We went to Minado Japanese Buffet (Sherwood Plaza, Natick) tonight - I hadnt been there in over 6 months, and I was very pleasantly surprised with improvements in both their quality and selection since the last trip.
They had a small grill setup and made several items including ika-yaki (squid) and a surprisingly good Korean Kalbi (thin, cross-cut, marinated beef short ribs). There was a crepe station Im not sure what the Japanese tie-in is here, but it did provide another dessert option. They had a very passable chahan a real Japanese version, not just another fried rice.
Their sushi and sashimi was greatly improved. There was a large plate of sashimi tuna, salmon, and hirame (fluke). I was most impressed with the large, fresh pieces of hamachi on the nigiri sushi but the sushi rice is a major disappointment. The little dried-out oblong balls must be rolled out by a machine, and whoever is mixing the vinegar and sugar is just not getting enough of either in there. The fish itself was fresh nothing smelled at all, and the texture of the tuna was firm. The sushiyas were busy behind the counter cutting and loading up the fish but they were not forming the rice themselves.
I dont go into Minado or any non-Japanese owned burb sushi place with great expectations Ive commented on Minado before and said that it was good for the money, but not great. Im not saying that tonights experience was great it certainly was not a special evening of expertise and creativity from a master chef like you can get down the street at Ogas. But it was $25/person, and we were all stuffed to the gill with very good food. The amount of sashimi and sushi on my first plate alone would have cost more than that at any other sushi place and I went back twice more, albeit not all for sushi. Other than the rice, the quality is as good or better than any other burb sushi Ive been to. Ad the kalbi and chahan, all the salads and other items, and its a winner!