All You Can Eat   4 comments

This is where I go for Chinese food.


I love All-You-Can-Eat places.  The food doesn’t have to be especially good, and the service can be minimal, but something about the idea of choosing for myself what and how much I get to eat is just terribly attractive to me. 

And this is bad because nobody among my friends or family really likes all-you-can-eat.  They would rather pay twice as much for a single plateful of something from the Red Lobster or the Olive Garden (both fine restaurants) than go and feast on 20 different kinds of food.  That leaves me all alone when I go out to indulge my taste for variety.

Give me variety in my food, and lots of it.


When you say all-you-can-eat in Phoenix your choices are Chinese, Mexican, and salad bars.  I like them all, especially since the salad bars usually include some kind of cheap pizza too.  This little blog, however, is about the Fuji Restaurant near the corner of 16th Street and Camelback Road in Phoenix.  Signage is not really their strong point.  (That’s kind of weird. Mount Fujiyama, called Fuji by its friends, is in Japan, not China. This is not really a Japanese place–there was nothing teriyaki to be found, but they did have sushi which is Japanese. I guess it offers the best of both.)

They also have a sign in the front window, but you have to look closely to realize what they're calling the place.


When I was a younger man, this same restaurant used to be called the Szechuan Gardens.  Liz Danforth, Pat Mueller, Mike Stackpole, and I once took Fritz Leiber (the author of the Grey Mouser & Fafhrd stories) out to supper here during WesterCon 1978 when it was in Phoenix.  I think I showed the place to Larry DiTillio one night also. What a showoff he is–he ordered in Chinese.   Szechuan Gardens might have been the best Chinese restaurant in town at the time.  But grandeur fades away.  The paint and the gilt is dingy now, much like me.

At least the Fu dogs still guard the entrance and welcome the customer to a place of plenty and goodness.

There are actually two of these little lions, but I couldn't get them both into the same shot.


Sometimes when I’m totally depressed and hungry, I come here to treat myself.  When I worked at the Cent;ury Branch Library only about seven months ago, I’d come here once a month or so to feed the inner Ken on fresh pineapple, fried rice, chop suey, fish, and shrimp–lots and lots of shrimp.  I sometimes got a tummy ache aftewards.  One probably shouldn’t mix pineapple, mushrooms, and chocolate pudding, but yum!

I never learned to like raw fish, but sushi is here for those who want it.


This serve yourself area was the grand dining area back in the glory days of this restaurant.


So, before Thanksgiving Day I came here and seated myself in the cool comfort of what was once the bar, and I had 3 servings of good stuff–mostly shrimp, and fish, and rice.  I washed it all down with a couple glasses of orange soda–ah what a hard drinking man of the world am I!

One thing I love about Chinese restaurants is that they all have these magnificent paintings on the walls.


Once I got the flash working on the camera, I took this picture of the cool, quiet place where I sat down to eat.  As you can see, the place is moderately busy, with lots of people chowing down.  That may be because the place is in a high traffic location–Cameback is a very busy road–or because the food is good–yes it is!  But, it looks like Fiji will stay in business for a while.

As I paid my bill and departed the hostess asked me why I was taking pictures. I tried to explain that I was making a kind of record of places and things I like, but English was not her native language, and I don’t think she understood.  She said it was against the rules to take pictures in the restaurant.  Call me a scofflaw if you want, but it’s my life, my camera, my money that bought lunch, and I’ll take pictures of whatever I want, even of restaurants where I eat.

I love all-you-can-eat places, and I love colorful little dive restaurants–people places that are not all the same–places where the individuality of the owners, managers, and employees shine through.  These places both entertain and feed me.  I’ll be talking about more of them, I’m sure.


Posted November 27, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

4 responses to “All You Can Eat

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  1. Chello!

    Yes, a good Chinese buffet is one of the best things in the world for a hungry troll. Good Mexican ones seem to be very rare, even in Texas (not that I said “good.”

  2. Hmmmm…Chinese.

  3. There actually is a good Mexican buffet in Texas. I can’t think of the name of it but it is here in Longview, TX.

    I would know the name of it and definitely eat there more often if it wasn’t for the fact that I already eat Mexican food two times a day 260 days out of the year since I work at a Mexican resteraunt

    There is however some excellent Chinese buffets here and that is what is up.

    We have one Vietnamese restaurant here, but no buffet. I usually spend about 10 to 20 dollars whenever I eat there. It is money well spent.

  4. I know the one you’re speaking of (small world…I live in Overton, graduated from LHS in 88). And I did say rare not non-existent. 😉

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