Sunday, April 27, 2014


When you think of Japanese cuisine, raw fish seems to dominate the mind.   The truth is that cooked fish as well as non-seafood offerings can be enjoyed at such a restaurant as River Japanese Cuisine located at 61-44 Springfield Blvd in Oakland Gardens.  

“A big draw to this eatery,” said General Manager Kenny Mei,“is the All You Can Eat menu.”  Or shall I call it, “menus”, as for those choosing this option you are given one paper to check off items from the Sushi Bar and another for the Kitchen.  I will go into that later as I first want to focus on the regular menu which allowed me to taste their newest cuisine that Executive Chef OD having added sauces gives some fusion to the flavors.  

Just to clarify on those who have not delighted in Japanese Cuisine, here is the 101 on “sushi”.   Sashimi is simply slices of raw fish.  Sushi is a piece of anything that is placed on a lump of rice.  It can be raw fish, cooked fish, or even sweet egg.  It would be rare to find a piece of chicken or beef, for instance.   Two types of rolls are the Maki and Hand roll.   Maki rolls tend to be anything at all (including the rice) that is rolled up in or around a “paper seaweed” (nori) or sometimes cucumber, and cut into thick slices, whereas a hand roll has the items placed in a cone shaped nori.  

Maki rolls may be quite creative.  They may contain as little as one or two item such as salmon, shrimp tempura, spicy yellowtail or tuna avocado and the common California roll consisting of Kani (imitation crab meat), avocado and added cucumber with the nori inside. 

A second category is “Special Rolls”.   Here are some examples.  Snow Mountain: inside with Shrimp Tempura, Seaweed Salad, Snow Crab on Top. New Year Roll: Salmon, Mango inside, topped with fresh tuna.  Mango, btw is thinly sliced.  Dancing Queen: Spicy Salmon, Avocado inside, topped with Pepper Tuna and scallions. 

The Chef’s Special rolls are phenomenal and must be sampled.   Here are just the ones that I savored.  Black Angel:  Cajun Tuna, Asparagus Tempura inside; topped with tuna, salmon, eel (with an eel sauce), a honey wasabi sauce, and various colored tobiko (flying fish roe). 

King Lobster:  deep fried lobster and asparagus inside; topped with lobster salad, tobiko, an eel and mango sauce and flakes of gold leaf.  

Spicy Tuna Sandwich:  spicy tuna, avocado and eel inside; Soy Bean paper used as the “bread”; masago (different type of roe), with eel and spicy tuna on the top.  

Since Godzilla is back on the screen I might as well try their Godzilla Roll: Deep fried white fish, avocado and kani with crunchy stuff (I think it's tempura flakes) and masago on the top.

I want to point out other specialties due to the taste and creativity.   Avocado soup, for instance.  The base is a shitake mushroom soup with an avocado puree and slices of avocado, place in a heart shaped bowl. 

I continued with some Sushi Bar Appetizers such as the Seafood Ceviche, a mixed salad of various raw and cooked fish (shrimp is always cooked unless one orders “sweet shrimp”) in a spicy lemon sauce that uses jalapenos from Mexico.  

Then there was a Sushi Pizza fusion of a pancake topped with tuna, salmon and white fish, sesame seeds, a wasabi sauce, avocado and tobiko.   

Let’s not forget the Volcano Salad. Kani salad is wrapped with baked salmon, topped with caviar and scallion that makes it appear that it is erupting.  It is surrounded by a spicy sauce.   One point to make with this type of cuisine is that you don’t need to add the usual combo of soy sauce and wasabi or the pickled ginger as the flavors erupt by themselves. 

River is known for some of their specialties including one particular entrée called Miso Black Cod.  The black cod has a miso sauce with mixed Japanese seasonal vegetables.   I just had a sample of it that was more like a two bite amuse bouche. 

I want to get back to the AYCE by first having people understand that this is not a buffet and that everything is made to order.  In other words, don’t expect an express menu if you truly want to enjoy.  Pace yourself and remember that you and your party are not the only patrons in the restaurant taking part in this indulgence.  

The Sushi Bar menu offers: sashimi, sushi, maki or hand rolls, and special rolls.  It’s best to go with other people so that when you order something such as an eight piece special roll it can be shared. Food is not just thrown on a dish as the chefs take time to plate it…for looks. 

It is called a Kitchen menu because the items are cooked and takes time.   You will find soups and salads as well as kitchen specials such as miso eggplant, River style wings (quite tasty) and Pork Gyoza.   There are BBQ skewers, one of which are quail eggs wrapped with bacon…ya gotta try that one.   Tempura, teriyaki, katsu, noodle and rice dishes as well as desserts. 

It is not that expensive enough to think that you will never come back so eat what you order as they have the right to charge for your leftovers of which you cannot do the doggy bag thing.  

What are you expected to pay for the AYCE?  The price varies by lunch, dinner, weekday and weekend with the least being lunch during the week at $21.95 and dinner on the weekend being $25.95.   The price for children are based upon the height and not the age.   There is an added charge of tax and service.

I calculated a non-AYCE to find that if you ordered soup, salad, special rolls, a kitchen special and dessert, the price would at least be equal to the price.  Lunch specials are offered such as a maki roll combo of 3 regular rolls with soup or salad for $10 or a bento box served with California rolls, shumai, miso soup or salad and rice.  A 5-piece sushi box costs $10. 

For further information call 718-747-7390 or

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