The Mongolian Buffet (4235 East 12 Mile in Warren – (586) 558-9015) boasts over 200 items on its tables. I didn’t count literally but I would not be surprised if this were the case. There is the usual standard fare, from appetizers to soup to main courses, but there is also sushi and dim sum and a Mongolian grill (tip, please).
There is salad and pizza and a table full of deserts (no almond cookies though) and if you catch them on the weekend, oysters and roast beast. There is even a variety of cold food that is not labeled. This is probably a good thing; one glance at the chicken feet will tell you why.
My foremost rule when dining at such an establishment is “go for the protein”. These tables are set up so that you will load up on the fried rice, lo mein and egg rolls long before you discover the entrees you really want. In my case that would be the crab legs, pork ribs and all things shrimp.
I must admit that I love the variation and selection in buffets, but I believe Chinese food is meant to be tasted, savored, and above all, fresh. If that crab rangoon looks as if it has been shitting there for hours, it probably has.
The service here is moderate, but then a job clearing off endless crab claws is probably not the greatest profession. You often have to seek for yourself a crab-cracker or chop sticks or even extra napkins.
They offer carry-out buffet by the pound, party platters and children under 2 eat free. (When was the last time your toddler ate chicken feet?)
At the other end of the spectrum, if a generic Chinese restaurant exists, Ruby’s would be it. Located at 13720 14 Mile Rd. (at Shoenherr) in Warren, this small eatery has been in business for over 20 years.
The menu is quite extensive with all the usual Chinese fare and, in addition, there are special combinations and family dinners. There are a couple of American food entrees and “potatoes included” is part of the fine print. I love how Chinese restaurants put stars by spicy selections. It’s similar to that “X” you see at the bottom of a contract so you know where to sign.
My dining companion tells me his father loves the egg foo young, so that’s one of the dishes we order. We also order Harr Kow (shrimp with vegetables) just because I like the sound of it. We decide not to include mushrooms, for which we would be charged an additional $1.00.
The dishes are accompanied by the usual egg roll and fried rice and the latest craze in Chinese food, the fresh, overly large, majorly carbed roll. The fare is fine, the portions sufficient; I have been to this restaurant in every city I have ever visited. Nothing fancy, moderate price, ho-hum.
Ruby also has takeout ((586) 296-2460) by the pint or quart.
So what does Goldilocks choose for just right? Almost hidden at 28740 Ryan in King Plaza, also in Warren, is the Chinese Village Inn. This is no ordinary family-run eatery. They have been in business for 30 years and it’s obvious why they have built up such a steady and loyal clientele. Judy, Helen, Henry and even 4-year-old Dominic Gee serve you graciously in a very relaxed atmosphere and always remember you when you return.
To begin with, your order is tailored to you as an individual, your entrÃ?Â©e is prepared in an amazingly short span of time without nuking! You choose which veggies you want, low sodium or starch, no MSG, amount of spiciness, or if you wish, tell them what you like and they will make you a dish that’s not even on the menu. The shrimp lo mien couldn’t have been tastier. This adjective would also apply to the cashew chicken and the How Yu Steak my dining companions ordered.
Sauces are freshly made, as are all the entrees, soups. Portions are large; every time I have visited there, folk who dine in always have leftovers. There are some great specials with just as much quality and quantity. There is American food for fussy kids, special dishes for fussy vegetarians and beer and wine for fussy adults. And It is here you will encounter the best homemade almond cookie on the planet.
The Gees also do take out, delivery and catering. Give them a buzz at (586) 574-1560. This sounds almost too good to be true, yes? Yet in the year that I have resided here I have at last found my Chinese food home. To quote little Dominic as he hands you egg rolls, chopsticks, the bill, “Enjoy!”