As plate after plate of food reaches our table, our party jokes that maybe Watari should have a wittier name, like the Japanese-sounding “Sushikoma.”
The Japanese all-you-can-eat place is located in the 124th Street spot that used to house the Matahari Asian restaurant. I know, I know, when you hear the words “all you can eat,” you’re thinking about wilted salads swimming in seas of melted ice, of dried-out potatoes sitting under heat lamps.
Well, Watari isn’t like that. There are no buffet tables. Your party fills out a card, which indicates the dishes you want to try, and then they are prepared and brought out to you. And, honestly, the food is good enough to break the smorgasbord stigma.
Still, though, if you go in and lay down your 23 bucks, you want to get your money’s worth. Every “all you can eat” dining experience is like a battle between you and the kitchen. This is about winning, about eating more than you thought you possibly could. That’s not a problemat Watari -though picking your favourite might be a challenge.
What did we like best? The tacos are inspired by Asian-Mexican fusion we so often see in southern California. Well, they’re not really tacos, they’re tostadas. Spicy salmon and sesame is placed atop a smear of guacamole on the crusty base. The cool guacamole is a great foil for the spice.
The octopus tentacles are charred just right, giving a smoky flavour without taking away from the chewiness or fresh flavour. The sushi is fresh and of a good quality.
We finished off with a fruit salad compressed into a rice paper wrapper. Cheeky and inventive. (10108 124 St.,780-756-9988; watarigroup.com)