Buffet Buff: Hong Kong Gourmet Buffet

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After our trip to China Harvest Buffet yesterday, we were about ready to give in to the claims that there is no such thing as a five-star buffet. Scottsdale's Oriental Garden Super Buffet was pretty good, maybe good enough to rate three to four stars. But then we found it: A buffet worth gorging yourself to the point of exhaustion.

Hong Kong Gourmet Buffet sits west of the I-10 on Chandler Road in a strip mall building indistinguishable from its neighbors. One step inside, though, will show what's different about this place, and because so much about this buffet is so special that it's hard to know where to start.

The Price: For about eight bucks, you have access to the full buffet, the sushi bar, and the Mongolian grill during lunch. For dinner, the price raises about $3 to $4 and there's only a few more dishes offered, making lunch the best buffet bang for your buck.

Overall Cleanliness: We thought this place looked great, inside and out, and Maricopa County pretty much agreed. At last inspection in August, Hong Kong Gourmet got a Silver award, which is ridiculous to us considering China Harvest got a silver too. However, this buffets violations were from an employee drinking water from a bottle in the kitchen, dented cans in the storage area, and food containers a bit too big to go in the sink, which the manager agreed to get rid of.

The Eats:
At a Chinese buffet, it isn't entirely uncommon to find trays of sushi out, sitting on ice. But Hong Kong Gourmet takes it a step further, with made-to-order sushi from a sushi chef at a sushi bar. Sorry if that seems a little redundant, but since when can you get all you can eat sushi made just for you at a lunch buffet? The kind of lunch buffet that also has a fully operational Mongolian grill, apparently.

If that doesn't wow you, the selection of delicious, piping hot Chinese dishes will. There's so much to choose from at Hong Kong Gourmet, and the full list of offered dishes is available on their Web site. Yes, a buffet with a functional and informative Web site.

We're suckers for crab rangoon though, as you may have noticed, and Hong Kong Gourmet does them right, offering crispy, crunchy crab puffs stuffed to the brim with that oh so yummy filling. The veggies also had a satisfying crunch, which we don't normally expect from a buffet steam tray, but there it was, even in the dishes mixed with various meats.

Not every dish made it on to our plate was a winner though. The Mongolian beef looked kind of like dog food, and, as our friend wisely put it, was chewy "like beef bubblegum." The spicy tofu dish was also disappointing because it seemed that chunks of uncooked tofu were just slathered in sauce. Give that tofu a little love in the wok too!

But if those two dishes are the only faults we can find with this diamond in the buffet rough, that really says something. We think we just found our new favorite place to try to satiate our insatiable hunger.

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