Monday, December 10, 2012

Restaurant Review: Tokyo House

Tokyo House on Urbanspoon
I typically steer clear of buffets. I pretty much hate them. The food is mediocre, and I always question whether or not the place is sanitary. I like Indian lunch buffets. And surprisingly (when sanitation and quality of the food is MOST important), I like sushi buffets.

Back home in Charlotte there is a sushi buffet I've been to for lunch a few times, Ru Sans. The food is very good. Especially for the ridiculously cheap price. The problem: eating there is one of the most stress full dining experiences of your entire life. They open at 11:00am, and people start lining up about 10:30. Once you're inside, all of the sushi is in one (very small) area, and you're basically herded like cattle through the line. It's so busy that you really can't even enjoy your meal.

Dinner at Tokyo House is nothing like that. We arrived at about 6:30 on a Saturday night and were promptly seated. The dining area is spacious & modern, and in the middle of the room is the four sided cold food bar. One side is an assortment of sushi (all labeled, neatly arranged & accessible), next is sashimi, then you have shrimp, soba noodles & a variety of sauces, and last you have salads.

I'm not big on sashimi, and shrimp you have to peel is just too much work, so I stuck to the sushi & salads. The sushi is not the same caliber you'll find at Sushi Cafe or Sky, but it's good. One roll (I think it was called the "Special" roll) was full of mostly ice berg lettuce: stay away from that one. But I tried nearly every roll offered (except for the Philly roll; not a fan of cream cheese) and that was the only one I didn't go back for. Unfortunately with sushi buffets, I never remember what I'm eating, but they had almost 20 rolls out, I tried a piece from nearly every one, and was more than happy with my meal. All of the rolls stayed together, were not drenched in sauce & had good flavor. The seaweed salad was absolutely perfect and the kimchi was quite good as well. I've never had kimchi before, so I had nothing to compare it to, but I'd have it again.

Downstairs they have a generous selection of hot food. I think between the two of us, we sampled everything. And I was really, really happy with everything. I had a piece of salmon, a beef roll (a thinly sliced piece of beef rolled around bell peppers & onions), udon noodles, gyoza, volcano rolls, snow peas, a spring roll & some shrimp. The shrimp were mediocre, but everything else was amazing. I could have eaten the snow peas, noodles & gyoza all day. And I LOVE that all the things that typically are served with sauce had the sauce on the side, and little containers for you to ladle it in. Brilliant.

I needed more sushi, so I went back to the sushi bar one more time. They had switched out somethings and had a few different rolls up there. So I did more sampling and revisited my favorites. Oh dear Jesus, there are no words as to how much I love a simple, perfect rainbow roll. Love it. I also am a complete sucker for the Japanese cheesecake that all buffets have. I need to learn to make that...

Anyways, if you're in the mood for sushi and don't feel like waiting two years for a table at Sushi Cafe, give Tokyo House a try. The food is really good, and $20 per person for an all you can eat sushi buffet? That is one heck of a deal!

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