In the battle of the buffets, Madam Wang’s Chinese Restaurant is two strides ahead of the competition. First, the restaurant offers authentic Chinese entrees along with several “Americanized” dishes one wouldn’t expect to find on a buffet. And the food is, well, quite good for informal cuisine.
South Korea native Li Chin opened the restaurant at its new location in Skillman Crossing Shopping Center just over a year ago, and has apparently attracted a loyal following of families and business clientele. It isn’t uncommon for diners to crowd the restaurant during lunch and for dinner prior to 7 p.m.
I knew the food would probably be authentic when I spotted Chinese newspapers in the restaurant entrance; a sign to me, at least, that Mr. Chin prepares dishes for his native friends, too.
While you’ll find all the items you’re accustomed to on an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet – egg rolls, shrimp toast, won tons, soups, sweet and sour chicken, sesame chicken, beef with vegetables, triple delight – you’ll also find dishes prepared especially for the restaurant’s Asian clientele, all for $6.95 at dinner and $4.95 at lunch.
My friend, who made the first trip to the buffet, was surprised to find boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce. As Louisiana natives, we appreciated the delicious crustaceans. Medium-sized and easy-to-peel, the shrimp alone were worth the buffet’s price.
Also on the buffet was a rotisserie chicken, which was perfectly cooked, juicy and flavorful. Fried and grilled chicken was offered as well.
Less successful items were mostly those that had been fried. The egg rolls, sweet and sour pork, and sesame chicken were all tasty, but they left heavy traces of grease on our napkins and plates.
But the 15 or so other items, including one prepared for Madam Wang’s Chinese customers, are worth a trip back to the buffet.
Called Chinese Chicken, Madam Wang’s manager Joe Chou said the dish is marinated, steamed and then fried lightly. Served cold, it’s worth trying. Another interesting dish was steamed dumplings stuffed with pork and served with a ginger and sesame oil sauce.
The most popular items are Jalapeno Chicken, Mushroom Chicken, Triple Delight (chicken, shrimp and beef in a brown sauce) and Beef with Broccoli.
It was obvious that most diners come to Madam Wang’s for the buffet when our waitress didn’t bother handing me a menu, saying that people only ordered from the menu if they planned to eat at home.
I figured I had better try a menu item anyway, just in case I ordered take-out some day. My guest considers herself a connoisseur of cashew chicken, so we ordered a large entrée for $6.50. The dish, which was covered in a brown sauce, was full of diced chicken, sautéed crispy cashews, carrots, bamboo shoots and chunks of water chestnuts. The large serving is plenty for two adults. A smaller version is offered for $5.95.
There are more than 50 entrees listed on the menu, categorized as Chef’s Specialties, Popular, Seafood, Pork, Beef and Chicken. All are less than $10. Diners should specify Size 1 (large) or Size 2 (small) because some of the wait staff only speak a minimal amount of English. On the night I visited, I ordered a “small,” instead of a number, and the waitress brought me a large portion.
If you have room for dessert there is a fresh fruit, almond cookies and fried biscuits on the buffet, and of course, fortune cookies.
Madam Wang’s is located at 9220 Skillman at Audelia, just north of LBJ, 503-8786. Open weekdays 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Sunday-Thursday 5-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 5-9:30 p.m.