READERS' PICK: Rose Garden was recently named one of the Top 10 Chinese Restaurants in the country by USA Today. Who are we to argue with USA Today, especially since they could buy us out from their petty cash jar? (Just kidding, sirs! Buy the Daily Star, instead.) Seriously, the Yu family has, in short order, found a winning formula of the highest magnitude with their massive buffet. Rose Garden has grown in only a few years from a neighborhood enclave to one of the town's biggest restaurants. Along the way, they didn't just get bigger, they got even better. No one can walk away hungry here because they couldn't find something they liked among the rows and rows of offerings. The menu also offers more than 100 Cantonese and Szechuan entrées. Central to the buffet scheme is a Mongolian-style grill. There your personal selection of veggies, noodles, chicken, pork, beef, and garlic-, ginger- and soy-based sauces to taste, is dropped off for quick-cooking and then brought back to you steaming hot. While you wait that two or three minutes, you can check out the soup selection and the already prepared entrées, such as Orange Chicken, Singapore Noodles, or Beef and Green Beans. After that, there is an entire dessert and fresh fruit section to explore. If you're in a hurry, ravenously hungry, or a combination of the two, the Rose Garden is the place to go.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Guilin Chinese Restaurant, 3250 E. Speedway Blvd. Guilin is one of those ancient Chinese secrets most people miss. Except, of course, the wily Tucson Weekly voters who are hip to a tasty thang. Upon entering the location, a former Whataburger on Speedway, one is surprised to find a taoist-like serenity, especially considering that it's only six feet from a major thoroughfare. The extensive menu offers many vegetarian and vegan choices for those hardcore masochists who deny themselves even cheese. The food is prepared with 90 percent less oil and no MSG for you glutamataphobes. Lunchtime is U Get E-Z with crazy-quick service and 42 inexpensive lunch specials, 22 of them without meat. Lunch specials are complete meals with choice of egg drop or hot-and-sour soup, egg roll, or chicken wing and fried or steamed rice. Also, in a show of neighborly hospitality, they offer a 10 percent discount for UA faculty and students with proper ID. On top of all that, our fortune cookie was right on the money when it said that the real reason we enjoy Chinese food is that we like eating our soup with a spoon rest.