Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nikko Sushi Buffet or How Many Rolls Can You Jam in your Belly?

I love sushi.  If you have read me before, you know this.  I love it.  I am pretty sure I could eat it every day.  If they had a sushi bar with accompanying sushi chef on the island in LOST, I would have blown up the sub, the plane, the VW...any form of transportation because I would have been pretty damn happy to stay there for the rest of my life with no way of leaving (it would be OK if Sawyer were there, too). 

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.


  1. I have been waiting for a place like this to open up in the Albany area. Will have to check it out the next time I'm there.

  2. tried it last I adore raw oysters, beef tartare, sushi, sashimi and I was pretty happy. Husband doesn't so he went the to the hot foods section. I definitely got my money's worth on the raw oysters and raw fish, but I agreed with hubby, the hot foods were only meh at best. Anything that said tempura was really overly breaded and heavy. The "Stone Crab"? was actually tempura'd snow crab and difficult to eat at best. The lobster was way over cooked, dried out and again difficult to eat as there weren't any utensils, aka lobster crackers to open the knuckles or crab legs up with to get out any meat. The servce was fabulous and the manager did come over to check on us. Not sure if we will go back unless I have another hankering to eat huge amts of raw oysters, etc. Place was not busy at all. I really wanted to love this place too. Oh well.

  3. good article nicole!

  4. llcwine - agree on the hot food. people that would just get the hot would be sorely disappointed. but the raw peeps should be pretty happy!

  5. I ate there last night and in the same night dreamt about going back.. I didn't feel like I was in Albany more like California, they did a great job!! i am going back before everyone finds out about it and it turns into a mad house, all you can eat lobster!
    1 I mean cmon son

    PS: the sushi chefs watching you take from the buffet was a bit uncomfortable but I think they wanted to replenish what you took rather than give you a dirty look and call you a fat ass under their breath hahahah

  6. i agree about the shushi chefs waiting. i was happy they put out small rolls and replenished often so the stuff wasn't sitting around a long time. i am sure when i went that they thought "she is up here AGAIN? sheesh! i hope goes to the gym after this..."

    except...yeah... i didn't.