Boca Raton’s Ichiyami Buffet, a wildly popular all-you-can-eat restaurant, offers a diverse selection of Asian dishes in a sleek setting

Waiting outside to be seated.

Difficult parking and first-come-first-serve seating are not deterrents to patrons seeking to dine on dozens of sushi varieties, cooked Asian dishes and more, all at a fixed price.


Arriving at Ichiyami Buffet and Sushi at Royal Palm Plaza in Boca Raton on a recent Sunday evening, I was taken slightly aback by the impossible parking situation and the crowd of people standing outside waiting to be seated.

Ichiyami, it seems, is wildly popular, even on an off-season Sunday night, and despite a $29.95 per adult tab.  Lunch costs $16.95 for adults on weekdays, $18.95 weekends. Dinner is $28.95 weekdays. It gets high marks on both Yelp! and TripAdvisor and doesn’t accept reservations.

It’s a popularity that hasn’t diminished since Jian Fei Jian and Yu Zhang, who once operated Japan 1 Asian Buffet in Coral Springs, opened the doors to Ichiyami in 2014.

Though I’m hardly a fan of all-you-can-eat buffets, I agreed to my wife’s request to try Ichiyami, which had been recommended by many of our neighbors. Because Ichiyami is so busy, they said, the panoply of sushi and other offerings were always fresh as they are frequently replenished.

After finally locating a slot for my car, we waited 20 minutes for our buzzer to sound before being led by a hostess through the crowds helping themselves to the myriad offerings to a small side room in the rear, past the doors to the kitchen and the rest rooms. That, of course, would mean we had to dodge not only hungry guests, but also servers replenishing the buffet, bussers with trays of dirty dishes, and those seeking the rest room.

The décor inside is sleek with rough, white-tiled walls and black seating and Japanese-style murals on the walls.  There’s also a patio for outside dining.

Sushi is beautifully displayed on the sneeze-guarded tables at the right front, followed by salads – among them seaweed, then huge oysters, cocktail shrimp and snow crab legs, all piled high next to a whole side of baked salmon. Diners can choose from among seven kinds of sashimi, eight varieties of sushi nigiri, seven kinds of sushi salad and two dozen different sushi rolls. Above each sushi platter are helpful signs with descriptions of what’s inside.

The variety suggests it’s the perfect place for an inquisitive sushi tyro or anyone just looking to sample a wide range of raw fish at prices that won’t break the bank. The variety alone sets it apart from the typical Asian buffet.

The cold buffet.

The diverse range of food offerings extends to the back with its hot food section full of Asian classics like teriyaki chicken, Mongolian beef, fried calamari, vegetable tempura, Szechuan crayfish, Thai-styled curry mussels and vegetable tempura, followed by urns of white and brown rice, kettles of soups and then a cook-to-order teppanyaki (hibachi) station. There are also dessert stations.

You’ll need a plan of attack to dine at Ichiyami. I started with a bowl of hot and sour soup, a benchmark I use for Chinese restaurants. It was better than what I found at many Chinese eateries in the region, but nothing

Some of the dozens of sushi rolls.

extraordinary. Wonton soup, bereft of roast pork shreds, also was ordinary.

Next, I sampled the sashimi, nigiri sushi and sushi rolls, which seemed overly chilled from their  stays on the cold white displays.  Sushi rolls looked pretty but suffered from a sameness of taste and mealy textures. I imagine they’re made assembly line fashion, which cannot compare to made-to-order rolls. I also snared a handful of large oysters from a hill of half shells – a bargain since oysters often sell for $3 each or more at many restaurants. But they tasted flabby and lacked any hint of their briny origins. Snow crab legs, served cold, were near impossible to eat without any crab forks and needed melted butter for dipping.

Hot buffet under heat lamps.

A plate filled with sushi, oysters and crab legs.

Onto the Chinese cuisine, which was piled onto huge platters under heat lamps and also proved to be uninspiring. Much of it was fried – spring rolls, crab Rangoon, calamari and chicken wings, With the exception of the wings, the offerings were barely warm. My wife, who shuns sushi, said the spareribs were okay as was the chicken and broccoli. Chinese food in my opinion is best when served from wok to table.

The variety of desserts, including French-style pastries, cheesecake, make-your-own sundaes, crème brulee, and fresh fruit, made for a mostly fine finish to our meal despite miniscule portions. Alas, some of the pastries we brought to our table had not thawed.

Ichiyami’s sleekly contemporary good looks and extensive array of Asian cuisine at a fixed price no doubt accounts for its success. For me, however, Ichiyami, like most buffets, is a destination for gluttons looking to gorge on a smorgasbord of food, not gourmets.

Ichiyami Buffet and Sushi

145 SE Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33432


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