Hwa Yuan quick-lunch

Hwa Yuan guardian of the gateTucked away unobtrusively in a small strip-mall center on Research, Hwa Yuan still attracts customers to its buffet, even on a Monday, as we discovered yesterday. Everyone was going through the buffet line and it was only later that we found that it’s possible to order from the menu.

Food comes to the buffet in small portions, straight from the kitchen. I thought it was unusual to find elegant little steamed dumplings at a buffet, and presented in a bamboo steamer. Many people were going through the buffet line and filling takeout containers to carry away. The posted rules for doing this were elaborate and arcane. I can remember only that at least three different items must go into the container and that there is a weight limit (although I saw no scale).

There are items for children especially, and everyone was enjoying the ribs, which seemed to have been coated in five-spice powder somewhere along the way. I thought that the hot and sour soup was particularly fine. There’s a darker adjoining room with a bar and a television. Some were dining there, and it appears that it would make a good place to adjourn after work. The Web site seems to list most of what I saw on the menu. We were happy with our lunch (buffet price $6.95, I think, but at any rate a good value). Find Hwa Yuan at 11150 Research Boulevard, Suite 201, Balcones Woods Shopping Center; telephone 345-9781, not all that far from the Regal Arbor Cinema.

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