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Tokyo House — the best Asian buffet in central Arkansas

By: 8 December 2011 2 Comments

When you consider an Asian buffet, what do you expect?

Some might answer they figure on a lot of food of varying quality (some of it not great) and a low price. Tokyo House has the “lot of food” side of the equation nailed down, but the place is more expensive than your typical Asian buffet and the food is considerably better. How good? You’ve got a lot of Chinese and Asian buffet restaurants in Little Rock, but Tokyo House trumps them all. The selection is staggering, the quality is substantially higher than expected and that $18.95 a plate seems very reasonable when one considers what’s available.

And, keep in mind that this is a Japanese buffet — a rarity in a city that has more than a few Chinese buffets and Mongolian grills. Think of it as one of those Japanese steakhouses such as Shogun where diners sit around a grill and watch a chef prepare their meals, but in buffet form. That means you get some good quality food and you can have as much of it as you want — a steal for the price you pay.

The restaurant is essentially divided into two levels. The upper level houses a large, cold Sushi bar stocked with fresh-made rolls by employees who appear to always be in motion, exercising their craft and adding food to the bar. I can’t say I’m much of a sushi fan as, but my wife was suitable impressed with the diversity and the freshness of the food. It might not be the best sushi on the market, she claims, but there is a lot to choose from and the price is right.

Tokyo House on UrbanspoonThe lower level houses a hot bar and desserts. The hot bar is, simply put, incredibly varied and full of tempting dishes. Even if you don’t care much for sushi, you’ve got to give the volcano roll on the hot bar a try. Yes, it’s cooked and warm and “volcano” is right — the stuff is appropriately spicy and packed with enough salmon, cream cheese and avocado to add some complexity. The flavors are balanced and spicy to the point that it packs a wallop (but it won’t exactly catch your mouth on fire if you’re the type that sprinkles Tabasco Sauce on darn near everything).

Moving along down the hot bar, you’ll find more than a few surprises — lamb, steak, plenty of noodles, pork dumplings, vegetables, fried rice and soups dot the landscape. Fortunately, diners get huge plates so they can fill them and try as many things as they want. And, yes, there’s enough variety there to keep one coming back for more. Want sushi? There are many types available and the same is true of the hot bar.

The combination of variety and quality is what really sets Tokyo House apart from the pack. If you can’t find something you like at the restaurant, you are a picky eater, indeed. I suspect most people will do what my wife and I did — just try a bit of everything until you simply can’t eat another bite.

Ah, but you might want to save some room for dessert as there are some unique items available. Green tea ice cream is something to try, and the cheesecake is pretty good, too. If you’re feeling adventurous, go for the red bean ice cream. Now, where else in Little Rock are you going to find that?

The wait staff is attentive and courteous, the restaurant decor is subdued and attractive and the facility is clean and inviting. If you want to save  a few bucks, show up for lunch during the week when it’s only $9.95 to access the buffet. For more information, visit the west Little Rock restaurant’s home on the Internet at tokyohouselr.com.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

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