First look: Teppanyaki Grill and Supreme Buffet

Teppanyaki Buffett
Asian buffets are like drinking warm beer. You know the experience won't be as pleasant as it should be, but you also know that it will get the job done.

Another Asian buffet, Teppanyaki, has opened in the Hi-Lake Shopping Center at Lake and Hiawatha.  The Hot Dish stopped by to sample from the steam trays.


The interior of the restaurant is exceedingly spacious. There are multiple rooms with dozens of tables and booths. These are the kinds of places for large groups, as everyone can find something to eat on one of the 10 islands.  We stopped by on the late end of a weeknight but still found a fair number of diners.

Attack of the Mutant Mini-Lobsters!
One of the first things to notice at the buffet was a large pile of bright red crawfish. That's something you don't see at every buffet--and there's probably a reason. Most of the other offerings here were the same as other buffets.

The woes of Asian buffets have been well-documented by the Hot Dish in the past, and Teppanyaki Buffet does not escape those woes.

When I think Asia, I think- kielbasa?
There were dishes that were lukewarm at best, and servers who seemed either awkwardly overattentive and apologetic or dismissive bordering on rude. Why do all of these Asian buffets feel the need to add so many non-Asian foods to the buffet? We understand the desire to cater to the picky palates of prepubescents, but is pizza and macaroni and cheese necessary?  On one island, we found this kielbasa, among other oddities.

Places like Teppanyaki Buffet raise an important question for all restaurateurs who are examining the potential of a buffet:  Is it better to take the "shotgun" approach and throw a massive smattering of dishes and hope that some stick, or is it better to do a smaller number of dishes and do them well and do them right?

Compare these Asian super-buffets with some local Indian buffet restaurants and a stark difference appears. Many of the Indian buffets are significantly smaller, but the food is fresher and more focused--at Great India and Gandhi Mahal, for example. Buffets like Teppanyaki prove the point that bigger is not always better.

On right, the grill, to the left, sushi bar
It's not all bad news, however. The grill section features a decent selection of meat to have done fresh to your liking, including steak. We sampled one and found it to be reasonably good, with some nicely sauteed mushrooms. The sushi selection was a little thin at the time we were visiting, but most of the vegetarian rolls were fresh and tasty.  One roll was deep-fried and ice cold at the same time, which caused a bit of cognitive dissonance.

While Teppanyaki is a little nicer than some of the other local Asian buffets, it doesn't particularly stand out from the pack when it comes to the food. Yeah, the bottle's nice ... but it's still a warm beer.

Teppanyaki Buffet
2216 E. Lake St., Minneapolis (In the Hi-Lake Shopping Center)

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