You Gotta Eat: Imperial Buffet

By WEEK Producer

October 17, 2013 Updated Oct 17, 2013 at 7:25 PM CDT

NORMAL, Ill. -- This week on You Gotta Eat, we are heading for Normal to a buffet with a lot to offer. From oriental dishes to pizza and even a watch-it-while-it's cook grill, the Imperial Buffet offers an extensive menu and a relaxing place to eat.

Photographer Doug Smith and I arrived at the Imperial Buffet just before it opened at 11 a.m. The parking lot was empty, but 20 minutes later it was filling up with hungry customers.

Buffet Manager Raymond Poon gave me the tour before it got really busy.

A large, clean, well-lit dining area framed on both sides with large wood carvings and an additional room for private parties.

The buffet tables are very large and filled with a variety of Asian dishes, including sushi. For those not so inclined, there is a pizza table as well.

The restaurant has more than 200 items on its menu.

"Sushi, hibachi, pizza, ice cream, all the items you find in a family restaurant,” Poon said.

If you want to watch your lunch or dinner made on the spot, there is a Mongolian BBQ grill. You select your items and he cooks them on the spot.

I nabbed some pepper steak and a favorite, the shrimp, along with rice and a bottle of Japanese soda.

It was all good. I especially liked the shrimp. The best thing about a buffet like this is the chance to try so many foods. This requires a return trip, or two or three.

Our meal, with my Japanese soda, came to $22 plus tip.

The Imperial Buffet is located at 1950 East College Avenue in Normal and is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. seven days a week.