Kimono Sushi is exactly what you want out of an AYCE sushi spot: quick, fresh, friendly and fair-priced.
Sushi for me, as for many, is more than just a love--it's an addiction. Unfortunately, my addiction and my appetite often don't align. When I go for sushi I crave variety that only an all-you-can-eat menu can satiate. The problem with that is the quality of the poisson and the proximity to my home are often in flux. Alas, after a half dozen quality meals at Kimono Sushi I felt that they deserve some recognition from the always-hungry midtown crowd.
The dĂŠcor at Kimono is not exactly elegant, but the well-lit dining room and comfortable, high-backed banquettes and chairs make for a perfect place to prop yourself up for a relaxed meal of monumental proportions. The AYCE spread starts out at a very reasonable $11.99 for lunch (Mon-Thurs until 3:30pm) and goes up to $16.99 for dinner on the weekdays. Fridays and weekends they serve the dinner menu all day at $18.99.
While they don't serve sashimi during the weekday lunch, the full menu impressively boasts over 100 items including sashimi, nigiri, maki and hand rolls; teriyaki, udon and fried rice; tempura, appies and desserts. My only qualm is that there is no red tuna on the AYCE menu. They also have a fantastically inexpensive spread of lunch specials (11:30-3 Mon-Fri, 12-4 Sat & Sun) with bento boxes ranging from $6.99-$7.99 and two-roll maki combos at $6.99 (served with miso soup and green salad).
I'd only ever indulged in the AYCE menu here, so my friend explored the sushi lunch special, opting for the spicy tuna roll and yam avocado roll with brown rice ($2 extra). Both rolls were well prepared and the tuna roll had a sizeable portion of fish. The brown rice was also quite soft, not mealy or tough like I often find it.
Of course, I gorged myself and devoured a delicious spread off the AYCE menu. The most important (and often most unfortunate part of many AYCE sushi restaurants) is the quality and freshness of their fish. Sashimi is the gold standard and the best way to determine how one place stacks up against the rest. Every time I've ordered from Kimono, the salmon--bright pink and well marbled, the white tuna--soft and not partially frozen (as found in many places), the surf clam--large and not rubbery. They also do a nice mix of hand chopped spicy butterfish, which is smooth and flavourful.
I ordered two handrolls (salmon skin and dynamite), which were both tasty, but could have been more packed. A highlight for me is always the broccoli tempura (4-5 large pieces) that's not overcooked underneath the light batter. Amongst the nigiri, the unagi and the shitaki mushroom sushi was standout, as always!
The other thing that keeps me coming back to Kimono is the staff. While at times you'll get a server who has some difficulty juggling the orders, the sushi chefs are on the ball and always on watch. We had a bit of a delay on our nigiri (I was hardly fazed, as the table was still stacked with plates) so the chef hand delivered two incredible 'avocado bombs' as he called them, to apologize. Totally unnecessary...but "Thank you!!"
With slivers of fresh avocado encasing a rice ball, topped elegantly with red tobikko, a swirl of mayo and a drizzle of unagi sauce, the flavours really did explode in your mouth. The soft, sweet avocado hitting first, the chewy rice ball centre and the slight crunch of the tobiko complimented each other perfectly and the sweet sauces were something else! The chef told me that he often switches up the ingredients and uses a mango sauce topping or stuffs the balls with different types of fish. Any way these are served up they're sure to be the bomb!
Stuffed and satisfied, I'll be back again soon for more midtown sushi mows.