Ok, I admit that it's questionable whether there's even such a thing as a *good* AYCE sushi experience, but we happened to be taking a walk around the Upper West side this afternoon, and saw this place (Columbus between 83rd and 84th) with a large sign outside it advertising an all-you-can-eat special for $19.95. We were hungry (fine, we were greedy), and the special was roughly twice the price of the regular sushi dinner, so we thought we'd try it in the hope that it would be expensive enough that the quality wouldn't suffer too much. Bad idea.
The first round of sushi that we ordered was reasonable -- fish was a little small for the amount of rice they gave us, but it was fresh. What we noticed, though, was that with each successive round of sushi we ordered, the portions of fish got smaller and more suspect in quality, and the amount of rice they gave us increased. By our third round, they were giving us so much rice that we could barely taste the fish, although that didn't stop the last piece of tuna I tried from tasting decidedly fishy, in a three-day-old sort of way. The experience was particularly bad because we noticed that the patrons around us who were ordering the regularly priced sushi were getting far more generous portions of fish, and much more proportional servings of rice.
I suppose I can understand that the restaurant has some right to try to load the bases against you in an all-you-can-eat situation, and I'm not sure I would feel quite so gypped if they'd stuck to giving us a little more rice than the usual, with fish of roughly the same size and quality. What I don't think was fair was their trying to add more and more rice to the servings, and to get away with less and worse fish as the meal wore on. Serves me right for presuming too much with all-you-can-eat sushi, but even with that lesson in mind, I'm not planning to go back anytime soon to this joint. Don't know if anyone else has any good things to say about this place to counter my experience, but if my meal was representative, I'd say to give them a wide berth.