Best bargain for seafood, especially for lunch

Lifestyle and LeisureCookingKyoto (Japan)Dining and DrinkingRestaurants

The recently opened Kyoto Seafood Buffet is without a doubt the best dining bargain in Glendale, especially at lunchtime Monday through Friday, when $8.99 brings you a fully stocked sushi bar, an ice table with fresh oysters, mussels and jumbo cocktail shrimps. Then there’s a hibachi grill with a chef standing by to cook ingredients that you choose, including extremely fresh boneless chicken breast, shrimp and sirloin steak.

Kyoto also offers a wide variety of pre-cooked hot Japanese and Chinese dishes that include a very good hot and sour soup, orange chicken and other traditional offerings. Did I mention that this is all only $8.99? OK, you won’t find some of the best offerings unless you go for the $13.95 dinner — lobster, snow crab legs, spicy salted shrimp and roasted duck. Other specialty items are available only on the weekend, when the price goes to $14.99.

Bring an extra $1.49 per person for a beverage. This is a disturbing price point many restaurants use to generate revenue. To say the least, it’s disingenuous to advertise all-you-can-eat for a fixed price and then tack on an additional cost for drinks. Who’s going to consume all this stuff with only tap water to wash it down? But at least it’s a buck forty-nine, not the $2.50 I’ve seen at some eateries.

So, how is the food? Not bad but not great, either. The mussel I ate was fresh — maybe too fresh, because it reeked of red tide. The sushi was above average. I especially liked the fact that you could get the red snapper, tuna or crab sushi without the rice, if you’re a carb watcher. My favorite was the futomaki — longer and thicker rolls filled with whatever the chef fancies that day. The hibachi food was great. You can see how fresh the ingredients are, and you get everything you want, and nothing you don’t.

Dessert was something special. Real ice cream, not the soft-serve you find in many all-you-can-eat joints. You scoop it out of huge tubs yourself. Flavors include green tea, vanilla, strawberry and a pretty good chocolate. There are little cakes and almond cookies, too.

Don’t expect great atmosphere at Kyoto. It’s a converted Bob’s Big Boy, only with less charm. Sort of like dining in a big school cafeteria, only with some bamboo wall coverings to remind you that you won’t find Pappy Parker’s fried chicken here. The day I visited, there were big crowds, and remember, this was lunchtime at mid-week. Nights and weekends get even busier. You have to be patient if you want the best offerings, as they run out quickly even with the chefs operating at a feverish pace. So it can take a while to replenish them.

Kyoto is a solid choice for Japanese and Chinese buffet food on a budget. If you want one of the specialty items, call ahead. They might run out.

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Infobox

What: Kyoto Seafood Buffet

Where: 1407 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale

Cost: Weekday lunch: 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.: adults $8.99; kids under 3 free; kids ages 3 to 4 $2.99; kids ages 5 to 10 $4.99; weekday dinner: 3:31 p.m. until closing: adults $13.99, kids same as lunch; weekends: adults $14.99, kids same as during the week

Contact: (818) 243-8168 or visit www.kyotoseafoodbuffet.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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