Restaurant Review #49: Teppanyaki Grill and Buffet (East Brunswick, NJ)

This plate contains a fried frog’s leg, spring roll, dumplings, stuffed mushroom, boneless spare-rib, coconut shrimp, bacon-wrapped scallop, and broccoli (to make myself feel healthy).

Not many buffets can claim a five-star rating from the New York Times. While I might not go that far, Teppanyaki is definitely the best buffet around in terms of quality and range of dishes. We’ve all been to that Asian buffet where everything is greasy, sometimes cold, and no better than glorified takeout. This place does not fit the mold, and the price seems way too low ($15) especially since there is a similar buffet less than two miles away on Route 18 which charges $10 more. Their sushi selection will not blow you away, but where the hot food comes in you cannot go wrong. They have every Chinese classic imaginable combined with other, more unique dishes. They even have lobster, which will be a source of humor and intrigue later on in this review.

I love Teppanyaki for one reason: there is a little bit of everything. Aside from the usuals like General Tso’s Chicken and chicken with broccoli, etc x 100, you can actually get yourself some authentic Chinese food. Frog legs, pig feet, chicken feet, tripe, you name it. Things that would scare the daylights out of most Americans and would certainly never be ordered are now sitting there, ready to be sampled. You have to admit, if you have the chance to try something new at a buffet you have to take it. After all, if you don’t like it, you can just get another plate of something else. Can’t do that in a normal sit-down restaurant. The pig and chicken feet didn’t have enough meat to get me back for seconds, but those frog legs were something else. Deep fried to a crisp, seasoned, and tossed with grilled peppers and onions. Crispy, salty, and made even better when dipped in some of that garlic soy sauce they have for the dumplings. Do you want to bring it up or should I? Yes, it tastes just like chicken.

Their coconut shrimp are outstanding, the dough on the dumplings nice and thin, the boneless spare-ribs are not just sugary balls of fat, and they have a bacon-wrapped scallop that you would think just came off your barbecue grill. If you’re more into seafood, there are a plethora of shrimp dishes as well as stone crab, two or three kinds of fish (including salmon) and the elusive ginger lobster. This is where the comic relief comes in. They seem to only put out the lobster every half hour or so. Problem is, it’s gone within the first five minutes of it being put out. Literally, as you navigate your way around the aisles of food, you will see a horde of people gathered around where the lobster tray is. They stalk it like a hunter in the woods waiting for the deer. They’ll tackle you and elbow their way through women and children to get their fix. It would be terrifying if it wasn’t so God damn funny watching these tiny Chinese people claw their way past gigantic, food-vacuum Americans to get their lobster. When you actually do get a chance to try it (or I should say, if), you will find it to be quite good. Tender, good flavor from the ginger, and messy as hell. Don’t mind getting your hands dirty there.

For dessert, if you have room, there are about ten kinds of ice cream. Green tea flavored is my favorite. They also have some cookies and tiny slices of cake. Nothing to write home about there. Don’t worry about saving space for them.

Teppanyaki literally has everything. There is even a hibachi grill where you can pick out ingredients for them to cook for you. Anyone can eat here. The person looking for an adventure, the close-minded American, people wanting to stuff their face, those watching their weight (there are enough fish and veggie dishes to accomplish this), and even the kids (pizza and chicken fingers await—it just annoys me when I see so many adults eating them). All of this for $15. I am going to give them 4 out of 5 stars, which is very high for a buffet. Do give this place a try. East Brunswick happens to be a mini Mecca for multiculturalism, which is evident in their selection of restaurants. This also includes four—count ’em, four—Asian buffets all within two miles of each other. One is super expensive, one is a dump (so I was told), then there is a place called Hao (I ate at their other, former location in Middletown) which was really good, and then this one here.



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