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Reviewed April 18, 2004   »   32avenue.com   |   justin-cheung.com     

Yuka

1557 2nd Ave. - Upper East Side, New York City
I had buffet for $19.50, and here are some of the highlights of the made-to-order all-you-can-eat:

Alaskan | salmon, avocado and tobiko. Labelled as a Yuka's Special, and it didn't disappoint. The salmon was surprisingly fresh, soft and moist. It was by no means unique, but surprisingly well-detailed and made. Most buffet places give stale salmon, but not here!

Dragon | eel, tobiko, and cucumber wrapped in avocado. A special order on the buffet menu, $2.50 extra. I'll admit, I'm a sucker for good eel. My expectations, while lowered for buffet but raised for the extra charge, were quite satisfied. Just a hint of sweetness and crispy without being burnt, it was simply mouth-watering. Well worth the extra charge.

Various Hand Rolls | california roll, eel, and ika-shiso. Most buffet hand rolls are stuffed with rice more than anything. Not here. Very little filler, plenty of the good stuff. The eel handroll, like the Dragon, was especially outstanding. Not only was it, along with the rest of the hand rolls, the best I've had for all you can eat, but ranks as well above average among all North American-based Japanese restaurants.

Conclusion: Outstanding service. We sat right at the sushi bar, and the chefs were all incredibly friendly and warm, making us feel right at home. It was nice to see four Japanese chefs look like they were really enjoying what they were doing, and it definitely reflected in their clientele - numerous customers saluted the chefs, paying them compliments on a job well done on the way out. The waitresses were all very attentive and detailed, though obviously a little stressed out running around when they weren't attending to a table - a testament to how professional they were - they were all over the place, but when they approached us, they really took their time and smiled with us, taking care of our needs. I can't say enough about the service in this quaint little restaurant. It normally doesn't particularly come off as a great social restaurant, but the warmth of the service created an atmosphere that was full of smiles from the patrons. However, be prepared to wait at the door for a table. The very affordable prices and decent quality attract lots of people. This restaurant was by no means fine dining or a place to go if you want a nice quiet dinner, but if you're on a budget, I'd definitely suggest this restaurant.

3.0

out of 5.0

noteworthy
service
social
value


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