Monday, September 1, 2008

Fine Dining Does Not Equal An All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

So I admit that I like Chinese food as much as the next person. Heck, I like food in general. As a matter of fact, when I was about 14 years old, I listed eating sleeping as two of my hobbies. But that's a different story for a different time. For those of you just joining us on this blog, I live in Mississippi. I'm not a native. I was born and raised in Key West, Florida. Growing up there can alter your view on what is "normal."
If you haven't listened to the news, you may not know that Mississippi is the nation's fattest state. Big shock. I think I've figured out one of the reasons why this is true. Every town/city/community has a Chinese restaurant. Now you might be asking yourself, how does Chinese food in particular add to the growing waistlines of Mississippians? It's simple....all the Chinese restaurants in this neck of the woods are strictly buffet.
As I said, I grew up in Key West. It's this huge tourist destination, so there's lots of eating establishments. Apparently the only group of people like to eat more than tourists are college students and overweight folks. The city I live in is home to the state's largest public university and the population is about the same as my island home. Key West is much smaller, coming in at 3 miles by 5 miles. We had a nice Chinese restaurant, China Garden. They were so successful, they eventually opened another restaurant in the downtown area and one on Big Pine Key about 40 minutes north. It was a nice restaurant, and everything was a la carte. David and I would go often, him for the sesame chicken, me for the curry. Years later, I discovered crab rangoon and I made more frequent take out trips. They are totally delish.
When I moved to Starkville, I learned that our fair town had not one, but three Chinese restaurants. Three. And all of them are buffet. What's up with that? Can I just say here people, that the germ issue is a huge one for me. I know, because I've seen my own child trying to help her plate (with parental assistance of course.) And the sneeze guard? It's not much of a guard if you ask me. Short people sneeze all the time and it doesn't guard them. I should know, I've been accused of being vertically challenged...but for the record, I don't sneeze at a buffet.
The main Chinese restaurant is located in a strip mall next door to Blockbuster video. It was so successful, that they expanded to the business next door to them. They also expanded their buffet. They now carry pizza, beef wellington, spare ribs, stuffed shrimp, salad bar, ice cream bar....the list goes on and on. Another menu item of interest is the "frog legs." I've never been a fan. I've never tried them.....don't care to. One particular visit to this restaurant, also ironically named China Garden, I was helping my plate and looking at the cards posted at the top of the buffet that list what each item is. I swear to you that I read a sign that said "Flog Legs." I cracked up right then and there. I went back to the table and shared this with David, who also got up to check it out. We both had a good laugh.
The food is fair, if you overlook all the obvious germ issues that I've already stated. None of these restaurants have curry chicken or beef and their crab rangoon is not real crabby. Please note here that I don't usually ask to go to this restaurant, I usually want to go to a Mexican restaurant. Now that I think about it...Key West had one Mexican restaurant that was pretty nice and Starkville has three. Three. I think I see a pattern here.


Kathleen said...

Do you have any of those "meat & 3" places in your town? I traveled through the South and was astonished at the variety of side dishes offered on the daily specials--and always with some delicious corn muffins or biscuits and pie for dessert.

Anonymous said...

Crab rangoon is awesome but I don't understand the crab part. It's deep-fried cream cheese. I don't think there's a molecule of crustacean in there.

Petra said...

I visited Key West last summer and they have more Mexican restaurants now. I went to two on Duval Street and one near the KWHS. As you can see, I have a weakness for refried beans and corn products.