There was a grand opening photo of Mayor Hazel and a prosperous looking team of managers and owners in last Friday's Mississauga News.
Strange there's no ads, no details, and no web site up yet. The former occupant, Happy Court Restaurant's web site is still up though after it's closing in January. Maybe they are just having a soft opening to ease into full operation although that can be deadly for a buffet-style facility.
Well, this is interesting. I went in to investigate this new restaurant and get a menu. As it was already fairly busy this stormy Monday and still shortly before noon, I decided to stay and try it for lunch today. It is an expansion of a Brampton restaurant of the same name, 168 Sushi Buffet, although the outside signs proclaim it to be Japan Buffet. Names aside, it is what it is, a very favorable addition to Mississauga's dining options.
And yes Snapper, it's next to Miga Korean BBQ at 2366 Dundas St. West.
The term "Buffet" in its sign name is a bit misleading as it is the mark-a-menu type of AYCE dining with full table service, only the food here is surprisingly good.
The AYCE deals are $14.95 for lunch only and $22.95 all day. There's 2 "Special Deluxe" menu sections with about 25 items that are off limits to the lunch patrons.
I started with a cup of the Miso Soup and the Seaweed Salad. The salad was a best ever for its type in my somewhat limited Japanese restaurant experience and the soup was just like the instant Kikkoman Shiro Miso soup I use at home which is OK with me. I had a few quite satisfactory maki rolls, the Spicy Salmon and Spider, both made with only 2 or 3mm of rice and a decent amount of filling. Things got even better with the sushi order. I sampled the Salmon, White Tuna, BBQ Eel, Salmon Rose, and Spicy White Tuna, the last two being my particular favorites. I enjoyed all the sushi as it was served warmish, at body temperature, which substantially enhances the fish flavors. Another plus, this was the first time I have had eel sushi served hot off the grill and it was a marked improvement over comparable local efforts.
From the cooked foods offered I chose the Kali beef ribs, plus Shrimp, Squid and vegetable Tempura. The shrimp were the best of the group being large and decorated with lots of crisp bits, (i forget the Japanese Chow-word for them) and just barely cooked. On the down-side, a few of them had not been de-veined.
Service was better than expected, with a couple of items arriving about a minute after ordering. How do they do it? Easy, I counted 1 expediter, 8 cooks and 2 helpers on duty. And this was on a Monday. To ensure promptness all the servers wear radio-receiver ear pieces although with about 100 seats the restaurant could likely get along without them, except maybe on weekends when once this place gets known it ought to be jumping. Most of the servers with whom I had contact spoke exceptionally good English and readily assisted me in selecting the items for my meal.
There's a short list of things that could be improved upon that would make this an exceptional mid-tier dining experience. First, get better chop sticks than the usual paper-wrapped siamesed things that come with take out orders. A better quality spoon than the cheap, barely de-burred model now in use that is inconsistent with the fortune invested in many sizes of bone china service plates. No one inquired if the meal was satisfactory, however my many murmurs of appreciation likely made that unnecessary. Still, the crumpled suit-jacketed manager seemed ill at ease and completely escaped customer contact throughout the hour plus I was there. It's tough being on stage when you have nothing to do.
So Julie Wong, the Mississauga edition of 168 Sushi or Japan Buffet gets pretty near top marks from this hound for value, sox-on quality, and service. If you plan to go on a weekend I have a feeling that you might regret not calling ahead and making a reservation at 905-823-8818. I'll certainly be returning there soon.