New Scotland Ave., Albany, 935-2270.
Serving Mon-Thu 11-10, Fri-Sat 11-11, Sun 11:30-9:30.
AE, D, MC, V.
an elusive luxury, sushi now graces the seafood counters of
many area supermarkets in ready-to-go plastic containers.
Though this practice takes the mystery out of the dish itself,
it adds its own brand of mystery, to wit: Exactly when was
this put together?
Nothing can replace the for-real sushi bar, where you sit
facing a chilled glass divider, studying the fresh fish beyond
it, watching the skill of a sushi chef who trims the seafood
and arranges the rice and fashions it all into various delectable
Albany’s Sushi House, which opened two months ago, is next
door to the 14-year-old China House restaurant, and both are
owned and run by the Zheng family. Last year they opened the
Asian Market on Colvin Avenue, the proprietorship of which
we discovered quite by accident when Al, my lunch companion,
was raving about the place and was overheard by one of the
We visited on a recent weekday, with my young daughter also
in tow, too late to compete with the lunch crowd, too early,
really, for dinner. So we had the place pretty much to ourselves.
Each of us began with a small bowl of miso soup, the simple
but versatile dish that is the starting point of most Japanese
meals (and a protein bonanza). Then the courses started to
pile up. What seemed like a good idea turned into an amazing
cornucopia. This is what happens when you wait too long in
the afternoon for lunch.
The innocent starters were appetizer plates of yakitori
($3.25), for me, and sumai ($3.25), for Al. Yakitori
is seasoned chicken, grilled on skewers, and basted with a
sweet soy-and-sake sauce. Sometimes chicken livers are added
to the array, but here it was a straight-ahead version with
added onions and peppers, served with teriyaki sauce. Lily
ate it right off the skewers, which I later learned is the
Japanese style. I fussily slid each of mine off its stick
before devouring it.
is a shrimp dumpling, but that hardly does justice to
the dish. The dumplings are small and intricately wrapped,
and the filling is ethereal, minced to a fare-thee-well, but
full of flavor.
That ought to have been enough. They were reasonably sized
appetizer portions, easily sating my own appetite. Then the
In Al’s case it was no more than a California roll, that toothsome
wrap of rice and seaweed surrounding the tasty, but improbable,
combo of avocado and surimi (that pollock-based pseudo-crabmeat).
But this one was finished with a spicy shrimp topping ($6),
a bright orange near-purée, creamy and very spicy, the best
thing to happen to a California roll.
I needed to give the sushi a try, of course, and so ordered
the sushi deluxe ($12.95). “They say that when done properly,”
writes chef Shizuo Tsuji, “all the rice grains face the same
way. You do not squeeze the rice into wads—you merely invite
the grains to cling with just the right amount of pressure.”
Six examples of the sushi chef’s art were served to me, the
component fish being salmon, tuna, red snapper, crab, clam
and shrimp, each resting on its bed of vinegared rice. Traditional
accompaniments of fiery wasabi and refreshing gari
were served, and soy sauce was provided, of course, for
dipping. Lily elected to help me through this platter when
she spotted the additional bonus of California roll slices,
It turned out that California roll slices also accompanied
the vegetable tempura I ordered for her ($6, $1 more for shrimp
tempura). Not surprisingly, the batter was light, and the
veggies (the usual suspects) were crisp and not at all greasy—as
it should be. A small salad also accompanies the platter.
You’re getting excellent value for money here.
Al murmured something to the effect that the yaki soba
he’d ordered hadn’t arrived, but had to stop himself when
the dish landed before him. I’m assuming that something in
this dish is grilled, perhaps the darker-colored noodle strips
that may well have been the buckwheat noodles (soba), with
flame applied. In any event, it’s a handsome-looking cold
dish, the noodles served in the hold of a decorative, boat-shaped
vessel. On the forecastle is a plate of green dipping sauce;
just below that a portion of fresh salad greens. It’s way
underpriced at $5.50.
By this point, of course, we were finishing nothing. It was
shameful. I can plead in our defense only that we were thus
able to report on that many more dishes, but you should be
prepared to order more sparingly.
Still, we found it in ourselves to sample two kinds of ice
cream for dessert. Al got a plate of ginger ice cream, an
unusual flavor that ought to be more common; we opted for
the tempura ice cream, which was served in a toasted breading.
Lunch for three, with tax and tip, dessert and sodas, was
restaurant reviews are based on one unannounced visit;
your experience may differ.
Food Rating Key: *****
An exciting, fulfilling experience; the food and service are
everything they set out to be. Brillat-Savarin would be proud.
Way up there with really good food, definitely worth your
dining dollar. Julia Child would be proud. ***
Average, with hints of excitement. Your mother would be pleased.
A dining-out bogey; food probably isn’t the first priority.
Colonel Sanders would be disappointed. *
K-rations posing as comestibles. Your dog would be disgusted.