The only difficult thing about visiting the popular China Garden, located in Beaumont’s Gateway Plaza, is choosing what you will eat first and how long you will stay. More than 200 items await you on the largest buffet in the area, beginning with a healthy salad area, a new hibachi grill where you see your food choices cooked, all of the Texas Gulf Coast seafood you can imagine, vegetables, specialty dishes, and tantalizing desserts. There’s also plenty of sushi featuring salmon, tuna, eel and all types of rolls.
“Everyone has their favorite,” said the personable hostess Reyna Garcia, who has worked for the company for more than a dozen years. “We have our regulars, some who come in to eat every day, some every other day and some both days of the weekends. I know them well and know where they prefer sitting and likely what they will choose first from the food bars.” Garcia says crab, cooked in many different ways, is the No. 1 crowd favorite, a waiter on this visit said, “No, it is the shrimp. Some people come here just for the shrimp.” Garcia also said that the new hibachi grill is also proving very popular with customers.
A family group was celebrating a big birthday at the very clean and cheery restaurant. Layheshia Carraway was choosing a favorite chicken dish from the food bar while there. She introduced her mom and other relatives who were celebrating. “We all like to come here to eat because every person in the group can find something he or she likes. And, yes, we stay for a while and enjoy our time together as well as the food,” she said. “Everyone here is very nice and helpful and we like that, too.”Garcia points out that this is a large-scale organization and it takes everyone on the team to keep the food prepared to taste, served hot, perform constant clean up and restocking, and care for the customers. “We have eight or nine working in the back,” Garcia said, “and another seven or eight on the floor at all times, plus several stocking the buffet lines and the workers who clear the tables almost immediately when the customer leaves.”
China Garden also hosts various parties, particularly around the holidays. Garcia said she remembers one large party of more than 170 guests from the Waffle House corporation. “They had a good time and seemed to enjoy eating someone else’s cooking. I know they laughed and stayed a while during a holiday meal. I think they had fun,” Garcia said.
After an honest taste test by our group, one chose the shrimp as her favorite, another chicken one of the chicken dishes, and my personal favorite was the bacon wrapped crab. In fact, it took a while for me to make that deduction and I had to try several different choices just to be sure.
China Garden is at 3811 Stagg Drive near Interstate 10 in Beaumont. The prices for the wide selection of food are very reasonable with lunches costing only $7.67 and $9.70 for dinner. Dinner prices apply all day on Saturday and Sunday. Plan to stay a while when you visit. You’ll be glad you did.
Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.