atmosphere was nice and friendly. The tab came to a very reasonable thirty bucks. (actually $29.29).
Why anyone would skip out on a tab that small I cannot imagine, two people, twenty bucks.  Low self esteem perhaps. There's a lot of places in the area that are more expensive, if you're going to risk legal troubles, and these jerks certainly will since now there's a possible assault issue now as well, sheesh, all that for a twenty dollar tab?  Plus there's the possibility of 'personal' retribution involving Ninjas. It's just not worth it.
* Okay, okay, I do have more knowledge about Asia than what I get from movies and TV, having lived there for three years (Japan/Korea). I am poking fun at TV and movie depictions of the mysterious and mystical/magical Asian cultures as secretive, clandestine, violent and dangerous people.

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