Chen Hibachi Buffet

I had a hot date tonight. We went to Chen Hibachi.

I know, impressive, right?

The last time I was there, the restaurant was Panda Buffet, and the experience left me... under the weather. Since then, we've stopped going to buffets for the most part.* The whole "eat until you pop" thing doesn't fit in the lifestyle anymore.

But we wanted sushi, Sushi King is closed on Sundays**, and Chen Hibachi beckoned, the great unknown entity that it was.

Good news: I think I finally learned not to stuff myself how to eat at a Buffet-style restaurant. I do not feel ill.

Better news: This was a fairly economical way to dine out, and we found coupons online.

Best news: There was some pretty decent food here.

What makes Chen Hibachi special is the Hibachi and Sushi stations.

Also, the staff was extremely attentive, friendly, and polite.

The Hibachi station offered made-to-order meals - what I would call teppanyaki, I guess, although I suspect I might be missing the right word(s). In any case, all the ingredients laid out looked both fresh and tasty.  I chose to focus on the sushi buffet, however.

Selection from the Sushi Station at Chen Hibachi

There was one guy working the buffet, and he was working hard to occupy roughly a dozen plates with different nigiri and maki: tuna/salmon rolls, shrimp or fish tempura rolls, and rainbow rolls were the most recognizeable. There was also a nice roll with pickled daikon and tamago, something that looked like uni although I'm not convinced, and eel. At different points there were salmon, tuna, shrimp, salmon skin, and red snapper (or so it looked) nigiri. 

The place filled up a few minutes after we arrived, and people would step up and clear the plates in one fell swoop. 

Maki from the Sushi Station at Chen Hibachi
Still, the sushi chef was chatty and pleasant, explaining to us what each item was and encouraging me to try different ones. Which is definitely never a problem. The hardest part was patience.

I made a few forays into the center, where for the most part deep-fried American-Chinese fare lives, along with a few oddities like potato wedges, pizza, and ribs (spare ribs and BBQ) - stuff that reminded me of the old Panda Buffet. They also offered the standard buffet-items like melon, canned fruit, jello, salads, etc.

A few small pieces of cake - 2-3 bites each - were a pleasant way to end the meal.

We'll be back - and probably just for the sushi and hibachi. Since it took us a visit to get the system down, I figured I would summarize it below to save you the trouble.

Try to stay in the blue zones. (You will thank me.)

Chen Hibachi is located in the Lotte Plaza in Ellicott City (8801 Baltimore National Pike). (hocoblogs@@@)

*There are exceptions. The one that comes to mind is Todai, but that's a hike from Columbia.

**I know there are other sushi joints in Columbia, but we have our preferences. This may be fodder for a later blog post. Part of me still mourns the passing of Narita Sushi.

Have you been to Chen Hibachi?  Have a favorite spot where you wine and dine your honey on the cheap?  Tell me in the comments below!


  1. Thanks, Mo, for adding your voice and perspective to the local conversation. And super-thanks for taking advantage of the hocoblogs@@@ option inside of hocoblogs. :-)

  2. That is the best chart ever.

    Our go-to sushi buffet is Niko Restaurant, also on Rt. 40, but this looks awesome-- we'll have to try this.

  3. Thanks guys!

    @ Sarah - We'll have to go to that one - I remember someone mentioning it a while back, but I had forgotten the name.