CVIndependent

Fri09252020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

What: The No Name 2, as Part of All-You-Can-Eat Sushi

Where: No Da Te, 73655 El Paseo, Palm Desert

How much: $35 during our visit; $9 for just the roll

Contact: 760-340-3698

Why: Sometimes it’s good to splurge … responsibly.

On a recent visit to San Francisco, we decided to try an adorable little Japantown sushi restaurant. Its shtick: All of the customers sat around a little moat that had miniature boats with sushi on them constantly floating by. You could grab whatever you wanted; you knew the cost based on the type and color of the dish.

It was cute. It was fun. And it was fiscally dangerous: One particularly ravenous member of our party wound up racking up a $75 bill. On lunch.

This is why I prefer all-you-can-eat (AYCE) sushi joints: You walk in; you find out the price; and you can enjoy all the yumminess that you want without worrying about receiving a crazy-stupid bill at the end.

This is not to say that AYCE sushi is necessarily inexpensive; for example, when I walked into El Paseo sushi joint No Da Te for lunch recently, I paid $35, which is far more than I’d normally spend on lunch. However, $35 is a lot less than $75—and if I would have paid for everything I enjoyed separately, I would have spent closer to $75 than $35.

The food I had at No Da Te was fantastic across the board, but my favorite item was the No Name 2 roll—shrimp tempura, avocado, crab, egg and freshwater eel, all lovingly wrapped in soybean paper, and drizzled with just a touch of sweet eel sauce. It was splendid.

I recommend calling ahead to No Da Te to find out how much your AYCE meal will be—prices vary—but you can rest assured: Whatever that cost is, that’s all you’ll pay, as long as you stick to the AYCE menu. Relax; eat; savor; enjoy.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Dragon Roll with the all-you-can-eat sushi at Dragon Sushi

Where: Dragon Sushi, 68369 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City; also at 82451 Highway 111, No. 103, Indio

How much: $22.99 for lunch; $27.99 for dinner

Contact: (760) 321-5935; www.facebook.com/pages/Dragon-sushi/194086770616660

Why: A variety of flavors and textures for one fair price.

Nevada may just be the all-you-can-eat (AYCE) sushi capital of the world.

Several recent newspaper articles have confirmed that the cities of Reno and Las Vegas are havens for AYCE sushi; in fact, one of those stories speculated that every sushi joint in Reno offers an AYCE option. These stories throw out a variety of speculative reasons for this, ranging from the need for sushi restaurants to compete with the ample number of all-you-can-eat buffets, to a desire for sushi by cash-strapped college students (and both Reno and Las Vegas are indeed college towns).

I bring this all up for one reason: I, your humble food scribe, grew up in Reno, which means my formative years were spent gobbling up nigiri and various rolls without concern for individual prices. Alas, when it comes to sushi, the Coachella Valley ain’t Reno: Many of the area’s finer sushi joints don’t offer an all-you-can-eat option, meaning that my AYCE-conditioned brain is confused and paranoid about pricing whenever I eat at one of these places.

However, an increasing number of local sushi restaurants are starting to offer AYCE options—such as the relatively new Dragon Sushi in Cathedral City. (The original Dragon Sushi location in Indio does, too.) This somewhat peculiar restaurant—it shares an entrance and space with La Tablita, a Mexican joint—offers a nice variety of appetizers, nigiri and rolls under its AYCE option. During a recent lunch, we sampled a number of goodies, and they were uniformly tasty—but our favorite was the Dragon Roll (what else would it be at a place called Dragon Sushi?), which is basically a California Roll with freshwater eel, eel sauce and crunch thrown in.

It was a great lunch—and my brain was spared confusion and paranoia. Here’s to the continuing spread of the AYCE sushi paradigm! 

Published in The Indy Endorsement