Hey, folks. Sorry about the delay. I’m working on the most important writing assignment of my life, which unfortunately has nothing to do with restaurant reviews or food in general. I have a few recent reviews I need to share when I take breaks, so don’t give up on me — I’d never give up on you!
I should start out by saying that I like sushi a lot. I don’t eat it or write about it as much as I do sandwiches, burgers, or pasta, because I rarely partake. I consider sushi a rare treat and almost a “luxury meal” for a few reasons:
- It is so beautifully, artfully prepared,
- It is difficult to make well at home (as opposed to sandwiches or pasta) so I leave it to the professionals, and
- It ain’t cheap!
The expense is usually what keeps me from gorging on gorgeous fresh nigiri or being ridiculously ravenous for radiant rolls. The fact that it takes so much sushi to fill me up can become a dangerous proposition, especially at an upscale establishment. And these ultra-elite sushi restaurants that promise you the best omakase dining experience ever — I’m sure they’re wonderful, but too rich for my blood.
I almost didn’t take note when some of the good folks on the Orlando Foodie Forum on Facebook recommended Mikado Japanese Sushi Buffet, an all-you-can-eat affair in Altamonte Springs. (http://www.mikadosushiorlando.com/buffet/) My wife has never been a fan of buffet dining, so we almost never go to them. I grew up eating at Chinese buffets throughout Miami with my dad, and I regularly visited Gainesville’s all-you-can-eat Chinese and pizza buffets during my college years, when I was all about quantity over quality. They helped keep me alive through a few degrees!
These days, I can’t eat like I used to, and I at least attempt to be a little healthier through portion control and exercise, so all-you-can-eat is less of a draw for me. Plus, I can’t help but be a little more skeptical about all-you-can-eat sushi, after reading Kitchen Confidential and getting older and coming more to terms with my own mortality.
But Mikado’s sushi is extremely fresh and extremely high quality, they assured me. And there’s a huge variety to choose from — always music to my ears. If you go for dinner, they even have sashimi (fresh slices of fish on their own, without rice to fill you up), and everything is included for only $25 per person! WHAAAAT? How can this be? The Foodie Forum rarely steers me wrong, so I realized I hadn’t had sushi in forever, and this Mikado had to be worth a try. My longtime readers know I’ll try anything once, and usually twice, just to be sure. I had an afternoon off, so I told my wife we’d arrive at 5:00 when Mikado opened for dinner, to be there first when everything was freshly-made.
And I’m so glad we gave it a try, because it was AWESOME. The sumptuous variety and quality of the sushi seriously exceeded my expectations. Even my wife was extremely impressed (and relieved). Sushi chefs were hard at work behind the buffet, replenishing everything. The preparations were artful, and everything was well-labeled so you knew what each piece was. (Of course, it was difficult to keep it all straight once things made it to our plates.)
This was my first trip to the buffet:
I count 22 pieces on this plate, each one better than the last. I love rolls, and they offered some really creative and intricate ones — no boring California rolls for me (although if you like those, they had them too)! I know purists may scoff at rolls, but I love the blend of flavors, textures, and colors and the beautiful presentation. They may not be traditional like nigiri, but I couldn’t get enough of them.
And this was my second trip, when I discovered the sashimi, as well as marinated tuna and salmon crudo, ceviche, and different chilled seafood salads. As far as the sashimi, the mackerel (saba) is always my favorite because it reminds me of pickled herring, one of the foods of my people, but they were all top-notch.
Are there 18 pieces on this plate? Sharp-eyed readers may come up with a more accurate count.
Here is the buffet menu, to further tantalize and tempt:
I love raw oysters, and they have them too. Yes, I’ve heard about the “months-with-an-R” warning, but the only reason I didn’t try an oyster was because I came for the sushi. They had plenty of delicious-looking hot foods too, but I was a man on a mission, and that mission was to eat all the sushi I could.
We did indulge in dessert, simply because it was there, and it looked so pretty. My wife had their creme brulee that was more like flan, and I had tiny tastes of tiramisu, banana pudding, and mango mousse cake. But that was it for me. I don’t remember the last time I was so full, but it was totally worth it.
I should note that Mikado charges you a fee for wasting food, especially if you load up on nigiri pieces, eat the fish, and leave the rice over. I have no problem with this, as I hate to see food wasted under any circumstances. Pace yourself, scope out your options before loading up your plate, try small tastes of everything in case you don’t like something, and don’t be a jerk who snatches up half the buffet and leaves so much of it behind.
We ate like kings for 25 bucks each, and Mikado’s quality definitely matched the quantity — rare for an all-you-can-eat buffet setting, even rarer for good sushi. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Even if you’re a regular at your favorite hip, trendy, upscale sushi restaurant, give Mikado a chance, and I promise you will be pleasantly surprised and very possibly blown away. You can’t beat it. I’ve been wanting to go back ever since, which is the best possible recommendation I can give any restaurant.