R.I.P. Atlantic Buffet, Bloomington

The Atlantic Buffet, a Chinese / Mongolian BBQ joint named best restaurant for gluttons by City Pages in 2007, seems to be in a state of chaos. Its website is down, and its Bloomington location is now closed, apparently to reopen as “Japan Sea” “Sawa Japan.” The new spot will be run by the same owners, according to a call to the still-open Woodbury location of the restaurant. UPDATE: A reader comments that the new place, according to a sign posted, is: “Sawa Japan — Hibachi Sushi & Bar.”


  1. Jables

    The signage on the building is titled “Sawa Japan – Hibachi Sushi & Bar”. Not sure of the re-opening date, though.

  2. Richard L.

    We just drove by, and some workers said it would open tomorrow 8/21/09. I couldn’t make out the rest but it sounded like 1pm (not sure though).
    We’ll definitely check it out tomorrow.

  3. Richard L.

    Confirmed – the new place is officially open as of 8/21/09.
    We are sitting waiting for our Hibachi chef now.

  4. Richard L.

    Lunch pricing is excellent – between $9 and $13 per person for Hibachi, meaning your own private chef cooking before your eyes.
    Actually, we were wondering if they meant teppanyaki since this is what they actually do – lunch and a show, and this guy on his first day did a wonderful job, both with the entertainment and the food! (FYI, Wikipedia says that this type of Japanese Steak House cooking is known both as hibachi and teppanyaki – go figure…).
    Disadvantage: These prices are only valid on week days. During the week and for dinner the prices go up considerably, but still a lot better than other similar places – you can have Filet Mignon Hibachi (the most expensive I remember) for $24 including a lot of appetizers – I think that’s not too bad but still a lot more than previous patrons are used to.
    Otherwise they have any variation of sushi and also a few regular non-fish items like Teriyaki meats (either of which we did not try this time).
    No buffet, no all-you-can-eat. Unless you go to their Woodbury location which as of a few weeks ago was still alive and cooking.
    I’m a little worried that the higher price tag may be a bad gamble in this economy – we used to go to the buffet at least one or two times a month – but now we will not be likely to be able to afford it any longer, and the only reason I was able to even go for lunch was that I am currently out of a job. Once I’m employed again (and no longer available for an extended but cheaper lunch) I am doubtful that I will be going a lot, no matter how good.
    They also did an amazing job remodeling the place – it looks nice and stylish (but the air vents and fans are way too loud – it is hard to hear your chef talk – I think they should have considered that!).

  5. Anita

    My husband and I stopped by there for dinner, but left before ordering. We saw another couple do the same thing. Prices were just too high to give Sawa a try, as there are some Japanese places that we already know are good and cost about 1/4 to 1/3 less all in. (We, too, used to stop by Atlantic Buffet once or twice a month.) Sawa owners may want to take note: Across from Southdale, the pricy Via now rests in peace. Originally, the owner wanted something a little more upscale than the Galleria. Now, as Tavern on France, it’s aiming to cost less than the Galleria joints and business is booming.

  6. Russ

    Thanks for putting your feedback. It’s disappointing, but will save my wife and I from finding it out on our own. We had pulled into the parking lot to find the place closed for remodeling and were worried that our favorite buffet had closed. We could see work being done though and had hope that it was strictly remodeling with no changes of the business itself. We too would go to Atlantic once or twice a month, and typically anytime we had visitors from out of town that was the place to bring them. The prices were reasonable and we loved the sushi buffet. Hearing that the buffet no longer exists and that the prices went up means that my wife and I will likely not be returning. We have tried the New Century Buffet off of Portland and 494 a few times since, and it was fine, but it was no Atlantic. Atlantic was definitely the best Chinese/Japanese buffet we found in the metro area, but we won’t be making the trip all the way to Woodbury just to keep eating there. I wish the ownership good luck with the new place.

  7. Nate

    Don’t count this place out just because it’s no longer a buffet! Sure the prices have gone up a bit but so has the quality of food and the ambiance of the restaurant. My wife and I had dinner there last night and it was wonderful. The staff was very fun and knowledgable, food tasted great, and the layout is what I would describe as “asian-hip”. There’s a bar in there now!! Sure I miss the Atlantic but this is a great addition to the area.

  8. Anita

    Nate, You might well love 98 Pounds (98 & Lyndale). It’s a Chinese and sushi buffet, too. Their sushi buffet is pretty darn tasty and always adequately refilled. AND, if you ask (and time permitting), the sushi chef will make your special requests to order. I think it’s a courtesy and so I always tip him/them directly. Bonus: They always have $2 off per person coupons in one of the mailbox circulars or online at http://www.clicknprintsavings.com/coupon_view_dining.cfm?ccoupon=img20090820112455.gif&bus_id=1899

  9. ryanol

    The atlantic buffet was always second fiddle to the grand city buffet in SLP in my opinion. The guys from work get together and hit a different buffet about once a month and grand city was the unequivocal leader.

    13 bucks for a lunch is a bit pricey in this economy. I think the 10 dollar mark for an entree and a soft drink is the bell weather. It certainly has done Chipotle well.

  10. jane

    Getting a off-topic, but speaking of 98th & Lyndale, I went to dim sum yesterday at Mandarin Kitchen and was reminded how much I love that place.

  11. Jason

    I had the Spicy Flavor Roll just this past week, and it was amazing. The rice was fresh and soft surrounding Spicy Tune, Yellowtail, and topped with Salmon. This was a large roll, with layers of high quality fish.

    I’ve been stopping myself from trying to go their every day since. It was some of the best Sushi I’ve had anywhere in the US or on the seas.

  12. Richard L.

    We just went there again today, and I agree with Jason – the quality of fish seems to be very high (as far as my untrained mouth can determine).
    Again, the lunch prices during the week are amazing, AND right now until 9/26 you automatically get 15% off everything as a grand opening bonus. So if you’re thinking of trying it, now is a good time. We’ll probably go back again for teppanyaki soon.
    So again:
    15% off until 9/26!

  13. James Norton

    It’ll be interesting to hear if the quality is still there three or four months out; not to be a conspiracymonger or doubt the integrity of this particular establishment, but more than once in my life I’ve gone to a new sushi-focused establishment, loved the fish and overall quality, and then found that several weeks later the food was notably weaker.

  14. Russ

    Thanks Anita. I haven’t heard of 98 Pounds before so my wife and I will have to check it out. We’ve actually made the trek all the way to Woodbury twice now to go to the other Atlantic Buffet, and felt the sushi there was actually better than the Bloomington location. That may just be because we hadn’t had it in so long though, but that restaurant had the same quality food and we were happy we made the trip.

    For ryanol, I’d have to disagree with you. My wife and I went to Grand City Buffet in SLP to give it a try and were not impressed. Atlantic has definitely been the clear winner in our opinion. It may depend on what you’re looking for, and we were focused on the sushi.

    The beauty of a buffet is being able to try new things. Without that, you’re stuck with what you order. In our case, we love variety and don’t necessarily want to order from a menu, nor do we always know what things are called. We’ll likely give Sawa a chance at some point, but it stung a little since Atlantic was our favorite restaurant.

  15. Russ

    Here’s a followup. My wife and I went to 98 Pounds and have since decided we now have a new favorite Chinese buffet restaurant. The reviews I found online appeared to be mixed, but we went on a Saturday for an early lunch and were amazed at their sushi offerings, especially for being so early in the day. I’d have to say we couldn’t have any more happy with the place. They had the standard items as well, but we both felt like kids in a candy store with their sushi selection. We’re actually going there tonight to try out their dinner menu. Thanks again Anita!

  16. Amy

    Went last night with the family.. When we first walked in the host/owner took one look at us and said :This isn’t a buffet you know.” WTF does that mean? Then he said “Do you want to look at the menu first?” I said “No I just want to eat!” Because we are tired and worn looking from working hard all day we are not the caliber of client you are looking for? But because I was craving sushi all day my husband said we could stay even after being insulted…..BAD IDEA!!! They sat us all the way in the back after we got our drinks we didn’t get even checked on for 20 minutes had to wave someone down to get our order taken and when we tried to ask questions everything I asked about the guy just wrote down and kept saying ” uh huh uh huh” like hurry it up already but didn’t even answer one of my questions. We had to ask for utensils and napkins and the sushi SUCKED….. $88.00 later we left feeling like idiots for having stayed in the first place. Stay away from this place far far away the sushi at target is better and you don’t have to wait forever to get it.

  17. annmartina

    I had given up on Chinese buffets, but we went to 98 Pound last Friday for lunch. The sushi was surprisingly tasty, and they had a HUGE platter of fresh steamed asparagus, which was a welcome site on a cold winter day. A taste of spring. Some nice pot stickers. Also a highlight were the little 2-bite creme brulees on the dessert table. I’ve heard that they offer dim sum items on their Sunday buffet

  18. Richard L.

    Correct – the name did change.
    We went there again last week and saw signs on the highway and on location with the new name.
    Everything inside is as I remember it from Sawa Japan, and at least the one waitress we talked to said that she thought there was no change in ownership, only a name change, but she also admitted not having been there for long.
    The Hibachi/Tepeniaki we had was probably even tastier than the last few times we ate there, and an older Asian looking gentleman asked our table about our experience and pointed out some coupons we could find online, supposedly on their site.
    After a little searching I found this site:
    http://www.osakausa.com which as the coupons, but it also shows that there are 4 locations in the Twin Cities area – which does not necessarily sound as if it was still owned by the Atlantic Buffet people… I guess we’ll never know unless someone has an in with one of the management people there…
    In any case, I’ll keep going there for the Hibachi!
    Hint for birthday parties: Let the staff know about the birthday person for a little fun and a nice little extra dessert.

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