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Mountain Range
By B.A. Nilsson

 

San & Bada

1800 Western Ave.(Cosimo’s Plaza), Guilderland, 456-2111. Serving lunch Mon-Fri 11-:30-2 dinner Mon-Thu 4:30-9 Fri 4:30-10, Sat 4-10, Sun 4-9. MC, V.

Cuisine: Japanese and Korean

Entrée price range: $13 (chicken teriyaki) to $24 (nine sushi-nine sashimi combo with extras)

Ambiance: small, clean and quiet

 

The name of the restaurant San & Bada conjoins two Korean words, which translate as “mountain” and “ocean” and promise a wide-ranging culinary experience. Provided you’re game enough to try some of the wilder-looking denizens of the latter.

Sushi master Eddie, formerly at Latham’s now-defunct Ginza, has trimmed that restaurant’s menu of Japanese and Korean offerings to what seems to be the favorite among area Asian fans.

The emphasis is on sushi, and the bar—not too expansive, blonde-wood handsome and putting you at the heart of the action—clearly is the focal point. And this is where happy hour takes place each afternoon, a three-hour stretch during which you can get a fantastic discount on nigiri (individual pieces of sushi) and makimoto (sushi rolls). Ten pieces of the former, with soup and salad, runs $15 during this stretch; the latter, which gets you three sushi rolls, is a dollar less.

All the popular fish are represented, as well as favorite non-fish items like egg custard and seaweed salad. Salmon, scallops, shrimp, mackerel and three types of tuna are available, and for the even-less squeamish you can try octopus, sea urchin and squid.

No power on earth will persuade my wife to eat raw fish, and she watches with some dismay as my daughter joins me for a taste or two. The kid is such a salmon fan that she’ll eat it cooked or raw, and enjoyed the version Eddie offered, a good-sized morsel of fish atop a spear of vinegared rice.

But she likes to dredge it through a lot of soy sauce, which I fear overwhelms the delicate flavors of the fish. A drop of soy sauce, a dab of wasabi, and you’re set.

Sushi rolls give you a more complicated array of flavors, sometimes without even having fish involved. Kappamaki features cucumber and sesame seeds; a taco roll (of all things!) comprises salsa, lettuce and cheddar cheese.

The beloved California roll surrounds a piece of fabricated “crab” with avocado, cucumber and fish eggs; head for Boston and the “crab” and avocado are mated with shrimp, lettuce and mayonnaise. But wait! The New York roll is a Boston roll that adds—you guessed it—apple, while the Alaska roll threads together slices of salmon, avocado and cucumber.

I enjoy the spicy tuna roll, which adds a little (but not much) heat to the equation, and the construction of the rolls—a cylinder of rice surrounds the main ingredients, bound into a circlet of seaweed—makes them easy to savor.

Be sure to give yourself the chance to watch Eddie at work. It has to be a task of diminishing return by virtue of its repetition, this sushi making, but he crafts each like a work of art (which, on a most fundamental level, it is).

Korean cuisine is represented here only sketchily, but the Albany area hasn’t exactly been supportive of restaurants devoted to that fare. Which is a shame, because (at least based on the bustling restaurants on 32nd Street) there are wonderful dishes to be explored here.

At least try the bulgogi ($15, beef or chicken), a zesty combination of meat and onions and some other choice vegetables. The beef version, which is where I believe this combo works best, lights up the flavor of the meat with a skillful blend of seasonings. A side of kimchi (spiced fermented cabbage) offers one of the many contrasting flavors typical of a Korean meal.

Your beef or chicken can get teriyaki flavored, for $15 or $13, respectively; add three more dollars and get it in a complete dinner box, which includes miso soup, a green salad and a large lacquered box with meat, a selection of shrimp and vegetable tempura, rice and more salads (rice noodles, edamame and more greens). It’s a sensational array, one that my daughter never fails to order because she enjoys the artistry of the presentation as well as the meal itself.

Another meat presentation is the sushi-like negimaki, which wraps chicken or beef around a center of seasoned scallions and presents the result in bite-sized roll portions. Again, a richly flavored dish—we sampled the chicken version ($13.85)—that presents a unique approach to this combination.

Another Korean dish is a soup called gji gae, which mixes kimchi with a rich broth and adds pork ($10) or tofu ($9) with a resultant effect that’s not overly spicy but certainly dramatic and satisfying.

Among the many appetizers, the steamed pork dumplings ($4.50) were a standout, while my wife, who takes tofu seriously, enjoyed the agedashi tofu ($4.50), in which the stuff gets an attempt at flavoring by frying it and serving it with ponzu sauce.

This doesn’t even touch on the seafood offerings, like a mixed teriyaki plate ($23) that skewers shrimp, lobster, scallops and vegetables or the unajyu don ($15), broiled eel on rice, which I have yet to sample.

Your favorite sushi stop may simply be what’s in your neighborhood, so if you’re in Guilderland, you’re lucky. San & Bada has friendly service and a welcoming atmosphere, not to mention very accomplished cooking; it’s worth the trip if you want to abandon your own neighborhood for an evening.

Click here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.


TABLE SCRAPS

Much the way an airline rushes to paint out any identifying insignia on a crashed plane, the owners of the Guilderland Fresno’s have obliterated all signs on and around the now-shuttered restaurant. I have yet to discover if this is standard procedure for chain units that go belly-up, but, brand sensitivity being what it is, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a trend emerge. No way to disguise the goofy architecture, however. . . . Parisi’s Steakhouse (11 N. Broadway, Schenectady) hosts a wine-tasting dinner Mon, Mar 7, a six-course meal that seats at 7 PM and matches inventive fare with an international array of wine. Among the courses are orechietta with broccolini, chicken and sun-dried tomatoes (with a Noble Chardonnay from France); mussels bianco (Columbia Winery Pinot Gris from Washington); and baby rack of lamb on a bed of lentils with seared spinach (HRM Rex Goliath, Pinot Noir, California). Hosts are Joann Van Stone and Greg Woolston from Eber Brothers Wine & Liquors. Dinner is $50 plus tax & tip; reserve seats (only a few remain) by calling 374-0100. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail food@banilsson.com).


We want your feedback

Have you eaten at any recently reviewed restaurants? Agree or disagree with B.A.? Let us know what you think...

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What you're saying...

I very much enjoyed eating dinner at Daniel's at Ogdens. You review described my dining experience perfectly. This wasn't the case with Pancho's. I much prefer Garcia's or Lake View Tavern for Mexican fare. I agree that a restaurant can have an off night so I'll give the second unit on Central Avenue a try.

Mary Kurtz
Castleton

First, yes I miss the star ratings, bring it back. Second, I haven't had a chance to visit Poncho's yet, but I especially like reading the reviews.

Pat Russo
East Greenbush

I would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant - it's not that far away. People traveled from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam. From his background, I'm sure the chef's sauce is excellent and that is the most important aspect of an Italian restaurant. Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm looking forward to trying this restaurant - I look forward to Metroland every Thursday especially for the restaurant review. And by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam location and is opening a new bistro on Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake Bistro. It should be great!

Peggy Van Deloo
Schenectady

So happy to see you finally made out!! Our experiences have always been wonderful, the staff is extremely professional, the food subperb, and the atmosphere very warm and comfortable. Let us not forget to mention "Maria" the pianist on Friday and Saturday nights.

Charlie and Marie
Michaels Restaurant

I have been to Michael's several times and each time I have enjoyed it very much. The food is delicious and the staff is great. Also, Maria Riccio Bryce plays piano there every Friday and Saturday evening, a nice touch to add to the already wonderful atmosphere. It is also easy to find, exit 27 off the thruway to 30 north for about 5 miles.

N. Moore
Albany

Wonderful!

Elaine Snowdon
Albany

We loved it and will definitely go back.

Rosemarie Rafferty

Absolutely excellent. The quality and the flavor far surpasses that of other Indian restaurants in the area. I was a die-hard Shalimar fan and Tandoor Palace won my heart. It blows Ghandi out of the water. FInally a decent place in Albany where you can get a good dinner for less than $10 and not have tacos. The outdoor seating is also festive.

Brady G'sell

Indian is my favorite cuisine available in the area--I loved Tandoor Palace. We all agreed that the tandoori chicken was superior to other local restaraunts, and we also tried the ka-chori based on that intriguing description-delicious.

Kizzi Casale
Albany

Your comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants being as "standardized as McDonald's" shows either that you have eaten at only a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or that you have some prejudices to work out. That the physical appearances are not what you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing on the food. And after all, that is what the main focus of the reviews should be. Not the physical appearances, which is what most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on Central Avenue, may not look the greatest, but the food is excellent there. And the menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian, chicken, and more..

Barry Uznitsky
Guilderland



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