Address: 352 Menlo Park Drive, Edison, NJ 08837
On the way back from a trip out to New York City yesterday, we stopped by IchiUmi in the Menlo Park Mall after a recommendation from one of my mom’s friends, who had said that this was a place to check out. IchiUmi is a Japanese food buffet, offering both hot and cold Japanese dishes, as well as other Asian-style food items. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I’ve been noticing that the Japanese food buffet concept has been on the rise these past few years. I’m all for it; Japanese food is something that I can’t get enough of.
I have to say that the interior design of the restaurant was very impressive. The food area was extremely well-lit and had a number of wires connecting the glass panels above the food to a metal ring suspended from the ceiling, a high ceiling made the place seem very spacious, and the tables were arranged in a fashion that allowed for a large number of guests, but not feeling too crowded at the same time. As for the selection of the food, I had to walk around just to take everything in before swooping in to make my choices for my first plate. You had sushi, sashimi, maki rolls, cold items such as zaru soba and beef tataki, seafood such as clams and Alaskan king crab legs, hot items such as fried fish, Japanese crab cakes, some grilled chicken and beef straight from the two grill stations they had; the bottom line is that there was a ton of food to choose from, and I was glad that I got to sample quite a bit of it.
I ended up getting three rounds of regular food and then one round of dessert (yep, that’s quite a bit and I was really full leaving the place). The sushi selection was decent, with them carrying traditional sushi rolls such as the Dragon Roll, Spicy Salmon Roll, and Rainbow Roll to name a few. I would have like to have seen a little more variety with special sushi rolls, like I’ve seen at other Japanese buffet restaurants. Their hot foods, however, were quite excellent. I ended up with trying the fried codfish, calamari, tuna, and fried soft-shell crab. I also had quite a sampling from the barbecue section, trying the pork, chicken breast, and beef tenderloin. They even had a nice dessert bar, stocked with cakes and ice cream; there was even a station where they made crepes for you!
Overall, I would say that the hot food selection is better than the sushi selection, but the other cold food they have available is pretty good too. IchiUmi melds everything together to a very complete package for an upscale Japanese buffet dining experience.
Here are my rankings for IchiUmi:
Food: 4.5 / 5
The food selection is immense and the quality of the food remains the same all throughout. Great flavors backed up with fresh ingredients.
Atmosphere: 5 / 5
The well-lit and open atmosphere of the restaurant is really evident when you first walk in. Add that to the showcase design of the buffet area and that gives the whole restaurant an upscale feel.
Service: 4 / 5
The waitstaff was around frequently to take away empty plates and refill water. Food at the buffet area was consistently swapped out as the plates ran low.
Price: 4 / 5
With dinner coming in at a hefty price tag of $32 / person, some could argue that it falls too much on the expensive side to be worth it. However, I find that the sheer amount of food that is available to you counterbalances the expense, and gives you the opportunity to sample quite a bit.
Overall: 17.5 / 20 (88%)