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Restaurants & Bars

Washington DC & Baltimore Chinese Buffet

Green Olive (Chinese) buffet in Mt Vernon


Restaurants & Bars

Green Olive (Chinese) buffet in Mt Vernon

Wayne Keyser | Jan 13, 2006 07:51 PM

Someone asked earlier about the Green Olive Buffet on Route 1 in the Hybla Valley area of Fairfax County (7405 Richmond Hwy)

I replied "Haven't been there (it's a jinx location - places come and go like the wind) but the photos look like the food's - uh ... call it "edible" with a possibility that it could suit a person who understands the limitations of buffets."

Well I went there today for lunch and have a "hits and misses" report. Lunch buffet $6.99 weekdays, and the value is very good.

Despite trepidation (olives and Chinese food don't mix) I gave it a try - was going to the Korean buffet across the street, which I like, but figured I'd try something new. In brief, it's better than a lot of buffets, not quite as good as some. To compare, Dragon Sea in Springfield is better and as large, Peter Pan in Fairfax is a tiny bit more authentic but the selection is smaller.

A number of these places seem to draw upon the exact same recipes (same trays of desserts from the same bakery, many of the same entree recipes) - must be some "Chinese Buffet Restaurant School" that turns 'em out en masse. But even those items are fairly good if you choose what you recognize as the better-executed dishes.

There were a LOT of dishes - certainly enough to make a very good meal picking and choosing only the very best selections.

Here there were fresh sushi rolls (including eel), quite adequate. There were signs of unusual thought: a cold kelp salad, sauces on selected sushi, etc. Well-executed Chinese standards (Gen Tso's, Orange Chicken, etc). Big surprise: LOTS of shrimp - cold in spicy sauce, plain steamed shell-on, and "Coconut Shrimp" (crispy-battered with a sweet sauce, I have nothing to compare them to but I really liked them!) Big mussels, but seasoned with something like Old Bay (stop that, just stop it!)

Best dish was something I have never seen before: "Tapioca Dumplings", steamed dumplings with a taro filling, the wrapper a transparent layer of clear tapioca "bubbles", sweet and addictive.

American selections (BIG pan of good-looking crawfish!) looked to be done with some care (but NEVER eat pizza at a Chinese buffet!). Soups included the Chinese "Big Three" (egg drop, wonton, hot & sour) plus a good-looking Manhattan Clam Chowder (mislabeled as New England and looking more like Maryland Crab Soup) and a coulda-been-better Lobster Bisque (but I really think those were pieces of lobster in it - a bit of sherry would have brought it up to par).

I'll have to see how their dinner is (are they just gonna add a seafood or two, or will there be more new things to discover?) - Crab legs are extra even at dinner, but hey - $8.99 weekday dinner, what do you want?.

Would I go out of my way to go there? Probably not real far - but I will go back.

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