Champagne Buffet Restaurant Review, San Mateo
Posted by Foodnut.com
88 East 4th Ave (At San Mateo Drive)
San Mateo, CA 94401
Champagne Buffet is a new Chinese Restaurant in downtown San Mateo that opened in Joy Luck Place’s old location. They changed their format from a traditional Chinese restaurant to a buffet at the end of April, 2013.
They charge the following:
- Monday – Friday Lunch $12.95 – Dinner $21.95
- Saturday – Sunday Lunch $15.95 – Dinner $23.95
This new buffet format includes Sushi, seafood, Dim Sum, and lots of Chinese food. Their chief competition includes Hokkaido in Foster City (RIP) and Moonstar in Daly City. We would rank their food quality slightly higher than the other two.
Be sure to check out our all time favorite buffet: Conrad in Hong Kong.
A handful of salads including a seaweed and cucumber salad. Definitely on the weak side selection wise.
Miso soup, corn soup, Papaya Dessert soup, Hot & Sour soup, Chicken soup, Fish Congee. Pretty typical for a Chinese buffet.
Sushi and Sashimi
Ten different types of sushi and rolls. Six different kinds of sashimi. A little bit of Tempura and hand rolled sushi. Quality looked fine, not too cheap. If you don’t like these types of food, you probably should not come here.
Raw oysters, shrimp, and Conch. Very limited with regards to this type of seafood.
Cooked Chinese Food
This is also one of their strong areas. Considering they were a pretty good Chinese restaurant before this, that fact should not come as a surprise. Nicely done roast pig, roast pork, roast duck, and seafood dishes. Cooked oysters, cooked large shell clams, Tofu, steamed chicken, fish, king crab, Chow Mein, Chow Fun, and many other Chinese dishes.
Roast beef was carved to order and was surprisingly good.
Seven styles of custom made noodles utilizing Ho Fun, Udon, Rice Noodles. We tested two of them and found them solid.
Baked items included BBQ pork buns, egg custard buns, deep fried egg puffs, sesame balls, and deep fried buns. These were all pretty decent.
Steamed items included steamed pork buns, Siu Mai, Chicken feet, steamed pork dumplings, Steamed meat and vegetable bun, and several more. They have some pretty talented dim sum chefs in the past, but these dishes looked like they had been steaming for hours.
Four types of ice cream, a chocolate fountain, and five or six types of fruit. Their dessert selection is pretty weak compared to Moonstar.
These are all buffets for fans of sushi, sashimi, Chinese food, and Dim Sum. If you don’t like this type of cuisine, you might want to try a high end Sunday brunch buffet at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay or the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.
Decor, Vibe – Champagne Seafood has fancy decor with lots of stylish wall accents, big murals, several Flat Panel TVs, new wide chairs, seafood tanks in the back, and a Hong Kong restaurant-feel. Mostly Asians were dining when we visited for dinner, place was quieter than lunch but still hectic, and crowded.
Below is our review of the former al carte menu. While it might be 100% relevant anymore, their cooked Chinese food is pretty good.
Peking Duck ($28) Crispy duck skin served with steamed bun and the house special sauce had a very good duck with a thin crispy skin and moist meat. The buns were a bit doughy and stuck together.
Tea Roasted Crispy Chicken ($11 for half) had very crispy skin yet juicy meat. White shrimp chips. Not a large portion of meat.
BBQ combo platter ($28) is a good way to try 3 different items. Roast pork, roast duck, and BBQ pork were all very good versions.
Live Shrimp ($22.50 Market Price) were recommended by a friend. These are smaller than most shrimp, but were fresh and simply prepared. Excellent!
Tofu with mushrooms was also a solid dish. Pretty skimpy on the mushrooms though.
Spareribs Wu Shi Style ($12.80) were braised inside a clay pot with a slightly sweet and tangy sauce. Very fatty. Soft succulent meat fell right off the bone. Reminds one of Santa Ramen’s stewed pork.
Garlic pork chops ($12.80) satisfied the desire for deep fried goodness. Good flavor and not over-cooked.
Fried Rice with Dried scallop and Egg Whites ($13.80) was very good. Lots of egg, scallions and a fair amount of scallops. Could have been a little hotter when served though.
Roasted Duck ($11 for half) was excellent. Lots of juicy and tender meat made for one of the better classic roast dishes.
Half Steamed Chicken with Ham, mushrooms, and Gai lan vegetables ($14 half) was also a solid dish with steamed chicken bathed in a starchy sauce that added just the right amount of soupiness. The Virginia Ham was salty as usual, while the vegetables and mushrooms gracefully rounded out the dish.
Ginger scallion crab (market price) was cooked just right and highly recommended.
Sweet and sour pork in a pineapple ($15.80) came served in a fresh pineapple and had very tender meat with a nice tangy sauce, and some delectable Fresh pineapple.
Fresh Mango Pudding ($3.60) was an excellent fruity dessert with lots of mango chunks and solid pudding flavors.
Champagne Buffet’s service was not up to the task. We still had to hail people to get refills, silverware and the like.
Champagne Buffet was very busy on a Friday night in May 2013. Hopefully in time, this place will become even better. The owner clearly knows when to pivot restaurant styles. Unfortunately downtown San Mateo simply doesn’t have enough customers to support a higher end Cantonese-Chinese restaurant. Time will tell whether this concept change succeeds.
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