Steve's Gastronomic Home Page

Beijing Lili Super Chinese Buffet-East (Closed)

10501 Gateway West
El Paso, TX

Beijing Lili East Restaurant with a Super Buffet and Mongolian Grill

Beijing Lili East is the original restaurant that has since branched to the west side, and was a fixture at the northwest corner of Interstate 10 and Yarbrough Drive long before the current explosion of Asian restaurants began in El Paso.

Beijing Lili East really has two sides to it: the "super buffet" that brings in most of the customers and the menu (in contrast, Beijing Lili West serves food exclusively from the menu). The buffet at the east side location consists primarily of Americanized, MSG-laden, fried food with gloppy sauces. I cannot put a good face on it because I think it is substandard food, and is not even Chinese as I know Chinese food to be. Beijing Lili, Hong Kong Buffet, and Howah seem to be competing with each other to see who can serve buffet food with the highest MSG content. Probably the taste of the food at any of these restaurants would not be so bad if I could eat it, but I will not knowingly subject myself to anything that regularly produces migraine headaches and which is not healthy in any case.

Mongolian Barbecue
Mongolian Barbecue can be made with any ingredients desired

The buffet's main redeeming quality is the Mongolian Barbecue in which the food is freshly cooked and the customer can control the ingredients that go into it. It is somewhat hard to describe the flavor of the barbecue since each one has individualized ingredients. I prefer to let the chef pick out the sauces to be used, and I usually follow his suggestion to include some chile sauce for some spice.

The chef who cooks the Mongolian barbecue also does a very decent job with some of the menu items. As the only chef at the restaurant who is from China, I ask for him to prepare my meals when I place an order, and his cooking skill is the basis for my repeated visits to Beijing Lili East.

Noodles Beijing style
Noodles Beijing style

Noodles Beijing Style (shown in picture) was a surprisingly authentic and delicious dish that is offered on the dinner menu. This was a soup with a dark and rich flavored broth, egg noodles, and flavorful beef on top. I am not much of a beef eater, but served this way it was delicious (the picture makes it look as if the bowl is filled with beef, but it was actually layered on top of the noodles so that the quantity of meat served is not out of proportion). One of the best features of the dish was the Chinese pickes that are popular on the west coast, but do not seem to be served much in the Southwest. I had become familiar with Beijing style noodle soup at Moon Day, the restaurant owned by the real "Beijing Lili" (Lili is no longer associated with the restaurants bearing her name). The soup at Moon Day uses wheat noodles, a type that is commonly found in northern Chinese cooking. The dish at Beijing Lili East was made with egg noodles (I was informed that was all they had). While this does not seem to be the truly authentic version of the soup, everything else was impressive enough to really make the dish enjoyable.

The noodle dish I ordered was a recommendation of the cook, and it turned out to be a good one. There did not seem to be many other choices for the type of non-Americanized Chinese food I seek, but based on what I have sampled it would be worth seeking out. I found the restaurant to be very helpful, and they probably get so few requests for authentic Chinese food they are glad to prepare it as a welcome change from the type of food they normally serve in order to meet the expectations of most customers.

Lunch specials are also available, of which I have availed myself quite often over the years to obtain some fairly decent food without MSG. Although Beijing Lili is quite near my office, I have usually opted to go to other restaurants in the area such as Shan Dong and other Asian restaurants that I thought served better food. Beijing Lili always had fairly decent items for lunch, but I never thought they were the best.

One problem with Beijing Lili is that if you even attempt to order from the menu some of the new waiters might look at you funny, as if they are not quite sure how the procedure would work if you do not take your food from the buffet. I also think it is a little strange that all patrons have to get a receipt at the cashier in order to exit the front door to show that they have paid for the buffet (the restaurant does not really expect that anyone will order from the menu).

Although Chinese buffets tend to be quite mediocre, this is still what is popular on the east side, and really thoughout much of the U.S. This is almost exclusively what Beijing Lili East is all about.



Cuisine: Chinese
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Tea: Jasmine (brewed)
MSG: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Buffet: Yes
Special Features: Mongolian Grill

Most Recent Visit
Mar. 5, 2007

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Item
Noodles Beijing Style

Special Ratings
Noodles Beijing Style:
Mongolian Grill: