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Asian Buffet offers Chinese, sushi and more

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Simon Dong knew an opportunity existed in Lincoln based on the clientele at his Omaha restaurant.

“A lot of Asian people from Lincoln drive to Omaha to eat at my restaurant,” said Dong of the China Buffet at 114th and Dodge streets.

Those same people told him he needed to open a location in Lincoln.

And so he did. Asian Buffet began serving customers May 1 in the spot once occupied by Gourmet China Buffet in the shopping center at 5130 N. 27th St.

Dong spared no expense in renovating the spot. He basically gutted the place and started over with new buffet tables, dining room furniture and kitchen equipment. The interior looks as good as the buffet entrees.

As for the buffet, it’s huge, diverse and extremely reasonable. In addition to Chinese offerings, the buffet includes a sushi bar, a teppanyaki grill and Vietnamese soups.

The dinner buffet costs $9.75 (Monday-Thursday) and $10.50 (Friday-Sunday, holiday). Customers also can upgrade to the seafood buffet, which includes access to the snow crab legs and crawfish. The seafood buffet costs $13.25 (Monday-Thursday) and $13.99 (Friday-Sunday, holiday).

Takeout also is available, either by the entree or from the buffet tables, with carryout buffet starting at $4.99 per pound.

Food

My wife and I aren’t big crab legs or crawfish eaters, so we ordered the regular dinner buffets.

We were pleasantly surprised to find two of our favorite dishes as part of the hot entrees -- coconut shrimp and salt-and-pepper chicken. Usually buffets stick to basic dishes. (beef and broccoli, sweet and sour chicken, etc.) Asian Buffet had those, too, but they also had some atypical entrees.

The sushi bar also was a highlight. We made multiple trips, finding a variety of rolls and fresh fish, such as tuna and salmon. On weekends, the hot table features slices of Peking duck -- a must-try.

Even the crab Rangoon was notable. The pieces were bite-size, making them easier to eat and dip into sauces.

Kids also will find plenty to enjoy, including a few American dishes for the picky eaters. The dessert table included cakes and pudding. There’s also an ice cream station. Grade: B+

Atmosphere

The Asian Buffet looks great, beginning with the blue-and-green ceiling and the giant chandelier hanging above the four buffet tables. Also noteworthy are the funky, floor-to-ceiling lights that help separate a dining/party room from the buffet tables. The main dining area is big, open and when it’s busy, can be a tad noisy. The back wall is where the grill, sushi bar and ice station are located. Grade: B+

Service

My wife and I visited on a busy Friday night and found the service to be top-notch. Staff kept buffet tables stocked and cleaned. They also cleared dirty dishes promptly from our table. The trick will be to maintain the cleanliness, which seems to be the downfall of buffets as the years go by. The Asian Buffet is off to a good start. Kudos go to the woman who prepared the sushi. She kept the rolls coming, having something different each time we went back. Grade: A

Special diets

The buffet includes several hot and cold vegetarian options. Your best bet may to be build your own entrees using the fresh veggies at the teppanyaki grill. Each table has at least one vegetarian choice, including the sushi bar. The takeout menu features “diet food specials,” with entrees made with no salt, oil or cornstarch. As for gluten-free, a buffet poses risks for cross-contamination. Grade: B+

Reach the writer at 402-473-7213 or jkorbelik@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSjeffkorbelik.

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Features editor

Jeff Korbelik is the features editor and covers dining, performing arts, TV and local media. Follow him at @LJSjeffkorbelik.

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