101 Mom's Buffet (Willits)

A sign for a “lamb sandwich”, the lamb equivalent of roujiamo, a “Chinese hamburger”, caught my eye. I’d already eaten dinner elsewhere (ed.) but I thought I’d share the tip. The Chinese American buffet items looked like… buffet items and they have a Chinese-only signboard which I’ll post below.

1482 S Main St, Willits, CA 95490

I am missing the point. Are you trying to say that their roujiamo (Chinese hamburger) not very good?

I didn’t eat there— Chinese hamburgers are a rare enough sight in the Bay Area that I felt it meaningful to mention (Willits is about 120 miles north of SF)

I see. I didn’t know these Chinese hamburgers are rarely in the Bay Area.

Some items on the menu I have not seen often in the Bay Area and look very interesting (and authentic). Do you know where the chef is from?

Edited to add: from left to right:
Toisan pork bone congee
Seafood congee
salt pepper baked pigeon
salt pepper baked quail
je je range chicken
Hainan range chicken
Goat brisket ‘dry sauteed’ rice noodle
Goat brisket ‘i don’t know how to translate’ rice
Goat brisket congee
Goat brisket lo mein
Lan Zhou pulled noodle
Xian goat bun

It is very impressive that you found real Chinese cooking in Willits. I have not had luck finding such cooking outside of Bay Area- I still deeply regretted my dubious decision to eat fake Chinese years ago in Medford. Great calligraphy too.

Awesome find! Were you there to ride the Skunk Train?

@sck thank you so much for the translation! A lamb sandwich was a surprising enough find— lanzhou hand pulled noodles, if they are good and what they say they are, could be a diamond in the rough

I didn’t ask where the chef was from, but will call later in the week to find out.

@Souperman Ha, no skunk train— my wife and I were returning from a trip near Redwoods National Park. We’ll be heading past Mom’s Buffet again a few times by the end of the year, and I’ll call in a lamb sandwich for a grab and go on the next trip if they’re open (I can also clarify whether the “lamb” is goat as per to @sck’s translation) .

There’s a Chinese only, family dinner menu from their website. Can someone help me out with the meaning of the vertical writing (I think it says something about the chef)? Here’s my go at translating the dishes:

2-3 person
Seafood porridge
Bean sprout chow mein
You tiao (Chinese long doughnuts)
Salt and pepper chicken wings
Seasonal fruits

3-5 person, add on
Singapore style rice noodle
? Fried rice

5-8 person, add on
Salt and pepper shrimp with head
Crisp fried big fat crab 香酥大肥蟹
Ginger green onion lobster

It appeared to me the sandwich was lamb, the other dishes goat (“mountain lamb”)

Traditionally speaking, 醬油皇炒麵 usually has yellow chives, but many places skim on that.
I think “皇阿玛炒飯” is either a made up dish name or a very peculiar dish. Words for words, it means Emperor Father’s Fried Rice, but I have never heard of this dish.

椒鹽無頭蝦 is Salt and pepper headless shrimps

Nothing unusual. Just two poems. The top one hints the chef is from San Francisco. It states: Come from Old Gold Mountain (the old name for San Francisco), there must be expert. <-- this suggests the chef or the owner is from San Francisco.

1 Like

Let’s hope they will still be open next time you pass though.


FWIW, my reading of the following items in Chinese translates to:

je je range chicken

  • 啫啫山地鸡 - Zhe Zhe Mountain Chicken - this is a clay pot stew, based on google, there are lots of names for this dish with slight variations on the ‘mountain’ aspect, the zhe zhe comes from sound of the chicken sizzling in the clay pot

Hainan range chicken

  • Hainan mountain chicken (Hainan has mountains?)

Goat brisket ‘i don’t know how to translate’ rice

  • 烩飯 - basically a risotto/paella, not as wet as congee

Xian goat bun

  • this is likely to be just a cumin lamb chinese ‘burger’ or jia mo - 夹馍

I called them up and tried to learn where the chef is from, but we had difficulty communicating. In the event you wanted to stop there for hand pulled noodles, I think the gentlemen on the phone said you need to arrange ahead of time to ensure the chef is there. The lamb burgers were available when I stopped by on Monday night.

(707) 459-1628

Right now this is the biggest mystery of all. Who are their customers for the Chinese language items? In the past improbable authentic Chinese food has been ultimately explained by nearby Chinese students or tourists. Any casinos in the neighborhood?

I like your logic. Yes, there are 4 Indian Casinos on Hwy 101 within 40 miles of Willits, including one (Sherwood Valley) right in Willits.

The chef is there part time?

Probably don’t need the chef to cook the everyday buffet items.

We ate dinner there 7/11. The person running the place did not want to cook anything on the menu and said that the Xijiang skewers were unavailable on a Monday night so we decided on the $15/pp buffet - big mistake. One could have subsisted on the shrimp and crab legs, as did most patrons, but since I go into anaphylactic shock with crustaceans, not a good plan for me. The buffet food was bad and managed to hit all the horrible cliches of such dishes - the beef in the beef and broccoli was limp due to over exposure to baking soda, the broccoli were getting to the yellow of overcooked; the orange chicken was dessert sweet and had a heavy hand with the cornstarch and the food coloring was a neon orange; the kung pao chicken had that sewer-like brown sauce and had no relationship beyond the chicken and peanuts to the actual dish; the Green beans were decently cooked -wok not quite hot enough but overwhelmed by the salt; the egg rolls were competent but tasteless, just cabbage. This was a chastening experience.

That really sucks :frowning:

Does anyone have recommendations for backup places in Willits?

At 7:15pm on a Sunday, they were out of the “pulled lamb sandwich.” I’m taking @Ericruo’s warning and eating Mexican tonight.

Saturday at 12:30 seemed like as good a time as any to get the lamb sandwich. I called from the highway and ordered a pork sandwich because they didn’t have the lamb. They’re $2.50 each, minimum of two per order.

In the tradition of adapting dishes to local tastes and quick, affordable preparations, the bread wasn’t the homemade puck pictured on their sign and the filling wasn’t the fatty, intensely flavored chopped pork used in Bay Area ro jia mo. Four supermarket whole wheat pita halves were filled with a mixture of ground pork, scallions, and soy sauce. A garnish of fresh chopped basil elevated the meat filling. It was a tasty, but simple sandwich.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to get this again, but I enjoyed these more than my last meal in Willits, dinner at Super Taco. I can imagine combining this with fries at the McDonalds next door for a quick dinner on the road.