Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Restaurant Review: A-Float Sushi

As is the case at most sushi restaurants, the main attraction at A-Float Sushi is the sushi chef station. However, in this restaurant's case, it's more than the sushi chefs' handiwork that catches a patron's eye. You'll find the station smack in the middle of the restaurant in an oblong island surrounded by a sushi bar counter. On the counter, between the patron and the chef, the water in a tide-pool moat propels a chain of small boats, linked one to the next, in a perpetual circle. Each boat holds a different sushi dish, and the concept is that you are supposed to sit at the counter and grab whatever dish you prefer as it floats by (hence the restaurant name). When you are done with your meal, your waitperson tallies your bill based on the empty plates you've piled up, each plate costing a different amount according to its color and design.

At first, I found the whole experience a lot of fun - marveling at all the choices passing right before my eyes, peering further down to see what was coming next, giggling as I plucked my next choice "fresh off the boat." I felt like a kid playing with toys in the bath tub. . . until . . . I started noticing a few things - "How many times do you think that boat made it around untouched?", "Hey, that guy grabbed the dish I wanted! *pout*", and "Umm, that didn't taste quite right."

So, I guess it all depends on what you want from your food - aquatic performance art or gustatory satisfaction? Personally, I'd choose the latter. If I want food AND entertainment, I'd much rather opt for the traditional dinner and a movie. Of course, you could sit at a regular table at A-Float Sushi and order whatever you like, avoiding 2 of the 3 quoted situations above, but - going to a concept restaurant and not participating in the attraction for which it's known? What would be the point? Oh, and another caveat - they don't take reservations (only and always first-come-first-served), so your wait for a table may be long (most particularly on a weekend night). Final verdict: A-Float Sushi = all gimmick + no substance. If you'd like to form your own opinion on the matter, visit A-Float Sushi at - 87 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91105 (626-792-9779).