It’s taken me almost two years but now I can finally say that I’ve been to a buffet in New York City. I honestly thought they didn’t exist or weren’t a “thing” here, but I was corrected when one of my friends spoke highly of a magical place in Midtown that was a Japanese seafood and sushi buffet. Oh, was I in!
We walked into IchiUmi, located in the heart of Korea Town, to find an expansive room with a long buffet spread filled with all kinds of sushi; raw oysters and clams; hot entrees like udon soup, teriyaki, and ribs; plus two smaller buffet tables with desserts of pastries and fruits and a small freezer with bowls of sorbet and ice cream.
Buffet prices vary depending on what day you’re going and whether it’s for lunch or dinner. Monday through Thursday lunch is $18.95 and dinner is $31.95. On Fridays, lunch is $18.95 and dinner is $34.95. Weekends and holidays, lunch is $24.95 and dinner is $34.95. I’ve only gone for lunch on a Saturday, so while I can’t confirm if the food selections change depending on the day and time, I have a feeling that’s the reason for the varying prices. Lunch is served from 11:45 AM to 3 PM although the kitchen closes at 2:30 PM so no new food will come out after that time. Dinner is from 5:30 PM to 10:00 PM.
I don’t know about you, but I have a buffet strategy. Hit up all the “pricey” items first so I get my fill of those and the most bang for my buck. At IchiUmi that means stocking up on their sushi and raw seafood bar. I thought it was funny that they had a sign by the raw oysters that said you can eat as much as you want but to please only take like four or something at a time. They know people go crazy for raw oysters! Guilty.
I think there’s a universal understanding that buffets aren’t going to provide the best food out there. I mean I’ve never heard anyone raving about that one thing they ate at that one buffet. That being said, you go to buffets for the wide selection and fun of getting to have whatever you want and however much of it. For that reason, IchiUmi is especially enjoyable because it’s food that’s normally more costly, like sushi, sashimi, and seafood.
Another important thing to note is that IchiUmi adds a 9% administrative fee to your bill. According to the notes on their signs and receipts, this is for administrative overhead, not a tip for their staff. It goes on to say that IchiUmi is a “no tip” establishment and that their waitstaff is paid a fair wage and therefore they don’t expect or accept tip. There does seem to be some confusion however about whether the waiters still need that extra tip money or if they’re expecting it (see Yelp for some weird stories). That’ll be for you to decide!
6 E 32nd St
New York, NY 10016