At first thought… “dodgy,” at best. I think Josef and I had differing opinions on this one, so maybe you will as well. We were out running errands and grocery shopping in bulk when we decided to finally check this place out after Josef had been hearing raving reviews.
Location: 4612 Browns Hill Road (Squirrel Hill) Pittsburgh, PA
Lunch: Mon-Sat: 11a-3:30p
Dinner: Mon-Thurs: 3:30p-10p
The Atmosphere: 5/10
What did I really expect from a buffet? I’ll start with the good and move forward from there. The restaurant space was well organized and very clean. We were seated at a window booth that was actually quite comfortable. Even the center seating appeared comfortable, which I’d say is unexpected from any buffet-style dining venue. My main issue with Hokkaido, putting it among any other buffet restaurant is the cafeteria feel to your dining experience. It’s open seating, and reasonably loud, leaving little room or expectation for privacy. This was a scene that honestly I thought I had left behind in high school.
I will give most of the positive points to Hokkaido for their overall presentation. Apart from the sprawling cafeteria, the venue is colorful, crisp and neat. The sushi chefs all don the traditional chef garb, and food presentation is fantastic, something I would have expected from a more traditional sushi restaurant or steakhouse.
The Food: 7/10
Dude, the variety is outta this world. You have everything from fresh sushi to crab legs, general tso’s chicken, pepper steak, etc. I know what you’re thinking too, as I thought the same thing, raw fish? Just sitting out? Seems like a proper breeding ground for the next plague, or maybe perhaps this is where the zombie apocalypse will start, WHO KNOWS?! Don’t think they’re not safe about health here though, folks. The ingredients are all fresh, and if a roll isn’t being eaten, it’s disposed of. I can also honestly admit that while I tried to grab a variety of rolls and other foods, there wasn’t a single item on my plate that I didn’t enjoy. I’m not going to tell you that this was the best sushi I’ve ever had, because it certainly wasn’t. However, it wasn’t bad. I even ended up partaking in some of Josef’s crab legs when I thought I had been stuffed beyond capacity.
Miniscule complaints here. Upon being seated at our table, our drink orders were promptly taken, drinks brought out almost immediately, then…. where did the waiter go? We were left to fend for ourselves. Were we supposed to just go up to the buffet? Did we have to specify that we were here for the buffet? Were there other options, like formally ordered entrees? No clue. So we sat and waited for a waiter to come back and let us know how to proceed, looking around to see if we should follow someone else’s lead. Other than this, our drinks were refilled when necessary, we were checked on occasionally. I suppose something I could say here that the service was forgettable. Nothing really stands out as above and beyond making our experience something to return for.
Would I return? Sure, if the mood struck right. Special occasions? No chance. If I have a sushi craving, I’ll choose a sushi restaurant or Japanese steakhouse. This may be a whimsical, impulsive stop next time. Although the food and selection were good, I just didn’t care for the experience. Sure, it’s all you can eat sushi, and sushi isn’t that filling in general, so it seems like a good deal.
Perhaps it was all the hype we had heard going into the meal, in addition to a natural curiosity to give the place a go. Overall, in my opinion, Hokkaido is overrated, but a good experience if you’re down for adventure.