Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hibachi Grill

and Supreme Buffet
8925 Watson Rd
St Louis, MO

We all failed to plan ahead, we all blamed each other, we are family after all, we put the 'dis' in dysfunctional.
So the conversation heading out the door went like this.
"Okay, how about Chinese?"
" Where?"
"I don't know, Festus maybe."
"I'd rather go to a place with more variety, like the Hibachi Grill."
That's a long way."
"About twenty minutes."
"Not at rush hour."
"It's not rush hour, it's Saturday."
"Oh."
So we went.
The Place:
Just past the defunct Crestwood Mall.
A large place, very large, there's no mistaking it for a gas station or a book store. We stepped inside to the large, heavily decorated foyer. On either side of the door, large, bright enameled vases stood next to large bamboo plants. They spare no expense on the Asian themed decorating. In this big place it was all bigger and brighter, gaudier.
The themed decor was thick in the main dining area as well. Even the buffet lines, one full sized serving line was encased in varnished blonde wood built as a boat. There were ceiling panels painted as a bright blue sky with puffy white clouds. Fat, bald brass icons, bamboo, silkscreen art, it was all there. There was no mistaking this place for anything other than a Chinese buffet.
They put a lot of money into Hibachi Grill, nothing about it looked like it came from the budget end of a restaurant supply company. It all looked custom and expensive.
We were taken to a table and we situated and ordered our drinks, tea, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi.
The Food:
Mmmmm, buffet... and a big one. Dozens of chickens and porks and fish, shrimp, froglegs, and those snotty shelled slugs and mussels. Lots of rice, noodles and of course the obligatory wrapped and fried savory treats and rolls.
Lots of purely American offerings as well. Mac and cheese, ribs and something they called hot dog pie. These were inch long chunks of hotdog wrapped in brown and shiny pie crust, deep fried I assumed.
I hadn't had Chinese in a while so I was game for almost anything, maybe not the hot dog pie though. As is my custom I tried a couple of chunks of nearly all the chicken, General Tsao's, Crispy, Honey, Teryaki, sesame. I also grabbed a couple of rangoons and something called a lobster roll.   It looked like a long wonton wrapper wrapped around a Slim Jim and deep fried. I had low expectations but I cannot walk by lobster very often, even if it is fake lobster.
I knew there was that chance since I'd also grabbed a couple of toothpick-pinned krab wrapped in bacon. The fried rice did not tempt me, it was bright orange. I have no idea how they got it that orange short of melting down some safety cones. The noodles looked more traditional though so I slapped a big pile onto my plate. then there were the steamy and bright red crawdads.
That was about it, a plateful of food, plenty of variety.
Angel was already back to the seat with a seafood pile on her plate. She likes mussels and clams and that sort of thing, so there was a lot of that. She'd also grabbed a crawdad and some stuffed shrimp and bacon wrapped krab. There were some sauteed green sticks on her plate, either okra or green beans, I don't recall.
Adam came back with thick-breaded sweet and sour chicken, plain rice and some broccoli and beef.
I picked and sampled, the Mongolian pork was too peppery for my tastes, the lobster roll was more wrap than anything else, if there was lobster in it I never tasted it. Most of the chicken was spot on, exactly as expected. Which was pretty sweet after a while. Angel and I agreed that the fried/steamed dumplings were quite good, not overwhelmed with ginger as we find it in many places. She also applauded the stuffed shrimp. She issued a 'blech' for the calamari though. My noodles were indeed excellent, sometimes basic simple recipes are what you want.
Adam finished his quickly, left and cam back with ribs. Angel decided she'd like some too so her second trip was less slime, more real meat. Her ribs turned out to be a bit fatty though.
I didn't want much more. I considered my options, decided that I'd pretty much had all my favorites, so I sat for a minute and finally just went straight to dessert.
The usual, red-sauce bananas and banana pudding, some sort of apparent theme.
Angel's plate contained a pie looking wedge, some more stuffed shrimp and a couple of pretty sushi's. the red-centered sushi was filled with fish eggs which sort of popped in her mouth, this delighted and amused her. The fried sushi, not so much. The pie thing was 'like cheesecake' she said.
Adam was quite content, uttering  garrulous phrases of praise like "Good", "Pretty good", and " " surround by a shoulder shrug. Adam knows lots of words, I made sure of that raising him, he just spends them like a miser.

Summary:
One of the better Chinese buffets I've been to. More so because of the enormous variety than the actual quality of food itself. Not that the quality is bad, not at all. The food is as good as anywhere else. Nothing really jumps out, nothing really qualifies as a signature dish, but there was nothing awful, it was all pretty fresh, and the serving tables were in constant state of refill. A large dining area makes sure of that.
The bill came to thirty seven dollars and change, not bad at all for the area and certainly not bad for the potential infinite amount of food offered.
The staff was plentiful and efficient, there was rarely more than one finished plate on our table, the drinks never fell below half full.
The atmosphere was great, the place was huge and spacious, and bustling.  The bold and bright decorations may have been a little over the top, but somehow it worked.
Hibachi Grill has a terrific template going. I've been to a couple of different ones and the model is copied form place to place with precision. This is not a strip-mall buffet, they take what they do to a higher level. Good food, lots of variety, and fast service.




















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