It’s true, and the cheaper the better, but our usual birthday dinner go-to place with our parents isn’t cheap at all – $29.95 a person, but M counts as $6 and Miss C eats free (prices for kids are measured by height, which means our tall kids will eventually be at a disadvantage). But sometimes you get what you pay for and you do get excellent variety at Minado, a colossal sushi buffet restaurant which serves surprisingly decent food, and despite the recession, it was jam-packed on a Saturday night. There are countless varieties of rolls and sushi to choose from, as well as sashimi, king crab legs, oysters and shrimp. One aisle has hot entrees (dumplings, soups, meats, tempura and the like) and another aisle has a dozen or so seafood and cold noodle salads. There was even uni (sea urchin) which I had never seen on the menu before (Mia tried it and liked it, but Claudine thought it was a mound of peanut butter).
So the trick to getting your money’s worth at a place like this is to strategically starve yourself for several hours prior to the meal. Start with the most expensive items first like sushi so you don’t unnecessarily fill up on cheaper items like shumai or chicken. It’s not uncommon to see tables with plates piled high with King Crab legs (ok, I am going to make a gross generalization here, but most of these people you see walking around with mounds of crab legs are usually Asian, like my grandmother). I make sure to hit the sushi aisle twice before moving on to the cold salads (my favorite is the raw red snapper in a mustard oil vinaigrette). I usually never hit the hot food side because when there’s raw fish around, I have no interest in eating fried food or meat. *I almost forgot to mention that you shouldn’t fill up on beverages, which come in huge glasses with free refills. This is just a ploy to fill you up and should be ignored – C drank a lot of water and filled her tummy up. Clearly she has much to learn.
Not surprisingly, the kids really dig this place because they like watching the row of sushi chefs work and they can tell you what they want when they see it. They also usually find the place fun as it does resemble something not unlike a Vegas playground (the place is clean, but you certainly don’t go for ambiance or charm, and it’s probably not going to impress your date either). M usually gets sushi, edamame, and a bowl of udon noodles. I’ve trained her well though, and she hits the sushi first before moving on to her noodles and tempura. C, well….you see that plate of grapes, watermelon and jello square? (yes! they have jello!). She did scarf down a fair amount of udon noodles, but she really came alive during the dessert course. While everyone enjoyed a cup of soft serve green tea ice cream, she went for anything that was chocolate. The little cakes are 2-bite cakes so she was able to try a few, and by the time we all got back to my mom’s, their little bellies were round and full. So what do you do when you’re too hyped and full to go to sleep? Put Asian pear wrappers around your heads and put on a little show, of course.