Imperial Buffet

I like a lot of variety when I’m eating, and have been known to step away from a meal to turn my attention to a completely different meal because I’m bored with my food. For precisely that reason, buffets have always been a good choice for me because I get to sample a large variety of food and my taste buds don’t get a chance to get bored. That and the fact that it normally pleases everyone’s tastes without my having to cook a bunch of different dishes, makes me a big supporter of buffet restaurants.

Located at the corner of Dixie and Dundas in Mississauga, Imperial Buffet has taken over the building which was once occupied by the Town and Country Buffet. It actually isn’t a new restaurant, since it literally moved down the street to this location from its previous, smaller location at the Rockwood Mall. In the back corner of a small plaza, there is plenty of parking on the premises. The restaurant itself is large, with multiple dining rooms all named after zodiac signs. The centre of the building is where the food is laid out in row after row of both hot and cold food. There is a large grill section with meat cut to order, a sushi bar, and a dessert bar that served made to order crepes and waffles.

We were situated in the Pisces room and made small talk with our server before ordering our drinks. For a weekend dinner, the price is $20.99 per person, and $2.50 for bottomless pop. The whole restaurant is decorated in soft yellows and neutral browns, and the tables are a nice light wood (no paper table covers!).

Imperial offers a large number of seafood dishes from hot/cold crab legs to fresh shucked oysters, mini lobsters and a large sushi bar with sashimi. I opted to start with the seafood soup which was an egg drop base with shrimp, scallops, crab and tofu. It was perfectly seasoned and the seafood was well cooked. I paired it with a small visit to the sushi bar where I was impressed with the variety of sushi that was available. The fish was fresh and thick cut, the rolls were rolled tightly without too much rice, and there were bowls of cold tofu that had a delicious sweet soy sauce. You had to ask for sashimi from the attendant, but unfortunately there was no one to be found and I was not able to try any of the offerings.
The salad bar had your typical Caesar and mixed greens, pasta and a few sliced vegetables with a variety of dressings. There was also a large cold seafood section that was piled high with crab legs, cocktail shrimp and fresh shucked oysters – not something you see every day in a buffet. The cocktail sauce that was available was sweet for my taste without a lot of horseradish. 
The hot food selection had a number of standard dishes from fried rice to chicken wings, as well as a number of seafood dishes such as two separate varieties of steamed fish, a number of shrimp dishes and mini lobsters in a spicy sauce. Having never tried mini lobsters before, I was disappointed that they were overcooked and rubbery. There were plenty of hot crab legs served with melted garlic butter, and all of the food was kept well stocked the entire time we were there.

The grilling station had chicken, beef, shrimp and pork, but there was also the addition of roast lamb with a red wine sauce on this particular night. Being a lamb lover, I was excited to try it, but was disappointed when again, it was overcooked. The seasoning was delicious and the sauce was similar to a gravy with a hint of red wine.  The pork chops in lemongrass were my favourite from the grill, but I found the majority of the pieces had quite a bit of fat on them.
Finally, the dessert section was impressive in the number of sweets it offered, but was a bit of a letdown. We waited for a crepe and a waffle, which came from the same batter, and were disappointed. Though the waffle itself was light and fluffy, in the interest of time, it was undercooked and still soft. Had it been left to be crunchy and golden brown, it would have tasted much better. The crepe was good but we made the mistake of adding melted chocolate sauce and strawberry sauce to it. The sauces had a strange artificial and bitter taste, making the crepe inedible. Aside from those, there were numerous pies, muffins, a chocolate fountain with marshmallows, and an ice cream bar (the coconut caramel was delicious). If I wasn’t so full from everything else, I was curious to try the strawberry brulee pie because it looked interesting and I had no idea what it was. I settled instead for a ramekin of crème brulee, which had the burnt sugar on top but was unfortunately overcooked so instead of a custard, it was more of a poached egg consistency.
There were a lot of high points to Imperial, and I enjoyed the variety of dishes that were offered. As with any buffet, you risk eating foods that have been over or undercooked because they are cooking in mass quantities. However, aside from cooking issues, I found the flavour of the majority of the dishes I tried to be quite enjoyable. I also liked that were a variety of dishes that you don’t typically see in a buffet and that the food was kept fresh and well stocked. The staff members are friendly and the price was standard of a good buffet, so I would recommend it if you are looking for a Chinese buffet that offers more than your typical fare.  
Imperial Buffet on Restaurantica
Imperial Buffet on Urbanspoon
Imperial Buffet
3120 Dixie Rd., Mississauga
http://www.imperialbuffet.com/

2 comments:

Laura P said...
January 10, 2011 at 12:06 AM

Would you say this buffet is better than the Mandarin buffet?

sweetone said...
January 10, 2011 at 9:28 AM

Better in the sense of choice and availability of more authentic Chinese dishes (those mini lobsters would never show up at a Mandarin).

I'd say comparable in terms of quality of food and taste - both places taste good!

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