Bad sushi kills you dead.
And if it doesn’t kill you, there’s a good chance you’re writhing in pain on your couch for hours after, hoping that something will put an end to your misery.
When it comes to AYCE, I think we all know what’s up here. Nothing ever tastes good, the entire place likely smells of a public washroom, everything is either excessively greasy or excessively dry, and you always leave feeling just a little bit dirty and a lot too itchy.
And yet, we keep coming back. Tonight it’s Ninkazu, tomorrow who knows.
Perhaps it’s because it’s a reminder of our forgotten youth when our teenage selves would light up at the idea that we had a warm place to hang out with friends late at night where the food was never-ending. You just can’t put a price on that, not even under threat of death.
Step 1: Tick off any and all food items.
Rice is a filler, that’s true, and an experienced AYCE veteran might tell you to cut the rice and miscellaneous garbage items to maximize your money, but this is your day and you do you. If it tickles your fancy, you do what you want and order to your heart’s content.
Step 2: Consume your miscellaneous items. This includes foods like Miso Soup, Goma Ae, Spring Rolls, Gyozas and Agedashi Tofu.
Right about now you’ve probably seen the food at all the other tables around you and you’re probably starving. Think of these items as a teaser, the food you nibble on right before you get to the featuring acts.
Don’t go into it expecting anything to taste good, but if it does, bonus. Miso soup is standard here with essentially zero tofu and seaweed, the goma ae is drenched in a generous amount of salty peanut sauce, and the spring rolls are filled with pretty much just air. The tofu is soggy and deflated but ding ding we’ve got a winner after all because the gyozas are pan fried to a crisp with a chewy skin and a generous amount of pork.
Step 3: Now we pull out the big guns because this is where you’re going to want to focus your attention if you want the most bang for your buck. In the end, the price you pay for eating suspicious off colour raw fish may prove to be more than you bargained for so tread with caution.
Tuna and Salmon Sashimi, besides being discoloured, were also strongly reminiscent of fish water. The salmon was slightly better but folks, this was dicey and Wayne’s painful moaning 25 minutes after dinner were proof enough that my decision to stop after one piece was a sound one.
Salmon and Tuna Nigiri were only slightly better than the sashimi and the Chopped Scallop Cones might actually have been decent if there had been more chopped scallop. If you’re looking for bizarre and generally unpleasant to the tastebuds, make sure you order the Tomakazu Roll because you’ll definitely find all of that with its strange combination of cooked salmon, avocado, and other unknown murky items.
Step 4: Now we move into our cooked items.
Truth be told, this is where you want to be because Ninkazu does this best. Not great, but not terrible.
The Oyster Motoyaki has a creamy sweet mayo scattered with corn and the Chicken Teriyaki arrives steaming with medium sized chicken chunks.
The weakest link here are the Beef Teriyaki, Pork Tonkatsu, and the Yam Tempura, all looking a little worse for wear with a slight grey tinge, shrivelled portions, and general lack of flavour.
If you take anything away from this, please please please go for the Beef Shortribs and the Chicken Karaage. Nice sizeable chunks of juicy beef smothered in their sweet bbq sauce, this has without a doubt got to be their number one dish.
The chicken karaage was also a winner tonight with its meaty portion and perfectly crispy skin.
Step 5: Evaluate and assess hunger levels. Can you order more? Can you fit more in your belly or do you have to play clean up duty and start stuffing rice balls into your tea pot to avoid paying additional charges?
If you can soldier on, order again. If you cannot, proceed to step 6.
Step 6: Slide into your Jello and Orange Slice dessert if you can stomach it.
Waddling out, would I return?
To Ninkazu? No.
Prices are average at $15 a person for their limited Late Night Menu, and $23-$26 for their Dinner Menus.
Service is never any good at All You Can Eat but even I cannot justify travelling the distance to Richmond for quality and service at this level.
When it comes to AYCE though, it’s a different story. It always seems to happen that you walk in with glee but somehow, despite leaving stuffed to bursting, you always leave feeling a little bit dead inside. Even still, it has this astonishing ability to make you forget its vicious cycle.
AYCE, it will be awhile no doubt but you know I just can’t quit you.