> Mikado 23 - New Upscale Sushi Buffet in Wayne
A new upscale sushi buffet called Mikado 23 has opened in Wayne. They are located right off of Route 23 on the site that was Majestic Buffet formerly, and before that, the most sinister electronics chain to ever make its way into New Jersey, Nationwide Electronics. (I used to love going in there and seeing $400 TVs priced at $1800.)
I liked Majestic Buffet. I thought it was a little fancier than the typical Chinese buffet and I liked the decor and ample space inside. Then I discovered Minado and it completely changed my idea of what a buffet should be. Yeah, it was more expensive, but it was so much better than the typical Chinese buffet that I've pretty much stopped going to all other buffets.
I was very skeptical of trying this place, but being curious, I had to try it once, so I went last night. I got very nervous when I saw that the outside was almost exactly the same as Majestic Buffet, except for the new signage. After all, I was expecting an upscale Japanese buffet, not another Majestic Buffet for an additional $10 per person.
The entryway just past the doors was similar too. Oh no.
We were seated. OK, now things were looking up. The decor was nicely updated, with new tables and chairs, and some neat semi-private rooms lining the back wall.
And then we finally got to see the buffet. And Minado has some competition!
The sushi was excellent, and they had some varieties that Minado doesn't have. For example, they had some great shrimp tempura sushi, including one with mango. These were great, comparable to what I've gotten in sit down restaurants. They also had the usual fare: eel (and eel avocado, which Minado often doesn't have), shrimp, tuna, salmon, etc. All were fresh and tasty. They also had a salmon roe sushi, but I didn't try that.
Like Minado, they also had some nice Asian salads, like octopus salad. Again, fresh and tasty.
Hot foods were good too. They had some pad thai (good for a buffet, but not quite comparable to what you'd get at a sit down Thai restaurant), tom yum soup (again, OK for a buffet) and some wonderful udon noodles in a peanut sauce. These were great. They also had chicken teriyaki.
They also had chicken and shrimp tempura. These were fantastic. The shrimp tempura looked to be made with king prawns and the crunchy tempura coating was fantastic. Much better than Minado's prawns, which seem to be filled with creamy mayonnaisey sauce (yeek).
Desserts were limited, but good. There were a few cakes, very similar to the ones at Minado. They also had some Asian inspired desserts, like tapioca custard. They kept the old ice cream station from Majestic Buffet: there's a freezer with giant tubs of hard ice cream (Turkey Hill, I think) and scoops kept under running water. You scoop the flavors you want. Good, but no comparison to the incredible soft serve vanilla and green tea ice cream Minado added some time ago.
They have a hibachi station, but I didn't see anyone getting anything from there, so I skipped that. Maybe next time.
As a grand opening promo, they offered free large pitchers of a drink they called "aloha juice". This was a nice treat. A citrusy juice drink with strong grapefruit and coconut flavors, with mixed fruit throughout. I'm sure a pitcher of this would normally go for at least $10, maybe even $15.
The place is huge (much larger than Minado's locations, which are large themselves) and there was plenty of room to sit comfortably and to peruse around the buffet. As much as I love Minado, the place is an absolute zoo at all times, and you really have to learn how to become skilled in avoiding crashing into people while going to the buffet and back to your seat. And at the Little Ferry location in particular, seating is very tight, because there are always so many people there.
Weekend dinner was $25.95, $4 cheaper than Minado. Figure $5 less per person after tax and tip. Weekday lunch is a very reasonable $11.95, but I don't know how limited the selection is then.
The place doesn't have all of Minado's "amenities": no udon soup station, no crepes, no hand rolls (I don't think). And overall, they don't have quite the variety that Minado has, especially in the hot foods department. But then again, they are a bit cheaper, they do have stuff that Minado doesn't have, the place is more comfortable to dine in, and the food is still excellent. Service was very attentive.
I have to wonder though, whether Mikado was started by someone who formerly worked at Minado. The names are almsot identical, the logos are similar, and even the little business cards they had at the front with hours and prices were almost identical in style to the ones they have at Minado.
Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by Mikado 23, and I will definitely return in a few weeks. They did just open, so maybe they'll add some things once they get settled. Minado is still the overall champ (at least right now), but Mikado 23 is a very solid and worthy alternative.
Just a quick bump/update for this place. Since my original post I've been back a few more times, and this place has impressed me more and more each time. They offer probably about 85% - 90% of their dinner selection for lunch (especially in terms of the sushi). You can get eel avocado, shrimp tempura, and a lot of other "premium" susho at lunch, unlike at Minado. The hot foods are toned down a bit for lunch, but still great. They've added quite a bit of variety to their desserts too.
The $11.95 weekday lunch special may be the best restaurant bargain in NJ right now. If you haven't checked this place out yet, and you like sushi, you need to get there!