Aussies love a good buffet – it would seem that the joy that comes from the opportunity to pick your favourites and pile your plate high, is second only to the fact that you can go back and get more – and more.
Kumagoro is a buffet with a difference – with an advertised fifty different Japanese and Asian dishes, this restaurant provides consistent and plentiful food at a set cost. In reality, this is not high end, authentic Japanese cuisine. It is a Westernised version of most of the dishes, but this is not to say they are not excellent for what they are. The food is recognisable and accessible, fresh and nicely presented.
The fifty different dishes comes from the enormous range of sushi offered every night – over twenty types including traditional sushi rolls (rice and filling wrapped in nori), nigari (where the seafood or egg is placed on top of a mound of rice) and uramaki (the inside out rolls).
Sashimi comes in two choices – salmon or mixed. You need to request a plate of sashimi directly from the kitchen and can only get one at a time, but you can go back as many times as you like.
Wastage is always a real issue at buffets and smorgasbords. It can be tempting to overfill your plate or grab serves of food you don't end up liking. Wastage is taken seriously at Kumagoro with numerous signs warning you not to waste food, and the ever present threat of being charged extra for food that is left uneaten. You would have to be pretty slack to have your hand slapped by management, but it did seem to prove an effective deterrent for most diners, and being made conscious about the amount of food that is thrown out by restaurants is certainly not a bad thing.
The restaurant opens daily at 5.30pm and while it is relatively quiet early on, by 6/6.30pm the restaurant is full. You pay for your food when you arrive, although drinks are ordered at the table and paid for separately at the end of the night. The food is centrally located and the space can get quite busy, although there are constantly fresh dishes being brought to replenish the buffet.
Plates, cutlery, chopsticks and sauce are also centrally located. Jugs of water of available for free, but all other drinks (from their very limited wine menu) are available from the bar. The drinks menu consists of four wines, three beers, one sake, two juices and some soft drinks. Prices are reasonable and on Friday and Saturday nights, the cost of the buffet includes free beer (Kingway Lager).
The rest of the menu is a mix of deep-fried finger foods such as takoyaki, spring rolls and tempura, hot dishes such as beef stir fry, teriyaki chicken and pork belly as well as all the normal sides and accompaniments such as rice and miso soup. There is also fresh mussels and prawns plus salads. The menu changes slightly and while there is plenty of choice for the average diner, there is not a lot in the way of dishes for vegetarians.
The dessert bar is the least impressive section with platters of freshly cut fruit, bowls of chewy jelly cubes and – great for the kids – an entire freezer of pre-scooped icecream with assorted toppings.
Dining mid-week is much cheaper than dining on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday ($29.90 compared to $38 for adults) but free beer is included on those nights. Children aged between 3 and 11 years are $14.95 and $19 depending on when you dine.
Kumagoro is located in the Floreat Forum, 15 minutes west of Perth
Kumagoro is located at the northern end of the Floreat Forum, near to the Cambridge Library. There is lots of free parking in the multi-storey carpark. Reservations – especially for weekends – is recommended and can easily be done online via the contact page.