The buffet opened in October in the plaza across from Glenbrook Square. My dining companion and I ventured over there for dinner one night last week.
Everything about this place is large, from the fountain just inside the door to the size of the room to the number of buffet tables. I counted eight, plus a sushi bar and hibachi grill.
The restaurant features a mishmash of Chinese, Japanese and American cuisine, sort of grouped by categories.
Diners are shown to a table where a server takes drink orders, and then you're free to belly up to the buffet tables. We checked them out before plotting our strategy.
I started at the sushi bar, where I ran into trouble communicating with an employee. I was asking which sushi rolls were made with raw fish, but he couldn't understand me. Finally, another employee pointed out the raw-fish sushi. It would have been helpful if the restaurant would put up a sign.
I tried a California roll, which tasted like every other California roll I've ever eaten, with the usual diced cucumber, imitation crab and avocado. It was fine.
The sweet crab roll was filled with a tasty cream cheese mixture; it was so good I went back and got a second one.
The third roll I tasted, basically sticky rice with a piece of imitation crabmeat on top, was forgettable.
My companion wandered around the buffet tables, settling on macaroni and cheese, ribs, black pepper chicken, Thailand chicken, fried bananas, stick chicken, an egg roll, and a crab Rangoon. The only thing he didn't finish was the egg roll.
The other food was passable, but nothing really stood out to him, maybe because food loses something when it sits for a while in a steam tray. You know what he had the highest praise for? The plate of fruit he brought back to the table. The pineapple, melon and kiwi were fresh and ripe.
He finished off dinner with a few scoops of ice cream — which he noted was hard as a rock — from the self-serve cooler.
I filled my plate with coconut shrimp, hibachi rice, hibachi chicken, string beans, crab Rangoon and mushrooms. The coconut shrimp was probably the best. The shrimp were tender and sweet. The hibachi chicken had decent flavor but was overcooked to the point you needed a knife to cut it — but we didn't have any at the table.
The string beans weren't bad — just barely cooked so they were still crunchy and in a sauce (maybe soy-based?) that enhanced their flavor. The mushrooms were simply cooked mushrooms. I tasted mostly cream cheese in the crab Rangoon.
Since it's an all-you-can-eat buffet, I went back for Italian shrimp, which was served in a delicious, rich, creamy sauce. I also tried some General Tso chicken, which I expected to be spicy. It was not. Despite some red flakes in the sauce, it didn't have a kick at all.
That might be my biggest complaint with this buffet. The food was edible. Some of it was even good. You could certainly fill yourself to bursting. But nothing we tried was outstanding.
Were my taste buds not working properly, or was it the food? Everything just seemed to taste flat. Even the ice cream (which was hard to get out of the container) seemed lacking in flavor.
Service was OK. Our server was polite and smiled, cleared away our growing pile of empty dishes, and took care of our check.
One thing we didn't try — and maybe we should have — was the hibachi grill, where you choose your meat and vegetables and your dish is cooked while you wait, for no extra charge.
And it is all-you-can-eat, just as the buffet is. It would have been nice to have eaten a hot, fresh, just-prepared entree.
We left Teppanyaki Grill not having tried even half the food offered. Maybe we missed the really good items, although most of what we stayed away from were deep-fried foods that didn't appeal to us.
The eatery is family-friendly, and there were lots of kids present. It's a good place to go for a lot of food at a pretty cheap price. But if you want more of a fine dining experience, stick to a restaurant rather than a buffet.
Every other Tuesday, Cindy Larson describes a one-time dining experience at an area restaurant. The News-Sentinel pays for meals. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. You can reach her at 461-8284 or email@example.com. To read other columns, go to www.news-sentinel.com/section/LARSON.
Teppanyaki GrillWhere: 285 E. Coliseum Blvd. E.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; and 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Alcohol served: No
Credit cards accepted? Yes
Teppanyaki Grill is strictly a buffet-style restaurant, with a vast choice of American, Chinese and Japanese foods, a sushi bar, and a hibachi grill.
The lunch buffet, served 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, is $6.89 for ages 11 and older; $4.50 for ages 7-10; $3.50 for ages 3-6; and free 2 and younger.
The dinner buffet, served from 3:30 p.m. to close Monday-Saturday and all day Sunday, is $9.89 for ages 11 and older; $5.75 for ages 7-10; $4.75 for ages 3-6; and free 2 and younger.
Drinks are $1.49 with free refills. A 10 percent gratuity will be charged to parties of more than 10 people.