A long time ago, in an AYCE not so far away, there was Japanese food, Korean BBQ and at one point hot pot. Wow, all that in one place? Yes, the place was called Shabusen (no, not the one in Downtown). Located on the top floor on the corner of Granville and 14th Ave, it served to offer a lot of food for a reasonable price. Was the food any good? Well, that depended on one's expectations. If one was expecting high quality food, then they best move along. However, if one only wanted quantity with some decent items here and there, then this was your place. I have to admit that I paid my fair share of visits in the day to the old Shabusen. Sure, I don't do buffets as much as I used to due to many factors. One of which is I just can't stuff myself silly for no apparent reason. So when it closed earlier this year, I was a bit surprised since it did pretty good business. Not to fear because an almost carbon-copy of a restaurant has risen from the ashes of Shabusen.
JuJu had been mentioning AYCE Korean for quite awhile now as an eating destination after Sunday morning hockey. Milhouse and I figured that heading to Kyo would help satisfy JuJu's cravings. However, we were a bit nervous as JuJu is Korean... Well, he was one ticked off Korean when we met up with him at the restaurant. He had arrived first and was completely ignored for a good 10 minutes. Awesome, just like most other Korean restaurants! LOL... So we stood there waiting and waiting. Finally someone acknowledged his existence and we eventually got a table. We got down to ordering and before we knew it, food was coming at us fast and furious. We decided to try all 3 meats available for the Korean BBQ including Beef, Spicy Pork and Chicken. Considering Kyo is not an authentic Korean restaurant, the meats were fine. It was a treat to have "a real Korean" (as JuJu stated) cooking our food for us. You know what? There was a difference. The meat was cooked perfectly and there was barely anything stuck to the grate as he masterfully did his thing.
A bunch of little items showed up next including the Spinach Gomae. This was a typical version found at these types of restaurants being sweet and saucy. However, there wasn't too much dressing and the spinach was blanched nicely. The Sunomono was okay with chewy noodles and a slightly too sweet dressing. The Spicy Agedashi Tofu was fried crispy while the sauce didn't have much kick, it was rather sweet. Lastly, the Bean Sprouts had a nice crunch with lots of sesame oil. Up next was our order of Sashmi (Spicy Salmon, Salmon and Tuna) which was limited to 8 pieces each person. That was totally understandable since many AYCE joints don't even offer sashimi for lunch. These poorly and thinly cut slices of fish were sub par. I found the tuna fishy and not texturally appealing. It didn't help that the tuna was still slightly frozen too. The salmon was tasteless while the "spicy salmon" was truly laughable because the sauce tasted more like peppery plum sauce. It truly didn't go with the fish nor was it spicy either. We also got a bunch of Nigiri as well consisting (from front to back): Seared Salmon, Ebi, Inari, Chopped Scallop and Salmon. The seared salmon was okay being buttery and soft. The sushi rice was acceptable with some chewiness. It was a touch dry and only had a hint of vinegar.
The Maki Sushi was okay for an AYCE. Not pretty to look at and pretty blah to eat, at the very least, it didn't offend. Now the same couldn't be said about the Sushi Cones. Yes, they were a little loosely wrapped, but the filling was plentiful. The problem? The sushi rice was warm. And I don't mean luke warm. It was "like just cooked rice" warm. Not really that appealing and a bit concerning when you combine raw fish with warm rice. Moving along with the gluttony, we got the Beef and Chicken Teriyaki. As expected, the syrupy sweet Teriyaki sauce adorned both plates. The beef was thin and tender while the chicken was cooked just right being moist and tender. The Gyozas were not bad being fried up crisp and with good colour on the bottom. The dumpling skin was thin which held a filling that was a good mix of moist pork and cabbage. We had 2 rounds of the Chicken Wings with the 2nd order being juicier than the first. Both times the exterior was crispy and the meat well-seasoned.
The Tonkatsu was fried perfectly with crunchy breading that was not greasy. The pork was moist and tender while there was just enough sauce on top. Lastly, the Tempura consisting of yam and veggies were oil-soaked and only crispy on one side (the side that was facing up). The batter was actually quite thin, but it became soggy due to the grease. Now, if you can imagine, there were a lot of things to pick on with the food at Kyo. After all, it is an AYCE Japanese and Korean restaurant. Many purists would just cringe. However, it is what it is. Considering the price, expectations need to be reasonable. Generally, the food was acceptable except for the some items. Is it something I would frequent? Of course not. Ultimately, if there is a big group of people, who are not picky, and need to have fixed food costs, then Kyo does the job.
- Reasonable pricing considering location, variety and edibility of the food
- Decent selection of items
- Fairly comfortable dining room
- Food is predictably so-so (yet okay for AYCE)
- Service is not really a priority there