A few days ago, my food buddy and good friend Elizabeth sent me an email about the newly opened Nikko (1893 Central Avenue, Albany, NY 12205) Sushi and Seafood Buffet. The email basically said "WE GO NOW! WE GO SUSHI LOTS NOW!" So we planned it for the upcoming Saturday.
We got there and I was immediately impressed with the decor. They did a nice job with the look - it was a buffet but they went for a kind of classy look, and everything was pretty sleek and clean looking. We were seated, our drink orders were taken and we were told to explore.
The breakdown is this: The buffet is a rectangle with a bunch of sushi chefs inside making rolls and sushi and refilling hot dishes. I badly sketched it so you could see the layout:
In short - the place was good. I will go there again. Their rolls were good and varied. They made them in small batches so you knew they weren't sitting out forever, they had some cool tempura ones and even some fruit ones that were interesting. They were rolled tight and didn't fall apart. The sushi was good - they had the standard faire that you would get in a "chef's choice" kind of sushi plate. I am not a huge fan of sashimi but it seemed fair. It was on ice, sliced well and tasted good. No nightmare "fishy" smell or scary looking stuff. Obviously it wasn't excellent - but it is an ALL YOU CAN EAT BUFFET. I don't think anything can be "excellent" at that style of eatery, or else Yono would be throwing his braised shortribs on a steam table and piling plates and forks next to them. The best you can hope for is satisfying. And it is.
Here's why I will go back:
1. I usually spend AT LEAST 20 dollars on sushi when I go out. Usually more. For roughly 30 dollars (buffet plus drink and tip) I get good sushi and some bonus things like a few choices of soups and hot dishes plus unlimited quantities of the next thing I am going to write about...
2. OYSTERS ON THE HALF SHELL. They were good. And plentiful.
3. Drinks and Outdoor Patio - They are still waiting on their liquor license but once they start cranking out some drinks and open the patio - this will seem like a fun place to be when it is warm.
I am sure people will go and hate the heck out of this place on their blogs and comments on Tablehopping, etc. But the bottom line is: IT'S A BUFFET. STOP BEING SNOOTYPANTS. YOU ARE STANDING ON LINE FOR THE TONGS TO FILL YOUR PLATE TO OVERFLOWING CAPACITIES WITH THINGS. This is NOT gourmet. This is why I think everyone should at least give it a try. While the concept can be scary, mentally (fresh fish in a buffet atmosphere) the owner seems to have a clue. And this is awesome in itself.
By the way - they have hibachi too for those who are into the shrimp flipping, saki pee pee fire drill experience.