Picking this and that from the Jade Garden


Towson buffet offers lots of variety

July 06, 2005|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Growing up in the South, we had a favorite family ritual -- dinner every month or so at Morrison's Cafeteria. There was something enthralling about the wide array of foods being offered by the ladies behind the counter.

A typical meal for me would have been the old standby, the hamburger "steak," mashed potatoes and, of course, Jell-O for dessert (which my brother and I would suck down with straws until a parent had heard enough).

Cafeterias are still around but now they're called buffets. On a recent Saturday night we ventured into one, the Jade Garden Buffet on Taylor Avenue in Towson.

I'm pretty confident Morrison's never had the variety of the Jade Garden, which advertises Chinese, American, Japanese, seafood, pasta, salad and Mongolian grill dishes.

The buffet at Jade Garden stretches out for yards -- steam tables full of everything from fried fish and chicken to sushi, fruit salad, Alaskan king crab legs and, yes, Jell-O.

Carryout patrons can grab a Styrofoam container and load up on the buffet. You pay by weight -- $5.95 per pound during our visit. (The per-pound charge is less at other times.)

We were more interested in the Mongolian grill, which is off to the side, than in the buffet. We fixed several plates with uncooked chicken, pork, beef or shrimp, layered on fresh onions, peppers, slivered carrots, water chestnuts and other goodies, poured on raw garlic and Mongolian sauce and handed the plates over to a taciturn cook.

He worked over an enormous round grill and cooked each dish quickly, using oversized chopsticks. When they were cooked, he poured each into a carryout container and we were on our way. (Again, we paid the same per-pound price for the Mongolian grill dishes.)

The food was perfectly adequate. The main problem was that the grilled dishes were too bland. Of course, it's hard to complain much because we had compiled all the ingredients. Next time, we would add a good bit more garlic, hot pepper and sauce, as well as more veggies.

The dishes we sampled from the buffet were OK as well, including Chinese-style stir-fried chicken and traditional macaroni and cheese. The weirdest dish we brought home was a stuffed crab shell, which had been cleaned out and baked with a filling of imitation crab meat, onions and a scary amount of butter.

For dessert, we took home a big glob of chocolate pudding and several uninspired cream puffs.

Know about a good carryout? Tell us about it by e-mail: carryouts@covad.net

Jade Garden Buffet

Food: ** 1/2 (2 1/2 stars)

Service: *** (3 stars)

Waiting area: *** (3 stars)

Parking: ** 1/2 (2 1/2 stars)

Where: 1012 Taylor Ave., Towson

Phone: 410-321-7035

Hours: Lunch: 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily; dinner: 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Prices: All you can eat buffet of Chinese, American, Japanese and Mongolian dishes. Carryout price ranges from $3.80 per pound to $5.95 per pound, depending on time and day; credit cards accepted

Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *

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