Eating out on Father's Day is always a little tough. My first choice is always sushi. It just makes me happy. Raw fish and a Sapporo beer. Unfortunately it seems that most Sushi restaurants in Albuquerque are closed on Sunday, so we tend to grope for the ones that are open for the Sunday holidays like Mother's and Father's Day.. This year we tried Sushiya for the first time.
On arrival, I was disappointed to learn that Sushiya doesn't currently have a beer and wine license. It is in the works. Their green tea is very tasty but I did miss my beer. Also, on a hot Albuquerque day a portable swamp cooler on one side of the room didn't really do the job.
That aside, the service was just right. There was a fair crowd, but everything seemed to arrive with no unreasonable delays. The green tea really was delicious with just a hint of sesame perhaps. The squid salad was very good. One of the best in town. Hot & Sour Soup was neither too spicy hot nor too vinegary. Well balanced. The Egg Drop Soup was dense with egg.
My son had a pork dish with XO sauce. He came to like XO when in Hong Kong and liked this version. The sample I had was a bit too heavy on star anise for my taste.
My wife had shrimp with candied pecans. This is a dish described on the on-line menu as having prawns with veggies and pecans in a mango sauce. Her dish had sliced oranges, but no veg (which it really could have used). Without vegetables this generously sized dish just becomes too sweet for one person to consume.
I had the Chirashi. The 14 pieces of sashimi were fresh and delicious. The last time I had chirashi was at Samurai. The price is the same at both places. There might be a few more pieces in Samurai's version, which may be because it had some sweet omelet (tamago). I give the honors to Samurai only because it came in a larger bowl. Sushiya's presentation was in a bowl about the size of a paperback book. It was beautiful, but was packed so densely that the eating was more difficult than it should be.
The meal came out to just under $20 per person before tip.
I am tempted to tell you to stay away, but there seems to be room for more of us at this very happy place. Five of us went for Father's Day and ordered 9 or 10 dishes...maybe more (it gets a little hazy). Everything was wonderful; without a trace of generic Chinese brown or white sauce. I wouldn't presume to recommend one over another. You could probably throw darts at the menu and still come up with a fantastic meal. And...yes, our hostess was utterly charming. She certainly couldn't go wrong in my eyes by knowing and admiring my son's work on the Alibi. (That would be Devin.) Great food, nice ambiance, pretty much perfect service.
The food here is ordinary at best and definitely overpriced. The outdoor patios are great, especially for tourists. Although never a regular, I have been coming here since the early 1970's. And, yes, as it has gotten bigger the food has suffered.
That said, I went last night with a party of nine. El Pinto only takes reservations for parties of 15 or more. We waited about a half an hour on a Monday night. Service was slow, but we hardly cared because the night and the patio were beautiful and the company was great. The out-of-towners had no idea what good New Mexican food should be, and the locals in the party refrained from bringing a good time down. Everyone did agree that the tortilla chips were great (twice fried or not).
At some point loud becomes a cone of silence and gives you privacy. Saggios usually reaches that point for me. I had my first slice of their pizza on this visit. Must have been an off night, 'cause it didn't qualify as pizza at all. Puffy, doughy, no crunch. Luckily I was just waiting for my mussels to come and didn't have to finish it.
I'm sticking with the mussels with linguini from now on. Nothing subtle about the sauce, just simple and great tasting. Fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic...light and fresh.
Neither my date not my guests thanked me for this meal(at least, not with any sincerity). Our meals ranged from pretty good to pretty ordinary. By no stretch of the imagination was there value for the amount spent. The biggest sin here was that a restaurant with such pretensions would even have a semi-industrial wasteland like the back room where we were seated. There are too many restaurants in Burque for me to give this one another chance.
Yes, the pizza is always good. I don't know how long I've been coming here, but it's probably 4-6 times a year for as long as it has been open. What I want to review now is my last visit. I like to get Luigi's mussels every once and a while. Although they have never come up to the standards of Two Tony's (long gone) in Lodi, NJ, they've been reasonably priced and pretty good. They're are still pretty good, but, at $16 with linguine, they are not quite par for value anymore. I guess, like any place in town, some times its up and sometimes...not so good. If the price is reasonable, then its worth another shot. This time around the warmed bread (always better than cold)was kind of tough. Microwave, perhaps. AND, I really resent it when no one in management does anything about the **** who not only talks on his (or her) cellphone, but talks at high volume. Theater or restaurant, it is management that should take care of this and not leave it to their patrons to stew or argue.
One of the few restaurants in town that almost never disappoints. Once out of perhaps 20 times that I have eaten there the crispy catfish was not up to par. Dalat's prices are so reasonable that the lapse was easily overlooked. Not much on ambiance; but clean, friendly, with good food. I always come away satisfied and happy.