Is the fish at All You Can Eat sushi places OK to eat? [moved from San Francisco board]
Asking for advice:
I distrust the freshness and quality of the fish at AYCE sushi places.
The resto has to be cutting corners to make this offer profitable, that is, by using not-so-fresh fish, or frozen fish or lower quality fish.
Are my concerns justified?
My favorite AYCE sushi place in chicago does just that: Limits the options, reduces the fish, ups the rice.
One evening, a friend who was allergic to shellfish joined us and orderd a la carte- the portions were distinctly larger and "prettier"- i suspect for the hundreds of spicy tuna rolls ordered AYCE, they use the scraps and trimmings. Don't get me wrong, the fish is still fresh and tasty, but we go there for the "fun" not for the authenticity or even really for the quality.
Most sushi fish has been frozen, so that's not a bonus you get with all-you-can-eat.
Every once in a while, I go to the Monday all-you-can-eat pizza at Goat Hill Pizza up
on Potrero Hill. It's interesting how they've evolved their pricing and serving structures.
When I divide up the amount of pizza I eat by the amount of money I spend, it almost
always ends up costing more than if I'd just ordered a pizza off the menu any other
night. So they're not losing much if anything, and it's all the same pizza.
There is a great AYCE sushi place by our house. For $38, you can choose whatever you want off a set menu. There are about 15 options. The sushi is good and everything is fresh. They keep the costs low by offering "basic" sushi (ie. not soft shell crab or anything pricy). They also charge more for appetizers and sides and drinks to help offset the costs. There is another place not too far that also has AYCE, but they use more rice to fill out the rolls. The seafood is fresh though.
I don't like places like Todai, where it's more mass produced AYCE, but I think smaller places are ok.
By law, all sushi sold in this country is frozen to kill any possibly parasites (with the possible exception of _some_ tune, but that's not clear). So, in terms of fish simply being frozen, an AYCE restaurant is operating under the same laws as any restaurant serving sushi.
They are almost certainly not using the highest end fish available but they still have to meet FDA regulations and Dept. of Health (State level) regulations. So, there are saftey measures in place.
That said, AYCE sushi is one of the worst ideas I've ever heard and seems to fly in the face of everything sushi is supposed to be in my mind. When I want to keep costs down, I eat less sushi and get a bowl of inexpensive noodles or something to fill out the meal.