Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ye's Sushi Japanese Restaurant

Ye's Sushi
103 King St. West
Kitchener, Ontario N2G 1A9

A friend told us that there was a new all-you-can-eat sushi place in downtown Kitchener, so we decided to check it out. We didn't go with high expectations, after all, what quality should you expect from an all-you-can-eat place? It turned out to be a decent restaurant; a great place to go with a bunch of friends (especially if they are thrilled by the "all you can eat" idea).

Dinner is $19.99 per person. Other than the limitation on expensive sashimi (2 pieces of tuna and scallops per person), you can order literally anything commonly seen in a Japanese restaurant. Selection ranges from appetizers, sushi to desserts. Pops are also included in the $19.99 flat fee, additional cost will apply if you order other drinks such as orange juice. They also offer lunch for $12.99 with a slightly smaller selection. By the way, make sure you only order what you can finish. You'll get charged (punished?) if anything is left, e.g. $1 for each piece of sushi left on the plate. The ordering process is quite straight-forward - you write down the item number and quantity (e.g. "65 x 1" for 1 serving of item #65), the waitress will gather the lists and deliver items once they are made.

We started with edamame (Japanese beans), sea scallop tempura, age-dashi-dofu (deep-fried tofu), house salad, smoked salmon rice pizza (deep-fried rice cake topped with smoked salmon and spicy mayonnaise). As for sashimi, we ordered tuna and scallops. Some items are ok, some are pretty good even compared with regular Japanese restaurants. The quality of sashimi is ok but it is NOT reasonable to demand top-notch grade of sashimi from an all-you-can-eat place. Regardless, the sashimi was fresh. If the sashimi we had represents the Ye's restaurant's "norm" then they have already surpassed many Japanese restaurants in town.

Then the crazy sushi sampling began. I couldn't recall all the items we had but I'll try my best:

  • Spicy salmon crispy maki, spicy salmon sushi: we first ordered spicy salmon sushi. the salmon was fresh and the spicy mayonnaise did have a kick in it. With the good impression, we ordered spicy salmon crispy maki afterwards. The crispy bits are interesting, I can't quite figure out what they are, maybe from chopped deep-fried chinese dough fritters?
  • Mango and cucumber hand roll/maki: It is uncommon to have mango in sushi. I think it tasted alright, thought one friend complained that the mango wasn't ripe enough.
  • Red snapper sushi: probably the most disappointing item throughout the whole meal
  • White tuna sushi: second most disappointing item
  • BBQ eel sushi: It was on the dry, plain side; probably prepared from a frozen BBQ eel package.
  • Salmon roe sushi (Ikura): Whenever I have sushi, I like to order salmon roe (if available). It tasted about right. And I am glad that they didn't put a limit on this item.
  • Flying fish roe sushi: a friend ordered it. No complaint afterward so probably ok.
  • Black dragon roll: it consists of avocado, BBQ eel, shrimp tempura, etc. The shrimp tempura was a bit soggy but it was still quite tasty.
  • Maple roll: flying fish eggs, squid in a roll. Not as impressive as the Black dragon roll.
  • Spider roll: avocado, soft-shell crab, the usual ingredients for a spider roll. About as tasty as the Black dragon roll.

To wrap up the dinner, we had mango, green tea and red bean ice cream. The green tea ice cream was no match with what we had in Uji (the city in Japan, famous of its green tea) but just as good as the ones we'll get charged $2-3 per serving in a North American Japanese restaurant. Not a bad way to end a meal especially since it's already included in the flat fee.

Overall, I'll say the food is better than some Japanese restaurants in town, maybe equivalent, say, the California Roll & Crazy Sushi on Bloor St. in Toronto. If you attempt to "maximize" your money worth of value by ordering lots of sushi (the type w/ a piece of fish on top of rice), you might have to swallow lots of "not-so-good" sushi. However, if you know what you might be getting (the limitation of their budget on materials) and order "appropriate" items, it can be quite enjoyable. After all, we did enjoy the spider roll and dragon roll a lot. We will definitely revisit this restaurant, with friends.


paulo said...

I find that the eel is a good indicator of how fresh everything is at any sushi place. Fresh eel is great, but the taste of not-so-fresh eel is something that lingers long after eating, and makes me stop eating sushi for months at a time. "Dry, plain" eel would make me guess that the sushi wasn't terrible, but wasn't anything special either, which you seem to indicate with the rest of your review. Regardless, there aren't any all-you-can-eat sushi places I know of around here, and reading this makes me want to plan my next vacation up that way.

RYP said...

We went to Ye's Sushi the week it opened and again a few weeks later.

The first visit exceeded our expectations (still keeping in mind this is an all you can eat), however we did notice differences when we went back.

On our second visit:
Ordering seemed to require quite a bit of instructions, items ordered were never delivered, or wrong items were delivered, yam tempura was very thin and very oily, portions were much smaller.

We will try Ye's again, but if our second visit is any indication of the direction they are headed, then I'm not sure how well they will do.

Kev said...

The even thought of an "all you can eat sushi place." Of someone saying the words "it was pretty good for all you can eat." Wouldn't anyone agree that an all you can eat sushi place defeats the fact that sushi is a delicasy. Its pricey because you are paying for the experience. Let me share with you my experiences at Ye's Sushi. The first time I entered with a huge group of friends, their pushy attitudes, and lack of linguistics were easy to laugh at. The communication barriers, and legnthy explainations for everything just became annoying. And for the food, it tasted like crap. I don't know what kind of sushi you've tried before Ye's to say that its better... but I suggest you go and get your money back. And the whole if you don't eat it you get punished deal. Honestly, I paid for crap food, and I get punished if I don't eat the crap food. Maybe I just love sushi and quality really gets me going. Or maybe I have a overly sensitive gag reflex. But would anyone agree that the seaweed a little hard to get down, and all the rice tastes like dirty dish water? After all of this, my boyfriend still hadn't tried it, and he wanted to give it a try. Now hes the most patient man you'll ever meet. However, we had to walk out because the service was too pushy, and just being there for that 5 minutes and trying to order would ruin our entire night. So, we went down to the other sushi place, right down the street called Niko Niko. Now THIS place was brilliant. (Which by the way I could get a roll, appetizer, and miso soup for lower than cost of all you can eat, but it could fill me up) I won't go off on a tangent about that. But I will say, I've tried sushi in Montreal, T.O, everywhere in Kitchener and Ottawa and hands down, its the best sushi I have ever had. So, in conclusion if you want crap service, crap food, and overall garbage, go to the most horrible sushi place on record in my books.

Anonymous said...

Me and my two friends love going for all-you-can-eat sushi. It's become a sort of tradition for us every few months to fast and then feast upon sushi.

We went to Ye's soon after it opened up, and the first thing we were impressed by was the atmosphere. A very well-kept place to eat.

I was delighted with the lunch menu, but then I'm not as hardcore as my one friend. He said the menu was "ok", and made a comment about the rice being a little "meh". According to him, the rice at Yumiyaki's in Waterloo was much better. Still, Ye's was a fun sushi experience for us "softcore" sushi fans.

On a side note, I went to Niko Niko just up the street last winter with a different party. I ordered a spider roll and my friend ordered something else. Now, uncultured as we were, we ate what was brought to us. But upon recieving the bill, it turns out they gave him the spider roll and me his order!

deo said...

It's true, Ye's quality isn't as good as Niko Niko or some of the Toronto sushi places (which are to-die-for-spectacular), but it is also better than some around here (better than, say Mr. Sushi on University, for example, or Taka (sp?)).

Ye's is good, solid quality fare and I have to admit that the quantity is a selling point. Anyone else get sushi drunk?

Some people here have commented on linguistic barriers. To a point, I expect this - authenticity? :-) But really, out of the bazillion or so times that I've been there I've never had a major problem. It's true that from time to time your order will get screwed up, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Overall, service is fast and friendly. The place is clean and very casual. Considering that this is the only all-you-can-eat sushi place this side of Hamilton, it draws a big crowd. But besides being able to stuff your face with sushi, I would recommend this place as an overall enjoyable (and highly casual) experience. Looking for something fancier? Niko Niko is the place.

antonia said...

I have to comment because I was as excited as anybody else for this AYCE sushi trend to hit Kitchener/Waterloo.
I came a few times for lunches and twice for dinners and will comment on their declining quality of sushi.
The first times I came, the rolls seemed fine and the service was pretty good. I do think that the decor is cute and clean.
However, the last time I came for dinner, we all left saying that we won't be back. Service was off ....forgotten orders AND the waiter gave a dirty look when he tried to give us a 2nd order of something they already brought to us! I also noticed that they LOOOVE using the little crunchy bits as filler. Now, I like them... but honestly, it gets really tiring and you just don't want any more of it when it shows up in so many of the rolls as a replacement to real food. I also think the sushi pizzas are horrible... so much rice and mayo, so little salmon and bbq eel.
I think there needs to be some real AYCE sushi competition like there is in Toronto for this place to kick it up to good standards. As long as there's no competition, people will go to Ye's.

Anonymous said...

Waterloo location- Good sushi, but not worth the hassle of waiting for your meal to come. Not only did they lose our list but they also skimped out on the quantity that we indicated throughout our whole dinner. To top that off, the man behind cash register asked us why we didn't tip as if we did something wrong!! First, there was VERY poor service, cut our portions in half- there were 4 of us! lost our order, took forever serving our meals and actually having the nerve to ask us why we didn't tip rather than apologizing for their extremely bad service!!! We are never going there again! I would rather pay twice the amount for my meal knowing I would along with my friends would enjoy our dining experience!

Anonymous said...

I have to say...this is by FAR the WORST Japanese restaurant EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't believe that people actually go there and eat there! If you actually think that this place is good then you probably have never had "real" Japanese food before! Please go and try an authentic Japanese restaurant so you can compare it to this crappy place!

I was craving sushi and decided to check out this place because I have been to a very good all you can eat Japanese restaurant before on Bloor St. (Toronto) and loved it. But this place was disgusting. As soon as you walk in there it's loud and you feel like you're in a high school cafeteria. We only got 1/3 of our orders!!!!! We had 6 different waiters serving us and none of them had any personality! The service sucks!

As for food, their teriyaki "ENTREE" was SORRY! I felt like i was chewing on rubber (beef teriyaki)! I took a bite and made them take it back because i was not going to eat that disgusting beef! The sushi rolls were stuffed with so much nasty rice and barely anything thing else inside. Every roll was made big and sloppy and with the cheapest and lowest quality...omg..i'm just so disappointed and so sorry that this place exist.

I am asian myself and i love asian food but this restaurant just does not cut it for me. I am warning will waste your money at this place! Please go and spend your money somewhere else. I don't like fast food...but i would eat fast food over the food at this place anytime!!!!