For a small city Preston has its fair share of Chinese restaurants. The huge yearly intake of Chinese students, said to be around 2 000, at the local university probably has something to do with it.
A relative newcomer is The Chinese Buffet on Friargate in Preston, one of the latest of six Chinese Buffets in the North of England to be opened by Partner David Hu and Head chef Ken Cheung.
The buffet opened a while ago and has proved to be a popular food venue and meeting place. The ‘all-you-can’ eat buffet style menu does appeal to a wide range of customers.
The one-time bar has luxurious surroundings, set on two levels with plenty of room for the busy weekends. The tables are not uncomfortably squashed together like some buffets I can mention. I went for the cheaper lunch time buffet option so this is not representative of the full night time experience.
You can choose whatever you want to start but most go for the soup. Chicken with sweetcorn or hot and sour? I like the spice so went for the latter. It was suitably both hot and sour, and tasty.
I tend to mix the rest up but technically it’s ‘starters’ next. Glad to see Crispy Seaweed but not the obviously processed deep fried onion rings. The best buffets provide freshly made rings which are always better. Chips, Chicken nuggets and cocktail sausages for the kids but good meat spring rolls amongst other deep fried treats for the more grown up.
I was also happy to see three types of rice and two noodle selections (one being Singapore Vermechilli for the more pedantic). You would be surprised how many buffets I’ve been to only give you a choice of one rice and/or noodles.
All the usual suspects are available for ‘mains’. Popular buffet regulars Kung Po, Satay, Szechuan, sweet and sour, curry and Black Bean Sauce as well as duck pancakes which at some buffet’s only make an appearance on the more expensive evening menu. I tend to judge a buffet on the quality of the Chinese curry and I can happily say theirs is ‘up there’ with some of the best I’ve tasted. Nice and spicy. However, the ‘gravy boat’ with extra curry sauce if needed was on the cold side as it wasn’t heated properly.
All the meat I tried was cooked well and tender, particularly the Char Sui (pork) which can tend to be tough if not treated correctly. All the dishes had plenty of sauce which I know can annoy some people but I prefer this as it’s the sauce that adds the flavour.
A nice addition was Chicken In Mongolian Sauce, normally found on the evening menu. Something a little different and certainly worth trying again.
Good selection of fresh fruit and mini desert confectioneries on offer. I particularly liked the tiny, delicate mixed fruit ‘flans’ looking like more expensive petits fours. Very indulgent. I had three of them.
I always like to end with a dollop of ice-cream, it can settle a stomach full of multiple plates of Chinese food, but unfortunately, the ice cream machine was not working for which I received a humble ‘sorry’ from a waitress.
Not the biggest selection for a Chinese Buffet but we enjoyed it nonetheless. You can sit in the window and watch the world of Preston pass by! Service was attentive if a little confused at times (plates cleared promptly, a little too promptly at times) but mainly alright. At £6.99 for lunch a worthwhile place to spend some time in the city.
Value for money 5/5
TEL: 01772 883088
THE CHINESE BUFFET
St George’s Shopping Centre