by Terrance Mc Arthur
Our roving food critic Terrance Mc Arthur continues his search for great food in Sanger and the surrounding communities. Check out more Great Food Search here!
Menus are important to restaurants and customers. They tell you what to expect. They are the advertisements of coming attractions for your plate. But…are they necessary?
Imagine walking into a spacious room where delectable dishes are laid before you, fresh and hot, ready for your repast. That is the lure of the buffet, and one has recently opened in Sanger.
Sanger Buffet and All You Can Eat Chinese Cuisine has taken over the location of the long-gone Chapala’s Mexican Restaurant in Sanger’s Southgate shopping center, 1839 Academy Ave.
When you enter, you have to go all the way to the other end of the spacious room to pay, but you are often greeted at the door. The prices are modest, with discounts for seniors and children. You won’t get lost trying to go back and forth to your table, because the sidelines are good. The staff is friendly, cleaning off any plates you empty. I’ve seen them come to meet families with a high chair before they get to their table. Even if the place is crowded, the wait won’t be long, and the padded seating is comfortable.
There are two serving areas: hot and cold. The hot zone has your soups, entrees, and side dishes, while the colder section has salads, appetizers, and desserts. Imagine crustaceans of unusual size (cold shrimps that aren’t shrimpy), rolled-up sponge cake rounds, gelatins, pudding, and almond cookies (what my family used to call “fingernail cookies”).
I’m a soup guy, and there are two soup stations at one end of the hot tables. The Hot and Sour Soup is more Warm and Tart, but it still has that sinus-opening quality that makes you feel healthier and more relaxed. Their Egg Flower Soup is a fragrant blossom, and the Wonton Soup leaves you won-ton more. That’s more than two soups for the two stations, but that’s the way things are; dishes rotate at Sanger Buffet, and each day has a different combination, as well as changes between lunch and dinner. The management is even exploring the possibility of morning menus (please-please-please-please).
You like Onion Rings? These are good. Fond of French Fries? A great place for them. My family’s favorite appetizer is the Cream Cheese Stuffed Wontons. Oh so yummy! But wait, we’ve only just begun!
Every Chinese restaurant has to have Fried Rice and Chow Mein (I think it’s a law), and you’ll find them here, but they are bright and ready, and are frequently refreshed. Broccoli Beef is a frequent entrée, but so is Broccoli Chicken. Wei Fun is made with rice noodles, a delightful alternative to Chow Mein. The Skewered Chicken is tasty, as is the Popcorn Chicken with a white glazing sauce. Their fish is tender and flavorful, and…face it, there’s a lot to talk about, and there’s always something else to make you say, “I didn’t know they have that!” Also, if a dish you like isn’t on the rotation, let them know. It might suddenly appear for you, like magic.
Magic. That’s the word I would use to describe the Sanger Buffet.
Family. That’s another good word. I’ve seen large family groups, business lunches, quiet singles, and couples sharing an intimate evening, even if the place is filled. It never seems noisy. When you come back (and you really should), you will be remembered and welcomed. I want to see this restaurant become a well-loved, long-standing establishment.
P.S. Chinese restaurants usually have bottles of soy sauce at your table. Sanger Buffet has Sriracha Sauce. The soy sauce is over at the cold table.