Teppanyaki offers extensive buffet

Oriental buffet restaurants are popular for their affordable prices and wide variety of selections. Teppanyaki Hibachi Grill in Siegen Lane Marketplace goes beyond the basic buffet criteria by offering dishes with fresh ingredients, an attractive buffet layout and exceptionally friendly service.

Two replicas of the clay Chinese Warriors unearthed at Xian, China, guard the entry. The dining areas are decorated in a clean, contemporary style in simple black, white and gold tones. While being seated, a host explained the weekday lunch price is $8.99 a person for all you can eat. Water is available and an extra drink is $2. Domestic beers are $2 and premium beers, $3. Sunday dinner, which is a bit more lavish, is $12.99. Children age 3 and under eat free. Ages 4 to 11 eat for 50 cents times their age.

Teppanyaki has a huge variety of dishes from China and Japan as well as from other countries. Plates and silverware are stacked at buffet stations, including dim sum, sushi/sashimi, soup and rice, seafood, oriental dishes, American, and a salad and dessert bar.

A hibachi kitchen, set up across the back of the restaurant, is designed so you can select your own ingredients. Choose any item from seafood, beef, pork, chicken, vegetables and condiments and place them on a plate. Put the plate on the next number in order to be grilled by the hibachi cook. Your plate is then delivered to your table.

It’s a challenge deciding what to eat with so many choices. With an experienced tasting team, we sampled items from each station. If you plan exploring the food at Teppanyaki start with appetizers, then move on to something more substantial. Take your time; dine slowly to fully enjoy the experience.

Among the sushi selections, we enjoyed the dynamite roll with tiny pieces of salmon, red snapper and crab with eel sauce and spicy mayonnaise. Other exceptional choices were the cowboy roll filled with rare smoked beef and topped with smoked beef and a spicy sweet sauce and the crunchy roll filled with crab, cucumber, and shrimp tempura, creamy avocado and green onion. If you prefer a mild sushi roll, look for fillings including cream cheese and avocado.

The salad bar caught our attention with an array of Asian salads. The mango salad provided a delightful contrast of textures with fragrant mango chunks, small tender shrimp and thin crisp slices of radish. We also liked the refreshing squid salad with tender slices of squid, green bell pepper, cucumber and onions in a vinaigrette dressing. Other choices included a rather bland crab salad and a traditional cucumber and tomato salad. Also available were young green asparagus, cold sweet beets and hard boiled eggs. Guests can also create a traditional mixed salad from a variety of lettuces and vegetables and the usual dressings, such as ranch, Italian and Thousand Island.

We found the soup and rice station the least interesting. The egg drop soup, with large ribbons of egg yolk, was too greasy for our liking. The flavor of the Szechwan styled hot and sour soup was not particularly well balanced and needed a sharper tangy taste. Lo mein noodles were tender and sautéed with onions in a soy sauce blend. Fried rice was filled with peas, bits of scrambled egg and onion with almost no soy sauce in the mixture.

We especially enjoyed selecting dim sum items. Originating as “small bites” for travelers in China, various food items were taken with tea. Our favorite was the fluffy, hot steamed bun filled with small bits of sweet barbecued pork. The sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf was fragrant, but the leaf itself was hard to chew. Meant for gnawing, the chicken feet (not an American favorite) were cooked in a sweet red sauce and definitely chewy. The pineapple rice with bits of pineapple and raisin was delightful and so was the small glutinous sweet dumpling dusted with a fine coconut powder. We also like the litchi sour pork, deep fried pork tidbits served with a not too sour or sweet sauce.

The restaurant offers numerous seafood selections. The small hot wok shrimp fried in a crisp but rather bland batter can be topped with a slightly sweet sauce. The stuffed crab, different from what we expected, featured a finely ground mixture of crab, rice and onion accented with a mild, sweet seasoning. We were disappointed with the overcooked baked salmon covered in a sticky barbeque sauce. The sautéed white fish was cold and almost tasteless. Clams in shells were slightly oversteamed. The cold mussels in shells had a strong, briny flavor. However, several guests were pleased with the baked seafood, a mild and creamy blend of crab, onion and white cheeses in a cream sauce.

Deciding on a hibachi meal is a good bet at Teppanyaki. One guest was pleased with his perfectly grilled tender medium shrimp with a few pieces of beef and onion.

To complete the meal, check out items from the dessert table. Cantaloupe and honeydew melons were sweet and fragrant. The sliced kiwis were fresh and welcomed. Small pieces of banana were dipped in a sweet, strawberry sauce. The soft chocolate chip cookie was packed with excellent, large chocolate chips. Dipping marshmallows, doughnut holes or pineapple in the smooth creamy, chocolate fountain was a fun treat. Several guests declared the creamy frozen yogurt was absolutely delicious.

Teppanyaki Hibachi Grill is very clean and attractive. The wait staff was attentive and friendly.