Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sake Cafe - New Scotland Avenue

Our plan for yesterday, the glorious first day of spring, was to attend the Mac N Cheese Bowl at the Italian American Community Center. We didn't buy advance tickets, and despite arriving reasonably early ~11:45, we got shut out. Since I like to think that the event was prompted by a comment I made on Steve Barnes' Table Hopping blog, it was a bit of a bummer, but we happily left a donation and went in search of an alternate lunch plan.

Saturday was such an amazingly gorgeous day that I found myself craving "clean food," i.e. something not loaded with cream or meat. Trust me, I would have sacrificed and consumed large amounts of cheese and milk and butter in the name of charity, but since that was no longer an option, I found myself itching for some nice, light spring rolls. After we considered our options (yes, there are finally options in Albany!), we decided to give the Sake Cafe a shot and, bonus, they had outdoor seating available. We perused the menu and selected a number of items. The server was really nice, very gracious and managed our order of 2 soups, 2 salads, 3 appetizers and 1 entree flawlessly. We began with a hot & sour soup for Tom and Tom Yum soup with chicken for me. I love Asian soups!! Don't get me wrong, I love me some bisque and chowder, too, but there's something about a light broth with intense flavor, that I really appreciate. My soup was lovely, with tender chicken, non-mushy mushrooms, tomatoes and flecks of cilantro. Our next course was a special that our server had recommended, a sea scallop prepared sashimi style. The presentation was beautiful and the scallop was tender, sweet and extremely fresh. In addition to the fanned out scallop sashimi, there was a small mound of seared scallop served on the side, which made a nice contrast to the soft raw fish. We followed the sashimi course with salads - traditional iceberg lettuce and shredded carrots for Tom and seaweed salad for me. Both salads were enjoyable, Tom's dressing was well balanced and my seaweed salad was tender and a pleasing portion. Our next course was those rolls that had initially inspired our visit - soft rice paper rolls filled with shrimp, Asian herbs and vegetables served with peanut sauce. Now, for me, peanut sauce is one of those things, like a fried egg, that makes most everything taste better and this was no exception. This food is the kind of cuisine that satisfies without being too filling and the rolls were perfect. Next, (yes, we're good eaters!) we had an order of the shrimp shumai - these were firm and moist and delicious. Our final savory course was the Thai basil with shrimp which was served with a side dish of rice. The shrimp were a bit over-cooked, but the rest of the dish was pleasing. It wasn't very spicy, but we did enjoy it. We completed our meal with an order of green tea fried ice cream. Believe it or not, I've never had fried ice cream and I can't say that I'd be in a big rush to order it again. The breading (?) and frying, in my mind, don't really add enough to the taste to justify the additional calories and I would have been happier with a couple of scoops of the ice cream unadulterated. And the grand total for this decadent feast? $53 pre-tip! Wow!


  1. Fried ice cream is a total win for me... sometimes. If it's just tempura-ed and covered in chocolate, then no. But put some caramel and nuts in there and now we're in business.

    Aside from that - man, you've got me jonesing for sushi hardcore now! The seaweed salad looks temptingly green, too. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. @AJ - Let me know what you think of their fried ice cream. And definitely get the sea scallop if it is available!