All You Can Eat Sushi

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

I only have eyes for sushi

Sane people approach an all-you-can-eat sushi bar with the same caution as, say, a trapped opossum. Which is to say with an equal mix of amount of extreme fear and unbridled fascination. We have evolved as a species to seriously question the combination of highly perishable raw seafood at value prices for good reason. Chinese buffet “sushi” steam tables have only reinforced our instinct to run screaming.

But hope springs eternal for that raw food of the gods. Fortunately, BiteClub found two contenders worthy of two-chopstick salute for their endless sushi bars: Santa Rosa’s Hikuni Sushi Bar and Hibachi and Paradise Sushi in Petaluma. 

For about $16-$17 per person ($22.95 for dinner at Paradise), you can order nigiri (the typical “sushi” with a piece of fish placed on a neat pile of rice), maki rolls or hand rolled sushi from their specialized menus until you plead for mercy.

These are not buffets, and the rub is that you have to eat everything on the plate before you order more (including the rice), you can’t share, you can’t do take-out (duh) and some of the prime cuts of tuna, salmon or costly uni are extra (or not on the menu). But when a single Rainbow Roll typically costs $14 or more, two people can come out ahead on the deal.

Serious sushi snarfers can inflict damage. At Paradise Sushi, our server assured us that several high school football players were regulars, and the record number of rolls eaten by one person: 13. “I don’t know where people put it,” she said.

Be prepared to cool your heels if you’re going several rounds. Sushi is a hand-made item, and people paying full price will likely bump your order down, along with those football players ordering 13 California rolls.

You’ll be expected to finish what you order (or pay a penalty), so be judicious in your selections. Also, it’s usually wise to stick to the basics, rather than use this time to explore. We found that out by accidentally ordering “ikura” rather than “uni” and having to down a half-cup of giant orange fish eggs. Ack.

Overall, we found the all-you-can-eat orders good to great, but in the “utility” category, rather than the ephemeral. Sometimes you just need a fix. Cheap.

Paradise Sushi & Grill
20 E. Washington St.

Hikuni Sushi Bar and Hibachi
4100 Montgomery Dr., Suite C
Santa Rosa

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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  1. Paradise Sushi is great. Fresh fish, freshly made rolls, hand rolls and Nigiri.
    Individually made, it’s NOT buffet. You order a few rolls & or Nigiri at a time. Some waiting is required.
    They have a nice sized restaurant in Petaluma, (opening a 2nd location on Rohnert Park Xpressway soon.
    Waitresses are friendly and prompt, lunch is busy, dinner is always packed.
    They have a lunch price, dinner price & child’s price.
    My 12 year old son, his mom & I have been going since they opened.
    Sushi has been his favorite meal since he was a toddler.

  2. Being a mom on a budget, Hikuni in great for my two teenage sushi eaters. Sushi can be very expensive. Granted its ususally worth it. But as for all-you-can-eat. It works. Thanks Hikuni :-)

  3. Hikuni used to be my favorite middle of the road sushi place ever before they started their all you can eat sushi. The service was always spotty, but I came to expect that and really enjoyed the food.
    Then along came the all you can eat sushi the service was still spotty but the sushi was good. Now the sushi is terrible and inconsistent and the service is even worse than ever before. I still go back every couple of months hoping they have fixed their problems, not so far.
    The worst part of it all is they are just down the street from my house and it used to be great to have good sushi so close.

  4. Both of those times were during the off hours to offset those crowds. Can’t win em’ all I guess. 😉 Thanks though, Heather! Appreciate the tip.

  5. I really miss when Tosaki in Sebastopol did All You Can Eat. They really were the best, the price was good and the sushi was amazing. They had to stop doing it because people were abusing it, refusing the pay for what they could not eat. Such a travesty.

  6. Also, Mr. Jason went yesterday and said the service was pretty bad at Hikuni. It’s a trade-off. You sit in the “pen” and get pretty surly waitstaff, but you get all-you-can-eat. I mean, I wouldn’t take a date or guests. This is power-sushi eating.

  7. Maybe that was poorly worded…what I meant was you can’t go in and just pay $16 and have two people eat the all-you-can-eat. You EACH have to pay the full amount. But for $32 if you eat a few rolls and a bunch of nigiri, you financially come out ahead (in my experience) of just ordering the rolls and sushi a la carte.

  8. Say what?
    “… you can’t share, …” and “… two people can come out ahead on the deal.” :)

  9. Here’s a hint from a chef I know who goes often: go at off hours. That means late on a tuesday or between lunch and dinner. If u try to go Friday or Saturday night u won’t be happy. Also skip the salad at Hikuni. Blech

  10. Also I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that any time I’ve been to Hikuni for their all you can eat the service is ATROCIOUS. I understand that your other customers are paying more than I am because of your all you can eat option but that’s your choice. No matter who I’m there with we always end up waiting way too long (45-60 minutes) for one round of rolls when the place is relatively empty (just us and two or three other people in our area). Sometimes we get miso soup and salad, other times no. Sometimes we get our drinks. Sometimes we don’t. So the service is definitely spotty but I understand that they’re losing money running all you can eat deals. My friends and I always try to tip huge to make up for what they lose in their deals but we have a hard time tipping large when parts of our orders aren’t given to us and we have to run around trying to find our waiter because it’s been an hour and we haven’t had any food or water. We chased the waiter down asking for green tea for an hour and a half before just giving up and asking for it to be taken off of the bill.

    The last time I was there, I took my brother and sister-in-law who were here from out of town and we waited three hours for a salmon skin roll that was ordered in the first round and they said they were almost done with it when we were walking out of the door. They asked if they could box it, which admittedly was kind, but we were already out the door.

    Seems to be better in theory. But I like that there are at least two places in the area that offer all you can eat sushi.

  11. I think the point is to try to slow people down and offset the whole “all you can eat” aspect of it by making the rolls wayyyy to rice heavy to fill you up so you’ll order less. That’s definitely been my experience at Hikuni at least.

    They claim that the charge is in place so that food isn’t wasted although I completely agree with you.

  12. Rice costs pennies…why in the world would you be “penalized” fro not eating all of your rice? That is nuts, and I have been frequenting all-you can sushi establishments for over 15 years throughout our state, and have only seen this twice.

    Also, the “all-you can eat” motto brings people in to try certain sushi they may have not thought about ordering before. If something you order does not please your taste buds (or quite frankly tastes awful) and you don’t want another bite of that disgusting roll, why in the world would you be forced to digest it before you can taste another roll? This is insane.

    If these two establishments are worried that someone is “wasting” their all-you can eat meal, either stop calling it all you can eat, or give smaller portions at a time.

  13. Can you get sashimi instead of sushi at Paradise? I don’t want the rice.
    Also, FYI, my family and I tried the sushi place next to the Mystic Theater in Petaluma…Kabuki. Luckily getting there in time for “Happy Hour”…(as otherwise, I’d have to float a loan to pay for what they/and I eat). The food was very good, the waitress was on top of things and personable, and it was about 2/3’s of what we would normally pay. We were especially glad to find Hamachi Kama on the menu.

  14. I love Hikuni!

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