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Restaurant Review: Buffet offers a variety of Asian cuisine

The Panda Garden Buffet features a koi pond with architectural rock formations and several live fish near the entrance to the restaurant. The buffet offers many different traditional Chinese entrees, as well as a variety of American dishes. It is located on North Montclair Plaza Boulevard, in Montclair across the street from the Montclair Plaza mall. / photo by Jakeh Landrum

Michael Phillips
LV Life Editor

Walking through the two sets of double doors into Panda Garden Buffet, the smell of Asian cuisine hit me immediately and my mouth began to salivate at the thought of various Chinese foods filling my mouth.

While waiting to be seated I noticed the various Asian influenced artworks on the walls of the restaurant.

Over the loud speaker soft acoustic music was played setting the perfect mood for a relaxing dinner.

I could not hide my intrigue with the large fountain in the center of the restaurant that carried various colored koi fish.

Although the outside of the restaurant looked very plain, the décor inside was nice and very soothing almost making me forget that I was in the city of Montclair.

Once seated the waiter asked me what I would like to drink and then I was off scouting for tasty morsels to ingest.

The buffet was medium-sized but had a variety of items ranging from sushi, lo mein, crab, mussel, spring rolls, rice and various other entrees.

My first plate was piled with food; it consisted of General Tso’s chicken, chicken fried rice, lo mein and sweet and sour chicken. The General Tso’s chicken was not the best I have ever had but was not the worst either.

The sweet and sour chicken was delicious especially when drenched with sweet and sour sauce. The lo mein was flavorful; the difference between lo mein and chow mein is that chow mein noodles are fried while lo mein noodles are tossed.

My second plate consisted of beef and broccoli, fried rice, a fried donut, lo mein and french fries.

Walking around the buffet area I noticed that the dishes were very diverse, offering things you see at a traditional Chinese take-out restaurant as well as traditional Chinese meals with a mixture of western foods such as French fries, pizza and garlic bread.

The restaurant also had a salad bar with various vegetables and fruits.

Panda Garden is a bit different from other buffets because they lack a beverage station instead a waiter or waitress provides you with refills.

The service was great my waiter was very attentive each time I got up to grab another plate I came back to find my table cleared and beverages refilled.

The restaurant was quite large and offered a variety of seating arrangements from chairs to booths on the larger left side and smaller and more private seats on the right side of the restaurant. The booths and tables were decorated using the colors green and burgundy.

Panda Garden offers a sushi bar which takes specialty orders. I myself am not a big fan of sushi but thought I would substitute and try an order of avocado rolls. In minutes my specialty order was ready.

“I’ve been here a few times I like it because it’s cheap, tasty and there are a lot of different options to choose from,” 20-year-old Fabian Rubio of Pomona said.

By the end of my meal I had only eaten 25 percent or less of the offerings at Panda Garden, none the less I was full. My waiter left a fortune cookie and my bill on the table which came out to about $12, which is not too bad for a buffet.

Before leaving Panda Garden I ventured into their dessert section which consisted of various Chinese desserts and an ice cream bar, I proceeded to make an ice cream cone though I was too full to finish it.

Panda Garden satisfied my craving for Chinese food and left me too full to function.

Michael Phillips can be reached at michael.phillips2@laverne.edu.

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