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Grand City Buffet
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Disclaimer- I apologize if this may already have been shared, but I need to recommend the Grand City Buffet in St. Louis Park. (Off of Hwy 7 and 169, right next to the Super Target and Knollwood Mall)

Mom called it one of her favorite buffets and has brought a few friends and family there already so I was prepared for one of your run-of-the-mill homogeneous suburban Chinese Buffets. What floored me upon walking in was the scope of the place.

You come in and stand next to a small fountain/koi fish pond and stare at the vast expanse of stained blonde wood (Think "Oversized Perkins" and you're practically already there) and are seated by friendly host staff who ask if you prefer your water with or without ice. Now most buffets I've been to have 2-4 serving stations with the old stand by's (Sweet and sour chicken, egg rolls, "seafood delight" with some measly fake crab and shrimp, beef broccoli, cream cheese wontons, a "cold buffet" with pudding/shrimp/mini-donuts/jello and maybe an ice cream station next to the soda dispenser)

This place had 8 long buffet stations with all those standards...but also included:

-A sushi/sashimi bar (It's not the super-highest quality sushi-more on that in a bit- but there were a lot of options)
-A "point at what you want" stir fry station (fresh veggies, chicken, beef, pork, etc.)
-Plenty of vegetarian options, including stuffed mushroom caps, green beans, marinated tofu, marinated bok choy, and others
-Dim Sum (Steamed buns and pork rolls, all served in the steamy baskets. The food changer stared at me like I had a third eye when I looked at her and said- "You have dim sum!")

And seafood. Wait. What?
-Crab legs
-Crab shell stuffed with crab meat (fresh)
-Bacon wrapped shrimp
-Bacon wrapped crab
-Hot and spicy crawfish
-Jumbo breaded prawns
-Spicy Octopus
-"Lake" fish. (I didn't ask. It looked like open faced trout)
-Jumbo peel and eat shrimp
-Steamed mussels w/black beans
-Cold mussels
-Petite clams

(And I was told, at one point, they had frog legs)

That's just from memory.

I sampled as much as I could on two plates, taking small pieces of what I wanted to try and report on and my plates still looked like Devil's Tower. Mom got through a plate and a half before dessert (Apple crisp and ice cream).

Caveats/Additional pertinent info:
-It isn't cheap buffet. Dinner ran us $12.99 a piece and I'm guessing lunch was in the $8-9.99 realm. (Still, you get a LOT of options)
-They serve beer (Miller, Tsing Tsao, etc.) Wine (Chard/Pinot Grigio/Merlot/Cab/Noir) and Sake. Which leads me to:
-Soda isn't part of the buffet and will cost you extra

While it isn't traditional like a few Twin Cities Chinese restaurants (sorry lovers of tripe and eel) and doesn't aim for popular "fusion" dishes it makes up for in sheer quantity. And doubling back to an earlier point- Either go right when it opens or right before the dinner rush (5-6 pm) While I've been effusing this whole time, ma and I got there around 4:15 or so which was right when the cooks were taking their dinner break a few booths away from us. While some of the dishes were still relatively hot and fresh, you could tell that others had probably been sitting out since the end of the lunch rush. (The sushi was a victim of this terrible, terrible tragedy and as much as I love salmon-it looked a little on the dry side so I avoided it)

This place is recommended, and judging by the nominal research I've done looking for reviews it seems that a few other folks share that opinion as well.

(*Beware overeating! They have posted WARNINGS saying they'll CHARGE YOU for any food on your plate that doesn't get EATEN!!! BY THE POUND!!! I didn't want to test this...so I ate it. All. You're welcome, Minnesota)

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