The Regency Palace – Calgary, AB


Regency Palace Restaurant
328 Centre St SE
Calgary, AB T2G 4X6
(403) 777-2288

Buffet. Hot pot. Dim Sum. Banquets. Most  Chinese restaurants leave no potential profit unturned, and yet somehow, even in their bid to be all things to all people, they usually manage to turn out some pretty decent food. To me, very few chefs can rival the versatility of a Chinese restaurant chef. The sheer scope of the menu they must know inside and out,  the sheer numbers that Chinese banquet facilities are expected to service quickly, and the renown pickiness of Asian diners makes for a very high pressure situation. One where when restaurants fall, they can really collapse badly.

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The Regency Palace is one of the premier banquet facilities in Calgary. Able to accommodate up to 700 people, it is often used for Chinese weddings and other celebrations. Most of the time i’ve been to the Regency has been for such events. And the food is usually quite good.

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On a recent week night, some friends and I decided to partake in their hot pot deal/meal. For $24.95, you get all you can eat (AYCE) hotpot, and buffet. When i arrive at 7:30pm, i wasnt quite prepared for what I saw. A completely empty restaurant, with the exception of one two top, and our own table. It was completely desolate.

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Now i’ve been here before on a weeknight, and while it is never extremely busy, usually there are a decent selection of people. The food we’ve ordered off the menu has been ok, but no where near the quality of their banquet food. I’m not sure if the lesser chefs work on the quiet weeknights, but it’s never as good. This weeknight, with everyone getting the all you can eat hotpot and buffet, we don’t get a chance to order off the menu.

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Hotpot ingredients are taken from a self-service bar. The hotpot “bar” has an extremely wide selection of food, of varying qualities. On the positive side, they put out fairly low quantities and refresh fairly often. Popular items are turned over fairly quickly, resulting in some fairly fresh ingredients. On the downside, due to the vast selection of ingredients, many are left sitting on ice for hours on end. In a quieter location, i generally prefer the Gold Wonton method – they bring out whatever is ordered, rather than self service. With a large selection of ingredients, and sauces, they definitely have a very comprehensive list of ingredients available.

Unfortunately, the Regency Palace has only one kind of broth, which is fairly mediocre. Not a lot of flavour, but it doesnt detract from the ingredients either.  Service is very attentive, though the staff to customer ratio was a bit ridiculous.

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The cooked food bar is something completely different. Something straight out of University memories of Foody Goofy and 7.95 AYCE buffet, the food is poor, much of it deep fried and breaded, and while the selection is vast, the food is barely edible. I choked down a few dishes, hoping without hope that I would not be charged a “waste” charge on my plate for all the uneaten food. Thankfully, I was not.

Overall, for $24.95, even with the extensive variety, this is not a good deal by any stretch of the imagination. The food quality is fairly poor, and the buffet would fit the “avoid at all costs” category for me. It’s unfortunate, as they really do do a decent job of serving banquet food. However, if you’ve been to a wedding at the Regency Palace, and were thinking of trying it out for dinner – don’t. You’re better off trying somewhere else. Neither the menu, nor the hotpot deal are really all that worthwhile.

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8 thoughts on “The Regency Palace – Calgary, AB

  1. I always wonder how about the higher priced AYCE´s, especially the hot pots, as I´ve never had the luxury of trying one. I´ll have to wrangle a few friends up one of these days and track on down in Edmonton!

    On another note, I totally agree with the hot food tables. The quality can be so poor it is amazing, and it surely doesn´t show the skill of some restaurants.

  2. I’ve had the same experience–decent banquet food but horrid lunch buffet and very mediocre dinner. However, the dim sum on weekends when it is busy is okay, especially because it is pretty fresh for push-cart service.

    I also prefer the “you get what you order” method of service for hot pot. I know some restaurants, like Happy Hill, bring out hot pot ingredients like this but still only charge an AYCE price.

  3. The buffet at Regency sucks, yes. I’ve never had the AYCE hot pot, but have had the buffet there, and no, it isn’t very good at all.

    Ordering off the menu, however, is a completely different story. Night and day difference. Their dim sum on weekends is pretty good too, but where Regency Palace really excels, (apart from banquets), is ordering off the menu, or more appropriately, (since I often order things not “on the menu”), a la carte…

    You’d never know it from trying the buffet though.

    As for the ‘emptiness’ of the restaurant, that can be common at Regency for some reason… But more importantly, every time I’ve gone, the server to clientele ratio has always been outstanding. Especially for a chinese restaurant – the service is not only existent, but it’s actually quite good. To compare, one of the managers at the cockroach-and-mice-infested U and Me once told me “…people don’t like Chinese restaurants for service, they come for cheap food…” whereas Jack Lee, manager at Regency Palace told me “…I’m in the service industry…” Interesting comparison, and if you’ve ever been to both, you’ll have experienced the difference…

    Anyways, nice blog – keep up the good work!

    DM

  4. DM – service is definitely better than your average Chinese restaurant. A distinct lack of surliness, which is a nice change.

    However, i’d say the menu is quite hit and miss. I’ve had some great items off the menu (sauteed pea shoots were awesome), but some disappointing ones too (three courses of Peking duck. The skin was terrible). As with many places, i guess i just feel the menu is very hit and miss depending on what you order.

  5. We flew all the way from Hong Kong to Calgary for my mom’s 80th b-day only. Unfortunately, the quality of the food was totally dissatisfied and the only comment – the dinner was way over-priced (CAD12xx).

    VIP Room
    The given VIP room seems like a reception area or a lounge bar, nearing the entrance. Staffs were even working (i.e. clean up glasses, doing some tableware) while we were having dinner. It was so annoying and disrespectful.

    Braise Supreme Shark’s Fin:
    A bowl of Bean sprouts with countable low graded shark’s fin on top. It tasted so salty and the Shark’s fin wasn’t supreme at all.

    Braised Whole Fresh Abalone in Chicken Sauce:
    The abalones were cheap canned type, The chef probably only needed a microware for making the dish. The source tasted the same as used for the Shark’s fin.

    Braised Sea Cucumber with Vegetable:
    I was impressed by the size of the plate, not anything on it. The vegetable was so salty and difficult to chew. The sea cucumber was ridiculously unacceptable! Again, the same source

    Couple Jumbo Scallops:
    It shouldn’t be hard to buy good scallops in Canada. The so-called “Jumbo” ones were small and tiny ones, with roughly estimated 1.2 inches in diameter. The worst thing was that some were sliced into two.

    Steamed Fish with Soya Sauce:
    Each one of us was served a very small portion of such low graded fish. If the chief wasn’t sure how to cook fishes like Grouper, Coral Grouper, etc, it might be better to serve the whole low graded fish, at least, to fill up our stomach.

    Noodle with soup:
    The crappy noodle tasted like Rubber band! It tasted horrible and sucks! The soup was just plain tasteless like water.

    The birthday buns
    It looks like to me that the chief wasn’t know how much time it needed to steam up the buns, some were remained cold inside. (This is quite a big surprise for every one of us)

    We had 7 people and paid CAD 12xx for such disappointing dinner, it costs more than CAD 170 for each one of us. I understand that business means making profits, but most importantly, recurring clients are the major source of future revenue. There is a thin line between ripping off and making profits. The overall qualities of food and the waiter’s bad attitude have forced me to write this message; we were so pissed off. The restaurant should speak to the chief and the waiter, at least, to ask the chief changing the menu or lower the price by at least 30%.

    (Why would this restaurant do something like that for us, especially on my Mom’s 80th birthday?)

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