Friday, January 31, 2014

Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet, Carle Place, New York

It has been about two years since I have written about Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet. This is a buffet that we go to just once a year for a special occasion. While it is not astronomically expensive, it is the most expensive buffet that we go to at $29.99 per person for dinner on a weeknight. The dinner buffet is $31.85 Friday to Sunday. It is also the most different buffet that we go to. It is all Japanese from the freshest sushi that I have had at any buffet to green tea ice cream as part of an extensive selection of desserts. On a very limited dining out budget and with my wife who does not eat seafood other than shrimp, this buffet restaurant has to be good for us to spend the money and keep going back - even if that is only once each year.

Minado is part of a group of several locations in New York and New Jersey. Some are called Minado and some are called Nori Nori. What was interesting on this night that I had not seen here before was that inside there was a mix of signs - some saying Minado and others saying Nori Nori. The sign outside over the restaurant still read Minado. Even some of the plates had the Nori Nori name on them. 

We went on a Thursday night. The restaurant was not crowded but it was busy. We were seated at a small table for four. The table was just about right for the two of us. There were similar tables with four at them but they had to feel cramped. There are much larger tables for big groups and also private party rooms.

As we usually do, we started the dinner with soup. There are typical Chinese restaurant soups such as wonton, egg drop, and hot and sour. There is Japanese miso soup. But my soup of choice here is Udon noodle soup made to order at the corner of the grill area. Here your noodles are heated in boiling water, added to broth, and then you are asked which or all of the ingredients out before the chef you would like added to your soup. I get them all - though I have no idea what some of them are. The most recognizable are tempura shrimp and two very large shrimp were placed on top of my soup with all of the rest of the ingredients. There are other types of noodles to choose also. I love this traditional soup and I have not tried anything else here.

Following the soup, I went for sushi while my wife went for dumplings. This is sushi unlike any other that I have had at any other buffet including Japanese buffets. The fish is extremely fresh and tastes as such. The selection of different types is wider than any other that I have seen. There is a selection of all types of fish - some of which I will not try - no raw octopus or squid for me. But if you like it, it is here. There was something different from other years that we have come here. They used to have a selection of different raw fish (sashimi) out on platters on beds of ice - just fish. Instead of this, there were small plates each containing a piece of raw salmon, a piece of raw tuna, and a piece of some unknown to me white in color raw fish. There was a mild marinade on top and some had a few small pieces of lettuce salad that they were sitting on - some did not. I try as much as I can - and want to - eat low carb and I have a problem for this reason eating rice. I usually take some sushi rolls and fish on rice, but when there is just raw fish out I take that primarily. It was always nice that there were, in the past, just the fish out on platters each clearly labeled as to what it was. I still do not know what the white in color fish was in the bowls. One piece was so chewy - I am sure it is supposed to be - that I did not finish it. There was another piece of the same in one of the other bowls and that I did eat all of. It would be nice to know what it was. I had taken yellowtail tuna on rice so I know it was not that. I also took red snapper on rice and it was not that. Part of eating here for us is trying new things. I certainly tried some fish that I have not had before. One thing here that tells me that this fish is of a different and higher quality than sushi that I have had at other buffets is the color, the greater flavor, and the texture. The red tuna is dark red/brown. If you wish, you could easily make the whole meal here sushi. There is so much more that I move after one or two plates to the so many other things that are here to choose from.

There is a cold seafood bar with crab legs, clams, and oysters. The oysters are covered in a light, thin sauce with some greens and a thin slice of lemon added on top. In front of the oysters there was a tub of a thin red liquid and all of the Asian people taking oysters were spooning this sauce on top. I usually put cocktail sauce on my raw oysters - and there was cocktail sauce by the cold steamed shrimp that were also out - but I thought that I would try my oysters as the others were eating them - and I spooned some of the red liquid on top also. I was halfway back to the table when I realized that this red liquid must contain hot sauce. For some reason that has not occurred to me - silly me! I had five raw oysters in there shells now swimming in this, and I was not going to let them go to waste. The oysters were actually the only thing out on the entire buffet with a line to get to them. OK. I got back to the table and I poured off as much of the sauce as I could from each oyster. It was a good thing that I did because the little that remained set my mouth burning. My mistake that I must remember the next time that I go. Even with the hot sauce, the oysters were good - and tasted very fresh.

After the oysters, I went to the long row of prepared Japanese salads that are out. These are an assortment of salads made of various vegetables, lettuce, some with raw fish, some with noodles, some with various seaweed. There was Hijiki with Shitake Mushrooms that is a type of dried seaweed mixed with the mushrooms and with a light dressing. It has a consistency and look unlike anything else and it tastes a little nutty, is slightly crunchy, and we both like it. This is saying a lot because my wife rarely eats anything with a dressing on it. There was raw beef, smoked salmon, raw salmon in a cilantro dressing. There was a noodle salad. All of it different and good. Again, I could have gone back and made my meal just these salads, but still there is so much more.

There are various appetizers. There are meats and shrimp skewered on sticks and flame grilled. There is slices of large beef ribs - sliced across the ribs including bones from several ribs - flame grilled. There were Japanese dumplings with pork and a shrimp dumping. There are tempura shrimp and vegetables. All continually being refilled.

Then there is a long row of entree dishes. The selections change each day from a list of dishes that may be found on their website. The website is linked on the side of this page and you can look there at the menu to see what may or may not be there on the night that you come. I enjoyed Japanese crab cakes, soba noodles, some of the whole pollock steamed in ginger, chicken teriyaki that was not the usual cubed chicken with thick sweet sauce poured over it - but large pieces of chicken cut from the bone with a mild teriyaki sauce that allowed the flavor of the chicken to come through, B.B.Q pork ribs that were unusual in that they had a just slightly sweet sauce on them but the bone seemed to be missing yet the usual grizzle end of the rib was there, and I had more. The ribs were tasty and different. It was all good. When I was younger I could eat so much more than I can now at a buffet. When I am here I wish that I could eat like I did then before I start to feel full.

What I did not have at this dinner was the hibachi grill. It was there and it was making hibachi beef steak and hibachi chicken breasts with large slices of onion and zucchini, grilled on a flat grill. I have always enjoyed this - and I was very tempted - but I recalled from other meals here and at other Japanese buffets, that the amount given at the hibachi grill is a meal in itself - a full plate of meat and vegetables. When I have this, I really don't have room to have anything else. I decided that I would skip the hibachi and go for the entrees instead. The hibachi looked good. All that were having it, looked to be enjoying it. Maybe next year. As I keep saying, there is just so much here to choose from, one needs to set some limits to be able to enjoy as much of a variety as possible.

Dessert also brings a lot of choices. There are several fresh fruits out. There are cakes, pastries,and cookies. All looking like the little squares found typically at Asian buffets, but these are not the same as those. The cakes taste like cake - and there was a variety to try. Despite that I should not have, I did take two small squares of cake - one a blueberry cake and the other green tea cake. The blueberry cake was the tastier of the two. The green tea cake was fine but the idea of it was better than it was. I also took some of the green tea ice cream with is in the soft serve machine. This was good. I have had it before. It is mildly sweet and very refreshing. You can taste the tea, and it draws you to keep eating it and go back for more. I was satisfied with the small swirl that I took. There is also cooked to order crepes. These looked wonderful! I have tried one here in the past and it is good. The crepes come with your choice of toppings and if you want to take it over to the soft serve machine and put vanilla or green tea ice cream or both on top, go right ahead!

I think that you can tell that I enjoyed this meal. My picky eater wife was very happy also. She found plenty that was not fish. This is one of those buffet meals that we both happily finish by saying "Oh my!"

The service was very good. The soda is extra - and costs $2.49. While this sounds like a lot especially when added on top of a $30 meal, it is only thirty cents more than what OCB is charging for soda now. The restaurant is opened on weeknights until 9:30 on weeknights, 10 on Friday and Saturday and 9 on Sundays. At about 9:00 pm on this Thrusday night, our server came to the table to tell us that if we wanted anything more from the grill or if we wanted crepes we needed to go and get them then as those stations would be starting to close. That is fair, and everything else was still being served.

Now, I have said this before about this particular location of this buffet - for a Japanese buffet, many of the servers are Japanese (or Asian), all of the sushi chefs behind the sushi counters are Japanese, but the rest of the cooking staff - at the grill, the crepes, and coming from the kitchen are Hispanic. This is a heavily Hispanic area and perhaps that is why. I just find that odd - but locally it is not unusual.

I very much recommend this buffet. Remember it is a lot more expensive than the buffets I usually recommend to you. The lunch price is less (about $10 less - so still a $20 lunch for one) so if you want to try it for less you might try lunch.

Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet is located at 219 Glen Cove Rd, Carle Place, New York. Their telephone number is 516-294-9541. There is a website and the link is at the side of this page. Hours may always vary from location to location so check on the website before you go. On the website you will find details for all of the locations.

1 comment:

songbird's crazy world said...

Definitely my favorite Long Island buffet!