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China City Restaurant
[closed, no longer in business]

5688 Calle Real, Goleta
Phone: (805) 683-4676


Reviews by the General Public

Don't waste your time
Reviewer: heartcookie from Santa Barbara, CA
I'm a native of SF and to this day, I still regret spending my money here. The food is more expensive than Little Asia and tastes worse. It's bland in taste, drab in color, and my soup was lukewarm. Of all the Chinese restaurants I've eaten at, this place is by far the worse.


Well Below Average
Reviewer: Gunther Chesnut from Santa Barbara, CA
I have only dined here once. My entree was not inexpensive ($7 or $8 for lunch special Szechwan beef). The service was fine and my glass of water continually filled; the atmosphere was cafeteria-style buffet. However, the the pieces of "meat" in my Szechwan beef were discolored and coated in corn starch. I felt as though the ingredients were not fresh, but should have been fresh.


Terribly Bland
Reviewer: Jason Koivu from Santa Barbara, CA
I had high hopes that this would be tasty, but considering the reasonable prices, I would've been happy with just "okay". Instead it turned out to be less than okay. Right off the top let me say that the service was fine. Not stellar, but no complaints there. On to the food! The wonton soup was like water with a teaspoon of vegetable oil floating on the top. The fried rice didn't seem very fried at all and was bland at best. Worse was the mushy egg roll. It was one-bite and done for me. The crab rangoons (aka fried wontons) were edible but were mostly just cream cheese. For my entree I got Beef in Oyster Sauce. For the price it was a good sized pile of beef. Unfortunately, it was the stringiest, most fat-riddled beef I've ever had to do battle with! After a while I gave up and resigned myself to mopping up the sauce with the peapods and rice. I was very hungry a couple hours later. I usually will give restaurants a second shot, but not this one, not until I hear or read some better reviews on this place.


Good food, decent prices
Reviewer: Helly from Goleta, CA
We did the dinner buffet, and don't see where the recent negative comments are coming from. The food was delicious, fresh, and varied. Prices were very reasonable, even without the use of our discount card. Service was good, too-- the place was rather empty, so the hostess was gracious about moving us around to our preferred seats. Also, it was part dinner/part meeting, so we spent quite some time after dinner, sitting there and talking. Most places would try to kick you out by then, but they left us alone and even refilled our water glasses! Overall, I found it to be a nice little place with good food and decent prices, and would come here again.


Not Like It Used To Be
Reviewer: Beverly from Santa Barbara, CA
I'm a local who has eaten here for years. The food has always been fantastic - there wasn't a bad dish in the whole buffet. But tonight I'm not feeling the love. The service was uneasy, they looked worried. The food was ABYSMAL!!!!!!! All the old standbys were terrible. The food was cold, the proteins were laden with fat and/or tough, the CA Roll was a HUGE disappointment with mushy rice and only two ingredients: A HUGE chunk of cucumber and a tiny sliver of fake crab. The orange smelt eggs on the outside were so few I swear I could see them hanging onto each other so they wouldn't fall off. The usually delicious chow mein noodles were chemically tasting. There was no one in the place (wonder why). It was depressing. China City will be the next casualty of this economy, and deservedly so I'm sorry to say. Maybe they've already made the decision and that explains the bomb that the restaurant has become. Sad.


poor service, old food
Reviewer: pauline from goleta, ca
i ordered the lunch "special"... it came with soggy CREAM CHEESE wontons, clumpy and cold rice, and kung-pao chicken that did not look or taste like the dish. the only mildly good thing about my meal here was the "seafood" hot and sour soup that had no seafood, just vegetables and tofu and was too spicy for me to really taste anything. service was awful - i was asked repeatedly if i wanted the buffet and i had to keep saying no to them (food looked like it had been sitting there for hours). i barely touched my food and did not get it to go. i think it may have offended my server, but it didn't matter since she could barely understand me nor could i understand her either.


Great all you can eat Lunch Buffet
Reviewer: Glenn from Buellton
For $8.50 you can eat to your hearts content(drinks extra). The quality is at or above a Panda Express(not too hard to do though!). They have sushi(cal roll), tempura, soups, fruit and desserts too. Definitely a place to go if its your one meal of the day! Some of the entrees stayed out too long and were cold and some too greasy but all in all a great deal for the price. For better quality I would recommend sushi teri next door or pick up stix across the street but you will pay more for less food obviously. Very nice host/waittresses!


Best Buffet In Town
Reviewer: Christian Saunders from Santa Barbara, CA
Load up the plates and the pockets, plop down and dig in for an hour or two.... I have finally found my spot. Best Chinese food in the SB area for sure (and it for sure cures a hang over). Try the kung-pao shrimps and the egg rolls. The food was really fresh and greasy. I will for sure go back at least 1 time every 2 weeks to get my fix. A must try for at least lunch!


great service and good food
Reviewer: Grace from Goleta
my and my three asian friends were craving chinese food and found this place. even tho they were in the process of closing for the night they still took our orders and were extremely friendly to us (we spoke chinese to the waitresses so that might have helped). definitely would go back for the ma pao tofu and garlic chicken.


Mixed review...
Reviewer: ln from goleta, ca
Just got back from having the lunch buffet. Surprisingly, all the food was fresh, despite having a brown out. I docked the review because at the end of the meal, our server was hovering over our table as we were pulling out our wallets and dividing the bill. I told her that we weren´t ready yet, and she continued to hover. As soon as we figured out the money, she snatched it out of our hands, and that was it! VERY disappointed w/ the service even though the food was somewhat decent.


I like the buffet
Reviewer: Robert Bernstein from Goleta CA
I have been eating at this place through its various owners over the past twenty years or so. The buffet now has some excellent items and I am pretty particular about what I eat. I have lived in the Bay Area and in Cambridge Mass which have excellent Chinese food. Try the pickled Korean-style vegetables on the fruits and vegetables table. The orange peel chicken is good. So are the little shrimps and the pot stickers. If the vegetables are sitting too long, snag some from the beef dish; for some reason these are always fresh. I am sorry if someone got sick at this restaurant; I have never known anyone who did and I think this place is pretty good. My only complaint is that they are not too friendly to me when I come in alone (most of the time I am alone) but the food is worth it and the price is good.


Particularly good for soy chicken dishes

I always see the owner shopping for fresh vegetables at the Farmer´s Market! I can imagine the other reviews about the buffet are accurate; I don´t think the buffet is ever the option to choose in any restaurant. For freshness and quality, order off the menu. For stuffing yourself silly, I suppose one would choose the buffet but the dining experience will never compare.


I always go back for the vegetarian hot & sour soup

I make repeat visits for this dish.


Great food

I´m chinese and I think the food is excellent. They keep the buffet fresh and there´s a huge selection. I don´t know about the other reviews. I´ve been living in SB for well over 8 yrs. This is the only place I´ll go to. If you want something more authentic, ask for the chinese menu.


yuck, what were they thinking?

The buffet is adequate but try to keep it fresh!! Nothing out of the orinary or even interesting.


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