New sushi restaurant flounders for this college student

So why the hell does Burlington need another sushi spot? She’s already got Asiana Noodle Shop, Asiana House, HJ House, Bento, and San Sai. The newest addition– A Cuisine– has replaced the drywall and loud noises that have met mall shoppers the last few months.

Unveiled is a sleek Pan-Asian restaurant. The menu is much like Winooksi and Williston’s Asian Bistros, but it offers one eye-catching amusement the others don’t– the sushi conveyor belt. Enter the Burlington Town Center off Church, skip three times, and you’re there.

This is my reason for going; my experiment is to see about the sushi, up close and personal. I go at 8 p.m., an hour before closing time.

Although I regret not ordering fresh sushi from the menu, I am too hungry and tired to look through the pages. I want instant conveyor satisfaction. Concerning the Chinese side of the menu­– I cook enough noodles and eat enough dumplings at work to know I don’t want to pay $20 for a stir-fried noodle.

A Cuisine’s post dinnertime conveyor offers me five or six choices, including a gross looking jellyfish salad, emphasis on the jelly. After ordering a few meat skewers from the large binder of a menu, I grab a seaweed salad and a spicy salmon roll from the belt.

The salad is sweet and seasoned with sesame oil. It has that satisfying chewy crunch that is unique to seaweed salad. It’s decent but only offers four or five chopstick bites. Most of the bulk comes from the bed of sliced iceberg. I feel a bit cheated.

The quality to quantity ratio puts me off, and sets me back $5.

A Cuisine offers color-coded plates that price at $3 and $5. The four-piece tuna roll is a fiver as well. The rolls are room temperature from moving around enough times with no takers. The flavor is, again, decent. I’m glad to taste the raw tuna against the rice and spicy sauce. Sometimes thick sushi condiments can overpower the fishy goodness.

I’m more put off when I bite into the room temp salmon. The thin slices of fish laid over rice balls would have been better if cold. I realize this place is more for a laughing group of friends, like those to my far right, who yell at a couple to “try the bubble tea, its fricking awesome.”
At this point, I wish they had alcohol. “Next week,” said the server, who has disappeared along with the host. Neither refills my water in the 25 minutes I’m there.

I even look for them at one point. The only employees in sight are the well-dressed, quiet sushi chefs who are the epicenter of the whole shebang.

I wish I could “ooh” and “ah” at the slow moving plastic dishes (their Tupperware resemblance contrasts the black, silver, and deep red décor of the walls and ceiling), but I just can’t. As I count my damage at $15, I sigh, knowing I could have walked two blocks to City Market for sushi of similar quality for half the price.

My saving grace is the meat skewers. In front of me: chicken satay, beef satay, and chicken heart. The half-dozen grape-sized hearts are cooked well and drip with a sweet teriyaki sauce. They are chewy and pleasantly tough; they still taste a bit coppery from their former function.

The “satay” of the other skewers refers to the peanut sauce that’s served on the side. I don’t use it. The meat is delicious on its own, both peppery and tender. The beef is hot and slides off the skewer with satisfaction. The chicken carries a yellow marinade; I enjoy the hint of curry.

The texture and quality of the meat surpasses my expectation, and makes me wonder about their Beef Short Ribs or BBQ Pork Chop.

All together, the three skewers cost me $8.50. Although I’m not super-full, I’m satisfied.
My sushi experiment isn’t as vast as I hoped, but I can’t bring myself to spend anymore on mediocre fish, especially since their conveyor choices haven’t changed much since I sat down.

With no one in sight, I wait to pay up. Tax and tip included, I drop an unwarranted $30.

A full and fair review of the restaurant would take three or four more visits, probably at more opportune hours, which I don’t plan on. However, one thing is accomplished – next time I want quick sushi I’ll know to head elsewhere; next time I want to sit down with friends for good Japanese or Chinese, well, I probably won’t choose the mall.