What is Sambo Kojin? Is it just a catchy word thought of by a bunch of witty people from marketing or does it stand for something? Anybody know what a Yakiniku is? I don’t. Let me spare you the task of googling it. Here’s what I found… This is what wikipedia has to say:
Kōjin, also known as Sambō-Kōjin or Sanbō-Kōjin, is the Japanese kami (god) of fire, the hearth, and the kitchen. He is sometimes called Kamado-gami, literally the god of the stove. He represents violent forces that are turned toward the good of humankind.
Yakiniku, according to wikipedia, is a Japanese term that refers to grilled meat. Interestingly, despite its origin in Japan, Yakiniku is considered a Korean cuisine. That explains the collaboration of Japanese and Korean dishes served at Sambo Kojin.
Go ahead, share these information and impress family and friends while dining at Sambo Kojin. :)
Like many other buffet restaurants in the metro, Sambo Kojin is usually packed, especially during weekend dinners. If you’re a big group, I suggest making reservations at least three days in advance (just to be sure).
Sambo Kojin WEST AVENUE
Sambo Kojin EDSA
Sambo Kojin EASTWOOD
Sambo Kojin SM SOUTHMALL
Sambo Kojin rates (no left over):
Monday to Friday LUNCH – Php 549
Monday to Friday DINNER – Php 629
Saturday to Sunday and Holidays LUNCH & DINNER – Php 659
Children below 4 ft. – Php 319
No Left Over Price (Add P200 only for leftover)
Unlimited drinks (you can interchange between iced tea and soda) – Php 100
The SM Southmall branch of Sambo Kojin is rather spacious (the largest of all branches, according to another blog) and can seat a good deal of people. Despite this, a queue started to assemble outside the restaurant around dinner time. Setting up a reservation is highly recommended.
Inside, Sambo Kojin follows a contemporary design. The unadorned, muted-colored walls, simple furniture design and the gravely straight alignment of tables contribute to a clean and orderly feel that counters the unmethodical march and noisy chatter made by its diners.
Buffet stations are clustered around the open kitchen on one side of the restaurant. A highlight for Sambo Kojin patrons is being able to grill your own food. Sambo Kojin did an incredibly good job at minimizing the odor and smoke produced by these grills.
Making reservations at Sambo Kojin is no task, the phone attendants are pleasant.
Sambo Kojin’s wait staff are attentive and will gladly explain to you what condiments (there’s quite a number of them sitting on every table) go well with what. Those assigned at the food stations are able to find a balance between knowing when and when not to approach a patron to offer their assistance.
The food stations, being located around Sambo Kojin’s kitchen, are quick to be replenished. There are instances when you’d have to wait a bit when you call for your drink to be refilled; but for the most part, a wait staff will automatically refill your glass (be it the paid iced tea/soda or house water).
Now comes the most important part, one that this article hopes to address most… “How’s the food?”
My heart melts, my tummy rumbles and my brain looses all focus whenever I see sushi and sashimi. No, I’m not exaggerating. Hahaha! In spite of my original plan to go for light dishes first (to make the most of my Sambo Kojin buffet experience), one look at the wide selection (quite a selection indeed) of sushi and sashimi and all objectives are set aside. Yes, I tried each variation and I’m happy to report that all tasted fresh and have a unique flavor.
The Japanese dishes at Sambo Kojin continues with an assortment of Katsu and Furai. No, I don’t know the difference between the two. What I observed is they’re both fried and has some sort of breading. As one would expect from fried food, there’s nothing extraordinary with these dishes. What’s noteworthy though are the small bowls with ridges inside used to prepare the sauce (I first encountered these in a somewhat pricey Katsu place). It’s wonderful to find them at Sambo Kojin, it makes for a more authentic experience.
Now that the grill has had its time to preheat, we head for the yakiniku station. These displays are the most extensive in Sambo Kojin. There are vegetables, seafood, unseasoned meat, marinated meat, vegetable wrapped with meat, etc… Mixed with Sambo Kojin’s wide assortment of condiments, the combinations are limited only to one’s penchant for experimenting, and should equally be accompanied by a tenacious taste bud. You wouldn’t want to shell out an extra Php 200 for being too adventurous.
Several cooked food are also available in Sambo Kojin’s menu. Unlike the sushi and yakiniku, I was not able to try all of them. The ones I had tasted good but weren’t able to produce the same thrill as the sushi.
Korean food would not be complete without side dishes. I haven’t jumped the Korean bandwagon yet, so I’m not familiar with the innumerable sides that a good friend of mine so enthusiastically tells me about. What I do recognize to be present at Sambo Kojins’ display are Chapchae, Pa-Jeon and Tofu Steak (or is the last one Japanese?).
And so comes dessert… If you’ve read my Midas Cafe post, you’d remember that I was just developing a sweet tooth then. Now I eat too much sweets, I’m having trouble controlling it! I will not deny that this is the part I was really looking forward to. On this, Sambo Kojin failed too impress. The dessert station is tucked in a small area at the far end of the restaurant. Compared to Midas, even Vikings for that matter, Sambo Kojin’s dessert options are somewhat limited and the taste is acceptable at best. Dry cakes, runny pudding, crummy ice cream… I had to plead with my friends to help me finish the ones on my plate. Also, it would have been great if the desserts stayed true to the Japanese-Korean theme.
Sambo Kojin’s rates are considerably lower compared to other buffet restaurants. Given that the choices are limited to Japanese and Korean dishes, Sambo Kojin made sure that these dishes are as authentic as they can make them, with no shortage in variety.
The main novelty of dining at Sambo Kojin, of course, is the grill. It adds value to the buffet experience. With our group, it offered a time when everybody stayed by the table, allowing time to catch up while waiting for our yakiniku to cook.
The countless varieties of their specialties, the positive customer service and the more affordable rates (compared to other buffets) all calls for a positive review. A little tweak with the desserts and Sambo Kojin would make for a complete buffet experience.