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All you can eat sushi....pros and cons?

kgarabed Apr 6, 2011 10:47 AM

I may have to go out to dinner next week with some friends and family and it was suggested that we go to an "all you can eat" sushi restaurant. I have never been to one before as I typically get my sushi from places like Sagami, Morimoto, or Zento. The idea of an all you can eat place worries me a little. Are there any suggestions of for "All you can eat places" in the Philadelphia or south jersey area that are better than most? Or would you recommend trying to convince my cohorts to just steer clear of the all you can eat joint in favor of an a la carte place. For me, All i need in good sushi is perfectly cooked rice and impeccably fresh fish - Japanese simplicity at its best. Thanks for any suggestions/advice!

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  1. c
    cwdonald RE: kgarabed Apr 6, 2011 11:23 AM

    I will say I have never had good rice at an all you can eat sushi place. It never has the right stickiness, and the vinegar is almost always omitted. If you want that part of the sushi experience to be right, do your best to convince your dinning companions to consider going elsewhere. My experience also is that the sashimi selection at all you can eat sushi places, especially all you can eat sush i bars is limited, poorly cut, and of dubious quality.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cwdonald
      barryg RE: cwdonald Apr 6, 2011 11:31 AM

      I did the all you can eat at Makiman's Center City location several weeks ago. It's Monday nights, $25pp, BYOB. The rice was pretty good, definitely had vinegar; if anything, it had a little too much but on another visit it was better. You can order some apps, a bunch of rolls and from a pretty decent selection of nigiri by the piece (2 pieces per orders). The fish was definitely good, but the downside is that you can only order three items at a time and service was pretty slow. I also noticed that the quality of cuts seemed to degrade towards the end of my meal. I was only ordering nigiri, not just salmon and tuna, and was eating quite a bit so maybe they were sending me a signal.

      If you want to try AYCE Makiman is worth a go I would say, but it definitely isn't as good as Sagami, Morimoto or Zenro.

    2. Jay F RE: kgarabed Apr 6, 2011 11:38 AM

      I used to get all-you-can-eat at Ajia, 3131 Walnut Street near Penn. This was about five years ago, and it was wonderful. You got to pick whatever you wanted, no restrictions. Call and see if they still have it: (215) 222-2542.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jay F
        kgarabed RE: Jay F Apr 10, 2011 07:22 AM

        Thanks for all the tips, everyone!

      2. k
        kgarabed RE: kgarabed Apr 21, 2011 07:41 AM

        Thanks for everyone's suggestions. Sadly, I ended up having to go to an all you can eat sushi joint in Glassboro NJ. It was called "Tokyo Mandarin" It....was...awful. I actually began to have high hopes for this place after reading all the very positive yelp reviews. Either, I was there on an off night OR the people who reviewed it wouldn't know good sushi if they were slapped in the face with a giant roe sack. The fishes quality was dubious at best. The salmon was definitely past its prime. My Tako (octopus for the reviewers on yelp) was beyond chewy and was clearly cooked then frozen. My first bite brought forth a mouthful of water that had been released during the freezing process. Additionally, the Mackerel was inedible. There is no reason a restaurant should be serving fish in that condition. The restaurant did not even make its own Tamago. Once again the Tamago was pre-bought frozen crap. It was virtually flavorless and had an awful texture. I make Tamago all the time at home and have never even considered buying the prefab stuff.

        On some more general notes. The rice was not seasoned well and was packed suer tight. Also, the amount of nori used made each piece hard to chew. Also, the knife work was pretty shoddy. Most pieces were uneven or even ripped! Blah! On a more philosophical note: the very notion of all you can eat sushi seems antithetical to the Japanese aesthetic of balance and simplicity. It is forcing our American gluttony on a food tradition that shines best when it is simply prepared and as fresh as possible.

        That will be my first and last time going to an all-you-can-eat sushi joint. i hope I can show my fellow dinner goers what "real sushi" can be like.

        8 Replies
        1. re: kgarabed
          sockii RE: kgarabed Apr 21, 2011 09:09 AM

          Sorry you had such a bad experience, but I'll make a note to stay away from Tokyo Mandarin, thanks for the warning. I've been numerous times to one of the other restaurants in their operation, Mandarin Oriental in Mullica Hill. They don't do AYCE, just regular sushi, and it's...ok. Nowhere near as bad as you encountered but certainly nothing to write home about (whereas their cooked entrees and generally very good.)

          Mandarin Oriental
          141 Bridgeton Pike, Mullica Hill, NJ 08062

          Tokyo Mandarin
          525 Beckett Rd, Swedesboro, NJ 08085

          1. re: sockii
            ospreycove RE: sockii Apr 21, 2011 09:13 AM

            Rule #16.........Stay Away From DISCOUNT Sushi!!!!!!!! You are eating it!!!!!

            1. re: ospreycove
              kgarabed RE: ospreycove Apr 21, 2011 09:16 AM

              I really wish I could have, blah! sooo awful. Luckily, I get to choose where we eat for our next gathering.

              1. re: kgarabed
                sockii RE: kgarabed Apr 21, 2011 12:33 PM

                I also didn't realize you were likely going to be eating in this area of South Jersey...I don't think there's ANY exceptional sushi around these parts unless you go to Sagami.

                1. re: sockii
                  cwdonald RE: sockii May 31, 2011 09:20 AM

                  Sockii.. you don't think that Matt Ito at Fuji does good sushi. I will certainly agree with you about Sagami.. it is the grande dame of sushi in South Jersey, but Matt is definitely right up there.

                  1. re: cwdonald
                    sockii RE: cwdonald Jul 18, 2011 08:31 PM

                    Forgot about Fuji, I agree it's very good...I had the Mullica Hill area on my brain when replying, I guess, even though Sagami is outside of that. Even our latest offering, Green Tea in Swedesboro, is pretty mediocre. But then I had the worst sushi of my life last week in Philly at Yamaki, so not even being in the "big city" is a guarantee of anything.

              2. re: ospreycove
                Bacchus101 RE: ospreycove Jul 19, 2011 09:20 AM

                osrey....thanks again for the tip. Nicely stated. I suppose my/our last comments were a bit too broad/off subject for the ever vigilant CH team????

                1. re: Bacchus101
                  ospreycove RE: Bacchus101 Jul 19, 2011 12:31 PM

                  Bacchus, W

                  What???? our posts on Sushi AYCE and why or why we do not like the concept , as depicted in the thread title "PROS and CONS", were eliminated, wow, I guess we should have provided a more Milque Toast response like "Oh yes I just love stuffing myself with unidentifiable raw fish!!!!! Must be a slow day on CH for the Volunteer folks.

          2. Delucacheesemonger RE: kgarabed May 31, 2011 06:15 AM

            Makiman has three locations and has AYCE on Mondays. Thought quality of fish was excellent.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger
              cwdonald RE: Delucacheesemonger May 31, 2011 09:21 AM

              Deluca.. I thought that I had heard that the Makiman downtown is owned by the original, but the other two locations were sold. Keeping the same name but no longer under the same ownership.

              1. re: cwdonald
                Delucacheesemonger RE: cwdonald May 31, 2011 10:14 AM

                Having just returned to Philadelphia after two months away, l will certainly defer to your knowledge.

                1. re: cwdonald
                  barryg RE: cwdonald May 31, 2011 10:35 AM

                  Don't know but they are on Groupon today and it's good for all three locations, which is an indication they share management.

                  1. re: barryg
                    Seeker19104 RE: barryg Jul 18, 2011 07:40 PM

                    Used my LivingSocial $30 for $15 coupon this evening at Makiman on Spruce St. Not enough time nor appetite for AYCE; however, enjoyed my churashi dinner and my companion enjoyed sweet potato roll and another house specialty roll.

                    IMO, not quite up to the standard of churashi at Moshi-Moshi (which puts a layer of fish flakes between the rice and fish).

                    Anyone been to other AYCE sushi lately?

              2. Delucacheesemonger RE: kgarabed Jul 19, 2011 12:47 PM

                Will try this again, there is a difference between AYCE's. They may be a buffet or may be orders as usual. The one l currently use is Makiman on Spruce and they let you order and everythig is made, whether nigiri or maki, when you order it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                  cwdonald RE: Delucacheesemonger Jul 19, 2011 01:19 PM

                  Is sashimi included?

                  Anyway, in my opinion there should be little difference in quality in AYCE sushi if its done the way Delucacheesemonger describes and regular service. All you are doing is capping the price. Buffets are where its not prepared to order, the sushi quality declines rapidly sitting on the buffet and the experience is generally not as good as a la carte ordering whether it is AYCE or a la carte.

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