400 Moffett Blvd
Mountain View, CA
My family used to rave about the authentic delicious Sichuan dishes served at Trend. I never got to visit it with my family. Recently, they have introduced a buffet to their restaurant. The buffet items sounded pretty good, so my family paid a visit on my last trip.
In addition to a buffet area, you have the option of also ordering items off the menu as part of the buffet. So for a set price ($12.99), you get to choose foods from the buffet, and any foods not in the buffet section which are listed on their regular menu, you can order as well and they prepare you smaller portions of these dishes. You just have to make sure you don't order more than you can eat, or they will charge you if you have too many leftovers. The menu is extensive!
In Taiwan, we had encountered this unlimited menu ordering buffet style for a fixed price at many restaurants. For $12.99 this seemed too good to be true. And, unfortunately, it was.
We started off with the buffet section. I couldn't identify most of the dishes, and most of the dishes were bland and tasteless. Their advertisement had listed items in their buffet like scallion pancakes, chive pockets, dim sum, potstickers.
On this plate is chive pocket, potsticker, clam, tofu, thousand year egg, egg tart, red bean paste dumpling, pumpkin mochi cake and bamboo. The chive pocket, red bean cake and potsticker were almost inedible. The skin was so tough and hard and thick. The egg tarts tasted nothing like egg tarts. The tofu and clams were okay. The only thing I really enjoyed was the pumpkin cake. The pumpkin is chewy, like mochi. It wasn't very sweet, but the red bean filling is very sweet. Slightly too oily, but other than that I enjoyed it.
I also got some of the items on their mini steamers.
While these steamed items tasted okay, they also tasted and looked exactly like the ones that you can buy from the frozen section of Ranch 99.
The buffet was constantly during our visit, with more and more dishes coming out. Unfortunately, all of them were pretty bland. I had some fish, mapo tofu, sweet soy milk and duck soup. After a while, I gave up on the buffet section. We decided to order some dishes off their menu.
We ordered a fried cruller.
The fried cruller tasted pretty good, and went well with the hot soy milk offered in the buffet section.
We also ordered a shrimp crispy rice dish.
This was okay. One of the better dishes from our meal. Not as flavorful as ones I've had at other places. It also didn't sizzle as loudly when they put in the liquid like you normally will hear.
We also ordered a spicy boiled beef, which my family says this restaurant used to make very well.
This was a disappointment. In chinese, the dish literally means "water cooked beef." And that is what it tasted like. No flavor at all other than spice. It tasted like the beef was cooked in spicy water.
We also ordered a sauteed shrimp. This dish is supposed to be shrimp only so we were surprised to see the cucumbers and peppers inside the dish.
The shrimp were pretty decent in size. However, they were salty. And the addition of the cucumbers and peppers completely changed the taste of this dish. The sauteed shrimp dish is supposed to allow you to enjoy the simplicity of the shrimp alone. Cooked with cucumbers and peppers, the shrimp absorbed the flavors of the vegetables, so that you cannot enjoy the the sweet and subtle tastes of pure shrimp.
I'm a big fan of pork intestines, so I wanted to order at least one intestine dish. We ended up going with pork intestines with tofu.
Out of all the dishes we ordered off of the menu, this was the biggest one. Unfortunately, it was also the worst one. One bite into the intestine and it was like I had licked a salt block. It was overwhelming in saltiness. It was so bad, we had to tell the manager, who immediately whisked it back into the kitchen before we could even say we just didn't want it anymore. A few minutes later, the dish was back on our table, with the tofu now mashed rather than in whole pieces. The dish was still extremely salty and we gave up on it.
We ordered a tofu seafood claypot.
This dish was not made very well, though it was edible. The fish used was not the tender, flavorful fillets you usually find at chinese restaurants. The tofu didn't look very pretty either.
Finally, we ordered a fish fillet cooked in wine sauce. I didn't take any pictures. By this point, I had pretty much lost interest in documenting the experience, as it was not a pleasant one. The fish dish was probably the second worst dish of the day. The sauce was very very sweet, not at all like how a wine sauce should be.
A lot of the dishes we attempted to order they were either out of it, or they claimed it was at the buffet, though we never saw it. The staff was clearly overwhlemed with the new buffet system. And the kitchen was suffering as well, trying to churn out both buffet dishes and regular menu dishes. We were all very disappointed with this experience.