Villa 8: not great

Aug. 5, 2010, 9:50 a.m.

I had high hopes about Villa 8 in Mountain View. Unfortunately, I was soon disappointed.

I have wanted to try its pan-Asian cuisine since the place opened. The large buffet, replete with staples such as a sushi bar, a soup selection and chicken skewers, is reminiscent of the smorgasbord at my favorite restaurant in high school. The gigantic building at the corner of Villa Street in downtown Mountain View is quite the location, especially as it’s near the wondrous Verde Tea.

But I was wrong.

Walking into Villa 8, I heard a disembodied voice. There was no hostess. Instead, the faceless sound of a woman’s voice greeted our party upon entrance to the dining area. I watched my party parse the variety of options at Villa 8, ranging from hot and sour soup to dim sum to raw oysters.

For the 90 minutes or so that we dined at Villa 8, I saw just one dish refreshed on the buffet, apart from the sushi. When I saw an employee bring out a dish of dim sum at minute 75, I had two thoughts. First, dim sum here was not that great. Second, was this the only dish being refilled? It was unsettling to think that the food had been sitting out for an extended period.

Also, at one point it appeared the sushi chef had hurt himself. My dining partner immediately lost his color when he saw what could have been dirt or blood on the sushi chef’s shirt as the chef conversed with the servers and pointed at his arm.

To add insult to this apparent injury, the main waiter was drinking some beer with his dinner and served us. He smelled of alcohol as he took our orders and served our food.

The food was sub-par. The shark fin soup was gelatinous, thick and flavorless. The chicken skewers had too much gristle. The pot stickers were all right, but the honey chicken was appalling. The crab legs were briny and I would not dare trust their raw oysters.

Villa 8 is an eat-at-your-own-risk type of buffet. Perhaps my hopes were set too high or I caught them a bad time, but I was sorely disappointed by dinner. Some improvement, however, came with dessert: the soft-serve was good, the sesame balls were decent and one member of my party adored the egg tarts.


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