Minado Restaurant | A Seafood Paradise
Several years ago, my uncle (having spent time in Japan and also being a foodie), introduced me to an amazing Japanese buffet.
I know, the word "buffet" doesn't invoke thoughts of an upscale dining experience, especially if you think about sushi. But Minado Restaurant is a completely different experience.
Minado Restaurant | A North-East Chain
As found on their website, Minado's has a few locations around the north-east:
Carle Place, NY
Morris Plains, NJ
East Norriton, PA
The New Jersey location is opened Monday-Sunday with lunch and dinner hours. Lunch prices during the weekdays are $17.95 and on weekends $21.95. Dinner during the week is $32.45, while the weekends are $34.45. Children under a certain height and age are a reduced price, or eat for free.
Minado's Interior Design
The Morris Plains restaurant is gigantic!
The main room can seat hundreds of people. The first section of long tables on the right-hand side of the room is great for group parties. The tables can seat 20+ people.
Around the dessert buffet, the right-hand side of the room opens into table tops for 2-6 people. Small, black lattice barriers separate the pods of tables for privacy.
The left-hand side of the room has the giant buffets. Behind the glass buffet, you can see the staff arranging dishes or rolling sushi. Shiny metal cooking appliances sit between their stations and the larger kitchen.
Farther down the room you'll find the hibachi grill and a build-your-own soup area. There is also an ice cream machine and crepe station.
The wall behind the crepe station has large wooden doors, that open to reveal a private, event-style space.
An Elegant Buffet
When I write about restaurants, I focus on is the atmosphere, service, and food. In this case, Minados is less about knowing your server and loving the room's aesthetic.
The wait-staff are efficient at clearing the tables and the room is modern and clean. Minimal flower arrangements in white vases decorate the room. But, being a buffet, all that matters is the presentation and quality of the food. This is where Minado excels.
Fresh Seafood & Sushi
Minado's is most well-known for their high-quality seafood and sushi. If you compare the cost of ordering individual sushi rolls to the buffet price, you see that Minado's is the better deal.
As someone who loves to try little bits of every dish, this buffet is my dream.
If you start on the right-side of the buffet, several maki and uramaki sushi rolls are offered. They range from California rolls to specialty rolls with sauces and toppings.
I personally like Dynamite Rolls, Volcano Rolls, Spicy Tuna, and Dragon Rolls. The ingredients inside, and on top, range from avocado and tuna to sriracha and tobiko. These are some of my favorites because of the combination of textures and flavors.
Further down the line, they also offer strange creations like "Sushi Pizza" which looks like a tostada with sushi toppings and sauces.
Grab a plate and keep going!
At the ends of the buffet are stacks of plates. If you turn the corner to go down the length of the room, you can select different types of nigiri. This is the rice on the bottom with the slice of fish overtop. You can have tuna, eel, salmon and more.
This sushi also reflects the high-quality product Minado offers. Nigiri focuses your attention on the flavor and texture of the fish itself. If I don't eat all the maki rolls, I will get one or two salmon nigiri.
Alongside the nigiri is this amazing sashimi.
Salmon and two types of tuna pair with soy, sriracha, or wasabi-based sauces. I eat the chunks of fish plain, without any of the sauces (since I don't like spice). They're amazing.
Fresh oysters with lemon are something I've tried within the past 2 years. These oysters have their natural liquor balanced in the shell. A bright dash of lemon and, eaten like a shot, swoop, are devoured.
Chilled Crab Legs
Because of how fast the crab legs disappear, it's safe to say that the majority of people dining at Minado's go just for this.
Constantly replenished, the crab legs are a good size. If you break them properly, it's easy to extract the meat. Once, a little boy even asked the staff if they could heat his batch (since they're normally served cold), and they did!
I personally, eat too many plates to ask for them to be heated every time. The crab legs are usually served at dinner, not lunch.
There are so many amazing dishes and photos I can share, that I would need a 10-part blog post. Instead, I'll share the highlights of what I choose to eat.
The dishes that I choose over and over tend to be the sushi, cold salads, and meat.
For instance, there is thin sliced beef and fish served with their own citrus sauces. I also enjoy the classic seaweed salad. Minado's also serves a New Zealand mussel with parsley, herbs, onion, peppers, and vinegar -- which is bright and amazing.
If I do eat hot food...
I go for the dumplings!
Tender, pork gyoza or vegetable gyoza dumplings sit in their seamy baskets alongside chicken skewers and miso soup.
There is also a whole fish that is available to break off chunks of the sweet, teriyaki meat.
We can't forget about dessert!
Yes, after eating all of that, I do have room for dessert. (Eating light fish does make you "full" but not in the way that ten pounds of carbs do, so I end up having room for dessert).
Do you see why I love Minado's dessert? They're adorable, miniature tea cakes!
I try one of every cake:
Green tea with red bean filling
Vanilla cheesecake with chocolate Oreo crust
Strawberry cake with strawberry glaze
Green tea with graham cracker crust
Vanilla cake with strawberry
Chocolate, fudge brownie
If you're really feeling your sweet-tooth, you can also have a fresh-made crepe with fruit and chocolate syrup. Add your own soft-serve green tea and vanilla ice cream!
Minado Restaurant | A Seafood Paradise
I highly recommend that lovers of Japanese cuisine, seafood, and sushi try Minado's. Throughout my 5 years of dining, Minado has offered new dishes and has always maintained their high standards of presentation and quality.