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Brasserie, Regent Galleria, 晶華,Taipei November 14, 2018

Posted by hslu in Chinese Food, 美食, Life in Taiwan, Restaurants, Taipei, Taiwan, Travel, 台灣, 台北.
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I’ve heard of this restaurant for a while and knew that it’s been a favorite of Taiwan’s buffet goers. It is highly recommend by food bloggers too. On weekends, if you don’t have a reservation, you have no chance of getting a seat. It’s also one of a more expensive and high-end buffets in Taipei.

台北晶華酒店。前門看起來怪怪的。一邊的斜坡往上顯得不平衡。不知道這個旅館的風水好不好。Brasserie 在一(底)樓。從旅館右邊去就可以了。不用上樓。電梯很慢。

We came here with our friends for the first time on a Thursday afternoon for the mid-afternoon buffet. We got a deal online for four at 15% discount and received the voucher via registered mail a day before our mid-afternoon buffet.

The line started way before 2:30 pm, the time we were supposed to be there, and everyone was expected to wait in line. Once our reservation was confirmed, we were led to our table and were told that we had 2 hours for our meals.

The dining room was huge. I estimated that it had 250 seats or more. Our section wasn’t full but the main sections was filled with hungry customers.

This is one of the four dining rooms. We were seated at behind the sushi station probably because I made my reservation too late but I didn’t request a better table either.

One of the main dining rooms.

The busiest food section was the seafood and sushi bar. Cold dishes were here too. Salads bar had fresh fruits and there were countless desserts to choose from. Hot food items were spreaded out on the opposite side of the sushi bar. Too bad that we had to pay more for beer and wine. A glass of the house wine was NTD $200, or USD $6.50.

Looking from the entrance of the food section. The far end was the sushi bar.

Salad bar.

Desserts. 20+ items. There were six flavors of icecreams too.

Hot food section.

Noodles bar. Didn’t try.

Seafood, sashimi and sushi bar.

Roasted ham and dim sum to his right.

Pasta station.

There was a 10% service fee and it was collected at the time of my purchase of the discount voucher.

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That was onion soup. Just okay.

Two pieces of roasted chicken and more veggies.

I had more desserts than these. My recent blood test showed that my blood sugar level became normal probably because helped by our daily walk of 10,000 steps for the past two years.

Cocktail sauce was too watery. Shrimps were fresh. I didn’t eat much seafood even though I don’t need to take cholesterol drug anymore.

I ate more veggies than meat even at a buffet.

t around 4:15, a staff member walked around the tables and reminded everyone that the dining room will be closed soon. By 4:30, everyone was asked to leave and even the restroom was about to close too.

The quality of the food was very high. I didn’t eat any sashimi so I couldn’t comment on that. The presentation was excellent. The staff was courteous and dirty plates were taken away rather quickly. Kitchen staff was diligent to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. They also did their best to keep the food stations clean and tidy.

The dining rooms were clean and there were plentyof spaces for all customers to not feel squeezed. Our section was nice but the main dining sections were much nicer with plenty of sunshine, glass walls , high ceiling, outdoor scenery and big and open spaces.

All in all, it was a nice experience. I hoped that beer and wines were free.

50 Cafe, Banqiao, New Taipei City October 4, 2018

Posted by hslu in Chinese Food, 美食, Life in Taiwan, Restaurants, Travel, 台灣, 台北.
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Last time we came to the Mega City Shopping Center in Banqiao, we saw a line of 20 people waiting in line at the ground floor of the tallest building in the city. We knew they were trying to get in a buffet restaurant because they didn’t have a reservation. After a short inquiry we found out that the name of the buffet restaurant was 50 Cafe. The cafe was on the fiftieth floor of the Mega building, hence the name.

It is the tallest buffet restaurant outside of Taipei and it has a big following on the social websites in Taiwan.

I read an article the other day which basically says that high level of lower cholesterol is bad for your health was a lie. There was no research to substantiate that claim from the U.S. government and the results from a new, large scale research supports the contrary.

Armed with this piece of information we came to Mega 50 Cafe to enjoy the buffet instead of feeling guilty while eating.

The seat will be reserved for 10 minutes. If we don’t show up before 6:10, the seat will be forfeited to other customers if someone is waiting. This is the standard practice.

The restaurant called us back and told us that they didn’t have a window seat for us because we made our reservation online too late. But that’s okay. We came primarily for the food, not the view.

The setting was nice but not elegant. The ambience was pleasant but cold. The night view was less spectacular because there weren’t many tall buildings with lights nearby.

The seating is arranged in sections around a 6′ wide central corridor of the eclipse-shaped building. On the one end of the corridor, there are two small elevators. The restrooms are on the other end. The kitchen is located to the left of the corridor while a sushi station is on the right. The space near the elevators is used for two ice cream fridges, coffee machines, soda drinks and beer. Salads and seafoods are close by.

The allotted time slot for us is from 6 to 8 pm. We come a few minutes after six. It is not busy today because yesterday was the mid autumn festival and many people probably didn’t feel like eating another big meal today. The restaurant was about 25% occupied. The server told us that last night, the third day of a thtee-day long weekend celebrating the annual mid autumn festival, was filled to the brim. I image that people probably have to wait in line for a while before they got fed.

The presentation and the arrangement of the food were pleasant to see. The staff was quick to keep the food stations clean and presentable probably because it was a slow Tuesday. This was really nice.

太太說蝦子蠻新鮮的,螃蟹也可以,只是沒什麽肉。太太給我兩隻蝦子,幾口螃蟹肉。算是吃了。其他像魷魚和黑黑的青口,我都沒吃。

看起來還不錯。太太說最先吃的很好吃。我後来拿了兩隻蝦子肉不夠Q。

顏色配的很好看,花花綠綠的擺滿了一大堆。看得出來,廚房用了心了。值得推薦。

變種的壽司吧。一個一個的做太麻煩,用個木盆子裝壽司飯,再灑上 topping,弄的好看一點就出來了。飯甜了些,不過還蠻好吃的。

甜點區。後面的右邊是廚房。熱菜,油炸的,湯和烤牛排在後面廚房邊上。

好看嗎?很好吃。比較甜。不像有些餐館做出來的蛋糕看起來好看,吃起來太淡,不甜。不知道是捨不得放糖還是打著健康的旗子不給我們吃太甜的東西。其實,甜點不甜叫什麼甜點呢?乾脆叫淡而無味的點心好了。

一部分熱菜。大多數都是挑著盤子裏的素菜吃。那個麵炒的乾了些。

不太精彩。

牛排算是不錯的了,不過不夠肥,有些筋。應該只是.choice grad 牛肉。小片小片的吃還可以,因為肉的纖維已經切斷了。如果跟在美國吃牛排一樣給你一片一寸厚的牛排,可能咬不動。味道不錯。我不喜歡加 sauce,如果調的佐料夠好,夠久,夠均勻,那原汁原味最好吃。其他的那幾樣都沒有動。

烤的豬肉串。邊上的小杯子裏的是蒸蛋。比較鹹。餐館給你鹹的菜吃和讓你拼命喝水。脹飽你再說。

我的。

老婆的。

老婆的。

我的。魚唇不夠熱。要是剛剛炸出來的就更好了。貪心了一點,是不是?

盤子裏的越來越少,快吃飽了嗎?

Made from scratch. 清淡,薑絲多,好喝。蛤蜊沒沙。好現象。

可惜那個鮭魚飯不太好吃。

還沒吃完。

壽司台做的手卷。飯甜,sauce.可口,加上新鮮的素菜,不錯。

匈牙利牛肉湯。青菜蘿蔔。該收手了。

太太吃的沒我吃得多。黑黑的是紅豆糕。

確信最後一盤。意麪乾,蝦子肉不Q。

漂亮吧?要不要也來一塊?你覺得那一塊最好吃?

廚房邊上做麻辣燙的。沒吃。

這是49樓的外國餐廳和酒吧。分裏外兩個區域。可以在外面喝酒。可惜下雨。

沒幾棟高房子。手機照的也不夠好。

48層的中餐館。佈置的很有情調。

在相片的右邊遠遠的那邊可以看到101的輪廓。Samsung S9+的相片還是不夠清楚。這就是真正的數位相機比手機相機要高明的地方。手機相機是沒有辦法比得上真正的相機的。

舀了一勺冰淇淋。小小的一口而已。好了。真正的吃完了。還有,臺灣啤酒沒氣,也不夠冰。

一年以後再來吧!

哦,服務員來收錢的時候很客氣的說:”你們看起來很年輕,不好意思問一問,不知道你們有沒有超過60歲,超過60歲可以打八折”?我們其實不知道老家伙有減價的事。我們謝謝他,省了 20%。省了一碗永康牛肉麪。

群芳,Festiva,Galaxy, Macau January 29, 2016

Posted by hslu in China, Food, Restaurants, Travel.
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Whenever we visit a casino, we will find out how good its buffet is. Galaxy Macau is a beautiful casino in Macau and we believe its buffet is also a beautiful one.

Galaxy’s buffet restaurant is called Festiva (群芳.) It is huge, it is beautiful and it is filled with delicious food and inviting desserts.

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Very high ceiling. Bright and vibrant interior.

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Front door.

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There is so much to eat and so many to choose from, it is hard to decide what we want to try.

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Goose liver station.

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Goose liver pan fried.

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Skipped。

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Salad station。

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Somewhat dry.

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Salmon and sauteed lamb shank. I take a pass on these.

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I am going to guess that they don’t get too many Japanese tourists. Sushi is ordinary at best.

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I skipped this.

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Endless supply of snow crab legs.

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Can I have a small piece of that 紅燒肉?

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Good quality salad and tasty cheeses。

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I take one of each, please.

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I am too full to try all of them. What shall I do?

20151028_180719 20151028_182958 20151028_183021 20151028_184830 20151028_185625 20151028_185637I skip bread, cold cuts, Sushi, salmon, lamb shank, sauteed vegetables, deep fried stuff, Malay, and roast beef. I go for some Indian, goose liver, 佛跳牆,紅燒肉,roasted duck,some seafood and a lot of desserts.

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Some Indian is okay. Rice was dry though.

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This is very good and very rich. Tender and warm goose liver goes very well with chilled, sweet and sour pear.

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My wife did that for me. I am not good at eating blue crab or snow crab.

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Rich chicken broth with chicken breast meat, a small piece of abalone (鮑魚), bamboo fungus (竹笙)and Chinese mushroom。

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I ask for a very small piece of roasted beef and some trimmings too。

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Fresh and chilled just to the right temperature.

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Buffet and Casino November 9, 2015

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants.
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Buffet seems to have become synonymous to casino because inevitably one will have a buffet when he or she visits a casino.

Some but not all people go through various stages when they decide what to eat at their favorite casinos; especially the ones with a better buffet:

1.   Plan: The first question people ask themselves is ‘shall I spend $8 on a burger and fries at the food court?’ I already lost a lot of money at slots and table games. It may be wise to be stingy on my dinner. There is no point to spend $30 or more, plus 10+% tax and fees, on a so so buffet.

2.   Decide: Hmmm.., what the heck, the extra $20 or $30 won’t make that much difference on my gambling loss. Why not treat myself with something decent for a change? Besides I am not doing buffet everyday anyway. It’s about time to treat myself with something good for a change. Buffet it is. I deserve one anyway. Eating will create the sense of satisfaction. Maybe it will give me some luck after a good meal.

3.   Anticipate: Dinner is still several hours away. I already skipped lunch. If I get hungry, I will have an apple or something. It will be enough to tie me over until 6:30. Besides, apple is good. It keeps my family doctor and those expensive specialists away. They charge me an arm and a leg just to let me walk into their office, wait for 45 minutes and allow them poke me around for 5 minutes.

4.   Survey: It’s 6:30 pm and I am in. You can’t come later than 6:30 pm because it takes about 2 hours to finish eating a buffet. If you come too late, you’ll risk having left over after 8 pm. The buffet costs me $42 plus about 20% on tax and fees. I need to devise an effective plan of attack before I pick up a plate.

I’ll start checking desserts first. Salad is here. Soups are close by. No bread for me. It’s too filling.  Meat and vegetables look good. Asian and Italian are okay but I won’t touch them. Buffet is the worst place to eat sushi. They use low quality ingredients. Rice is hard and dry. All those small rice balls fill you up faster than you can name the fish you put into you mouth. No one eats pasta here anyway even it is cooked on the spot. No good chef will cook pasta there. It’s like first year English or math at community college. Only teachers at the low end of the totem pole do it. The last area to check out is seafood. Not bad but I will have a little. I am eating with my 3Cs in mind.

But where shall I start: salad, soup or seafood?

5.    Enjoy: Let me start with salad w/o dressing so that I won’t feel too bad about downing so much food in such a short period of time. After all, I am here to have a good time and to make gambling loss easier to take. I am excited. I am fully prepared. I am ready. I can’t wait anymore. I am too hungry to think straight.

6.   Resting:    This is my fourth trip to the buffet line. I start to run out of food I like to fill up my plate because I already had all the food I like to eat. The others are either bad for my blood pressure, bad for my cholestrol, bad for my liver or bad for my blood sugar. But, I am not done yet even though my stomach tells me otherwise. Let me go over each station again and I am sure I will find something good for me and taste good.

I stll have yet to visit the dessert station which is saved for the last. Well, I’ll let my stomach rest for a while. After a a few moments, I will be a new person again capable of forming a new strategy again.

7.   Admit defeat: Well, this will be my final trip to the buffet line. All I have on my plate is a few pieces of vegetables and some fruit. I can’t have another bite anymore. I give up. I am defeated. I am not even close to eating what I have paid for. What can I do? I want more but I can’t. This is the end of line for me.

8.    Regret: Why did I come to buffet in the first place? Didn’t I swear that I won’t eat another buffet last time? Now I feel sick because I ate more than what I should. Where is Zantac when I need one. And what shall I do to get rid of the extra sugar, fat, cholestrol and calories in my body? This’s it. This would be my last buffet for sure. No more hurting myself any more.

9.    Forget: Time heals everything. My sense of regret has disappeared completely. Is it time to try my luck again?

Shabushi, Bangkok November 2, 2013

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We came back to Central World 曼谷中央百货购物中心 to have dinner again because it offered so many choices; this time a casual dining.

There were simply too many selections to choose from and we had to walk from one side of the mall to the other before deciding on Shabushi Buffet. It offered shabu shabu (hot pot) and sushi buffet

Shabu shabu was a Japanese style food where we could choose thinly sliced meat, vegetables, noodles, seafood (selections were limited and they came less often,) fish balls and fish cakes to cook in your own hot pot. They came to customers via a conveyor belt and we picked whatever we like and someone would take the empty plates away. Three types of broths were offered at Shabushi: a clear broth (shabu shabu,) a milky broth called miniku and a spicy and sour broth. It also had sushi and deep fried chicken fingers and some kind of fish. But they were just ordinary and not very appealing to us. Fruit and ice cream were available too. Buffet cost 355 Baht per person: about $12 but you only have an hour and 15 minutes to eat. Additional time would cost 20 Baht per every 10 minutes.

We were in there exactly an hour and 15 minutes.

Very elegant. 秀色可餐。

Very elegant. 秀色可餐。

Not sure how much for them though. Looks great!
Not sure how much for them though. Looks great!

A coffee shop on the first floor.
A coffee shop on the first floor.

Most restaurants were on the 6th and 7th floor.

Most restaurants were on the 6th and 7th floor.

 

Rice, meat and vegetables in a hot stone pot: Korean? Kind of like dolsot bibimbap.

Rice, meat and vegetables in a hot stone pot: Korean? Kind of like dolsot bibimbap.

Couldn't believe this restaurant offered so many varieties on sizzling plates.

Couldn’t believe this restaurant offered so many varieties on sizzling plates.

An angry pig.

An angry pig.

Grill your food on a bed of charcoal fire. Interesting! It offered sushi too.

Grill your food on a bed of charcoal fire. Interesting! It offered sushi too.

KFC, McDonald's and other types of fast food were also available. This combo plate was about $5 US. Looked like a good deal.

KFC, McDonald’s and other types of fast food were also available. This combo plate was about $5 US. Looked like a good deal.

More all-you-can-eat buffet.

More all-you-can-eat buffet.

A Cantonese Restaurant.

A Cantonese Restaurant.

Shabushi buffet offered by Oishi. It has multiple stores in Bangkok.

Shabushi buffet offered by Oishi. It has multiple stores in Bangkok.

Conveyor belt moves raw food to customers. You cook it in your personal hot pot.

Conveyor belt moves raw food to customers. You cook it in your personal hot pot.

Oishi is Japanese which means delicious or 味 in Chinese. This small fish cake has a pink 味 in it.

Oishi is Japanese which means delicious or 味 in Chinese. This small fish cake has a pink 味 in it.

I didn't count how many plates we went through. Many!

I didn’t count how many plates we went through. Many!

Deep fried fish and chicken fingers. Looked very greasy to me. Not popular here.

Deep fried fish and chicken fingers. Looked very greasy to me. Not popular here.

Ordinary.

Ordinary.

Open kitchen. You don;t need expensive chefs to do the cooking. The customers do it themselves. All raw food looked fresh because the restaurant was very busy when we were there. Turn over was quick and nothing got to stay in the kitchen, if you can call it kitchen, too long. I guessed that they had to prepare the broths in there.

Open kitchen. You don;t need expensive chefs to do the cooking. The customers do it themselves. All raw food looked fresh because the restaurant was very busy when we were there. Turn over was quick and nothing got to stay in the kitchen, if you can call it kitchen, too long. I guessed that they had to prepare the broths in there.

It spells out the concept of Shabu Shabu style in four languages: English, Chinese, Japanese and Thai.

It spells out the concept of Shabu Shabu style in four languages: English, Chinese, Japanese and Thai.

 

 

Lunch buffet – The Grill Room at Worldgate Marriott Herndon January 18, 2012

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We had intended to try the Japanese restaurant at Herndon Worldgate Center on a Thursday in October 2011 when we saw the “all you can eat buffet” sign at Marriott’s The Grill Room.

Hmm, when did Worldgate Marriott started lunch buffet here? Was it the competition from the Indian buffet or the Chinese buffet in the same shopping center? Or was it from the deep competition from the 15 or 16 restaurants here: TGI Friday, American café, Subway and Qdabo Mexican Grill among others? To attract potential customers into it door, the sign even showed the price: $9.95.

It was a good price for sure, but what about the quality? We had to give it a try. The dining room was very well appointed: clean and quiet, hard wood panel, huge ceiling to floor window for a mice view, dark-colored tables and chairs, clean silverware and nice set up for the salad table and warm food station. There was even a table full of desserts.

Not bad. Not bad at all. The staff was very helpful and when we asked for a dessert that had ran out, the waiter gladly took out some more from the cooler in the kitchen.

We had a great time and we certainly enjoyed the food too. The price was wonderful for the quantity and quality of the food.

Our experience convinced us to give it another try in a future date.

You should too.

Look how much wine I got for $8.

Such a great vale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brunch at Lansdowne Resort, Leesburg, July 12, 2009 July 17, 2009

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Brunch at Lansdowne Resort, Leesburg, July 12, 2009

Lansdowne Resort off Leesburg Pike is about 15 miles NW of my house. Maria has heard from her friend that Lansdowne’s Sunday brunch was top rated and she had asked me to take her there for at least a year now. We finally went there on July 12, 2009.

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Actually Lansdowne has a breakfast buffet on Sunday until 10:30 AM. It is followed by the brunch until 2 in the afternoon. We chose to try the brunch and arrived at the resort at 11:50 AM and went straight to the buffet downstairs.

The food was arranged on several tables in the open area below the stairs between two double glass doors which lead to a patio over-looking the golf course. the dinning room was to the left side of the food area.  My first impression of the set up was that it was a far cry from the buffet at Las Vegas’s famous casinos such as Venetians or Bellagio and I was somewhat disappointed. Well, since we were here already, why not made the best of it.

The food area was divided into several sections on two rows of tables: spring salad, pasta salad, country pate and dressing; four or five kinds of cheese and three different cold cuts; a bread and butter table; chocolate fondue fountain with bread, marshmallows, strawberries and bread sticks; a dessert table with six different kinds of desserts; a roast beef carve station; a waffle station; a made to order omelet station; a smoked salmon plate; a sushi plate with only one kind of sushi; a raw bar with spicy shrimps (21 to 25, peeled and deveined) and oysters; a caviar table with three American caviars accompanied with traditional trimmings; and a hot food section with six shinning chafer dishes.

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Our waitress was in her late 40’s. She was friendly, warm and polite which was always a very good sign. Maria ordered a bloody Mary, I asked for their free mimosa drink which was a mixture of orange and champagne. We took our time and went for second, third and fourth. I liked their cheese selections and pate. The smoked salmon was excellent. The caviars were great too and both Maria and I liked the wasabi caviar which went well with finely chopped chive, hard boiled eggs, and red onion.  The omelet was hot and cheesy. I didn’t try any hot food because they weren’t that appetizing to me. I tried a few bites off Maria’s plate and confirmed my perception. Their coffee was hot with strong aroma. The tiramisu was moist and filled with brandy. The crust of the vanilla pastry was a tad too tough but the fillings were good.  By the time we put down our forks, it was well after 1:30 PM. We were full and had a great time there.

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After the brunch, we wandered around the outdoor patio and the golf club near by. The golf club house IMG_1903

offered a stunning view of the golf course and the resort. The sun was warm but not hot. A steady breeze of wind greeted us when we were walking around. A teenage boy who worked in the golf club gift shop saw us taking pictures ourselves and offered to take pictures of us together.  We also saw many people returning to the hotel after golfing and many people gathered around many players to ask for their signatures.

It turned out that the resort was the site of the 2009 Bobby Mitchell Toyota Hall of Fame Golf Classic tournament which ended on the day we were there. A young guy in his late 20’s proudly showed off the souvenir autographs card which had signatures from about ½ of the players.

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I saw Mel Renfro of the Dallas Cowboys and Lenny Moore from Baltimore Colts. I actually didn’t recognize them and have never heard of their names either. I only knew them because of name tags on their shirts.

Well, the Lansdowne resort was beautiful and the surrounding area was very well maintained. It looked like a good place to spend a night or two here. However, we will not go back there for brunch not because of the $49 price tag but because it wasn’t that special in terms of the overall experience. Nonetheless, it was well worth the experience if you haven’t been there before. It is, however, way better than any other buffet in the Northern Virginia area.

State of Chinese restaurant Business in NV November 15, 2008

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We had to hire an employee to work at the front counter at our restaurant. I placed an one-week ad on the Chinese World Journal about a month ago looking for a full-time or part-time employee. I was totally surprise by the response this time. Normally we got one or at most two replies. At times, we had to place a second ad because of the poor response. This time, we received so many phone calls indicating many Chinese people are actively ;ooking for work. I believe that this was due to the poor condition of the local Chinese restaurant business.

On one hand, we have so many buffet restaurants offerig a good value at such a low price. On the other hand, we have so many new national chain restaurants opening up all over the places in the last couple of years; such as Panera, Five Guys, Pei Wei, Cosi, Potbelly and Chipotle to name a few. They are taking away a sizable amount of revenue, especially the lunch businmess, from Chinese restaurants big and small. As a result, many Chinese restaurants are not able to take the hit and have to close their doors. On top of this, the recent real estate bubble caused an average of 40% jump on monthly rent, which contribute to the demise of these restaurants.

Unless the buffet restaurants close their doors all together, the situation in Chinese restaurants will not improve any time soon.

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