Eat Like a Local: Yoki Buffet Oxford

Article By Abby Parks

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You had me at “buffet!”


It’s ironic how just a couple of weeks ago, I was joking with my sister and her family about how much I love a good ol’ fashioned buffet, and she jokingly said, “We should make you a t-shirt that says, ‘You had me at buffet!’” 


I may just have one of those made for myself. But as it stands, you can only imagine my excitement when I saw the announcement for the ribbon cutting of a brand new buffet in Oxford, Alabama–Yoki Buffet–which had its Grand Opening this past Monday, July 8. 


It seems I was not the only thrilled resident of Calhoun County to hear the news. In fact, when I dropped in on their restaurant the day after, I was informed by Vicky Chen, a guest floor manager helping with the opening of the restaurant, that the previous day’s visitors totaled over 1,000 (not including children). If this is any sign of future success, I’d say that Yoki Buffet Oxford is going to be a smash!

A Buffet Primed for Popularity

There have been very few buffet restaurants in Calhoun County in recent years. I should know, being the buffet-connoisseur that I am. Of those that have come and gone in the 25+ years since I’ve lived here, the only Asian-inspired one still standing is located in Lenlock. So Oxford was the perfect location to open a new one, given the closing of a long-standing establishment next to Red Lobster on Quintard Ave. With Oxford’s exploding growth due to its prime location along I-20 halfway between Atlanta and Birmingham, it was a no-brainer to bring a new Asian buffet to our neck of the woods. 


However, the extra-invigorating point to this story is that Yoki Buffet chose to set up shop in one of the new spaces created at Quintard Mall–a mall that in the last decade was appearing to fade away into the Netherworld along with many others nationwide. Not only has this new restaurant filled up the parking lot on a side of the mall that has barely seen a car since before the Pandemic, but its presence will hopefully encourage other future businesses to bet on Quintard Mall as a worthy investment.


Vicky Chen shared that she and her husband have been in the restaurant business over 10 years and opened a Yoki Buffet in Scottsboro, Alabama 5 ½ years ago in 2019. The Oxford location will be the 3rd Yoki Buffet, the other one having opened just a month ago in Cleveland, Tennessee. Her mother Selena Chen, the general manager of Oxford’s Yoki Buffet, recently relocated to the Oxford area from Seattle, Washington (where they owned a smaller restaurant), desiring to be closer to her extended family. Vicky said that due to travel expenses and distance, she had only seen her mom once a year. 

Meanwhile, another co-owner of the first Yoki (from the Gadsden area) had been driving through Oxford and noticed the leasing sign in the Quintard Mall space. All these factors led to this new restaurant opening.

Food Options Galore Without Breaking the Bank

Specializing in Szechuan, Hunan, Cantonese, and Sushi, Yoki Buffet features 8 bar stations–one wrap-around sushi station that also houses frozen desserts; two bars dedicated to salad and desserts; four stations featuring hot items including soups, fried foods, stir-fry options, etc., and a Hibachi station.


Besides showcasing a salad station with fresh veggies and cold salad options, the salad bar holds a variety of fruits–pears, peaches, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, pineapple, and orange slices. The dessert station includes jello, banana pudding, cookies, and cake options.


The hot bars feature typical buffet standards, from fried seafood, chicken wings, plantains, egg rolls, and Chinese dumplings with dipping sauce, to Seafood Delight, stir-fried chicken or beef dishes, other classic Asian preparations of chicken, and cooked veggies like mushrooms, green beans, and broccoli. 


The 3-sided sushi bar had one side dedicated to vegetarian sushi, and the opposite end offering interesting combinations. As they weren’t labeled, I cannot say what kinds they were, but the variety of sushi options made this buffet notable among others I’ve visited.


Stand-out favorites I sampled included a flavorful, juicy roasted pork loin. The Seafood Delight, a mix of crab, shrimp, and minimal vegetables, was fresh and tasty. I found that their seafood casserole was better than any I’ve had at other buffets due to the way the crab was cooked–it had a seasoned, grilled flavor to it that left me wanting seconds. I was also pleasantly surprised to find fried scallops available.


What will undoubtedly attract many patrons to Yoki Buffet is the Hibachi station at the back of the restaurant, which is included in the price. Diners can choose from noodles, rice, raw veggies, and meats including raw imitation crab, shrimp, pork, chicken, or beef, and then hand their plate of ingredients to one of several Hibachi cooks who will grill it as desired in minutes. I tried a little of everything in my flavor-packed Hibachi stir fry, accompanied by a side of Yum-Yum sauce. I ate every last bite!

Visiting Yoki Buffet Oxford

As the restaurant is so new, be prepared to possibly wait in a line that runs out the door to be seated. I arrived at 10:45 am so had no problem being seated and chatting with Vicky, but once 11:30 rolled around, there was a constant stream of locals coming in to dine. The restaurant was full the majority of the time, with the length of the line varying based on the ebb and flow.


Lunch prices were very reasonable–$11.99 for the buffet, with the evening price being $15.99. They offer takeout from the buffet charged by the pound, or you can order take-out individual options from their online menu.


Yoki Buffet Oxford is located at 700 S. Quintard Ave., Oxford, Alabama. For more information, you can call (256) 403-2662 or email yokioxford@yahoo.com. Don’t delay–visit this amazing new buffet today!


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