Hungry and on a budget: China Buffet delivers

China Buffet delivers a shockingly tasty meal for a price students will love


Photo by Maggie Cipriano

The Eau Claire streets and sidewalks were covered in thick sheets of ice this past Thursday night. I was in my friend’s cozy house sitting on the floor with a growling stomach, watching the snow whip horizontally outside.  

After finishing my first week of classes, I decided to celebrate and order food from the famous China Buffet. Longingly, I waiting for my soup while my friends strummed their guitars.  

Ordering Chinese food as a kid was a luxury. It was usually a chilly night when no one wanted to cook, clean or even venture outside. What’s better than eating dinner out of disposable containers and pajamas? The answer is nothing.  

Amazingly — considering the weather — the food arrived thirty minutes before it was scheduled. A godsend: I was tired of hearing my stomach growl.  

Upon opening the brown paper bag, heat radiated from within. One by one I pulled out the containers of food — wonton soup, steamed dumplings, almond cookies and, of course, the fortune cookie.  

I started my meal with the wonton soup, which was complete with crispy wontons on top. There is nothing like a heaping bowl of scalding soup on a brisk winter day.  

The broth was flavorful and delicious, yet too hot to consume. Because I was so hungry, the heat was disregarded while I continuously burned my mouth. Totally and completely worth it.  

The wontons themselves were jammed full with pork and other savory fillings. I pride myself in my chopsticks skills, but these wontons were so massive that I had to surrender and resort to using a fork.

Next up — and the winner of the night — the steamed dumplings.  

Packed into a container with a small dish of inconspicuous dark brown sauce lay the dumplings. These bad boys were outrageously tasty, again filled with pork. This sauce was tangy, savory, sweet and everything else in between.

It was one of those times where I contemplated sipping the leftovers through a straw. I did not, and I regret that.  

After devouring the soup and dumplings I was slipping into a food coma, but I couldn’t stop there. Sitting before me were a pack of perfectly round, crispy almond cookies — something I crave regularly.

Just when I thought I had reached my food limit, my dessert stomach was activated. I ended my meal with an almond cookie. Perfect.  

Sometimes sitting in a room, even if you are on the floor, with great friends and hot food is everything you need.  

China Buffet delivered a surprisingly delicious and hot meal, quickly and for extremely cheap. Could a broke college student ask for anything more?

The food was simple, yet exceptionally flavorful and satisfactory.

As if Anthony Bourdain, travel journalist and my great inspiration, took the words directly from my mouth, “the perfect meal, or the best meals, occur in a context that frequently has very little to do with the food itself.”