Review No. 43: China Town
201 Skyline Drive, Suite 12A
24.7 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants
She Said: This review is based on two different visits because the first time we were joined by a friend and, apparently, were so ecstatic about having a social life, we forgot to take a food photo or write down the price of the meal. I went on my own the second time, as He Said was under the weather, but both visits were mid-day for lunch, or you might say “dinner” if you are referring to a large, noon meal.
He Said: “Under the weather” is code for an unfriendly pancreas. With any luck, it will be in line next week for whatever cuisine Jones has in mind. But it seems to me I remember having eaten here—my brain is one organ that seems to still work—so perhaps I can contribute something to the mix.
She Said: China Town offers a welcoming and comfortable buffet atmosphere. There are booths and tables to park yourselves and your plates, and the place is decorated in attractive red and black, with multiple buffets each with 10 to 15 different offerings as the central focus of the space. A back wall with kitchen access also boasts big banners advertising their sushi platters, as well. When we came with our friend, we found it an easy place to have a conversation and linger if we liked. When I was there on my own, I felt very comfortable opening my book and reading while enjoying my meal. The host said, “Just you?” though, when I rolled up on my own. I used my friend Michelle’s classic rejoinder, “Not JUST me, thank you very much.” He laughed and seated me at a lovely two-top.
He Said: Yeah, the “just you” thing is a little off-putting for single lunchers. Sometimes you just need to get something to eat on your own, which is perfectly fine. There’s no need to be made to feel like no one wants to be seen eating with you and you can only go through a drive through in such a case. But I digress. As for the ambience, yes, what She Said.
She Said: I had unsweetened iced tea with lemon, as usual, and it was tasty.
He Said: Pretty sure I also had unsweetened iced tea as I recall. But they had other soft drinks too, so you can have American soda with your Chinese food as well.
She Said: I couldn’t possibly sample all the dishes; there have to be at least 50 items offered on the buffets, which include many of the usual Chinese dishes like sesame and General Tso chicken, fried rice and pot-stickers. There are also lots of fresh fruit and vegetable dishes as well as desserts mixed in with the entrees. Both visits, I stuck with my favorites only because I can’t resist them when they’re in front of me, which is why buffets are “dangerous” for me. Some of the dishes I tried were the egg drop soup (with crispy fried noodles), sesame chicken, pot stickers, fried rice, rice noodles, sushi rolls, mixed seafood, sugar doughnuts, fried banana, sesame balls, green beans and melon.
As you may have noticed from my list, my selections included a lot of fried foods, because they look so good (and mostly taste that way), but I always regret eating those not long after I’ve cleaned my plate. This is not because anything is wrong with them; on the contrary, they were tasty, but I’m not used to that in my diet. Some items are more successful than others. The pot-stickers are pretty tasty, and more sautéed than breaded and deep-fried. The sesame chicken was more fried batter than chicken, so I stuck with one bite of that. The egg-drop soup is absolutely delicious, rich and tasty, with lots of yummy egg chunks in thick broth. The sushi is fine for buffet sushi, though there are many interesting choices, not just the usual California roll. The salmon sushi has very thin slices of fish on their little rice beds. (FYI, if you get buffet to go here, you can’t sample the sushi bar as part of the price, according to a posted sign.) I particularly enjoyed the fried rice, the rice noodles, which I dressed with steamed seafood. I can’t eat more than one plate here, no matter how much I want to.
He Said: What impressed me, as well, about the buffet was the huge variety they had. There’s something here for everybody, it seems—even for me. But I remember feeling a little off after the meal here, because so much of it was fried, which is not so good if you’re on a low-fat diet. I didn’t have any of the beef dishes, of which there were several. I did have one pot-sticker, which was delicious, but was fried and pork, so not the healthiest choice for me. I had, I think six different chicken dishes, all of which I liked, but again, all of which were fried. There is one chicken dish that I noticed late in the meal that wasn’t fried and probably would have been the lowest fat choice, but I never got to that one. So my general observation about the food: there is a lot of variety, it all tastes good, and it’s mostly fried, so don’t overdo it.
She Said: I found the service just perfect for a buffet experience. Honestly, I tend to avoid buffet restaurants when given the choice, which is why we’ve probably been here once in the 13 years we’ve lived in Conway. But the service here, except for serving yourself, rivals traditional sit-down restaurants because my waiter checked on me just often enough, took away my empty plate while I was reading and kept my iced-tea full. When he saw me getting ready to leave, he brought the check before I could ask. The service was equally adept on our previous visit with our friend, perfectly meeting our needs before we asked for anything, but never interrupting our conversation.
He Said: Yes, no complaints about the service. We were well taken care of by courteous and mostly invisible servers.
What We Got and What We Paid: My solo visit included the lunch-time buffet and an unsweetened iced tea for $10. I assume our previous visit was double that for two.
She Said: Very, very good at what it’s good for, and it’s not their fault I ate too many (delicious) fried foods.
He Said: Forget it, Jones. It’s Chinatown.
So…He Said and She Said: A solid offering in the Chinese buffet market in Conway, tasty food, a great deal of variety, all at a very reasonable price.
Editor's Note: Eat It, Conway is produced by local author Jay Ruud and his wife (poet and novelist Stacey Margaret Jones). The couple has begun an attempt to eat at and review, every restaurant in Conway, Arkansas. The Log Cabin Democrat and thecabin.net are publishing Eat It, Conway with permission from the authors. Visit them online at jayruud.com and on Facebook at Eat It, Conway. In addition to restaurant reviews, Ruud authors movie reviews on the site.