I’ve been told that the whole Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet phenomenom has run its course, and that the next big trend for Chinese restaurateurs is sushi — the profit margins are better. A lot of Chinese buffets already offer a few varieties of sushi, but the new 98 Pounds Restaurant at 98th and 35W in Bloomington actually combines the concepts.
98 Pounds Restaurant, 824 W. 98th St., Bloomington, 952-881-1088.
The steam tables offer a big selection of the usual Chinese buffet staples – General Tso’s chicken, shrimp in coconut sauce, stir-fried beef with mushrooms, teriyaki chicken, fried rice, egg rolls, potstickers, hot and sour soup, tempura shrimp, etc. etc. etc. There’s plenty of fried food, and the fried shrimp and tempura shrimp are heavy on breading light on shrimp, but overall, I’d rate the hot buffet items as better-than-average.
But the real novelty here is the cold buffet of all-you-can-eat sushi.
There were about 15 different varieties of sushi on offer, nearly all of the maki (roll) variety: spicy tuna roll, crab roll, cream cheese roll, California roll. Real sushi lovers will not be impressed – there’s very little raw fish, or any other costly ingredients, in the sushi, but plenty of imitation crab. Still, the sushi actually was tasty, and you can’t beat the price – $7.99 for lunch, $11.49 for dinner. I’m told that the dinner buffet offers a bigger selection of seafood items, including crab legs and mussels.