When you first walk into Kyojin Japanese Buffet, your expectations are immediately lowered. In the outdated, poorly lit, dingy dining room, you notice only a few customers. And then the big question hits you – was this a mistake?
Perhaps you try to calm yourself and start off with soup. How bad could soup be? And lo and behold, the soup is good. It’s rich and filled with seaweed and tofu, exactly how you like it. You start to relax. Maybe you judged too quickly.
But then, you try the clams. Immediately, your mouth is assaulted by grit and sand. You think maybe it was just a bad clam, but no, all of them are like that.
The spare ribs offer you some small comfort, their sauce flavorful and sweet, but scant, and the ribs themselves dry. Any kind of dumpling is undercooked and doughy, although there is a brief moment of joy when you try the excellent tempura.
You also realize very suddenly that everything is over salted. For a cuisine like Japanese that prides itself on subtlety of flavor, Kyojin really has a love affair with sodium.
The sushi is better than the appetizers, but only marginally. While it doesn’t sit on the bar very long, all of it lacks flavor. It tastes generally fishy, as opposed to having the individual flavors you normally seek in sushi. The tuna is especially disappointing, as it is more brown in color than the bright pink it should be.
Then, it’s done. You can finally relax. You see the chocolate fountain, sitting in the center of the buffet, shimmering under the fluorescent lights. You take a bite, hoping for one final bright spot, only to be met with what is possibly the biggest disappointment of the evening. The chocolate fountain, instead of being filled with hot melted chocolate, is filled with ice cold watered down chocolate syrup. In addition, the selections for dipping are minimal.
You try the other desserts – cakes, cookies, pies – but all of them are grainy and have a vague chemical taste. You give up and go back to your table, downing another glass of water to drown out the flavor.
In short, yes, this was most likely a mistake. Eating well at Kyojin requires very careful selection of buffet items, to the point where you may not even be able to get full off the good items.
Perhaps it would be nice for a quick lunch if you wanted something out of the ordinary, but at an $18 price tag for dinner, you can do far better.
Two Stars out of 5
Kyojin Japanese Buffet is located at 6212 S Dixie Highway, South Miami, FL 33143.