It was the last hockey game before the Christmas break and we decided to meet up for some eats afterwards. What is the difference from any other Friday you might ask? Well, this time, the entire team joins the usual suspects. So our dilemma was to find a place that is open past 10:30pm, can accommodate 14 people, reasonably priced and central in location. With such specific criteria, the choices were not many. We finally settled on the late night AYCE at Kingsway Sushi. I know, I know, this would not be the first or even second choice for Japanese food. However, we were more interested in each other's company than the food itself. Besides, the alternative was Kawawa Japanese and I'd rather eat a cup of goat nads than eat there again. Viv and I have been to Kingsway Sushi a few times and it's alright, assuming you accept that it's "Chinese" Japanese food. Kingsway Sushi belongs to the Top Gun Group which includes Top Gun Sushi, Richmond Sushi and Top Gun Hot Pot.
Polka King and I left pretty quickly from the rink after our game to make the reservation. The real reason was that I wanted to get the best seat for pictures! When we got there, Gordo was already waiting. Apparently, they didn't seat him since he was the only one there. Fair enough. However, to our surprise, we were seated shortly after and there were only 3 us. Boss Woman and Milhouse were the next to arrive and we decided to order first. I got stuck with the ordering for everyone and practically chose everything off the menu. Everyone was doing their best "ooohhs and aaahhs" as it appeared there was going to be too much food. I assured them we had 13 people, someone is going to eat it. Well, it turned out to be not even close to being enough, I don't think I even got to eat much since I was too busy taking pictures. The sacrifices I make!
My expectations are generally tempered to the extreme when I go for AYCE. Apparently it wasn't tempered enough for Kawawa. I digress... The ordering process at Kingsway Sushi is easy and annoying at the same time. All the servers have PDAs who enter your order directly to the kitchen. Thus, the food arrives lightening quick. However, when you are trying to amalgamate 13 requests into one order, it gets a bit confusing for the person ordering and the server. In terms of flagging down a server to take your order, well... that's another issue altogether. We prefer the order sheets, especially for large groups.
The various appetizers such as the Ebi Sunomono, Agedeshi Tofu, Green Salad, Kimchi and Miso Soup are what you typically find at decent AYCEs. Nothing mind-blowing; yet not offensive at the same time. The bonus was that things that were supposed to be hot were hot and things meant to be cold were cold. Honestly, this is somewhat of an achievement for AYCE. The Salmon and Tuna Nigiri were pretty average. The slices of fish were modest in size; yet were not mushy. I thought the rice had a nice chewy texture; however, I didn't detect much vinegar taste. A bit disconcerting, the roll sushi arrived very quickly. I'm assuming they were pre-rolled. Despite this fact, they were rolled nicely and filled with plenty of ingredients and minimal amount of rice.
The "Scallops" were your standard fried pollack imitators. Bonus points on them being freshly fried and served piping hot. The same can be said for the "Lobster Balls". Although I really didn't like the overused sweet chili sauce underneath. There was too much and it is too sweet. Talking about sweet, the teriyaki sauce for the beef and chicken was just as sweet and there was quite a liberal amount on the chicken. However, I must admit that both the chicken and beef were once again decent. They were cooked right and served hot. The Kaki Motoyaki was also served piping hot and hidden underneath the mayo was a decent sized half oyster.
Once again, some more of the cooked items arrived and yes, they were hot. The Chicken Karaage were juicy and crispy. So juicy that Boss Woman accidentally "squirted" Silent Bob (that really doesn't sound right...). The Smelt were fried a bit too long; thus becoming fish crisps. The Short Ribs were surprisingly meaty (with little fat) and tasty. Naturally, I had to order the Beef Tongue and I asked for 30 slices. What I got was 10 slices. I was none too happy and ordered 30 more and I think we only got another 20. Well, at least we got 30 in total... In terms of taste and texture, they were tonguetastic! A bit chewy while still easy broken down, there was plenty of tongue flavour. The Veggie & Yam Tempura were crispy and hot. Too bad they never gave us the dipping sauce. The BBQ Corn was not very good. Terribly overcooked while barely ever touching the grill, they only served to get stuck in my teeth. The Stir-Fried Veggies looked and tasted pathetic; but I guess we should've expected that. Not something we'd normally order anyways.
The last hot dish was the Gyozas. Why last? Well, we ordered them 3 times and never got them. You'd think with a computerized system with PDAs, this wouldn't happen. Well, apparently it does. Well, it was worth the wait. They were crispy on the bottom with a thin dumpling wrapper. Too bad most people were too stuffed to eat them. Finally, we got our Mango pudding and once again, pretty decent. Honestly, for an AYCE, the food was decent and always served hot. Of course it's not authentic Japanese food, but if you take it for what it is, it won't make you gag like some other places (Kawawa, Sui Sha Ya, Kisha Poppo). Too bad their service is a bit disjointed, indifferent and error-prone.
- Decent "Chinese" Japanese food
- Central location
- Food comes out quick and at the right temperature
- Very busy
- Service is so-so
- Regular AYCE lacks selection found at other restaurants