Tag Archives: all-you-can-eat

Best Value All-You-Can-Eat Sushi in Boston

23 Nov

Yamato Restaurant, Allston/Brighton

I‘ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to Yamato. When my boyfriend and I are craving lots of sushi, Yamato is our go-to place. An all-you-can-eat sushi dinner for the two of us runs only about $50. The sushi is made to order, not sitting out in a buffet, and the quality is much better. Of course, for smaller appetites, you can order a-la-carte from the regular menu.

Yamato Sushi

Yamato has its hits and a few misses; after a couple of visits, I figured out exactly what to order, and what to avoid. Overall, appetizers are great. We always order miso soup, steamed pork gyoza, seaweed salad, and vegetarian spring rolls. The thinly sliced fried lotus roots are also yummy – I don’t know of any other place where you can order fried lotus roots! The one appetizer that is often a miss is the agedashi tofu – sometimes the fried batter is really thick, or, more often, the tofu is drenched and soggy in a deep pool of broth.

Nigiri sushi comes with decent sized pieces of fish – the tamago, inari, and bbq eel nigiri are pictured above. Hand rolls are a tad heavy on the rice, but are also quite generous with the fish, and topped with crunchy tempura bits. There is a large selection of maki rolls, from the simple salmon and spicy tuna maki, to rainbow, caterpillar, and dynamite rolls. For an extra dollar per roll, you can order “special” rolls like the heart-shaped “Lover’s Roll” (above).

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Yamato has a good selection of sashimi. We usually order the salmon, red and white tuna, and mackerel. Only once did we hit a snag – the red tuna was a strange, bright pink colour and the texture was a bit grainy, as if the fish had been recently defrosted.  A regular occurrence however, is what I call the fluke/bass black hole: whenever I order fluke and bass sashimi, only half an order of one of them shows up. I never receive both. Oh well, stick to the other choices, I guess.

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For dessert, order plain green tea or vanilla ice cream. Skip the fried  deep fried version or the fried bananas, as they are coated in thick batter like the agedashi tofu. Anyway, if you order right, you should be too full from sushi to even think about dessert!

The Final Word: Come here to fill up on loads of sushi and sashimi brought to your table!

Info: Yamato Restaurant, 117 Chiswick Rd, Boston, MA, USA

Yamato Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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All-You-Can-Eat Thai and Japanese in Toronto

18 Jul

Spring Rolls - AYCE sushiI remember when I first discovered Spring Rolls as a student – cheap noodle or rice dishes for lunch, under $10, in a long, rectangular space on Yonge Street. Soon, a larger location at the Atrium on Bay opened, with a much more upscale feel. Only recently did I discover that Spring Rolls now has an AYCE option.Spring Rolls - yakitori

The all-you-can-eat menu is impressively large, with Japanese, Chinese and Thai options. But, they can be a hit or a miss.

Hit: yakitori chicken skewers came as a plate of four small skewers, the perfect size as part of an AYCE meal. On the other hand, the satay chicken skewers were huge! They were grilled perfectly though. I only wish that the peanut sauce was better – it tasted like a slightly watered down chunky peanut butter.

Spring Rolls - Satay chicken with peanut sauce

Miss: Pad Thai was mushy, cloyingly sweet, with an unnatural red hue. No tangyness that I would expect from a Thai dish.  Actually I was surprised at how bad it was, given that I had always thought of Thai noodles as being Spring Rolls’ “thing”.

Hit: Sushi is definitely a good deal. There is a lot of variety and not too much rice on the maki rolls. Solid execution, for an AYCE place.

In terms of the Chinese menu items, we tried the siu mai and the shrimp dumplings. Both were decent, and though the “wrappers” of the shrimp dumplings were a bit thick, they encompassed a good amount of shrimp.

Hit: The ambiance. The Atrium on Bay location has lots of large, comfy booths. Service was friendly and our food arrived at a good pace.

The Final Word: Nothing will amaze you but Spring Rolls is a good standby, and reasonably priced ($23 for AYCE dinner, $25 on weekends). Plus, free parking in the evenings at the Atrium on Bay makes it an easy place to go for dinner downtown, if you’re driving. For me, if I’m picking up tired and hungry travelers from Billy Bishop Airport, Spring Rolls is a good option.

Spring Rolls on Urbanspoon

Info: Spring Rolls at Atrium on Bay, 40 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Canada

Great Chowder Cook-Off 2013

8 Jun

After attending Newport’s Great Chowder Cook-Off last year, I vowed to return. This year, the weather was more cooperative –  Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny day, and chowder fans turned up in droves to sample a plethora of soups. The trick is to buy your “Chowdahead” VIP tickets early, so you can enter the Cook-Off one hour earlier This is the main tent before it opened to regular ticket-holders:

main tent

Here are some yummy highlights, so you’ll know where to dine if you’re in search for some of the best chowder in America.

Stefano's booth

Some of the competitors were veterans from last year, including this year’s winner of the Clam CategoryStefano’s Seafood (Long Beach Island, NJ). Stefano’s had the thickest, creamiest chowder again, though it was much too thick for my taste. Turner Fisheries Restaurant & Bar (Boston, MA) served a terrific gluten-free clam chowder, but my vote goes to Pike Place Chowder (Seattle, WA), for their well-balanced chowder with just the right texture and flavours.

In the Creative Category, The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar (Newport, RI) served the same crab and brie chowder as the year before – it was absolutely delicious, and one of my favorites of the day. (Interestingly, you will find a traditional New England clam chowder on The Mooring’s dinner menu, but not the crab and brie chowder).  It was Octagon Restaurant (Groton, CT) that won this category, with its spicy chowder full of skate, lobster, and alligator in a brothy soup. The flavours reminded me of a hearty chilli with notes of cheddar cheese – definitely a very original and adventurous take on chowder.

In the Seafood Category, my favorite was the chowder by StoneRidge (Mystic, CT), with hints of wine that complemented, but did not overpower, the lobster and scallops.

clam mascotTo round out the day, Amstel Light reps served up beer and  “Vermonster” sliders, with apple, onion, bacon and feta – a delicious combo. Wine, beer, ice cream, and other desserts were plentiful. We watched hungry eaters chow down in a clam cake-eating competition, and snapped photos with mascots. The Chowder Cook-Off is one delicious day in the sun, and you’ll definitely get all the chowder you could possibly want!

All-You-Can-Eat Sushi North of Boston

5 May

Maki Maki, Woburn, MA

maki

We arrived right on time at Maki Maki (40 Cummings Park , Woburn, MA) for our 7 pm reservation on a Sunday night. “You gotta wait…like 15-20 minutes,” quipped the host, who later turned out to be a waiter. I explained for a second time, that I had made a reservation. A short, pimply girl who seemed to be the actual hostess walked up, and she and the first guy talked over each other for a bit. The girl then proceeded to give my table away to another party. When she returned to the hostess stand, the first waiter said, in Cantonese, “what are you doing? This couple has a reservation!” To which the girl responded, confused, “oh…but those other guys are already seated in the main dining room….”. The pimply girl and the waiter debated about what to do about me and my boyfriend, and agreed to shove us into a dark, neglected corner of the restaurant, squished up against the end seat of a large party. I expressed my disappointment. The pimply girl responded defensively with “but… when you made your reservation, you didn’t specify you wanted a booth!” No, I had not. But I also didn’t specify I wanted a makeshift table. So after waiting another 10 minutes, we were re-seated at a much more comfortable booth in the main dining room.

Could the food  make up for the terrible start to the evening?

age tofu and gyoza

Thumbs up go to the piping hot age tofu, with a delicate, thin, crispy fried outer layer. The gyoza arrived fried. I would have preferred steamed, but they were ok. The seaweed salad was also good.

Maki Maki - tuna tartare

The tuna tartare was plated nicely, but was essentially just the mush of the “spicy tuna” they put in maki rolls, formed into a cake.

Maki Maki - sashimi

The sashimi was quite fresh, and the selection was good. Having albacore tuna on the menu was a nice surprise. The list of maki rolls was long. and included rolls wrapped in soy sheets instead of nori, which was a nice twist. In addition to the rolls listed on Maki Maki’s online menu, there was another sheet with about 10 special rolls for the day. All of these sounded yummy.

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At around $22 for an all-you-can-eat dinner, the sushi proved to be of good value. However, the quality of service never picked up after we were seated. Our waiter never came to refill our green tea. It was clear that the restaurant was understaffed, as our waiter rushed to serve each table, and never once checked on us.

The bathroom was ghetto, for lack of a better word. Latches on stall doors flew right off because there weren’t installed correctly, and there was and insufficient supply of toilet paper.

The Final Word: Good food and a comfortable main dining room, but unprofessional service. Worth going to for cheap sushi if you live nearby. Otherwise, I wouldn’t make the trip to suburbia just for Maki Maki.

Maki Maki on Urbanspoon

Info: Maki Maki,  40 Cummings Park, Woburn, MA 01801

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