Fayetteville buffets face uncertainty, but many diners ready to return

Buffet diners of all ages queue close together, plates and silverware perhaps already in hand, waiting for their turn to help themselves to the communal dishes of food

Serving utensils are shared and sometimes errantly switched from one dish to another. Spills happen.

The fact that most buffets are equipped with clear sneeze guards is a reminder that there has always been a little bit of risk involved. 

But when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in March 2020 and restaurant dining rooms closed, buffets ground to a halt. The heat lamps and steam tables went cold. The chocolate fountains, under whose cascading flows countless cubes of pound cake, fruit and undoubtedly children’s hands once enrobed, dried up. 

Some have questioned what role buffets have in a post-pandemic world. But for a number of Fayetteville-area buffets, the last 18 months have been a time of closure, loss, adaptation and for some,

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Every restaurant and what to order

Built in the shell of an old Target in Mesa, the Mekong Plaza food mall offers the largest selection of Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino and Taiwanese restaurants under one roof in the the Valley.

Interspersed between the restaurants and food stalls are beauty salons, bakeries, gift shops and smaller stores selling medicinals and Asian jerky. You could easily spend a day exploring the vast indoor mall, which is anchored by the Mekong Market grocery store, one of the best places to shop for specialty sauces and herbs. 

Choosing from more than a dozen food options is an overwhelming task, so I did the legwork for you and ate at every restaurant and food stall in Mekong Plaza. 

Here’s your guide to what to order at Arizona’s biggest Asian food court.

Bánh Mì Pho Gà at Unphogettable

The Bánh Mì Pho Gà at Unphogettable was lightly toasted.

Across from the main grocery store, Unphogettable is probably the most approachable restaurant in the

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