asians love a good buffet

February 1, 2009 |  Category:   dining out family growing up half life

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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.

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  • Annie From Seattle (not someone you know, though) February 1, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Jenna,

    I love your sense of humor! This post surprised me & by the end I was laughing out loud at the analysis of buffet economies…hilarious stuff! I am not Asian but I also love a good buffet..or better still, a Southern-style cafeteria. Now that’s living!

    Don’t be afraid to get goofy on here–you wear it well!
    Annie

    Ps Can I put in a request for a mix and match sample box? Choose one of groups a,b. and c? Just a thought for down the line.

  • Brenda February 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Oh my gosh, I’m so hungry now! And I’m not that big of a sushi fan even! Love the after dinner entertainment. πŸ˜€

  • patricia February 1, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    major yum!

  • Kitty February 1, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Ha! I like your strategy.
    Sashimi: yummm

  • Fog and Thistle February 1, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Ah, love your strategy but the Asian Pear (w)Rapper Duo photo made me laugh out loud for real.

  • Fiona February 1, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    I used to go to a buffet like that in LA. Loved it.

    And I admit: I was one of the ladies with a huge platter of snow crab legs. I ate at least 2 plates of that before eating *anything* else.

    Guilty.

  • Naomi February 1, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    He he this post made me laugh out loud. My sushi strategy is exactly the same at these kind of places This place sounds like heaven.

  • woodley park-zoo February 1, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    There is a buffet like this somewhere near San Jose, CA, and when you go in, each person receives a ‘lobster ticket’, allotting them a single lobster tail. When you go to the lobster area to trade in your ticket, you get a lobster tail that is split in half with some sort of cheesy substance on it. It’s really strange, and the night I went I wasn’t in the mood for lobster, mostly I just wanted to keep the ticket because I thought it was fun to say ‘lobster ticket.’

  • nichole February 1, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    What a helpful strategy!

    Your buffet story somehow got me thinking about the Taipan Bakery in Chinatown and now I am craving a Pineapple roll and bubble tea. YUM!

  • holly February 1, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Next time I go there I will do as you mention, instead of hitting the hot food section. Thanks for tip.

    holly

  • cindy February 1, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    aww mia and claudine are so adorable πŸ™‚

  • Rita February 2, 2009 at 7:20 am

    There is a similar buffet in Portland, OR. My kids discovered they could get more fish if they didn’t eat the rice. Just turn the sushi into sashimi.

  • Asiye Ivedi February 2, 2009 at 7:25 am

    hmm- sounds great. wonderful photos

  • Pam February 2, 2009 at 10:12 am

    I wish we had buffets here in Chicago that served such good food. Instead….ugh the thought now still makes my stomach turn (the sushi was left under a heat lamp). It’s unfortunate because my inlaws (let’s add to the generalizations here – they’re Asian and their eyes bug out for the crab legs) love going to them and we keep having to use diversionary tactics to avoid them.

  • unha February 2, 2009 at 11:04 am

    too funny.. i feel like i should have an asian day or something. buffett. and karaoke.. and asian style sauna.
    all on the same day!

  • Stella February 2, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Oh, I have this technique down! Way to call out the establishment and their ploys to fill us with cheap beverages. πŸ™‚

  • Tumus February 2, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    lol I actually cried once because I couldn’t have sushi. It was about 2 months ago actually, i’m so silly. I must say i’ve never had fresh udon noodles but they sound divine. You make me jealous with all your delicious food outtings.

  • linda February 2, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    pear wrappers as hats – love it! when did mia start eating sushi and what types of sushi does she eat? i’m wondering at what age kids can start eating sushi? our 20-month old girl loves avocado rolls.

  • Jenna February 3, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Linda, Mia started eating raw fish when she was about 2. salmon and tuna mostly in sushi rolls. she got a bit more adventurous later. One of her favorite things is the big orange fish roe – she likes how it pops in her mouth.

  • Lani February 4, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    OMG, what’s not to love about this post? You really captured that whole experience. I have to say my favorite part is Claudine’s hands at the piano. Looks like a tai chi movement…flying crane or something. And the pear wrappers totally crack me up. Keep up the great stories. Oh, we all love the terrible mom game playing post, too. Who hasn’t been there?

  • Henri February 9, 2009 at 12:24 am

    Holy Shit I thought I was the only one doing the asian pear beanie to my kids.

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