Great Shanghai Opens
Whatever Lopez is, he's clearly the owner's right-hand man. The new owner, a gracious, willowy woman from Shanghai named Xiu Li, speaks little English. Lopez handles the English-speaking clientele, who mostly come for the buffet, a vast expanse of steam tables that fills the entire back half of the restaurant, including everything from whole fish and snow crab legs to stir-fries to some endearingly retro comfort foods like Jello cubes. English speakers who don't want the buffet--and who show up when Zhen, the only bilingual employee, isn't around--are largely out of luck, since the only menu is in Chinese.
The New Garden Buffet actually became Great Shanghai on paper several months ago, when Andy Chen sold it to Xiu Li and her husband. The sign out front was switched in May. The customers, many of them regulars who plan in advance their surgical strikes on the all-you-can-eat buffet--$6.55 at lunch or $9.99 at dinner ($10.99 on weekends)--haven't really noticed the change in ownership, though Lopez says some Shanghai specialties have been added to the buffet, like sweet and sour ribs. "We call it sweet and sour because they don't know how to translate it into English," he says, "but actually it is a Shanghai dish. I see Chinese people order it." A customer named Jon says he comes--and quite often--for the jasmine rice and General Tso's chicken.