My Mountain Man from Colorado was visiting this weekend. Albany John wanted to try out Nikko Sushi Buffet at 1893 Central Ave, Albany, NY. Technically, I’d say it’s in Colonie. It’s definitely way up there on Central Ave. I think this used to be the old Dakota steak house, or something like that. It’s neighbors with Golden Corral and just past Dragon Buffet, which had a sad “Serving sushi” sign on their board. An attempt to pull traffic through their doors, I am guessing.
I didn’t really have much of a desire to check out a sushi buffet. I don’t really like large-scale buffets. I enjoy the small selection Indian lunch buffets we have in the area, but the large scale ones just scream “gorge yourself” to me.
But still, it was one of those moments where we had a guest who wanted to check it out, and there are coupons in the coupon clipper making lunch an affordable $9.99. We figured we’d spend at least that much each any where else, so why not give it a go?
There are tombed soldier statues around the entrance and front of the building that set a very ASIAN atmosphere without being overdone. The insides are tall and simple, emphasizing sleekness and cleanliness.
The center is one big rectangle. Nic sketched out good idea of their set up. Here is the hot food/non sushi side. It’s pretty long. There were many dishes: teriyaki chicken, black bean mussels, some squid dishes, tofu dishes…
And there were tongs for every item, with a note on the sneeze guards every few feet to leave the tongs on the plates, and not on the food. Despite these well placed notes, a few patrons still left them on the platters.
If you walk up the hot food way, you’ll head into salad and cold food territory. There are some Japanese condiments (pickled radish, seaweed salad, etc) on here, and then at the end…
Wooden boats of sushi. These are some of the fancy/special rolls. There were about three of them on offer when I was there on Saturday for lunch.
There were plates on every corner, which was nice – didn’t have to ‘start’ from any particular section of the buffet.
Round that corner and now you’re deep in the heart of sushi territory! First up are the rolls, which then led into nigiri sushi. These rolls were being constantly replenished by attentive staff in the center of the food rectangle.
The rolls and nigiri were small, which I appreciated. It meant I could try many things, and fit them easily in my mouth. They also weren’t overloaded with rice. Just smaller versions of sushi.
I liked all of the selection, so I decided I didn’t need to overload my plate. I mean, it’s a buffet. I grabbed one salmon/sake nigiri, one tuna nigiri, pieces of: rainbow roll, spicy salmon, philly, and Alaska rolls. They were all serviceable pieces of sushi. No fishy taste here, but it didn’t scream out freshness either. I liked how small the nigiri were so cute, and so easy to eat many of them!
All in all, I agree with Nic’s assessment – they aren’t the best sushi in the area, but they are fine examples of buffet sushi and enjoyable to boot. It’s not blow-your-socks-off in terms of quality, but you won’t regret it. And the selection is very good, too.
I also got a black bean sauced mussel (okay) and some ‘california vegetables’. Aka Gai Lan – I don’t know why it was called cali veggies. Never heard of that one before. The gai lan were great. Very lightly cooked, not oily, and had plenty of crunch to them!
Albany John decided to load up on round 1. Several pieces of nigiri and sushi rolls. He was quite happy with everything he ate.
Round 2 for me: some more salmon nigiri, another tuna nigiri, saba/mackerel nigiri, and a shrimp nigiri. More gai lan, a specialty ‘Godzilla” roll, shrimp tempura roll, 2 pcs spicy salmon roll, and a philly roll. The spicy salmon had some kind of crunchy flakes in it. I think it was probably panko.
Round 3 for me included more gai lan, some Japanese pickles, more sushi, and some spicy squid and a scallop with creamy sauce. The scallop was sweet and creamy, but I liked it very much. Squid was okay, but a bit on the chewy side.
Round 4. Can you tell I liked the scallop things? A little more of everything, plus a tiny nub of chicken teriyaki (pretty bland, could have used more flavor), and seaweed salad (too sweet). Plus more sushi bits.
Man, for someone who wasn’t that hungry when she arrived here, I sure managed to put a lot of food away! I still don’t think I really overdid it or anything. I mean, sushi is really easy to eat to begin with, and these are tiny.
There’s a small dessert section. Grabbed half of a cream horn and some coconut cake, and went to the non-sushi side for some fresh fruit. Moist coconut cake – not too dried out. And the cream horn was crunchy on the outside, creamy inside. Not too bad at all. I was surprised by dessert.
They also have a soup section! Sweet tapioca soup for dessert! It was coconutty, not red bean soup. I had never tried this and thought it was a nice way to end the meal.
I think this is a Chinese run restaurant. The waitstaff were all attentive, and spoke Chinese. Albany John is going to turn into my Yeh-Yeh and flirt with all the waitresses in Chinese restaurants when he gets older – they all got a kick when he started speaking Chinese to them.
It seemed like a pretty large restaurant, too. Some booths, several long tables. There was even outside seating! At a buffet! How crazy is that? I would have tried it, but it was lunch time, so it was very sunny out.
All in all, I was initially skeptical of Nikko, but I enjoyed my experience. I am curious about dinner and may go in the future, but right now lunch is $9.99 with those coupons, and just fine with me.