I love sushi. If you have read me before, you know this. I love it. I am pretty sure I could eat it every day. If they had a sushi bar with accompanying sushi chef on the island in LOST, I would have blown up the sub, the plane, the VW...any form of transportation because I would have been pretty damn happy to stay there for the rest of my life with no way of leaving (it would be OK if Sawyer were there, too).
A few days ago, my food buddy and good friend Elizabeth sent me an email about the newly opened Nikko (1893 Central Avenue, Albany, NY 12205) Sushi and Seafood Buffet. The email basically said "WE GO NOW! WE GO SUSHI LOTS NOW!" So we planned it for the upcoming Saturday.
We got there and I was immediately impressed with the decor. They did a nice job with the look - it was a buffet but they went for a kind of classy look, and everything was pretty sleek and clean looking. We were seated, our drink orders were taken and we were told to explore.
The breakdown is this: The buffet is a rectangle with a bunch of sushi chefs inside making rolls and sushi and refilling hot dishes. I badly sketched it so you could see the layout:
In short - the place was good. I will go there again. Their rolls were good and varied. They made them in small batches so you knew they weren't sitting out forever, they had some cool tempura ones and even some fruit ones that were interesting. They were rolled tight and didn't fall apart. The sushi was good - they had the standard faire that you would get in a "chef's choice" kind of sushi plate. I am not a huge fan of sashimi but it seemed fair. It was on ice, sliced well and tasted good. No nightmare "fishy" smell or scary looking stuff. Obviously it wasn't excellent - but it is an ALL YOU CAN EAT BUFFET. I don't think anything can be "excellent" at that style of eatery, or else Yono would be throwing his braised shortribs on a steam table and piling plates and forks next to them. The best you can hope for is satisfying. And it is.
Here's why I will go back:
1. I usually spend AT LEAST 20 dollars on sushi when I go out. Usually more. For roughly 30 dollars (buffet plus drink and tip) I get good sushi and some bonus things like a few choices of soups and hot dishes plus unlimited quantities of the next thing I am going to write about...
2. OYSTERS ON THE HALF SHELL. They were good. And plentiful.
3. Drinks and Outdoor Patio - They are still waiting on their liquor license but once they start cranking out some drinks and open the patio - this will seem like a fun place to be when it is warm.
I am sure people will go and hate the heck out of this place on their blogs and comments on Tablehopping, etc. But the bottom line is: IT'S A BUFFET. STOP BEING SNOOTYPANTS. YOU ARE STANDING ON LINE FOR THE TONGS TO FILL YOUR PLATE TO OVERFLOWING CAPACITIES WITH THINGS. This is NOT gourmet. This is why I think everyone should at least give it a try. While the concept can be scary, mentally (fresh fish in a buffet atmosphere) the owner seems to have a clue. And this is awesome in itself.
By the way - they have hibachi too for those who are into the shrimp flipping, saki pee pee fire drill experience.
I feel like a lot of my entries have been starting like this, but Albany Jane invited me to a Boston Cream Doughnut tasting. I brought Elizabeth. I could go into how ridiculously happy being invited to an event such as this made me, but really - I am not much for gushing. No. Not at all.
So this is how I spent my Saturday morning: I got to meet Fussy D and his adorable spawn (codename: Tangy) and sit and eat doughnuts with people who love food. Then after we were done we sat and talked about more food. So. Um. Pretty much a morning filled with perfection like the doughnuts before us were filled with creamy goodness and ready to be ingested. (See what I did there?)
Here's a shot of me, judging the crap out of some doughnuts.
I made a whole Judgey McJudgersons listy type thing to keep track and try to be official.
Now, Boston Cream doughnuts are complicated so you have to think about a lot of things when judging. I decided to note Frosting, Cake, Filling, then I added the category Chew because one kind had such a different texture. As I was eating and taking notes (we were all solemn and kind of quiet during parts of the judging, then one of us would make a remark like, "Does A taste like it has chemicals in it?" or "Do you taste ANYTHING vanilla in the cream in D?" and we would explode into conversation, but a lot of the time we were hunched over, writing and deciding and thinking and munching.
This is what I realized during my judging. I didn't really taste anything THAT different in all of them. The creams were similar, the frosting was similar, the cakiness was similar. Sometimes the difference was very, very small. I picked the Dunkin Donuts one out immediately, mostly because I have probably shoved at least seven hundred into my mouth in my lifetime (Most times it goes like this: "Are these donuts? Are we allowed to take one? OOOOH Boston Cream!!!" Yoink!), but also because it looked the most uniform. The rest had a distinct homemade style to them. Besides that though, almost all the frostings tasted like chocolatEY (not chocolate, chocolatEY) cake frosting, and the cream was pretty velvety and vanilla puddingish. The cake is where I got thrown off. The first one I tried had a very different texture than the other three. It was chewier, more like bread - dessert bread, and had bigger air pockets throughout. It was heartier, like a hardroll while the rest were soft like potato bread. And I discovered that I liked it best. When thinking about it, the reason I liked it best was not just because I thought it TASTED better, but because I felt like this was how donuts should be. It reminded me that before there were mocha soy latte frappe and chocolate croissant shoppes, there were coffee and donut shops and they made everything from scratch there. And when the guy behind the counter took your order, he wasn't always Corporation Pleasant which he learned in the training video, he was real and maybe even a little bit mouthy, but he also made everything himself and was pretty damn proud of that. Mind you, I wasn't around when these kind of places existed, but I think I have it pictured correctly.
So I picked my top choice because I thought it was what a donut SHOULD BE instead of what most of them are today. And I like the ones today. But I also like the thought of some guy with a kind of dirty apron selling me something he made with his own hands, that morning. Not something that got unloaded off of a truck and loaded onto a shelf by a bored and unhappy person that has higher goals and aspirations, but coffee and donut slinging are fine for now as long as the rent is paid.
I just finished this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390109/ and loved it. I don't want to tell you too much about it even though if you just clicked the link then you probably know a ton. So maybe don't click on the link? Or should I have said that before?
Oy. I ruin anything.
Anyway - you can Netflix instant it if you have such things, or find it in several other places I am sure.
I went again to my new fave Indian place (thanks AJ) and the owner (Salim?) informed me that he will be doing FRIDAY NIGHT all you can eat buffets from 5:30 to...8. So...that's pretty sweet. Just wanted you all to know. Apparently he remembers me from my buffet visits. Or maybe I am just the type of girl who looks like she digs buffets (read: fatty boombalatty).
Anyway - when I went this time I was accompanied by the lovely Lori and there was no buffet. Hmmm. So we were ordering straight from the menu. A new experience - awesome. And we were hungry. We ordered Pakora and Pappadum and Dolmas and Hummus. The table was filled with our many appetizers. We went on to order Vegetable Curry (Lori) and Chicken Tikka Masala (Moi). Lori reported the deliciousness of the curry and I was super impressed with the Tikka Masala. It is pretty much my go-to dish and this is the creamiest Masala I have ever had. Very delicious. I almost licked the bowl. OK I licked the bowl. This information makes me conclude (again) that I love this place. But you knew that.
In other food related news, I cooked a little with Matt and Elizabeth and helped make some bread from Betty's Green Box. And then we proceeded to put the bread on chatroulette and urge people to pretend to eat it. This was great fun and I am sure I will want to do it again with other dishes. And by the way? Chatroulette? WTF?
Oh yeah! And I finally ate at Capital Q! Woohoo that was awesome! I had the Okie pork sammy with sides of coleslaw, mac and cheese, and collard greens. They gave me the tastings so I could decide and the friendliness of the staff is incredible! They are awesome there. The food is delicious and I cannot wait to go again.
Last note - pappardelle pasta is hard to eat. I made lamb bolognese (sort of - no cream in the house so I guess it was sort of a lamb ragu?) and finally found pappardelle at Cardona's Market. And when I put it all together and we started to eat I realized how hard it is to eat! It is awfully pretty in the bowl but pretty close to eating full sheets of lasagna and sauce. Lots of splashy splashy in the bowl. I was kind of bummed.
Wow - this was rather disconnected. I covered a lot of ground, though.