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