Like a lot of my trips to the city lately, it started with catching the Mega Bus at the Rensselaer Train Station Surface Parking Lot B. They raised their parking prices to $5 per day from $3 per day, and have fancy new signs to show it.
We got in a little late due to traffic, and immediately headed over to the UES to Manhattan Maka’s apartment. This was also no small feat due to the heavy bags we brought with us. But we finally managed to make our way over and didn’t scare the nice door staff too much with our bedraggled presence.
We waited around and chatted a few hours for Yuka, a nice sushi restaurant near Manhattan Maka’s place to open for business. We were in right after they opened, and OMG – they have an all you can eat deal for $21. I figured I was going to order… well, way more than that, so what a good deal. Albany John and his brother also ordered the same thing, so we had quite a bit of food to eat. Yummy!
My brother-in-law also ordered one of their beers on special for $7.95, Koshihikari Echigo beer, which was brewed from rice. It was very smooth and light – I would definitely order it if I saw it again. There wasn’t a hint of bitterness at all.
The way the AYCE sushi works is that there are a lot small slips of paper at your table. Your whole group doing all-you-can-eat fills one out collectively, writing the amounts they would like next to each box. It is a slightly limited menu of nigiri sushi pieces and rolls, and more intricate rolls can be added for a higher cost. We stuck with the ones already included, and we were very pleased.
The food we ordered came out very quickly. They would send out the orders when things were done, for example, our nigiri came first from Round 1 of ordering. We were also there around 5 pm, so there wasn’t a crowd either.
Round 1 of nigiri sushi consisted of:
(Starting at top left) Tamago, Mackerel (saba), Octopus
Octopus, Tuna, Yellowtail
Surf Clam, Salmon, Salmon Tataki
We were quite blown away with the salmon tataki. Lightly seared, it was amazingly good. All of the nigiri were manageable mouth-sized portions, not overly packed with rice. The fish were all very fresh – much better than I can find up here.
There’s the remaining nigiri sushi from Round 1 along with the rolls we ordered.
Salmon skin roll is on the left, and on the right are hijiki, yellowtail & scallion, spicy tuna, and salmon rolls.
CVS ordered the spicy tuna, but I remember how hot it was the last time – it’s mainly sriracha, and lots of it! The salmon skin was delicious! It was my favorite out of the 5 rolls. Hijiki was a close second, and a new food for me – it was a seaweed roll, and had a nice thick/almost crunchy texture and wasn’t too briny or anything.
Final round! More salmon tataki nigiri and salmon on top, and yellowtail, squid, and octopus on the bottom. I think there was actually another plate with tuna tataki and more on it, but I forgot to take the picture!
It is very safe to say that I had 8 + pieces of salmon sushi. It is my favorite, and these were all very tasty. The rice was a little warm sometimes, but I actually enjoyed that as it was seasoned very well.
Overall, I was very impressed with the quality, service, and speed of this restaurant. They already had the gratuity included, and the service was still great. Our waitress even made this cute pouty face when we said we were ready for the bill. There’s a 2-hour time limit, and we were finished in under an hour. We left pleasantly full (look, I’m almost a bottomless pit when it comes to sushi) without feeling like we’d completely gorged ourselves to the point of bursting. It’s pretty obvious that I am going to go back when I next find myself in Manhattan.
There they are, cooking, just waiting to go into my mouth.
The next morning we headed back out to Flushing to eat soup dumplings for yum cha / dim sum. We got there a little early, so we grabbed some coffee at a one of the many bakeries in town. Everyone got coffee except for me – I saw a special they had – Honey Grass Jelly drink and I had to try it. This was very filling – I only managed about half of it over the course of the morning. It was also very well worth the $3.50 price tag (most basic drinks are around $1).
It was almost like watered down honey – the honey flavor was so very present. The grass jelly didn’t have much flavor, just texture. They said the drink was supposed to be good for your immune system, so bonus, I had something good for me and tasty.
We also snacked before a meal with har gow and spare ribs in black bean sauce. They were both a dollar. $1 !!! The black bean ribs also had taro in there, which were SO yummy. Obviously, both dishes were very good. The har gow noodles were sticky and wanted to stay in the paper box sometimes. We managed to get them, wink wink. They were also filled to the brim with shrimp. Score!
I had never been, but my uncle absolutely raved about the crab dumplings.
We started off with bowls of pork and pickled cabbage soup. I really liked the broth, but wasn’t too crazy for the noodles. They were thick and a little too bland for my liking. For some reason it reminded me of chicken noodle soup noodles. However, I was still in “Gimme Veggies” mode and loved the pickled cabbage. I also really enjoyed the shredded ginger. Normally I find it too harsh, but maybe these were slightly boiled, as I found them to be great complements to the soup.
Here is an action shot of Albany John picking up a soup dumpling and putting it into his soupspoon.
Here are some of the soup dumplings! We got 2 orders of crab soup dumplings. They were orange-yellow inside, and had a nice sweet crab flavor to them. I was trying to figure out what the color was from when my uncle said it was from the yellow stuff in the crab (is that the roe?). AH ha! It certainly added a nice creaminess to the dumplings.
I ate a good amount of soup dumplings, but I barely dented my soup. Here you can see Albany John tucking into a meat dumpling, along with his finished bowl of soup in the background, and my nearly-full bowl of soup in the foreground. When he looked over he teased “What, did they bring you a new bowl of soup when I wasn’t looking?”