|If you're wondering why this restaurant scored higher than either of those I reviewed before, it's because I'm varying the grade based on the price of the food. It's not fair to expect as wonderful a dining experience from an establishment where the meal costs a fourth as much. This should become more apparent once I've covered more restaurants and categorized them.|
10504 Gateway West
El Paso, TX, 79925
I Ate: The lunch buffet
Price: $5.50 + tax/tip
|There are two Beijing Lili restaurants in El Paso; the one I visited
sits on the North side of Interstate-10, in the Yarborough Plaza shopping
center. It is known for its inexpensive Chinese buffets.
I arrived at the restaurant for a late lunch. There were plenty of cars parked in the lot; good in two ways, since it told me the joint was pretty popular, and it also meant the food should be fresher, not having sat out too long. On entering I found a fairly large selection of entrees, with two trays for each dish.
The spare ribs were badly named; there was nothing spare about them. Plenty of meat on them bones. I enjoyed the sesame chicken, the pepper beef, and the tofu. The lo-mein (fried noodles) was rather non-traditional; wide noodles with a buttery taste. I liked it, though I still prefer the original style. I've also never seen mushrooms served alone as a main dish before, but they were quite delicious. There were a couple of shellfish dishes which I didn't sample
Many staple Chinese delicacies were available; beef and broccoli, General Tso's and sweet & sour chicken, white and fried rice... Also, there were the typical anachronisms you find in the Chinese buffets in this part of the country; barbecued chicken, onion rings, etc. I discovered the reason for their inclusion: Children can often be finicky and refuse anything but familiar food. The dessert tray looked pretty good, with assorted puddings, fruits and other snacks, but I'd already filled up on entrees.
The Beijing Lili suffers from maladies nearly universal for Chinese buffet restaurants in the Southwestern US. Many of the dishes used local jalapeno peppers for seasoning, rather than the chinese peppers I grew used to back in New York. In a buffet the food must sit in trays, growing cold or getting overcooked and tasteless. Lili didn't escape these problems entirely, and I'm going to have to save the double-five-star rating for a buffet restaurant that does.
I discovered that the dinner buffet is somewhat different from what is served for lunch, and I'll need to go back and re-check in the next few weeks. I think I can safely say, however, that if you're driving around one mid-day, famished, the Beijing Lili is an excellent place to ease the tummy rumbling.
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