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North Texas Heat, and Chinese Buffet; a Great Start to the Month

Fortunes

I’m visiting a conference in Denton, TX, on campus at the University of North Texas. It’s a nice campus, but it’s hard to tell these days; it’s so hot up here you can’t really get out and tour the facilities for any length of time! It was 107 in the shade today, and the heat index was well above 110. The big, blue Texas sky seems to bake the juices right out of you once you get out under it. Birds are sitting still on tree limbs, panting away. Even the ubiquitous campus squirrels don’t run from you when you approach; they merely mosey. Of course, you can’t catch them, because you can barely drudge along yourself.

Yes, it’s truly summertime in north Texas! Maybe they’ll catch a rain break soon, although that’s not very likely in August…

My old college roommate lives near Denton and works for UNT, so I had more reasons to visit than most conference attendees. Naturally, whenever we get together the talk turns to important stuff: Flight Simulator; food; family; food; beer; food; music; food; and cooking. And did I mention food? So naturally, as soon as we got together we had to go eat.

We drove north to Gainesville, where Don has a favorite Chinese buffet place. (They also needed to do some clothes shopping and such, but the priorities were proper; we went for grub first.) The eatery is known as Taiwan Chinese & Japanese Buffet, on Grand Avenue. We were late for lunch, or early for dinner, depending on how you count such things. We had the place pretty much to ourselves, but we didn’t let that slow us down! The buffet spread (four long, filled steam tables) was ready and waiting, and we dug in.

I had some soup, the hot-and-sour, with plenty of crispies added. Some rolls and some cheese wontons went along for the ride. I found several classic zesty entrées, including General Tso’s Chicken and Twice-Cooked Pork. Lots of good sauces: Garlicky ones, spicy ones, mild ones. As always, lots of tasty vegetables. Of course they don’t use any unrecognized, Asian veggies. Like most any Chinese-American place, it makes do with locally available ingredients, like jalapeño chiles for the zesty dishes.

I now believe I have a new way to measure the quality of the cooking in a Chinese buffet place in Texas. All you have to do is check out their enchiladas. That’s right, enchiladas! Turns out most of the kitchen help speaks Spanish, not Chinese. The Asian dishes were quite good, and I sampled many. Then I noticed one end of a table that had Mexican and American style offerings. At first I thought maybe these were some new kind of fusion dishes, like Monterey Moo-Shu, or something. Nope, they were authentic Tex-Mex, and tasty.

Now before the hate-mail begins about how I’m overstating the food quality and so on, keep this firmly in mind: It’s a Buffet Place. Not Spago’s in Maui; it’s Taiwan Chinese in Gainesville. That said, I certainly enjoyed their food, and if I’m ever in the area again I’ll likely stop by. If you live or work up that way and enjoy Chinese food, or a little sushi, give them a try…

Enjoy the (Spicy Chinese Buffet) Heat!

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