The concept of all-you-can-eat (AYCE) sounds amazing on paper. Pay one flat price and eat all the food you so desire. Sounds great doesn't it? BUT in the holy quest to maximize your money's worth, you end up over-eating, admitting yourself into food coma status, and never wanting to pick up another piece of sushi in your life.
That is, until the next time you go to another AYCE restaurant and forget all about your past mistakes.
Cashing in on this opportunity, It' All is the newest AYCE restaurant to hit the streets of Edmonton, offering an eclectic mixture of both Korean and Japanese food. It's almost like a perfect marriage of their two existing restaurants: It' Dog and It' Sushi.
We decided to come to It' All for a friend's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY KN!) and made a reservation at 7 on a Saturday evening. The entire restaurant was pretty full, with a couple of tables set aside for reservations. Our table along the windows was semi-private, shrouded by wooden panels and printed Japanese cloths. There were also booths along the perimeter and more tables in the middle. Even more tables can be found behind the sushi bar.
The waitress dropped off a menu and because it was our first time, she helped explain the concept of ordering. For the price of $36.99 per person, order whatever you want in any quantity from the menu (except for the 20pc sashimi limit) and then feel free to grab a plate and load up at the buffet.
The menu was split up into different sections, with various appetizers, Korean BBQ meats, sashimi, sushi, a sole rice bowl, tempura, udon soups, and a seasonal item. Not sure if the seasonal item will actually change over time.
Once we placed our order, we headed to the buffet. The buffet is L-shaped, with the first section dedicated to all the banchan in the world. Banchan literally translates to side dishes, most of them being served cold and consisting of various pickled vegetables. Also, don't fret if you don't recognize a single item beyond kimchi; they have small little placards with the names of the dishes on top to help identify those mystery tubs.
The longer section of the buffet had an array of hot dishes. Various types of bulgogi, two types of fried chicken (Koreans know how to make a good fried chicken), soups and stews, noodles and rice cakes, and so much more. You'll definitely find something that you'll go back for seconds.
The last part of the buffet had fresh fruit and some lettuce that you can use to wrap the Korean BBQ. Another table along the sushi bar had a few rice cookers (whatever you do, don't fill up on rice!) and some sushi rolls.
My plate (starting clockwise): a spicy tuna roll topped with salmon and avocado, beef bulgogi, stir fried squid, green onion pancake, spicy and soy garlic fried chicken, pan-fried tofu, garlic potatoes, and dukbokki.
Stand outs for me were the stir fried squid and pan fried tofu. The green onion pancake was a little gummy, but the rest was generally pretty good. If you haven't been to Koryo (the mall fast food joint) and tried their garlic potatoes, you haven't lived. The version here was similar to that, but less crispy than I would have liked.
After taking a couple of bites of our food, the rest of the items we ordered came in quick succession.
|20 pcs of salmon, 20 pcs of scallop, 10 pcs tuna|
|Spicy crab meat nigiri (x3) and Chop Chop nigiri (x2)|
|Takoyaki, deep fried squid, and boneless short rib|
We also ordered korokke (not pictured) which is basically a deep fried mash potato patty. I think there were also flecks of carrot inside, which made it sweet.
For dessert, It' All has several different options. When we were there, there was slices of carrot cake, small petit fours, various mochi, and a chestnut pastry. I'm pretty certain that they are all store-bought.
And probably the most exciting dessert option: a cooler by the buffet filled with different types of Korean popsicles! Limit one per person.
I picked up a Jaws bar which was strawberry and orange flavoured, and I guess it was supposed to be shaped like a shark. Weird association, but it was refreshing after all the food we devoured before.
Overall, It' All is worth trying once whether for a special occasion or if you're hungry. Some people may be put off by the price, but with tax and tip, it comes to a little under $45, which I think is okay for the variety of foods being offered. I mean, for a nice meal at a restaurant, you might be spending $45 anyways. And here, food is unlimited.
Coming back to my little spiel at the beginning, you might be leaving It' All satisfied, or you might be leaving with regret. Just be smart about it.