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But is it Wonderful?

April 25, 2012
Wonderful Buffet

Is this restaurant really 'Wonderful?' (Orin O'Neill photos)

I’ve ridden or driven past this place about a million times, and always I’ve wondered about the name. Is it truthful, or ironic?

I could wait no longer. It was time to find out.

The parking lot was nearly full, as it usually is. There were roughly equal numbers of Washington and British Columbia license plates, as with every retailer or restaurant in Bellingham.

Dining room

The place is not particularly fancy on the inside. Portland’s 82nd Avenue has lots of places like Wonderful Buffet (there are no more Chinese restaurants in the Rose City’s Chinatown). Some are, some aren’t.

My only real quibble was a lack of labeling of the dressings at the salad bar. What I thought was honey mustard turned out to be the mustard usually served with barbecue pork—you know, the stuff that clears your sinuses in about 3 seconds. For about five minutes, I was in agony. Luckily, they serve big glasses of ice water.

Chinese food fetishists will no doubt be disappointed, wailing and gnashing their teeth about how Wonderful Buffet lacks “authenticity.” The place’s clientele appears to be mostly people who grew up using chopsticks, and they seem to like it just fine.


This was a single pass through the entree line. All the usual Americanized Chinese dishes were present and accounted for. The chicken wings aren’t spicy (use the hot mustard if necessary), and neither is the General Tso’s Chicken. Which is totally okay. They had garlic bread, too. But no pasta. Puzzling.

I forgot to take a picture of dessert. I had cream puffs, which were de-lish, and some kind of jelly-roll thing with a yellow fruit filling. And bananas in a strawberry sauce. There were fresh fruits, but nothing like ice cream or gelato.

So, was it wonderful? That the place is always so busy means the food doesn’t get a chance to turn to toxic sludge in the steam tables. They know what people like, and what they don’t, so they serve what people like (it’s amazing how few restaurant owners seem to understand this). The food is tasty and filling.

Dining room

And at $11.99 plus tax (beverages extra), quite reasonably priced. A wonderful place to go on your way to or from shopping ’til you drop. Favicon


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