Port of Call: All YOU Can Eat
This is a throwback post; one of the first reviews I have ever written, you can tell I wrote this in middle school! I hope to return to this place that 13 year old me. found so enticing :)
I think that this is by far the best restaurant I have ever dined at, and that is saying A LOT. This restaurant is a high class, Las Vegas style, luxury buffet in Hackensack, New Jersey. It consists of all sorts of sushi, Japanese condiments, a panini station, a pasta station, and a carving station or hibachi meat section. There are a lot of foods that I have never tried, believe it or not, so I either travel around the world to try exotic things or just to restaurants when it is not summer. When I saw Las Vegas style, I knew I just had to try this place! So I went over the weekend. Here is everything I tried
On the sushi side, I tried octopus sashimi for the first time; I had tried octopus in a spring roll before, but not on sashimi so I was in for a tastebud roller-coaster! I was extremely surprised at the taste of it. It tasted quite tender and the rice was perfectly sticky; it bonded together with the tentacle really well. However, it needed a touch of salt so I knew just what to do in this situation. I ran over and grabbed the soy sauce bottle and gently dipped the sashimi into the soy sauce, holding it with my chopsticks. Then I squirted lemon onto the sashimi for some acidity and it turned out to be the perfect bite. When I saw the signs in the sushi bar, they said, grilled unagi and avocado roll and the second sign said grilled anago and avocado roll. I was wondering what the differences between the two eels were, so I asked my waitress and she said, unagi is freshwater eel while anago is saltwater eel. I took both rolls back to my table and tried each one with extreme slowness. I came to the conclusion that the unagi had a richer note to it and a deeper umami flavor than the anago. The anago is more subtle and has a slight sweetness that was also delicious. The fried calamari was totally on point and was extremely tender on the interior and crispy on the exterior. It was the best calamari I have ever eaten in my entire life! It was so flavorful and spicy and had great textural contrast. I also tried black peppercorn crusted albacore tuna and salmon that was seared lightly for some smokiness and with a touch of tanginess that slightly overwhelmed my palate. The teriyaki chicken and udon was almost perfect. It was roasted in a bold teriyaki sauce and consistently formed udon noodles. Lastly, from the Japanese section, I tried a vegetable tempura fritter with zucchini carrots and onions. It was perfect; none of the breading fell off, it was crispy and the vegetables were cooked perfectly and the flavor was consistent.
Now we move on to Italian classics and the carving station. The panini station is irrelevant to me because I dislike sandwiches. These section is set up a little differently than the sushi section; it is more like a station where you pick a type of pasta, then you pick the sauce and any toppings you want. When you place your order at the pasta station, you are watching the people cooking your food which taught me new cooking techniques. I only tried one pasta dish which was al dente penne with Alfredo sauce and zucchini, broccoli, shrimp, and jalapeños which was outstanding. The sauce was so creamy and delicious that I wanted to jar it and sell it. The vegetables were perfectly al dente in the center and provided a textural bonus to the dish. Some other options were spaghetti as the shape of the pasta, tomato cream sauce, and marinara and there were more toppings as well. The carving station is where all the meat is made; hibachi style. I absolutely love hibachi so I had to try every option. I first took the pistachio crusted rack of lamb and observed the coloration on the inside to see if it was cooked the way I like it. It was a perfect medium, so I ate it and the crust had just the right ratio of pistachios and bread crumbs and the bright green was quite appealing to the eye. I sliced into it as if it was a stick of butter; that is how tender it was! However, it had some unrendered fat on the sides which made it difficult to eat. The pistachios gave a lovely, earthy taste onto the steak which was crispy and was well bonded together by the bread crumb and egg wash. Then, I tried the New York strip steak which was a medium well and was so luxurious and almost spicy in a way.
Last but definitely not least, the desserts. First off, I tried a leche flan with caramel on top which was set to perfection and he’d some lemon zest on top, thus accumulating a tangy taste that didn’t overwhelm my palate. Then I tried yet another creme brûlée which was infused in a sweet and sour robust lemon curd with fresh vanilla bean shavings and the sugar glass on top is, as always, my favorite part. Then, smack in the middle of the restaurant, I notice the best thing in the world, a chocolate fountain just oozing chocolate ganache. I then took two pretzel sticks and dipped them into the ganache, making a lot of ganache spill on my hands. It was the most delicious ganache ever, so I stayed near it, eating more and more dipped pretzel sticks. Then I saw a sign that said panna cotta and I looked and I see a white custard like base under a lychee and raspberry coulis. I had never tried a panna cotta in my life so went back to my table, eating the panna cotta delicately. It feels like somewhat of a jello and a custard base combined, and the coulis tasted strongly of lychee, which I loved and then a subtle aftertaste of a sweet raspberry. When you eat the panna cotta dish altogether, the flavors are astounding. This restaurant receives the rare score of 10 out of 10 on my scale of gourmet restaurants!
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