Hello, Hanabi Sushi & Rolls in Las Vegas, Nevada

After a decently successful all-you-can-eat sushi experience about a week ago, I decided to find another one in a reasonable price range to try out and landed on Hanabi Sushi & Rolls on the northwest corner of West Sahara Avenue and South Fort Apache Road.

For my appetizer, I got soft shell crab tempura. It didn’t have as much crab meat as I would’ve hoped, but I still thought it was decent because it wasn’t over-fried and the sauce had a nice flavor to it.

Next up was some oysters. These were probably the worst oysters I’ve ever had from a restaurant in my entire life.

They were completely drenched in an extremely strong mixture of soy sauce and vinegar, so much so that there was no oyster flavor left and it was just shrivelingly intense saltiness and piercingly intense sourness shooting into my sinuses as if I had just taken a pure shot of a repulsive concoction of liquid smelling salts. To compound the problem, the oysters were extremely gritty, so it tasted like I was just biting into sand while my nose was falling off.

My next plate consisted of three limited specialty nigiri options, two pieces each per person: bluefin tuna, sweet shrimp, and Hokkaido scallops. As you can see from the photograph, I was accidentally served salmon instead of scallop. Regardless of the error, all six pieces of nigiri had high-quality fish and tasted good.

Right afterwards, my baked green mussels arrived. This was also a bit heavy on the sauce, but nowhere near as much as the oysters—the mussels were actually edible, and I could tell that I was actually eating mussels.

Next to arrive was the rock and roll, a no-rice roll with assorted sashimi wrapped in cucumber.

The fish quality was good, and I appreciated that the sauce was served on the side for this one so I could control the portion. Rock and roll usually isn’t served with a special sauce, and I never really found out what exactly this particular sauce was, but I lightly dipped my roll pieces and it definitely en­hanced the overall flavor.

As you might expect, I like to order dishes with more fish than rice to get better value for my money, so I got three miniature bowls of poke salad—salmon and octopus, as pictured below, as well as one with yellowtail, which isn’t pictured. The poke salads had a nice zest to them without over­pow­er­ing the fish; the flying fish roe on top also added a nice touch.

Next were four pieces of yellowtail nigiri and four pieces of squid nigiri. Both of these were great.

The portion size of the yellowtail was large compared to the amount of rice in the nigiri, and the yellowtail had a very strong and fresh flavor.

The squid was probably some of the best I’ve had. It’s tricky to describe the texture of squid nigiri to someone who hasn’t had it. The exterior is a bit firm; once you bite into it, it retains just enough firmness that there is a small amount of resistance against your bite, but it is still soft and tender enough that it is easy to chew. When first putting it in your mouth, you almost feel like it’s about to pop, but when you bite down, it doesn’t fully surrender to your teeth and still maintains its form. That description is what I would consider being “squid-ey,” and the squid from this restaurant was very “squid-ey” in a great way.

My next plate had three more “one order per person” dishes: sea urchin, salmon roe, and sea trout. Again, as you can see from the photograph, there was another error in my order and I didn’t receive sea trout. I’m not actually even sure what I received, but it was extremely fishy and had a strong ocean taste. It wasn’t bad though, and it added a bit of flavor variety to my lunch because I usually don’t order dishes that are so aggressively ocean-ey.

Uni is my all-time favorite food, and this uni did not disappoint. The seaweed holding the uni and rice in the gunkan together was a bit stronger than u­su­al in flavor, though it wasn’t so strong that it affected the ability of the uni flavor to shine through.

For dessert, I got some pineapple sorbet. The size of the scoop was generous, and it was fairly unremarkable—which to me, was a good thing. It was ex­act­ly what you’d expect from straightforward and good-quality pineapple sorbet without any oddities.

Similarly to the other all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant I went to a week ago, I showed up at an unusual time between lunch and dinner when it’s not that busy except for some delivery drivers showing up for pickup. I was the only customer in the restaurant throughout my entire meal, and consequently, I got great service.

Dinner all-you-can-eat  $ 33.95
Water  $  0.00
State and county sales tax (8.365%)  $  2.84
Gratuity  $ 10.00
Total  $ 46.79

The table to the right shows how much I paid.

I went before regular dinner time started, but I still paid the dinner price for all-you-can-eat so I could order the premium items that aren’t available at the discounted lunch price.

I’m a fan of omakase and other “chef’s choice” experiences, and when I go to a sushi res­tau­rant, I’m not too picky about choices and all I care about is eating great fish, so I didn’t mind the mistakes with regards to the wrong fish coming out on two occasions. However, they are still technically mistakes that should not have been made.

Excluding the oysters, I liked everything else, and this restaurant is definitely on my “recommend” list if you’re focusing more on nigiri. I noticed from some reviews online that people were dissatisfied at the pricing of this restaurant relative to its quality, but I disagree with them—I think their all-you-can-eat price is reasonable considering the ratio of fish to rice, the quality of the fish, and the available selection of premium fish options.

 

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Hello, Super Sushi in Spring Valley, Las Vegas, Nevada

After a busy few weeks of traveling, helping a friend move into a new house, doing a long chain of work, and eating lots of fast food and at quick-serve res­tau­rants, I finally had an afternoon free to go visit and dine in at another all-you-can-eat sushi spot. Today, I decided on Super Sushi in Spring Valley, an un­in­corporated town in the Las Vegas Valley in Clark County, Nevada.

Upon my arrival, I was taken over to the back of the restaurant and seated at the bar. I’m not sure if this was just coincidence for today, or if I just picked an awk­ward time between lunch and dinner when it’s usually not busy, but I was literally the only person in the restaurant for the hour or so I was eat­ing, and the only other people stopping by were delivery drivers picking up orders.

I went with the all-you-can-eat menu. Because today is Sunday, I wasn’t able to take advantage of the discounted weekday lunch price. Super Sushi also has a premium upgrade where you can pay a little bit more to gain access to some pricier dishes as part of the all-you-can-eat experience.

For my appetizer, I started with some poke salad. The picture below makes it look smaller than it actually was because the bowl was shaped like a ladle, but the portion size was massive—and big portion sizes were a recurring theme across the board with menu items. You may think that portion sizes don’t ultimately matter for all-you-can-eat, but it did make a difference on multiple occasions.

The poke was fine, but the fish was much firmer than I would have hoped. I generally expect poke to be made out of the “scraps” of the fish’s flesh that can’t otherwise be used for nigiri or other cuts of sushi, so it’s not always guaranteed to be the highest-quality fish, but this was notably less tender than I’m used to.

Next was sashimi moriawase that had four pieces each of salmon, tuna, and yellowtail.

The salmon chunks were huge—so much so that, from the photograph, it looks like I got eight pieces instead of four because each one was split down the middle. The quality of the salmon was only a little bit better than the poke—it visually looked decently-marbled, but it was firmer than most other salmon sashimi I’ve had. The tuna had minimal fat and was basically what you’d expect cubed up in a poke bowl. The yellowtail was the best out of the three—it was much more tender and was com­parable to what I would hope for from good sashimi.

Remember how I mentioned earlier that the portion sizes of everything was way bigger than most other all-you-can-eat places? This is one situation where it actually mattered. All-you-can-eat restaurants usually try to fill you up with a lot of rice and have very few sashimi options that are vastly re­duced in size compared to the amount they give to à la carte customers. I noticed that Super Sushi does not do that—the amount of fish I got in the moriawase was very satisfying.

My next set of sushi was uni gunkan, ikura gunkan, and ama ebi nigiri topped with avocado. The salmon roe and sweet shrimp were both good.

The sea urchin… was incredible. It was very confusing to me that I had been eating fish of below average to decent quality up until that point, and then suddenly the sea urchin was top-tier. It had the melt-in-your-mouth buttery texture with a very strong sea urchin flavor and a very large portion size. Sea urchin was part of the premium upgrade, and I’d say the premium upgrade would’ve been worth it even if this sea urchin was the one and only item on the premium menu.

You know what was not worth it on the premium menu? Tonkatsu. This is another time when the portion sizes mattered, and for this one, it was for the worse—the fried pork belly was humongous. This was extremely filling, and an overwhelming majority of the mass of the tonkatsu wasn’t even pork belly, but instead, a thick fried crust.

If you also go to Super Sushi, I implore you, do not get the tonkatsu. It is absolutely not worth it.

I was looking forward to trying out a variety of nigiri on their menu, but by the end of the tonkatsu, I was pretty bloated. To wrap up my meal, I got two pieces of octopus nigiri and two pieces of escolar nigiri. The quality of the octopus was decent, but the escolar was a bit sub-par—again, it was a bit too firm and lacked the soft tenderness you usually get from super white tuna.

This is the final time the portion size matter came into play. Usually, all-you-can-eat restaurants will serve a lot of rice with the nigiri so diners will get full off the cheaper rice and they can cut costs by using less fish. Super Sushi does not do this, because the amount of rice for each piece of nigiri is rel­a­tively small, so the ratio of fish you get is actually extremely high for an all-you-can-eat restaurant.

For dessert, I ordered mango mochi ice cream.

All-day all-you-can-eat  $ 25.95
Premium all-you-can-eat upgrade  $  5.95
Diet Coke  $  2.50
State and county sales tax (8.38%)  $  2.88
Gratuity  $ 10.00
Total  $ 47.28

The table to the right shows how much I paid.

I tipped almost 30% because the service was impeccable. Of course, I wouldn’t really expect any­thing less considering that I was the one and only person in the restaurant, and the waiter probably literally had nothing else to do, but either way, he was very attentive to me through­out my meal and had perfect timing when I was ready to order my next round of dishes.

Because I’m someone who usually goes to very high-end sushi restaurants, the fish quality at Super Sushi was a little bit underwhelming, but to be clear, it wasn’t bad. The fish didn’t have a “fishy” taste, each fish had appropriately sufficient and proper flavor, and I didn’t get sick after the meal. If you’re someone who doesn’t have an ultra-refined taste when it comes to fish, I think Super Sushi would be a great place to try out. In fact, even if you are picky about fish quality, I think Super Sushi would still be worth it if you’re just looking for a really good-value sushi meal, considering the affordable price point.

I look forward to my next visit to Super Sushi, during which I will absolutely not order tonkatsu (or any fried food in general) so I can actually try out more of the nigiri.

 

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Food of Seattle

When visiting Seattle this time for PAX West, I traveled with one of my friends who likes searching for and trying out good food. We went to a lot of different restaurants, and I captured enough food pictures that I decided to do a dedicated blog post solely spotlighting the food I ate during my trip.

On the first day of PAX, we left the convention center for a little bit to find some lunch. We decided on Ruth’s Chris Steak House, where I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and some fries.

I’m not entirely sure if this actually counts as a food picture, but inside PAX, apparently Cheez-It decided to partner up with a gaming company to run their own exhibition booth. Funny enough, the booth was literally just entirely filled with Cheez-Its.

Although I had a four-day badge, my friend only purchased two one-day badges, so on one of the days where she couldn’t get into the convention center, we went to downtown Seattle and did a bit of exploring. For lunch on Saturday, we went to The Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar where we ordered some clams in garlic sauce.

Here is the aftermath.

Does water count as food?

My friend took a picture of me in front of Puget Sound because she specifically wanted me to have more photos of my face to post on my website. I guess you can technically argue that this could possibly be a food picture if you consider the fish in the water that you could hypothetically go out and eat…

🍆 … 💦?

The next day, we went to Noren Sushi, where we ordered agedashi tofu for our appetizer.

My lunch was a chirashi bowl.

That night, after the “Fight Mii” panel, we went to Hong Kong Bistro for some dim sum. The service was horrifically bad, but the food was decent. Doug did all the ordering, and he accidentally ordered about 50% more food than our party of nine needed.

I overate, and we still had a ton of leftovers that we packed up in to-go containers; here is the aftermath after we were done:

For lunch the next day, my friend and I went to Musashi’s. We shared our entrées half-and-half, with the first one once again being a chirashi bowl.

The second entrée we got was grilled yellowtail collar.

For the final restaurant of the trip, we went to Meet Korean BBQ. Our cook was great, the meat was extremely high quality, and the restaurant quickly became one of my all-time favorite restaurants.

For our appetizer, we ordered steak tartare with American wagyu chuck, Asian pear, jalapeño, pine nuts, egg yolk, honey soy marinade, and toasted ba­guette.

As our main entrée, we each ordered the signature feast. This round came with American wagyu gold grade bavette, American wagyu gold grade chuck eye steak, and Kurobata pork belly. The feast also included kimchi fried rice, corn cheese, egg soufflé, and wagyu soybean stew.

Meet was very pricey, but if you’re flexible in budget or just want to treat yourself, it was an amazing experience and I highly recommend it.

That wraps up a brief overview of my food adventures in Seattle. I’m glad I traveled with a friend this time around, because it’s always nice to have some­one else scouting interesting places to visit and pulling me out of my hotel room where I otherwise would just be working until my scheduled e­vents at the convention.

 

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Hello, Boom Bang Fine Foods & Cocktails in Henderson, Nevada

I’m about to go on a lengthy chain of back-to-back travel, so before I leave, I decided to meet up with a friend and get some food at Boom Bang Fine Foods & Cocktails in Henderson of the Las Vegas Valley in Nevada.

For my appetizer, I ordered the waitress’ recommendation of mushroom tart. Instead, I received wild Rhode Island squid and capers with a side of house­made tartar sauce and chipotle marinara. I like calamari so I didn’t mind the mix-up; when I let our waitress know, she said that the buttons for the ca­la­ma­ri and mushroom tart were right next to each other, so the wrong dish was put into the order. She offered to give me a complimentary mushroom tart for the error.

The calamari was decent. I liked the squid a lot, but the breading was a bit intense in some areas, and it was somewhat over-fried. My dinner companion is not much of a fish and seafood person, so I ended up finishing the entire plate on my own.

For his appetizer, my friend ordered corn dogs made from artisan frankfurter and Boom Bang’s “best batter ever,” with a side of ketchup and Boom Bang mustard sauce.

Shortly afterwards, my second appetizer came out—the complimentary mushroom tart that was previously promised. It came with wild and cultivated mushrooms, goat cheese mousse, and verjus. The mushrooms were great and the tart was nice and flakey, but the goat cheese smelled like vomit and made the whole dish pretty unpleasant. … I still finished the entire thing anyway, though I scraped off most of the cheese.

My friend ordered the daily special for his main entrée—14 oz. Cedar River ribeye with bordelaise sauce, truffled French fries, and roasted tomato.

For my entrée, I decided to do something a bit unusual—I decided to order the “small action” seafood plateau, which is usually ordered by a table as a shared platter of appetizers, but I instead chose to have it as my dinner. It came in a hilariously large plate, and everything was kept chilled atop a bed of ice.

First was some tuna tartare, seasoned with whiskey barrel-aged soy sauce, sesame, and avocado, and a side of baguette croutons. I found it funny that they called it tartare, as that is usually a term used for non-fish dishes. The tuna was exactly what I expected from good-quality tuna, but there was also noth­ing particularly stellar about it—it basically tasted like I was just eating a premium tuna poke bowl.

The plateau also came with Oiishi shrimp and a side of Mexican cocktail sauce. The shrimp was incredibly satisfying—it had lots of rich flavor, each one was very large, and its texture had just the right balance of tender and firm.

Third was hamachi aguachile seasoned and served with avocado, serrano, pickled red onion, and cilantro. Notably missing from my serving was the av­o­ca­do, which was instead substituted with cucumber. The yellowtail also did not actually resemble the flavor of yellowtail, though whatever fish it was, it tasted good. The dish as a whole was a bit too sour for my preference, but it wasn’t as overwhelming as other aguachile or ceviche dishes I’ve had.

And finally, a seafood platter would not be complete without oysters. I received half a dozen oysters, three of which were East Coast oysters. They tasted like normal, good oysters.

I also received three West Coast oysters, which were some of the best oysters I’ve ever had. The West Coast oysters had a mysteriously high intensity of deep, delicious oyster flavor, so much so that it was almost as if additional oyster flavoring had been injected into them. Each bite extracted more and more juices, repeatedly covering my tongue and replenishing the flavor until there was nothing left of the oysters but bolus. To be clear, I have had plenty of West Coast oysters before, and they weren’t all like this, so there were definitely something special about the ones from this restaurant.

Considering that I was getting a lot of seafood, I also ordered a side of truffle French fries to balance things out. I prefer my French fries to be a bit on the underfried and thicker side, but I still enjoyed these.

At this point, I had finished a full portion of two appetizers plus a large seafood platter and some fries, so I was pretty much at my limit for food. How­ever, my friend still had room for dessert, so he ordered pavlova with crisp meringue, Bavarian cream, and fresh berries. I tried one bite, and it was clean and refreshing; if I wasn’t so full, I would’ve definitely liked a serving of this.

Calamari  $  16.00
Corn dogs  $   9.00
Mushroom tart  $  15.00
Ribeye and truffle fries  $  69.00
Small action seafood plateau  $  56.00
Truffle French fries  $  12.00
Diet Coke  $   3.00
Pavlova  $  14.00
Manager’s comp –$  15.00
Tax (8.375%)  $  14.99
Gratuity (20%)  $  38.80
Total  $ 232.79

The chart to the right shows how much we paid.

One funny thing about this restaurant was that there was a DJ by the entrance playing very loud music the entire time we were there. It is absolutely not what I was expecting from a restaurant that advertises themselves as being fine dining… though maybe that is what the “boom bang” is sup­posed to represent? I was there to catch up with my friend, so after a lot of yelling over the music, I concluded my dinner with a sore throat.

I think the consistency and quality of the food was a bit scattered. There was nothing that was bad, but everything wasn’t excellent either. Some of the dishes were fairly average, and I sometimes don’t notice right away because of my desensitization to prices, but if I go back and think about it, there were a few things that made me think “I could get this exact same thing of the exact same quality at a different restaurant for less than half the price.”

If you’re someone who likes a more “youthful” and upbeat environment, I think you’d enjoy Boom Bang. However, if you’re looking for traditional fine dining, this restaurant might not have the type of experience that you’re looking for. I also think it could be worth it for the restaurant to do a quick review on pricing and ease a bit on the intensity of the fried foods.

As a disclaimer, note that I do not drink alcohol and did not try any of the cocktails—which I im­agine must be good, considering that they literally put “cocktails” in their restaurant name. If you like cocktails, wine, spirits, and champagne, they have a large drink menu, so you are probably closer to the target audience for Boom Bang and you may end up having a much more fulfilling experience than I did.

 

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Hello, Shaker + Spear at the Kimpton Palladian Hotel in Belltown, Seattle, Washington

During my recent one-week trip to Seattle, I met back up with my friends Doug and Dani to enjoy another dinner at a nice restaurant. Last time we went to Shiro’s Sushi; this time, Dani selected Shaker + Spear in the Belltown district of downtown Seattle.

Our first appetizer was rockfish ancho ceviche with red onions, cucumber, lime, and cilantro.

This was a little bit too sour for my personal preference, but I think it was still very tasty. The rockfish had a nice spongy texture that was very satisfying to chew down on, and the crispiness of the cucumber provided a pleasant contrast. The overall proportions of the ingredients in the dish were also good—you only need a little bit of cucumber to complement the rockfish, and accordingly, the dish was mostly rockfish and a lesser ratio of cucumber.

Next was charred octopus with cucumber, Fresnos, mirin, sunflower seeds, cilantro, aji amarillo, lime, and olive oil.

This was probably one of my favorite dishes of all time. The firmness of the octopus was perfect—soft enough that it was effortlessly edible, but firm enough that it had the satisfying resistance you’d expect from meat. The sauce was indescribably delicious. The cucumber added the perfect amount of freshness when drenched in the sauce. The seeds added a fun element of crunchiness to the dish while also contributing a deep nuttiness. The peppers were subtle enough that they didn’t distract from any of the core flavors.

Dani wanted to get some street corn with chili, cotija, lime vegan mayo, lime zest, and cilantro.

I think most cheeses smell like vomit. I think I can just leave it at that and you can probably guess how much I liked the corn.

If you know me, then it’s probably unsurprising that I also got an order of Pacific Northwest oysters with red wine mignonette and lemon.

I eat a lot of oysters. I like the flavor of them untarnished by any sauces, so I always eat them plain. I found these particular oysters to be of pretty good qual­i­ty, but not notably special.

Doug, on the other hand, found them to be absolutely stellar; he said that he doesn’t often eat oysters, but these were some of the best he has ever had.

Our main entrées were taking a while to come out, so while we were waiting, we were served a fifth starter/appetizer, compliments of the chef—honey prosciutto toast with chili onion jam, honey, and brie atop house sourdough.

Doug and Dani only had one quarter of one piece each, so I ended up eating one and a half out of the two pieces. If it was up to me, I would’ve reduced the amount of brie because the prosciutto was just slightly lacking in sufficient intensity to balance out the taste of the brie, but overall, I thought it was pretty good. It had a decent amount of sweetness to it because of the jam and honey, so it was a great way to mix up the flavors on my taste buds a bit prior to jumping into the main courses.

Dani ordered sundried tomato risotto with heirloom cherry tomatoes, sautéed shrimp, Grana Padano, and butter.

I took a small bite of a small portion of risotto, and it wasn’t much different than if I had just taken a bite out of a block of mushy cheese. I am literally not exaggerating when I say that I did not taste anything, at all, except cheese.

I’m sure it would’ve been better if I had mixed some shrimp into my bite, but note that including shrimp in the dish is an add-on; I am confused about the people who would order this without any add-ons and practically just eat … cheese.

Dani also ordered a side of truffle parmesan fries with black garlic aioli, which we shared as a table.

I like potatoes, so unsurprisingly, I liked the fries. I think it would’ve been a lot better without the parmesan (or at least a whole lot less of it), but I managed to just dodge it and eat the fries that didn’t have any cheese on them.

For his entrée, Doug selected pan-seared king salmon with pea purée, yuzu gel, pickled pearl onions, and peas.

Doug and I ended up splitting our entrées half-and-half, so I got to taste some of both his salmon as well as the pork pictured below. The portion size on the salmon was disappointingly small, but it was still good salmon. The peas and yuzu gel complemented the salmon nicely and enhanced the flavor of the fish.

Upon recommendation by the waitress, I ordered roasted pork shoulder with creamed local greens, pickled Rainier cherries, and cherry pit jus.

This was probably one of the best cuts of pork I’ve ever had in my life. The meat was amazingly tender and had an intensely strong pork flavor without be­ing too overwhelming or gamey at all. As you may know, a lot of the flavor of meat comes from the fat; this cut of pork shoulder had a great ratio of fat to meat, and it had just enough that I was able to add some pork fat to each bite without it being so much that it was slimy.

The pickled Rainier cherries and cherry jus added a very unique facet to the dish which I enjoyed a lot. They were slightly sweet, but the sweetness was sub­dued enough that it was clearly prominently a pork dish and not a jumble of different flavors.

Doug also gave a glowing review of the pork shoulder. He didn’t give too many details, but he liked it a lot.

For dessert, we got a scoop of the seasonal sorbet—prickly pear.

In case it wasn’t blatantly obvious from the photograph, the sorbet didn’t actually come with those ridges. Doug accidentally started eating before I got to take a photo, but when he realized, he pulled the spoon out. He noticed that the spoon had left an indentation in the sorbet, but instead of just putting the spoon back into the ridge for a more natural photo, he proceeded to create artificial ridges throughout the entire serving. So the only picture I have shows the sorbet with some … decorations. 🤦

Another mildly funny story… I was originally under the impression that prickly pear was actually Pyrus pyrifolia, colloquially known as the Asian pear. When I tasted the sorbet, the flavor also resembled an Asian pear. Shortly afterwards, Dani looked up what prickly pears actually were, and apparently, they are the fruit of a certain type of cactus. That was an incredibly confusing thing to find out, especially while I had a bite of the sorbet in my mouth and could’ve sworn it was Asian pear.

Rockfish ancho ceviche  $  14.00
Charred octopus  $  23.00
Street corn  $  12.00
Half-dozen PNW oysters  $  24.00
Honey prosciutto toast  $   0.00
Risotto with shrimp  $  34.00
Truffle fries  $  13.00
King salmon  $  40.00
Roasted pork shoulder  $  36.00
Prickly pear sorbet  $   6.00
Surcharge (5%)  $  10.30
Tax (10.25%)  $  22.18
Gratuity  $  50.00
Total  $ 288.48

The chart to the right outlines how much we paid for each item. Yes, that is indeed a 5% sur­charge. If you know me, you know that I have a bone to pick with this res­tau­rant because of it.

At the bottom of the menu, there is an explanation of the surcharge: “We are a proud supporter of the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance. A 5% surcharge to support this will be added to your bill. 100% of this surcharge is retained by Shaker + Spear and is not directly distributed as a tip or gratuity to the restaurant’s staff. As always, gratuity for service rendered is at your discretion and is directly distributed to staff members.”

In the spirit of “voting with your wallet,” there is nothing that makes me want to never go back to a busi­ness again more than mandatory extra charges and fees. If there is a voluntary extra fee for an opt-in add-on service, that is fine. However, if there is something that you are required to do as part of the core experience, that should be built into the list price, not added on as a roundabout manner via a sur­charge.

For example, hotel resort fees are fine if you are able to opt out of the amenities and not pay them; they are not fine when every single guest is required to pay it anyway, even if they never step foot into the re­sort area, and in that situation, it should just be included in the room rate.

If Shaker + Spear needs more positive cash flow to help afford paying employees a higher wage, it is per­fectly acceptable to charge more for the food. They just need to adjust the actual pricing on their of­fer­ings and print that true price directly on the menu. The solution is not to underhandedly add on a dol­lar or two onto every item at the end of your meal.

I actually did not even realize we were charged an extra fee until after I finished writing the upper re­view part of this blog post and pulled up a photo­graph of the receipt to complete this cost breakdown section. In confusion, I had to pull up online cop­ies of the menu to search for the explanation of the surcharge written at the bottom in fine print.

I am reacting quite negatively to this because the premise of being expected to pay gratuity to your servers in the United States is already bad enough, and I do not want our culture to further normalize even more extra add-on costs on top of the list price. All the food (at least the dishes without cheese) were delicious and I had an amazing experience at the restaurant, but because of the surcharge, I cannot recommend this restaurant, as this kind of busi­ness practice is a deal-breaker for me.

 

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Hello, Jjanga Steak & Sushi in Las Vegas, Nevada

I go to a lot of high-end restaurants, and a lot of people seem to enjoy seeing what food is like at tasting menu, chef’s choice, and omakase restaurants, but I’ve also received a few requests to show some spots that are within a more reasonable price range. To fulfill that request, I made a quick lunch trip last week to Jjanga Steak & Sushi in the southwest suburbs of the Las Vegas Valley for some all-you-can-eat sushi.

They have two variants of their all-you-can-eat offering, a cheaper option for lunch and a slightly pricier option for an all day menu. The all day menu had a much broader selection that included many of my preferred sushi and seafood dishes, so I opted for the all day menu.

My first dish was amaebi topped with flying fish roe. It was a nice, thick, broad piece with a well-balanced amount of seasoning. It had the same juicy and satisfying tex­ture as you’d expect from high-quality sweet shrimp.

Each day of the week, they have a rotating special menu. I tried a bunch of items from their special menu, and the first item that came out was bulgogi inari. It was very average, and I liked it—it was pretty much exactly what you’d expect from bulgogi and rice with a bit of crispy onion at the top for tex­ture.

I also ordered a different beef dish, but I don’t remember what this was, as I can’t seem to find it on either the special nor the regular AYCE menu. It was almost as if it was a beef dumpling, but the fried crust was thicker and it was much creamier on the inside. This item was definitely leaning heavily towards the “steak” side of the “steak and sushi” coverage of the restaurant. I think this would’ve been a better entrée to eat as a closer to counteract a long chain of raw fish.

Next up was was salmon belly sashimi. As you can probably see from the photo, they put way too much screaming orgasm sauce (which is usually made with some mayonnaise, vinegar, fish sauce, and other sauces used in Japanese cuisine). I scraped a majority of it off—as much as possible without removing too much of the flying fish roe. Salmon belly is one of my favorite cuts of sushi, and I think this would’ve been much, much better if served without so much sauce.

Next up was an oyster. It was mysteriously disconnected from the shell, so I’m not sure if this is one of those situations where restaurants only use the shell for show and actually just put the oyster into an empty shell manually. Regardless, the oyster was very large and very flavorful.

After finishing my round of daily special menu items, I ordered a sashimi salad. The photo didn’t focus properly and didn’t come out too well, but I decided to post it anyway because I enjoyed the theme that this restaurant had of broad, thick pieces of shrimp.

I also got a screaming orgasm—the actual entrée, not just the sauce. It was strips of tuna sashimi topped with some flying fish roe (which, I discovered, they really enjoy using on many different dishes as a topping).

I was curious and wanted to try out a few more items from the grill side again, so I ordered a mini chicken katsu. The portion size was much, much larger than I expected, and I definitely regret ordering this because of how much sushi I could’ve had in its stead. The chicken quality was mediocre, it was slightly overcooked, and the breading was a bit excessive.

I also tried an octopus skewer. I thought it would come out raw, but it was deep fried instead. Again, it was larger than I expected, and again, it was fairly mediocre.

After eating all that fried food, I went back to some sushi. I had a lot more nigiri than is pictured here, but one of my favorite selections from this res­tau­rant was the escolar, commonly known as white tuna.

For dessert, I finished with a small piece of mango mochi.

Here is a breakdown of what I paid:

All-you-can-eat, all-day menu  $ 31.99
Tax (7.65%)  $  2.64
Gratuity (18%)  $  6.23
Total  $ 40.86

Overall, I’d say that I had a decently satisfying experience. If you also decide to pay a visit to Jjanga for all-you-can-eat and you like sushi, I highly rec­om­mend avoiding their grill menu and just sticking with their specials and sushi menu items to get maximum value for your money.

 

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