Kong China Super Buffet
1150 W. Kiest Blvd. Sute 325, Kiest-Polk Village
Dude Factor: 2, or Congo (the movie version), on a scale of 1 (Conga lines at weddings) to 10 (Donkey Kong)
When a Chinese restaurant can't even get steamed rice right, something is wrong.
You know, Chinese buffets have long drawn dudes for their one price fits all, shovel down all the General Tsao's you can't eat kinda deal. But I should have known from the mysterious odor near our table that we were not in for the "super" buffet we were promised.
It was foul, but not so strong as to be revolting. Just a nuisance, really--the kind of thing that makes you wonder if there's really mystery meat in the General Tsao's. But who cares, right? A Chinese version of the hot dog...Unfortunately, the, um, aroma, certainly foreshadowed bad things to come.
I will have to admit that the joint lived up to the "All You Can Eat" promise. Because all we could eat turned out to be very little indeed.
There was plenty of food to choose from, but very little that was edible. Huge slabs of fish sat in a yellowish-white gelatinous sauce. Beef in congealed brown sauce. Egg drop soup a la tin can. Sesame chicken turned sesame jerky. Cold crab claws that smelled like a truck-stop hooker. Ice-cold French fries. Yes, fries. Stale pretzels. Stale almond cookies. Melted ice cream.
I wish I could be more specific about what I saw, but nothing was labeled. One egg roll was filled with the requisite shredded cabbage, while another one identical in appearance contained spicy peppers. So it was a matter of taste-testing...and I lost my nerve for that as I realized that most of the food was so cold, dry or soggy that it could have been sitting out since the place opened for lunch nine hours earlier. Besides, dudes don't taste test cold meats that aren't on next-day pizza or wrapped in a package marked "salami."
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I really should have bailed, but some sick, self-loathing, masochistic part of my subconscious urged me on toward the sushi bar, daring me to pick up one of the eerie cold crawdaddies staring back with those beady black eyes.
That brings me to the one thing about the restaurant that I couldn't help but admire in spite of myself. Though the staff was all Chinese--from the hostess to the ill-looking chef resting his head on a table during our entire 30-minute visit--there was no attempt at authenticity. There were tortilla chips to go with the soups, jalapenos in nearly every sauce and a bottle of Cholula at every table.
Gotta laugh at a place that panders so cravenly to neighborhood demographics. That, and the even bigger set of cajones a dude earns for just surviving a meal at this buffet are the only reason Kong China didn't get a 1.