There are buffets, and then there are the ones where you tick on your order forms and they have your food made to order. Before you declare the latter is better because you won't be wasting food you don't eat, be sure to acknowledge the fact that one is no better than the other. For buffet you can actually take a look at what you're getting. If it looks good you take, if it doesn't you pass. It's choice at the simplest. The latter option usually does NOT have pictures in their order forms. Instead you get piles of small notepad-sized order forms with boxes to check, not unlike endless questionnaires you wish would never exist. Not only do you not know the quality of the food you'll be getting, you may not even know what it looks like in the first place. You think you know, but you really don't, and you don't even get the best looking piece out of the bunch. A visit to KICHI JYU
further explains how this is true.
The joint occupies a narrow L-shape space with maxed out numbers of tables. I have always despised places where the owners try to squeeze everything in not to mention serving mediocre food. Our table was so small it didn't have much room to manoeuvre, not to mention putting food between us. We decided this limited space could be a test for speed-binging. I did not have my hopes high, but for a "try it because I've passed through the sign every other day" mentality we decided to try it out. There are order forms from A to I. Each systematically categorized different types of food offered in the entire meal.
We started with an order of EDAMAME
, which was fresh and green on the looks, rather soggy on the pods, plain in the inside. Have they forgotten the salt? Sashimi was no better. The SQUID
was a little mushy, and the CONCH
looked fake and tasted plasticky not unlike pencil erasers. KANPACHI
is pale in colour and was by far the only choice that could go hand in hand with "fresh' and "tasted alright". By the time we got through the sashimi, we have lost faith in the sushi. GRILLED BEEF
managed to stay rare in the inside but mealy and tough as an entirety. DEEP FRIED OYSTER CHEESE ROLL
was a horrid roll with no particular oyster flavour on oyster part, and the cheese...let's just it's not our favorite here.
Off to a bad start, we were hoping the hot-dishes will save the day, and it did. The FRIED FOODS section came out piping hot every time. The SHRIMP
and KISU FISH
came out nice and crunchy -- as the coating was also light enough. MUSHROOM
tempura can benefit with smaller more tender mushrooms, but the EGGPLANT
, SWEET POTATO
were simple enought to be executed right, and beyond passing grade. Skip the OYSTERS
if you will, it is very fried and not very oyster-like...if you know what that means.
Nibbling on the crunchy "fried chicken soft bone"....we moved on to a well-made MIXED MUSHROOM WITH BUTTER.
There is so much yellow stuff floating atop the mushrooms (it really is butter) that all you can taste is butter with textures. Anything with this much butter should taste like what I have tasted here. The JAPANESE DICED TENDERLOIN
was good enough -- a fine crust on the outside and moist quiveringly rare on the inside. I would have preferred it in bigger generous chunks (even if it's fewer chunks) than this pile of little bits served. FRIED SPICY SHRIMPS
were not as good as we anticipated. The spicy sauce was more than just chili sauce, but the shrimps were no good canvas for the sauce to shine through. CONGEE WITH CRABS
vary by quality. The table next to us was offered one slightly custardy yellow colour with the coral melted into the congee, while ours was plain with a faint crab flavour. The HOKKAIDO SEAFOOD HOTPOT WITH MILK
has a rich milky soup base, but the seafood didn't give me the hint that it's fresh from the sea. The mussels, in particular, was so tough and not bearded properly. SALMON RICE IN SOUP
was experimental choice for me -- in small bowl, the salmon flakes were dry and crumbly, but the broth poured into the rice was more than flavorful, and it didn't get me all thirsty afterwards. GRILLED ITEMS
were among the best together with the FRIED FOODS. Shrimps
were fresh and ox tongue
was tender, despite it being rather salty on the second order. Grilled Mushrooms
looked dry but when you bite into each you'll realize the juicy part unseen on the outside.
While realizing that it may be tough for a small kitchen to whip up such dynamic choices offered on the order list, I couldn't feel the sympathy for them -- they could've specialized in a few recommended dishes, and take away froufrou pretentious dishes they know they cannot excel at. Limit each section into a few really good quality choices instead of a whole list of mediocre ones. Maybe on a consumer's viewpoint having so many options to choose from satisfy the mind more so than the tummy, or the desire to make sound decisions on what should be ordered. Having so many to choose from may be a ludicrously magnificent idea, but that only applies when you can offer above average quality on all of them before you think varieties.
I doubt that I will come again in quite a while. The food wasn't all that bad, you just have to know how to choose the good ones. Looking over to the neighboring tables and see what they order may help, but like I said in the beginning, you don't get to choose what you'll be given. Chances are, if you do you would prefer to hop across the street to that other joint similar to this one, with better quality too.
Note: The OK rating (and 3 on 味道) were given to the GRILLED and FRIED items.
Tempura you can count on.
Grilled Items (Mushrooms & Ox-Tongue are best)
Rich Milky Broth is the star here.
Butter-laden mushrooms and Vegetable Tempura.
Pan-fried Beef Tenderloin (bits)
Mediocre Quality: Rice, Udon, Sushi,and Shrimps
Crab Congee with no significant crab flavours.
GRILLED and FRIED dishes
Spending per head: Approximately HKD180(Dinner)Other Ratings:
Value for Money 2