AYCE (all you can eat) sushi in NYC?
ok ok, I know it's sort of a gross concept, but I'm convinced one of these little sushi joints that have an all you can eat special (usually on a random day of the week) actually has decent sushi and doesn't overload the pieces with tons of rice. anyone have a good experience at one of these things?
Hands down, New Ashiya in the EV. I take plenty of clients out to enjoy higher priced sushi, and New Ashiya's rolls rival pricier versions. Their rolls do have a balanced amount of fish vs. rice. The sashimi is better during the week, on the weekend it's thinner and not as precisely cut.
They have an all you can eat and drink special for $30. It gets loud...and has an NYU crowd on the weekends...but try it out!
Yes, as bigjeff mentioned below, and LloydG alluded to, the new incarnation is called Ichi Umi, at 6 East 32nd Street (just east of 5th Avenue). This was written in response to your question, but expands into a full-blown review. I just ate there last night on the recommendation of a friend that accompanied me. She told me that it had been known by other names, including Todai and Minado's. She said it was the same creature in different clothing. This is an AYCE place (Asian buffet) that includes a sushi bar. At the sushi bar, you'll find various cut rolls, some sushi, and some sashimi. Of the cut rolls, I found 2 last night that I normally don't eat, spicy salmon and a green one (I forget the name). Most of the cut rolls had avocado, so if you don't like avocado, your selection of the cut rolls will be limited. I found the quality of the sashimi and sushi to be average. I'm a yellowtail fan, and did not really like the pieces last night. I did, however, enjoy the roe selection: I saw 3 kinds, at least. Aside from the sushi bar, they had plentiful selections of various Asian food items. I was pleasantly surprised by the size (quantity) of the individual items, which were all smaller than I am used to. Daintier. It worked for me b/c I could sample and put many items onto 1 full plate at a time. You could load up on 1 item, but the quantity is made for sampling. The seabass was scrumptious, although I didn't like that they did not descale the skin, so it was inedible. The skin would have been the best part because the caramelization on the skin is very sweet and tasty. I'm a fan of kalbi, and I did not enjoy the kalbi. I thought it was overcooked. They also had plenty of vegetable selections, which I did enjoy. The weekday cost of our dinner was $28 and change, not including drinks, tax and tip. I noticed that the hostess time-punched our receipt when she greeted us, so I think there is a time-limit, but I didn't see it posted, and our waitress didn't say anything to us. We started dining around 8:30ish pm. I pretty much enjoyed my experience until closing time. As it approached at 10pm (rather early, in my opinion), the staff was like trying to get out of Dodge. There was a lot of noise as they were taking out bags of garbage, cleaning up the buffet table, etc. And they gave a not-so-subtle hint by turning off the lights to the place. I think one of the staff was hovering behind me, but I found it annoying, so I just ignored her. We were 2nd to last to leave, and there was one other table of 2 who sadly I think were not at the end of their meal. As we were leaving, I heard one of the staff tell them that they were closing. I don't know how that ended, but I don't think nicely. The other peeve was our waitress, who had been polite and helpful throughout, came back after receiving the cash with the bill, and asked if she had "done anything wrong", and then indicated that she received a smaller than expected tip? I double checked my math, and I had given her 10%, and so I added money to bring it up to 15%. Now I know I erreed but at the same time, I thought it was crass of her to mention it to us, even if she did so apologetically. I think it's something that just should not be done. I don't know about any other persons' opinions or experiences in this respect, and would like comments. Now having said all that, I actually had a great experience, right up until the end. I'd be willing to give it another shot, bearing in mind their closing-time practice, and if the server were to complain again about a tip, I'd have to see management then.
If you're looking strictly for AYCE sushi, and did not want a buffet, may I suggest Yuka on the Upper East Side, at 81st and 2nd. It's got a decent selection and decent, reliable quality. They offer sushi (not overstuffed with rice), handrolls and cutrolls (plus additional items for which you pay extra). Upside is many: reliable and decent quality, good service, relatively inexpensive (I think about $19-23 per person?), inclusive of a reasonable 12-14% gratuity (which oddly, they have a clearly, stated policy of no additional tipping, can't understand that), which I feel is meager, and oftentimes want to give them a bigger tip, but I've seen diners ask this before, and the staff decline it. Downside is: it's a relatively small place, can be cramped, especially in the main dining room, and the wait can be long during prime time, and during winter, you'd have to mostly wait outside. Strictly speaking, for sushi only, I'd definitely recommend Yuka over Ichi Umi. Fans of the now-defunct Kinoko's on the Upper West Side would probably enjoy Yuka as well. If you're in the mood for variety, I'd recommend Ichi Umi, bearing in mind the caveats I mentioned.
One that I enjoy is: Hayashi Ya, located at 857 9th Ave (bet’n 55 and 56th St). The best part is that it is all you can eat sushi AND all you can drink sake for $25. Basically, its a great way to get full and drunk for cheap. As my friend said when we went last month (for the first time in awhile), "I've had much worse sushi."