All you can eat (AYCE) is commonly associated with Asian food, particularly those Chinese buffets but it’s expanded a bit beyond that with AYCE sushi restaurants being very numerous nowadays. I used to maintain a list of all you can eat sushi but there are too many of them now to keep track of. I’m just going to list places arbitrarily.
1017 St. Laurent
Last visit: Feb 2016, # of visits: 1
This location has had so much turnover, I even remember when it was briefly a Uighur restaurant in the late aughts but after that it was mostly a series of AYCE sushi restaurants of limited success. One iteration actually did offer Korean BBQ before so this isn’t the first time. This restaurant has dedicated ventilation pipes for each table so you can worry less about your clothes smelling of BBQ afterwards.But I’d still suggest not wearing armani or prada here. They also provide thin sheets of paper that you place on top of the grill before you cook your meats. I guess this is so you don’t get char accumulation on the grill and you can easily swap out the paper for a new one when the old one has turned black. I tried this place out on a Friday evening ($27) and it was fine but won’t be going back any time soon. The best proteins were the lamb, beef, pork belly and shrimp. Lamb was my favorite but the shrimp in particular was very fresh and seasoned with garlic. Mussels were also fresh although I’m not a big fan of mussels in general. I didn’t really detect much marinade for most of the meats though. Beef rib was disappointing, too chewy and fatty (ironic considering their restaurant is named Kalbi). There are a couple of sauces on the side, one spicy and one more sweet & salty but nothing remarkable or even noticeable taste-wise. There was some choice of maki rolls and nigiri, it was alright, more or less what was expected. The Kalbi special nigiri is salmon nigiri but torched, this was not bad. Ice cream of various flavors are also offered as dessert. Green Tea and Red Bean were the better flavors, mango tasted too artificial.
Other Korean BBQ restaurants
Seoul Chako and Tian Xia have been around much longer but like Kalbi neither are run by Koreans. A promising new one is called Mon Ami BBQ (6521 Somerled), which is run by Koreans who first opened a Korean Fried Chicken restaurant. However, it’s not convenient to get there by public transport.
537 St. Catherine O
Last visit: Nov 2015, # of visits: 1
Kanda used to be here but closed. The location seemed to remain vacant for quite a while until Fisshu stepped in and opened in Fall 2015. For AYCE sushi, it’s okay. The setting is quite classy looking with dim lighting and makes me feel like I should wear a suit to dine here. $28 on weekends and $25 on weekdays for dinner. The only difference seems to be the presence of mackerel and squid sashimi on weekends. The best thing here was the torched salmon nigiri. Sashimi was generally adequate except the squid was too slimy for me. Maki rolls were pretty boring and seemed to only use the most basic ingredients. They offer plenty of cooked dishes but I didn’t try many of them. The BBQ squid was probably one of the better cooked items. I didn’t care much for the tempura. The Asian pear in red wine dessert was interesting and unique.
1219 Phillips Square
Last visit: Autumn 2016, # of visits: 1
This used to be a Japanese izakaya style restaurant. Although you can still order a la carte they pretty much transformed into a sushi AYCE. It’s fine. The most noteworthy item offered on a Saturday evening ($27) was salmon toro (belly) sashimi. First time I’ve seen that offered at a AYCE in Montreal. Strictly speaking it’s limited item as the sheet says only a certain amount per person can be ordered, however, we did order more than that and it came without any objections from the server but I figure it depends on the supply they have. It is pretty good but it is quite fatty as expected so even if you enjoy it, you probably won’t want to eat too many pieces anyway. Nothing notable about the other sashimi options, which even for AYCE seemed quite limited for a weekend evening. Other dishes I liked were the flaming beef, miso fish, white fish and beef tataki. Didn’t care for the tempura or most of the deep fried stuff. There was one really bad item called Volcano, which unsurprisingly was listed in the sushi pizza section but otherwise everything else was mostly adequate. You can check out their menu on their RestoMontreal page.
Other AYCE sushi restaurants
Longtime AYCE sushi restaurants include Kanda, Sushi Crescent/St. Denis/St. Catherine/Sushi St-Jean/Sushi Crystal (ordering via tablet), Sushi Plus, Komiko and Keyaki Sushi. Newer ones include Sushi Palace, Bistro K2 Sushi, Zushi, Toro and Takumi.
Little Sheep Hot Pot
50 de la Gauchetière O
This is the most well known hot pot restaurant where you pick your raw foods from a refrigerated buffet area then cook your own proteins and veggies in a pot of boiling broth made of seemingly bazillions of spices. The exception are beef and lamb slices which you ask the waiter to bring. I haven’t been to Little Sheep in years but I remember liking it. It’s hard to screw it up really. Little Sheep does offer a good variety of veggies, proteins, carbs and includes drinks too. You usually order a large hot pot to share with other, it can have the herbal broth, the spicy broth or both in a pot with two sections. They may offer smaller individual pots but I don’t remember. It’s certainly unique but hot pot is not something I feel like doing very often.
1448 St. Mathieu
Last visit: Apr 2016, # of visits: 1
I had a chance to try the hot pot here recently. It was not bad. Their selection of raw foods is smaller than Little Sheep but it’s decent. There are mussels, shrimps, eggs, veggies, carbs, ice cream, iced tea and sodas. They didn’t really have a lot of noodles which was slightly disappointing. The sauce station had your typical sesame sauce, chili oil, garlic oil, coriander, shallot, etc. The distinguishing factor of this hot pot place is their broths. They offer a pork broth, herbal based broth, a spicy shrimp broth, a spicy duck head broth and a new spicy frog legs broth. The pork broth comes with large pork bones with meat on them that you are supposed to eat before they fill your hot pot with more liquid. Similarly, a whole duck head with meat that you are supposed to eat comes in the duck pot. The duck head was pretty tasty actually and the broth was nice but wasn’t really spicy even though there were a lot of chilies. It’s all individual pots here and the tables have holes in them where the pot is placed inside. It’s a nice convenience since you cannot accidentally knock over the pot like at other places where all the pots are on flat induction panels on the table. I also prefer individual pots because you can cook stuff faster and you don’t have to worry about other people stealing your food in one massive pot. It was $23 on a Saturday evening (that includes the price of the broth, all of them have the same price). They also offer an additional cost menu with BBQ items like lamb kebabs.