Hibachi Buffet: A Chinese Student’s Secret Menu

Media by Ruby Chen.

For Chinese students, their minds and their stomachs tend to miss the flavor of their hometowns. While some homesickness is unavoidable, being able to eat home food in a foreign country really helps. For students at Greenville University, there is one main Chinese restaurant; Hibachi Buffet, a small Chinese restaurant opened by Fuzhou natives, is very popular with Chinese students. Fortunately, the restaurant is only a five minute walk from most of the dormitories. The restaurant’s primary business is the American Chinese buffet, which provides many options for diners of all nationalities.

Media by Ruby Chen.

Chinese food has become a favorite food for Americans due to its wide variety of dishes and food taste types. In the United States, traditional Chinese food also developed a subgroup of cuisine that caters to American taste. The taste of conventional Chinese food is noticeably different from Americans’ style of Chinese food. Americans primarily like sweet and sour tastes, so American Chinese food is more acidic and sweet than traditional Chinese food. Americans also love fried food, so many of these dishes contain fried contents. American Chinese food and Chinese food are two different species in the hearts of Chinese natives. For example, there are many famous home-cooked dishes in China, such as the well-known scrambled eggs with tomatoes, hot and sour shredded potatoes, double-cooked pork with hot pepper, stewed pork rice, etc. However, when you go to Chinese restaurants in the United States, you will see some “fantastic” dishes, such as General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour chicken, etc.

Similar to other American Chinese restaurants, the Hibachi Buffet mainly provides self-service of American Chinese food, and patrons can also order specific American Chinese dishes. Some of the kinds of food fried rice, fried noodles, rice noodles, etc. The most famous dish is orange chicken, and the Sichuan style cuisine is made of chicken marinated in orange juice. For the most part, these dishes are not authentic Chinese dishes.

Media by Ruby Chen.

While Hibachi Buffets main menu focuses on American Chinese dishes, Chinese students have access to a special “secret menu.” , Chinese students can communicate directly with the restaurant owner about what they want, and because he is from Fuzhou, China himself, he works to bring a taste of home to these students. As long as the restaurants have the ingredients and the chef knows how to cook the dish, they will create traditional Chinese foods. Conveniently, nearly every Chinese student at Greenville University has the owner’s personal contact information, which even allows students to order their favorite dishes in advance. Mapo tofu, stewed spare ribs with potatoesbraised pork,and scrambled eggs with tomatoes are all the dishes that Chinese students often order.  Occasionally, the boss even gives students some small gifts from home, such as snacks and drinks.

Reflecting on his experience with the Hibachi Buffet, one Chinese student, Zifeng Zheng, explains, “We have another secret menu in the Hibachi Buffet because the regular menu is not the Chinese food we want; at the same time, the boss will try his best to meet our needs. Although the taste is not authentic compared with traditional Chinese food, it still has a unique flavor. We often use the Hibachi Buffet as our preferred restaurant for major event dinners. At this time, the restaurant owner will also give us some small cakes and drinks as gifts.”

Today, in the United States, Chinese food has become a part of American food. Fortunately, Chinese students from Greenville University are able to still receive a taste of home by having their favorite foods recreated in the Hibachi Buffet. While the food does remind them of home, they also hope that foreign friends join them in enjoying these traditional Chinese foods.



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