Friday, October 28, 2011
Teppenyaki Grill (Supreme Buffet) - Minneapolis, MN
EJens had a coupon for Minnesota’s largest buffet – Teppenyaki Grill and Supreme Buffet - so he graciously invited me to come along for the experience. I initially showed up at the wrong buffet on Lake Street – the absolute other end of Lake Street, in fact – and had to phone him to figure out where he was hiding. Turns out, he was hiding at the proper restaurant and I was so excited that I had gone to the wrong place. Teppenyaki Grill is located in a strip mall complex surrounded by a liquor store and a grocery store a handful of other smaller mom and pop shops. The building housing this restaurant looked pretty substantial.
EJens and I strolled into the place and were amazed at how large it was. You walk into what amounts to the buffet area – there are 10 separate buffet stations in the middle, and then there’s a sushi bar in the back, along with a separate Mongolian grill area. This place is enormous and I would guess it could possibly be the largest buffet in Minnesota, as they have advertised. There are at least three separate huge dining rooms all filled with people. This place does a lot of business. I was stunned, amused, and horrified when I walked in and saw two different demographics of people represented here: Really large people leaning back in their booths like they had just consumed 15,000 calories and were about to die, and then a noticeable ton of old, dirty, creepy white guys with their younger, prettier, and skittish Asian wives. The kind of people I used to get smacked for saying “mail-order bride” too loudly near, when hanging out with easily embarrassed people. Yes, there were other demographics represented: Hispanics, metal guys, first dates, motorcycle guys with no sleeves, and of course, now two innocent and doe-eyed white chaps (that would be EJens and I).
EJens had a plan for this place – one plate for every buffet station. This was his strategy for eating every one of the (claimed) 250 items this place had to offer. My strategy was much more customized: eat small amounts of everything I could recognize and be willing to put into my body. As it turns out, there was a surprising amount of American food on the buffet. I assumed it would be Chinese food as far as the eye can see, but it was a ton of traditional American food.
I won’t be able to go into detail about every item I ate, but I’ll give it a decent shot, just so you know. There will be some highlights and some lo-lights included.
The black pepper chicken turned out to be surprisingly good - I was off to a good start. The Teppenyaki Chicken was mostly good, a bit of gristle in this and some fatty stuff. Beef and broccoli ended up being a little slimy, so NOT good. I had opted for some sushi from the sushi bar. The California roll was a bit mushy, but edible. The spicy tuna roll was actually good. Some random unnamed tempura-ed roll had a really sweet goo on it, but was overall good. The lo mein was extremely sub-par and the fried rice was incredibly onion-y.
It was clear after plate number one the caliber of food we were dealing with. It wasn’t good, I’m unsure how long some things had been sitting there, and I’m already wondering how these giant people in the booth across from ours look like they ate enough to feed the entire country of Zambia by themselves. Nothing to do but power through.
The pepperoni pizza was some of the worst I've ever had. The kielbasa was awful and very smoky. The sweet corn was somehow clear and flavorless. The baked potato was covered in onions and unidentifiable cheese and was floppy and flavorless. The mac and cheese was flavorless but actually looked really good. The Hong Kong chicken was decent: some sort of sweet and sour flavor on it. The roasted chicken pieces were very gristly, and had a lot of skin (I hope) on them, but had good flavor.
EJens commented that he wished he had a map, so he could A) figure out a better strategy for food priority and order, B) check things off the list to ensure he had eaten everything, and C) use a treasure map in a restaurant. EJens should be commended for eating at least one more plate than I did. I began to slow down when my body realized it was being filled with sub-State-Fair-caliber food-like substances.
The egg roll had no cinnamon flavor in it, which I thought would be good, but it had been sitting too long and was soft and flavorless. The fried spring roll was almost clear from the amount of frying that had occurred and it was also extremely cabbage-y. The cream cheese puff was also clear and there wasn't enough cream cheese, but it was edible. The steak and cheese stromboli was NOT good. The chicken nugget was bad even for a chicken nugget. Oddly, the pig in a blanket was delicious. Also, the buffalo wing was delicious.
I went to the mongolian grill area and fixed up a plate for myself. I also forgot to take a photo of this particular plate - sorry. There aren't a lot of toppings and ingredients to add, and there's no sauce for you to put on to lubricate the stuff while it's on the grill, so you get whatever watered down soy sauce the cook squirts on your food while he's cooking it. The food from the grill wasn't bad, though it did taste a bit burnt (flavor from the grill, I'm sure).
This is an octopus that EJens tried to eat, but couldn't power through more than a tentacle or two. At least it wasn't moving. Also: gross.
The donut was flavorless but was covered in sugar, so that helped. The sparerib (yes, I threw a sparerib on a plate of fruit, jello, and pudding) was extremely gristly. The honeydew, which I am a huge fan of normally, tasted and chewed JUST like a carrot, uggh. Ding ding ding: the canteloupe was surprisingly really good. The red jello and the orange jello were actually very good for buffet jello - no skin and not watery at all. The vanilla pudding actually turned out to be lemon pudding, which was a terrible shock to my system.
That, my friends, is a meatball with a shrimp shoved in it. EJens assured me it wasn't the most awful thing he ate, but it was verrrry fishy and I'm unsure how it could have cooked all the way through - either of those ingredients. Despite EJens pointing out how much I love food stuffed with other non-related foods, this wasn't my favorite thing. Also, notice the fancy chef swirl next to the small piece of prime rib I got. That's not fancy, that's grease. It was close to stopping time at this point.
Thankfully, we finished up with enough room for ice cream at the ice cream station, which shares its toppings with the incredibly weak salad bar (so weak, I didn’t even notice there was salad here). So if you want gummy bears, sprinkles, sunflower seeds, bacon bits, and croutons on your ice cream, you can do that (don’t think I wasn’t tempted). I got a bowl with strawberry, vanilla, and birthday cake ice cream. EJens did some experimentation and got some nasty ice cream he wasn’t expecting. I like to think it was fish ball and lemon ice cream, but that’s simply in my own head because I think it would be hilarious. That flavor, to my knowledge, does not exist.
What’s odd about this buffet experience was that both EJens and I left NOT feeling like we were going to die. We had certainly eaten enough to be full, but not enough to be stuffed to bursting. Yes, I was sweating grease and probably smelled of fish soup and hopelessness, but I have done far more damage to my body at just about every other buffet I’ve been to.
I would not recommend eating here. Not even if you’re a giant person or have ordered your wife out of a catalog. The food was not appealing to me and had I heard the comments from my friends when they heard where we went BEFORE I ate there, I might have given it a second thought. I apologize to those whom I offend with this review, but I won’t be back there. Ever.
Top 5 things about Teppenyaki Grill
1. Black pepper chicken
2. Spicy tuna roll
3. Pig in a blanket
5. Ice cream
Bottom 5 things
1. Pepperoni pizza
2. Baked potato
3. Beef and broccoli
4. Spare rib
2216 Lake St. E.
Minneapolis, MN 55407