2950 Hayden Road
Columbus, OH 43235
Buffet available Saturdays and Sundays 11:30am to 2:00pm
The folks here at alt.eats would like to issue a formal apology to our readers: we’ve been holding out on you and we’re really sorry. The weekend buffet at Imperial Garden is so extensive, it required several repeat visits before we could coherently write about it. Every time we go, we spend too much time eating, and too little time taking pictures and notes. For a comprehensive list of buffet offerings, take a look at, our friend, ChoosyGourmand’s blog post.
We like to start in the back room, where the spread consists of soups, snacks, and desserts. There are always three soup options, a salty soup of the day (such as fish with pickled mustard greens), an unsweetened fresh soy milk, and a sweet red bean soup. There are also a dim sum items like sesame balls, noodles, dumplings, and fried crullers. We like to save the sweet red bean soup and fried mochi sesame balls filled with peanut paste for the end of our meal. A note for the uninitiated: the sesame balls are very popular so keep an eye out for them or they will be gone before you blink!
Don’t fill up in the back room because the double steam tables in the front room is where all the goodies are! Since Rod has done such a great job documenting each dish, we’re just going to highlight our favorites. Above, clockwise from top: braised beef tendon with bamboo shoots, roast duck, julienne pressed tofu with bamboo shoots and pork, braised beef with turnips.
Salt and pepper crispy shrimp. “Salt and pepper” is a common preparation method for fried squid and pork chops. These shrimp are excellent and can be eaten whole or peeled.
Perhaps my favorite item of the entire buffet is this Sichuan peppercorn fish filet. It’s made with chili oil and Sichuan peppercorns which gives two layers of heat, front end spiciness from the chili oil and tongue numbing spiciness from the Sichuan peppercorns.
Pig ear and wilted romaine salad dressed in a delicious sesame and chili oil sauce.
Mapo tofu with pork intestine. This is an unconventional take on mapo tofu which is usually ground pork stir fried with cubed silken tofu and chili oil sauce.
Tender baby octopus (or squid) stir fried with celery.
The buffet offerings at Imperial Garden are not for the faint of heart but less adventurous eaters can eat very well. There is always white rice, rice vermicelli, stir fried bok choy, and two soups at the front of the buffet. In addition, the salt and pepper chicken wings, Japanese eggplant, and northern styled julienne potato (naturally crispy) are delicious alternatives to the more unfamiliar dishes. Most menu items are in the buffet and at about $13 per person, the buffet pricing is a bargain for its variety and quality.
Oh my god! This is great. Thanks for posting this. I’ve always wanted to try real szechuan peppercorns.
The best Chinese buffet in town…maybe even the best buffet in town. I’ve been going consistently for a little over a year and the food is always fresh. I also frequent Panda Inn’s buffet because they have a few different dishes and a couple more dim sum/dumpling offerings, but given a choice, I’ll always pick Imperial Garden because of the fresh quality of the ingredients.
Love the potato w/Sichuan peppercorns and red chiles as well as the seaweed w/sesame seed. When the Pork Belly w/Cabbage and carrots is on the menu, I have to stop myself from filling up on it.
TIPS: Get there by 12pm and always grab a couple sesame balls (filled w/almond cookie) first thing and save ’em for later. They usually run out before 1pm.
Thanks for reviewing Imperial Garden, they’re one of the best Chinese restaurants in town, and deserving of the praise. It’s run by an extended family, who are welcoming and friendly to everyone.
You may want to give Fortune Restaurant in University City Center off of Olentangy River Road a try, as well. They do Sichuan food as well, and are equally good (although different in their offerings).
I agree with LaoWang that Fortune is a good restaurant as well. Their soups and hot pots are tasty. I haven’t tried as many things there because they don’t have a buffet. The Dan Dan Noodle Bowl on the Chinese side of the menu is heavy on the the Sichuan peppercorns and hot chili oil…yum!!!
We’re going to be trying out Fortune soon!
Pingback: Fortune Chinese Restaurant | alt.eats.columbus
Pingback: Show notes – 4/7/12: Chinese Food in Columbus | WCBE FOODCAST