2017-07-13 / On the Town

Golden opportunity for quality, all-you-can-eat Asian fusion

Ela Lindsay

Andy Ye, co-owner Andy Ye, co-owner Like a meal fit for a king, more than 100 delicious items are laid out on a long, winding counter at Golden Panda Buffet. The new Simi Valley restaurant offers this freshly made all-you-can-eat feast at prices you won’t believe.

Not to be confused with the national takeout chain that also uses “panda” in its name, Golden Panda is a one-of-a-kind, family-owned restaurant run by experienced restaurateurs Jason and Tommy Shi and Ring and Andy Ye.

Restaurant manager Charles Wei said this buffet is unlike any other “because the food is really high quality.” He adds quietly, “I’m not sure how they make any money.”

I would agree with both of his comments. Everything I tried was fresh and of obvious high quality. And quality is something that has sometimes gotten lost in the shuffle at other buffets I’ve tried.

I recommend an initial go-see of the Golden Panda offerings before you load up your plate. I didn’t do that on the Saturday I visited for lunch and, after zigzagging around and picking up samples of this and that, I realized I was too full to eat any of the made-on-site gelatos and sorbets that are available in the restaurant’s unique rotating circular freezer.

BUFFET DELIGHTS—These enticing sushi rolls are carefully crafted by master chefs at Golden Panda Buffet in Simi Valley. On weekends, the restaurant also offers crab legs, oysters and mussels. 
ELA LINDSAY/Acorn Newspapers BUFFET DELIGHTS—These enticing sushi rolls are carefully crafted by master chefs at Golden Panda Buffet in Simi Valley. On weekends, the restaurant also offers crab legs, oysters and mussels. ELA LINDSAY/Acorn Newspapers Nor did I try any of the exquisitely fresh fruit and salads or the hot soups or rice for fear of not having enough room for my favorite treats.

Make sure to arrive with a huge appetite at Golden Panda. I counted a total of eight food stations, each offering different Asian fusion delights. Wei guesstimated that the buffet counter is over 100 feet long.

A newcomer might want to start in the middle of the hoopla. The plates and cutlery are located there, next to the soup and rice. This station featured eight hot soups: imitation shark fin, clam chowder, fish ball, sweet bean, hot and sour, egg drop, miso and tom yam.

Seafood lovers will have a field day at Golden Panda because there’s enough raw and cooked fish and shellfish to satiate even the hungriest of diners.

According to Wei, all the food is “so fresh” and guests eat it “so fast” that chefs are making fresh portions “all the time.”

This was definitely true of the sushi-roll-making crew. Diners can watch these sushi chefs in action as they ply their creative talents roll after roll. I asked one of these gents where he learned his craft and he said New York.

It’s obvious they know what they’re doing. Their preparation of four different types of sashimi (raw fish without rice), six different kinds of sushi (raw fish with rice) and about 10 various kinds of sushi rolls was art in the making.

Show up on a weekend and you’ll get a chance to have some popular yellowtail tuna, along with crab legs, oysters, mussels and coconut shrimp.

On any given day, Chinese food fans can have their fill of favorites like fried rice, lo mein, orange chicken and broccoli beef plus about 10 other dishes.

In addition, there’s an excellent offering of about 14 chef’schoice selections that change from time to time, Wei said.

On this day, there were amazing sweet pork chops, huge jumbo shrimp, excellent crunchy chicken wings and perfectly wrapped egg rolls. The restaurant even has a Mongolian grill section where guests can choose from around 14 items that a chef will cook for them using special sauces to suit the customers’ tastes.

Kids will love Golden Panda because it offers pizza, french fries and a chocolate fountain plus a popular boba beverage made with fun tapioca balls. And parents are sure to love the pricing: for children ages 3 to 10, the cost is 90 cents per year of age for lunch and $1.20 per year for dinner.

The all-you-can eat price for adults is $10.99 for lunch on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; $14.99 for dinner Mondays through Thursdays; and $15.99 for dinner on Fridays. On Saturdays and Sundays, the price for adults is $15.99 all day. Seniors 65 and older get a 10 percent discount.

The restaurant has buffet to-go prices and offers catering services, including party trays. Reservations for large in-house parties are accepted.

Restaurant hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.

Golden Panda Buffet is at 1825 Madera Road, Simi Valley, at the site of the old Elephant Bar.

For more information, call (805) 306-1688 or visit www.goldenpandabuffet.com.

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