I haven’t been to a good buffet for a really long time. Yes, there are good ones and bad ones which can’t be judged by quantity alone.

A good buffet has great selection, quality, freshness, restaurant cleanliness, and non-sour servers who know when to clear plates and refresh water/drinks.

These days, buffets are fair choices because of the kid factor. They tend to be large, noisy spaces with enough selection to satisfy both grown-ups who might have a hankering for fresh shrimp and prime rib, and children who gravitate towards pizza and ice cream. (No matter what kind of junior gourmand, pizza and ice cream will always be in the rotation.)

Dragon Pearl Buffet, Toronto

So when we had a group of 16 — including six kids aged 2 to 8 — my sister wisely suggested Dragon Pearl Buffet in North York.

I quite enjoyed how it’s fully embraced the kitsch and taken it to an impressively acceptable level. First and foremost, it’s built for groups — lots of room for birthday parties, family get-togethers, company lunches etc.

Dragon Pearl Buffet, Toronto

Look at that! There are tables INSIDE birdcages. There are also tables inside ornate dragon boats. *Slow golf claps*

I want to have my next birthday party here. And I want to sit inside a cage or a dragon boat. But only six of you can come.

Dragon Pearl Buffet, Toronto

The buffet features standard North American Chinese food like sweet and sour pork, black pepper beef, fried rice and fried noodles. Some things that stood out for me:

  • Peking duck wraps – lots of meat on each slice and the sheer demand meant they kept bringing out fresh quackers.
  • Sushi bar – mostly basic sashimi, California rolls, and one or two more creative rolls.
  • Noodle bar – handmade in front of you with a choice of three broths, and toppings. It’s super fun for kids and grownups to watch the cooks stretch out the noodles and toss them a few feet away into the huge wok.

Dragon Pearl Buffet, Toronto

The carving stations included BBQ ribs and this beauty of a prime rib.

Dragon Pearl Buffet, Toronto

It’s all impressively fresh — nothing sits for too long under the heat lamps — and the staff were obsessively wiping counters and sweeping up any fallen food.

On weekends, everyone gets half a lobster included in the meal – making a certain five-year-old prettay happy.

Dragon Pearl Buffet, Toronto

I would highly recommend making reservations as Dragon Pearl is very popular for large groups (birthday parties, family gatherings etc.). My sister informs me that if it’s your birthday month, your meal is free – as long as you’re there with four other paying customers.

Dragon Pearl Buffet, 865 York Mills Rd, Unit 2, North York, Ontario, (647) 352-2288.

Dragon Pearl hours, price