Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I'm Back! And...All You Can Eat Sushi!

I'm back!! After two months away from good 'ole Waterbury, I've returned. Puerto Rico was an interesting experience, I feel that I learned a lot about Puerto Rican history and culture, which was my goal in the first place. I was a little underwhelmed by Puerto Rican food, however. The cuisine itself is good, but very rich, and heavy on the deep-fry, starch, and meat. I think I will be able to go quite a while without seeing another plantain. And I didn't find too many restaurants in San Juan that really impressed me. Puerto Rican cuisine might be best when it's home-cooked.

Needless to say, I was very excited to get home. I told Scott that the first thing I wanted when I got back was Kumo's sushi. Kumo is a phenomenal gem of Waterbury cuisine, and far and away some of the best sushi I've ever had (including weekly sushi trips to Boston's Chinatown and Cambridge's Porter Exchange during college). Scott said, "Well, we can go to Kumo, but I may have found some place better..."

Friends, may I present you to Sushi Palace in Hamden, CT. Yes, it's true that Sushi Palace loses a few points for not being IN Waterbury, but this is certainly worth any Waterburian's 1/2 hour drive. From the outside it is entirely unassuming. We actually drove right past it the first time, expecting a much more fancy exterior for a restaurant owned by one of Chef Morimoto's protégés. I was only mildly excited, as I was expecting the equivalent of a Chinese buffet's "all you can eat sushi," which I generally skip altogether because of it's low quality and hideous texture. Although I also generally skip Chinese buffets, but that's a story for another blog. Anyway, at Sushi Palace, I was greeted by a sign that said "Order all you want, but eat all you order." Turns out, Sushi Palace is NOT a buffet, but an actual restaurant with a menu from which you place your order. Except you can order as much food as you want, assuming you can eat it all. Genius!! Why aren't their more restaurants like this?!

Sushi Palace offers a casual dining experience. The interior is not overly sophisticated or chic, which provides the perfect environment for stuffing one's face. There is a sushi bar and several tables, but the restaurant was not huge, which I assume may lead to wait times on busier days. We went on a Sunday afternoon, and it was not crowded at all. The decor is in the style of "traditional Japanese sushi restaurant," with nothing too exciting to report. Upon seating, we were provided with two different checklists for ordering. The first was a menu from the sushi bar, and the second was a menu from the kitchen, which included appetizers, tempura, teriyaki, and desserts. Our waitress was gracious and speedy. I recommend tipping the waitstaff based on restaurant (not buffet) tipping standards, since this is not a traditional buffet. The price for one person is $16-18, depending on the day of the week. Which is about half what Scott and I usually pay for our sushi gluttony.

I cannot believe that an "all you can eat sushi" place that offers amazing sushi actually exists in this world, especially in my area of Connecticut. But let me tell you, this sushi is worth the trip. For under twenty dollars, you get a large selection of not only sushi, but also traditional Japanese appetizers, soups, and even teriyaki for the raw-fish squeamish. Scott and I swore we would skip the appetizers and make the most out of our money by only ordering the sushi, but we have no willpower. We sampled Sushi Palace's Seaweed Salad, Gyoza, Shumai, and Agedashi Tofu, which were delicious but pretty standard. Sushi Palace is a great place to sample appetizers and soups you've never tried before, as they are representative of what you will find on most Japanese menus. For the sushi, we ordered several pieces each of sashimi and sushi, along with a few specialty rolls (pictured above), such as the Soft Shell Crab Roll, Dragon Roll, Summer Roll, and Crunchy Eel Roll. The selection of rolls and sushi is not as extensive as you will find in some more upscale Japanese restaurants, but then again, most upscale restaurants aren't "all you can eat." I was quite surprised at the quality of the sushi. It was freshly made, the ingredients were all fresh and high quality, and the flavors were delicious. I will say that I have only in my life have had better sushi at Kumo, and I have had A TON of sushi, so that's saying a lot. We finished up the meal with a scoop of Red Bean Ice Cream. I can't remember the last time I was that full and satisfied for under twenty bucks. Thanks, Sushi Palace, we'll be seeing you again very soon.

Oh, definitely.

1. Price!
2. Quality of Food, delicious!
3. The motto: "Order all you want, but eat all you order."

1. We wish it were a little closer to Waterbury
2. We wish they had a larger specialty roll selection

Sushi Palace
1473 Dixwell Ave
Hamden, CT 06514

Oh and by the way, we topped off the day with a trip to see Van Gogh's Starry Night, which is only showing at the Yale University Art Gallery until September 7th, so you should go!


Abby said...

but what happens if you DON'T eat all you order? do you have to wash dishes in the back?

Tara said...

If you don't eat all that you order, there is a small surcharge for what you want wrapped up to go home with you.