Kuma Ani – AYCE

20151005_193834[1]AYCE (All You Can Eat) is an interesting concept. Pay one price, eat as much as you want. We’ve got a few sushi restaurants in the area with caveats that you eat what you don’t pay for, which is nice from a waste mitigation perspective. One of my friends has a theory that you should check out AYCE restaurants in the Albany area when they open and are serving the best/highest quality fish until they realize that people in the Capitol Region will settle for less. Which is kind of disheartening, but an interesting theory that isn’t exactly outlandish.

I recently went to Kuma Ani with 3 other people, and we went for the $20.99 all you can eat dinner option. They’re still fairly new and haven’t been open a year yet. LorreBob over at Albany Dish has a review of their AYCE and non-all you can eat options, and Susie Davidson Powell has a great write-up over at the Times Union of their meal options, too. The AYCE menu is a little smaller than other places in the area (no sashimi), but it’s also a few bucks cheaper than other places, too.

We arrived to a restaurant at about 20-30% capacity. A few tables, but overall fairly quiet on a weeknight. It took us about 2 hours to get two orders, with priority given to non-AYCE dinner options. We waited about 30 minutes from when we placed our 2nd order to when we received it.

We got a little bit of everything for nigiri – roe in the background, octopus, mackerel, eel, white tuna, yellowtail, salmon, and tuna. Nice presentation, but the salmon, mackerel, and probably the tuna should not have been served – They tasted fine initially but finished with a very funky flavor at the end, especially the mackerel, which had a strong note of ammonia in its finish. Not at all like a pungently briny mackerel should be. This was unpleasantly disappointing. The eel was good, but it’s cooked fish. White tuna was also fine.

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Most of the specialty rolls were very rich affairs with kani/imitation crab salads, fried, and heavy on mayonnaise or rich eel sauces. We got every specialty roll we ordered, but a few of the normal maki rolls were skipped with each order.

The cooked/non-sushi appetizer options are small portions, except for the imitation crab salad, which is comically large when compared to every other portion size. It’s like a meal-sized salad of fake crab salad! I don’t like imitation crab so this dish didn’t really work for me, but the others in our party enjoyed it. One dish was the grilled squid, which were small pieces of squid with a heavy coating of old pepper – pass on that one. Also pass on the sashimi salad, which are end pieces of fish and not very pleasant tasting.

Overall it seems like Kuma Ani is ready to give you a challenge for your AYCE experience. Overall I found the experience a bit drawn out (who wants to have a 2.5 hour dinner on a weeknight?), and the food was really hit-or-miss, with more misses than hits to go back for AYCE. The regular dinner menu gets great reviews, so if I go back it’ll be to order off of the regular menu.

Happy Happy, Sandor

DSCF5531Head to shining rainbow for their unlimited/all you can eat hot pot. $20 per person, and $10 per pot. Reason? :: celebrate Sandor’s birthday!

 

DSCF5532Shaved beef, lamb, shrimp on skewers (a bit mineral-y), endless plates of squid, fried tofu (freshly fried!), and fish cakes. Plus peanut, hoisin, and chili sauce in a container ta make your own sauces. It was a good night for gluttony. I think the last 30 minutes were just the rest of the a label watch Albany John and me stuff our faces with food. Squid squids ! So good!

 

And then finish the night off at Wolff’sDSCF5535

Sushi X Night

Went to Sushi X with a bunch of my incredibly good looking and funny friends. Namely JoJo, Ray, and their new bundle of cute; Sebastien; Daniel B.; and a bunch of other enjoyable people of all walks of life.

Dinner is $19.99 per person M-Th (before tax and tip), and for a group of 6 or more, they tack on 18% for you. It was just a hair over $25 per person for the buffet itself. Thursdays are also ladies nights, where they have $2 girlie drinks.

I really enjoy this place for groups. They only take reservations within a few days of your date/time (max 1 week) and don’t really seem to care about taking them to begin with (not the “You MUST have a reservation or we won’t seat you” BS). And they also will split checks individually in large groups no problem. Wow! Some restaurants in the area refuse to split checks, or add a fee to do so. There’s plenty of seating at tables throughout the restaurant.

Apps and sushi for $25 per person? If you eat sushi like I do, this is a steal.
ROCK SHRIMP! Our table got three of these, and I’m pretty sure I ate 95% of each order. So crisp on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside.
Round two of sushi! I was so excited about the first round that I must have forgotten to take a picture. Sashimi is even included! How awesome is that? Now, it’s not Nobu freshness or quality, but it’s good for what it is.

Thanks all for coming out! We will have to do Sushi X 2: Electric Boogaloo very soon.

Alumni Weekend

It was Alumni Weekend for Albany John’s fraternity, and yep – there were many references to the Kegs & Eggs fiasco. Thankfully none of his fraternity was involved with that mess. Any who, they’re all a good lot of dudes, and one of his fellow alumni joined us for lunch at Aashiana on Central Ave. Can’t go wrong with a $7.50 (tax included) lunch buffet and tons of nan.

Aashiana is one of my favorite cheapie hole-in-the-wall kind of places in Albany. You can walk in with $10, and walk out with a full meal and some change.

Yum, buffet! I had about three plates, but the other two were smaller than this one. Chicken dishes and vegetarian dishes – a very manageable buffet. Oh, and there’s chai tea on the buffet, too! If you’re a tea drinker like I am, that’s a nice free perk.

After that we had some time to kill, so we went to the NYS museum after taking a walk around Lark St.

It was some kind of child oriented day, so there were little kids running around screaming everywhere.

I think this thing depicts a first idea of Albany, or New York, or something like that. The subtext says “The Eagle attacks the Unicorn, while the Elk meets his mate and the Beaver threatens the hooved fox.”

I think it looks like a Moose chowing down on a lamb or sheep, fending off an angry Unicorn, and an angry beaver V. muskrat fight on the right. Eh. Yeah, that about sums us New Yorkers up.


I was starting to fade, so we headed over to Caffe Vero on Lark Street for some caffeine. Here is the menu board for Caffe Vero. Prices max out at $4.

I got a medium latte ($3.50) with cute design on it. The guy at the counter making it thought it was only so-so. Pa-shhh. That was pretty sweet to me. And it tasted creamy without being heavy ’cause they used milk instead of cream. Yum.

And then I went home while the guys did guy stuff. Man, I remember when I was hanging out with people in college or college alumnis and I was the youngin’ (underage). Now I’m the old lady. Although I’d still like to think fairly irresponsible.

Aashiana


Nicole, Phairhead & SexyBeast were kind enough to join up with Albany John and me for lunch at Aashiana this weekend.

It was gorgeous outside, which meant that there was noooo parking available! Boo! So I was late to my own thing I arranged. I’m such a bad Asian. I used to be early to things, I really did.

Aashiana’s lunch buffet’s are a steal at $6.95 per person. That’s $15.01 with tax for two people. Yum! It’s packed to the gills with tasty, tasty food! I was ever the demure lady eating a gut-busting three plates. I didn’t eat the rest of the day. Woah mama, next time I’m only doing two!

I just love meeting up with peeps like this – just large enough of a group to be fun and not too many! And you know we’re a fun loving group. Next time I’ll actually take picures of my food mates, but we had such a good time, well, uh, I didn’t.

Thanks for comin out, guys!!

Aashiana with Friends


Yesterday I got to meet up with a bunch of my friends for Aashiana’s lunch buffet. Their buffet is quite the deal at $6.95 per person. There’s always a good selection of vegetarian and meat items on their buffet, and plenty of fresh naan delivered to each table by perennially positively predisposed owner Saleem (seriously – he’s always so upbeat, he puts me in an even better mood! If you’re having a bad day, definitely go to Aashiana!). Yum!

What started out as a facebook “Hey, does anyone wanna do lunch?” quickly evolved into my pals Celina, El Profussor, Renee, and Panda saying they were in. How lovely! I love it when things come together like that, all spur of the moment. We totally took up several tables and it was great!

So we all agreed to meet there, and we had a great time catching up over a relaxing, delicious lunch. My favorite buffet dish at Aashiana is the chicken meatballs. These were in a korma type sauce with breast pieces as well. So moist, tender, and fluffy. I’ve never had meatballs like this before, but man, they are so flavorful and good!

I also had the tandoori chicken – they put lots of onion slices with it – so good. Tasty palak paneer. And the hummus? Delightfully lemony and smooth as can be – it’s a treat to eat with the hot and fluffy naan. Don’t even ask how much naan I had because the answer is “several basketfuls”.

Oh Aashiana, you’re my favorite lunch buffet in the area. So good. So, so good. Lots of options, and everything tastes so fresh.

BTW, was it just me, or was the cake a semolina cake?

The Profussor’s kiddos were really well behaved and cute. I’ve never seen a baby fuss over getting more beans. I mean, cake, sure, but beans? Woah! Aashiana is totally kid-friendly, if not kid-loving.

(Aashiana is located at 31 Central Ave, Albany, NY 12210)

Aashiana Restaurant

Aashiana is located on 31 Central Ave. You know the area. It’s bookended by Ghandi and Shalimar. The last business that held up for a few months that I remember was Frenchie and Aroo’s, which died pretty quickly.

Aashiana took its place. I think it used to be located in Schenectady.

They have a lunch buffet until 3 pm every day they are open (closed Sundays). It’s $6.95 on the week days, but when we went on Saturday, we were charged $7.50. I think that’s the norm – most places charge more on Saturdays for the lunch buffet, if they even have it.

Their lunch buffet features 4-5 vegetarian dishes (which looked passably vegan as well, but don’t quote me on it), 2-3 meat dishes, sides, and naan.

It’s set up on 2 tables, but the owner has said he’s been spending his Sundays working on a buffet table. Woah! He is one busy guy, and it’s obvious he takes a lot of pride in his restaurant.

Here’s plate number 1 – going clockwise – I got some chicken (bottom left), tabbouli, salad, chicken meatballs in cream sauce over yellow rice, and spinach and chickpeas. Yum. Everything was so well spiced and fresh. The chicken meat balls were my favorite – they were packed with spices and seasoning.

Everything also seemed very fresh, and it was much lighter than the Indian food in the area. Aashiana is listed as a Mediterranean restaurant, but they are also heavily influenced with Indian food as well.

Like the fresh naan here. Yum. The owner brought some freshly made naan for us. We actually exercised control and only ate one naan apiece, but he offered more. And for that, much love.

The naan was excellent too – it tasted buttery, and was so incredibly light. Much lighter than other places around here. It was like a soft, soft, pillow. Not overly chewy, and just perfect.

I couldn’t resist a second go at the tasty Mediterranean and Indian buffet, so I got basically more of the same, but I also tried out some raita and a cauliflower/green bean dish. Seriously, get the meatballs, though. SO GOOD. I don’t know how anything in a cream sauce could taste bad.

I finished up with some kheer. Again, it was very light, maybe runny to some in comparison to the kheer at Indian places around here. I really enjoyed it – the cardamom actually tasted good (normally I can’t stomach cardamom), and the fresh pistachios were very nice.

Actually, after I snapped this one, the owner wanted to see the pictures I took too. He’s so sweet – he’s really welcoming and was all up for me telling all my friends (this means you!) about the place. There was no one else in the place eating when we were there, so definitely go check it out. Also, he’s usually the one waiting on you and in the general eating area (haven’t seen any other staff before), and he doesn’t really rely on tips since he’s the owner. So yea, tip or not, I don’t think it really matters here.

You guys know what a sucker I am for good service, and people who enjoy being there, but that aside, Aashiana is a great place for affordable, flavorful food. Their falafel wraps are also really good, and none of their dishes go above $8.99. If you really want a bargain, go check out the buffet. So freakin’ good! I’d go again this Saturday, but I have stupid wedding crap to do, and after that it’s the Justice/MGMT free concert in Altamont, NY sponsored by SoCo (which is absolutely gross as a booze, but hey, if someone throws a free party, I’m game).

Unrelated to food, but I really like the decor: simple tapestries (they’ve got little mirrors in them so they sparkle), and sparkly fake flowers on the sides. I’m also a sucker for sparkles.